Grooming with Balance, Symmetry, and Style

Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products, Grapevine, TX

What exactly does this mean in the wonderful world of dog grooming and showing dogs? In both worlds, I have had the privilege to see many beautiful and fancy dogs of all varieties, sizes, and breeds.  The trims on many breeds are getting quite fancy, and even straying away from the breed standard.  Let’s face it, hair in the right places can camouflage even the worst faults.  In the dog show world, judges are being forewarned to “look beyond the hair” and to put their hands on the dog and feel for the fault.  However, in the grooming world, if we can camouflage a serious fault and make the dog look more structurally correct, our clients love it! And we should do just that!

However, even when we are camouflaging a fault (like a bad front or rear), the trim should still exemplify some balance and symmetry.  In order to achieve balance and symmetry, every hair does not have to be the same length, and the front and the back do not have to be identical.  However, the front portion of the dog and the rear portion of the dog need to balance each other out. Don’t be afraid to step back and take a look at the dog.   Is it too top heavy? Does it have so much hair on the front half compared to the back half?  Does it look like the dog is going to fall forward because it has so much hair? It is always a good idea to stand back and take a good hard look on every dog that you groom.  Can the dog move without the front and back legs touching? Develop an eye for these little things and train your eye to understand balance.  Maybe even snap a picture of the profile with your phone.  Even if you are not doing a show trim, which most of the time you won’t be, use the same set of guidelines and rules for pet trims.  Just because you “only groom pets”, doesn’t mean that you can’t make little changes leaving more hair in some places than in others to hide a fault. Try to groom the dog to breed standard but much shorter so it is easier to maintain.  After all, you are an artist! Take a few extra minutes and make the dog look fantastic.  This will set you apart from other pet stylist in your area.  This will help you drive repeat business and get referrals.  Stepping up your grooming a notch and continue to strive to improve and learn.  That’s what it is all about. Happy grooming!

Hair, Hair, It’s Everywhere!

dog-furShannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products, Grapevine, TX

As a professional pet stylist, we always hear, “I bought a short haired dog or cat because I don’t want to deal with hair all over my house!” Well, surprise, surprise, short haired dogs shed! De-shedding and Shed – Less Treatments, as well as water additives to stop shedding, and special tools to help the consumer de-shed their dog have made their way into the market to be the miracle product to stop shedding.

Shedding is a natural process that dogs and cats go through in order to keep their skin and coat healthy, and in good condition.  This is a process that you cannot, and do not want to stop. It is important to do these treatments in order for your dog to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  You always want to be able to separate and divide the coat being able to easily get down to the skin throughout the entire coat.

Remember, when you select these very popular products, you will not stop the shedding process.  However, you will accelerate the process to help move the natural shedding process along a little faster.  What does that mean exactly? It means that for a short period of time your pet is going to shed more before the shedding slows down.  I always recommend doing a Shed-Less Treatment with your professional pet stylist, rather than at home.  The skilled stylist will do multiple things to get rid of the excess hair, such as carding the coat to remove loose hair, then a shed treatment to accelerate the shedding process.  These treatments always work well in a salon setting because your groomer can use a force dryer to blow out excess coat in order to achieve optimal results.  Then, they may choose to card the coat again to get any stray hair that is ready to come out.  By the time your pup is ready to come home, the bulk of the hair has been removed and you can enjoy a clean, happy pet, and a less hairy house. Be prepared to pay a little more for this service as it does take more time than a basic bath and brush out.

But I brushed him…


Sarah Drouin, NCMG  |  The Plush Pooch  |
NCMG | Award winning Stylist | Certified Pet Tech CPR

“But I brushed him…” “Why do you have to shave him?!”  As professional groomers we hear this a lot. From my personal prospective I really like giving personality trims to my clients. However, sometimes that just isn’t possible. Now I know all to well, clients don’t quite understand why it doesn’t look ‘tangled/matted’. Sometimes it’s disguised. Sometimes, clients just don’t understand at all. That’s okay, I don’t understand what my hair stylist is talking about when she discusses toners with her colleague.

