Fear Free Grooming and Why you want it for your dog – Part Two
Kim Kier , CCE, FFCP
Let’s talk about fear free grooming services and how we can make it SAFE, comfortable, and enjoyable for your dog.
So, your dog is ready for his/ her grooming service. We are so excited to be able to spend time with them and provide them with the luxury experience they deserve.
Vacationing in a Condo:
Let’s start by making them comfortable in a crate, or as we like to refer to them, a condo. No, we are not going to “just” put them in a scary cold, bare crate. Our condos come with a blanket, snuggle puppy (heartbeat dog with warmer – available on Amazon), one spray of pheromones and music playing in the background. For those pups that are not use to being in a crate, we provide a den like environment where a cover is placed over the condo to keep them comfortable and calm.
Skin, Coat and Health Assessment:
We perform a skin, coat and health assessment to help us customize the bath and grooming process for your dog. This is performed by gently touching your dog all over his/ her body, checking the skin and coat condition, while observing any reaction your dog may display as the different areas are touched. The coat and skin condition check is looking for redness, bumps, lumps, sores, signs of itching, hotspots, flaking, fleas, dark spots, or matting. Then, we carefully lift the legs to check for pain or limitations that the dog might have. Next, we check the ears, eyes and teeth looking for abnormalities that include discoloration, foreign materials, or smell. This lets us know if your pup has any issues that need to be addressed by us, as groomers, or your veterinary. Lastly, we provide cuddles, rubs and a treat while saying “Good Job”. We want to always end on a happy and calm note.
With the towel warmer on , customized Shampoo, conditioner prepared and frothed, water temperature checked, and tub prepped with a non-slip mat, all we need now is the pup. We begin by placing the dog in the tub and making sure that all four feet are on the ground. This is when we gently touch the dog while calmly speaking to it, providing reassurance that everything is okay and they are safe. We then turn on the water allowing it run for a little while. Doing so, allows the dog to get use to the sight, sound, feel and smell of running water before we begin the bath. Then, the water gently flows on them, starting with the feet and chest. To keep them comfortable and safe, we talk to them during the bathing process and keep at least one hand on them at all times. The bathing process encompasses a slow and steady touch throughout while teaching the dog that bath time means rubs and attention. We continue these steps while applying shampoo and conditioner. For them, trust begins in the bath. They trust me to keep them safe, allowing me apply and massage shampoo, while providing direction and guidance. The bath part of the grooming service is my favorite because in so many ways, it is truly a bonding experience.
High Time for Dry Time:
Now that the bath is over, it’s time to get that dog dry. This part of the groom is essential for many reasons. Properly drying the skin and coat keeps both healthy. We hand dry the coat which makes the haircut fabulous with less future matting (when on a regular grooming schedule) and lets us see every each of the skin. However, it can be very scary for dogs if not introduced slowly and properly. I have seen many different techniques over the years by many different groomers in how they dry dogs. My preference is slow and consistent starting with the same location every time. Dogs love routine. A routine brings them comfort. Let’s begin the drying process with letting them smell the nozzle, before turning on the dryer. When they are done, we point the dryer away and turn it on allowing them to get use to the new sound. After the dog seems comfortable, the dryer is aimed slowly towards the back leg, keeping it in one area and slowly moving and watching the dog. Starting on a back leg seems to be less intrusive and scary for most dogs. Each dog is different, but I find that keeping one hand on them rubbing softly while drying with the other works best. We continue the same process while moving the dryer over the whole body.
We are dry and did great! A treat, a rub and some relax time before the haircut.
Stress Free Grooming means Fear Free:
This is where I must be blunt and say, “Free Fear Grooming is NOT a race that must be won at all costs.” It most certainly is NOT a quick in and out grooming service. We, as humans, hate to be hurried and rushed when we do anything. However, it seems that we do like things in a hurry. We want fast food, a fast oil change and an overall instant gratification life.
We LOVE our dogs because they enjoy the small things in life, the long cuddles, long walks, and living in the moment. They are not creatures of the fast and furious rules that we have put on our life’s. For them, it causes anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and a genuine feeling of being in an unsafe situation. How do you respond when someone is trying to rush you or force you to do something that you didn’t think was safe? Now, put yourself in your dog’s position.
We do our best to make the grooming experience a wonderful experience for your dog where they want to come back while providing a good service. You can find groomers that will simply get the job done at all costs. We are not them.