How do we make a better understanding? Well, educating the client is key. Let me explain, when matts form it’s the hair getting tangled. As time passes the matts/tangles become more impacted and tighter. Do me a favor, pinch lightly your forearm skin & hold it for ten seconds. Was that uncomfortable? Now just imagine what that might feel like all over your skin, & when you walk or move your arms imagine the increase in discomfort you would have. This is what matts are like.  This can cause irritation, discomfort, lack of blood flow, and blood vessels can pop when they are released from the skin.

Professional groomers take extra time and caution when removing matts. We must make sure to safely remove that tight impacted coat from the skin. This may be one reason why your groomer charges more in this instance.

If this happens, and you want to prevent matts from forming again, talk with your groomer.

I offer free brushing/combing lessons to my clients. I don’t mind taking a few minutes out of my day to help the client understand how to properly brush the dog. Now, you might be thinking… “How hard can it be to brush a dog?” Well, us professionals started somewhere, in fact  the same place you might be now. Most of us started as bathers/groomer assistants. We had to learn until we got it correct. Most people brush the top coat and don’t realize they are missing it by the skin. Keep in mind, fluffy might not let you brush him, especially his face. Again, I help my clients deal with that. Speak with your groomer, groomers speak with your clients. Open the lines of communication and you will be on the road to success.

Pictures below show solid Matts on each ear. One is the side that you the client sees, the other is what the groomers sees after clipping off.

The Christmas Gift That Keeps on Giving


Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education of Espree

With the Holidays quickly approaching, many people are starting to think about that special present to give to their children, spouse, or significant other.  That image of everyone sitting around the tree, and your child opens up a big box, when out jumps a fluffy, adorable puppy with a big bow around its neck is simply priceless.  But, let’s stop and think about this.

When a puppy or kitten go to their forever homes, it is a stressful time in their life.  In order to make a peaceful and healthy transition, the house needs to be puppy proofed for starters.  Little things like making sure they do not have any access to electrical cords is very important.  When the new family member starts to explore their surroundings, you don’t want to entice them with chewing on a cord. Unless they can be monitored closely, they should be kept in a safe place like the kitchen, laundry room, large bathroom, or a crate.   Their food should remain the same as what they were eating when they were at the breeder until a smooth transition can take place too. These are just a few suggestions for your puppy to transition smoothly.

Now imagine the hustle and bustle at Christmas time!  The beautiful tree is up, and of course you want to turn on those pretty lights.  Tinsel is hanging all over the tree, which could potentially send your pup to the emergency vet clinic if he gets into it.  Now you are cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  The puppy acts like a vacuum cleaner so you better not drop any scraps on the floor.  Then you have all of your friends and family coming over to celebrate.  Do you really think it is a good time for your puppy to transition into their new home this time of year?

If you purchased the puppy for your children, it is likely you will be the one taking care of it with football games, dance recitals, and then off to college.  But what if you purchased it for your significant other, and they were completely surprised? At the time, the puppy seemed like a great gift, but eventually the novelty will wear off.  The commitment to get up in the middle of the night to potty train is tough.  But the financial commitment with supplies, vet visits, trips to the groomer and boarding kennel is far greater.  So before you try to put the puppy or kitten under the tree as a gift, just remember, a Christmas puppy or kitten is the gift that keeps on giving.

The Holidays are Quickly Approaching


Can you believe it is almost that time of year again?  There are 16 Fridays before Christmas…yes, 16!  The Holiday madness will be here before we know it.  Every year, so many people want their very talented pet stylist to primp their pooch for the Holidays, so they are sporting that wonderful Holiday cheer with family and friends.  Sometimes, we ask our groomers to make a miracle happen by de-matting a very matted pooch, or making their four legged friend super fluffy when they have been shaved down all summer.  Or we make the mad dash to the groomer just a few days before our family and friends arrive.  Plan in advance, pick up the phone and schedule your pet’s appointments from now through the Holiday season.

This is the time of year to start getting your pooch ready for the Holidays.  Bring them in for a spa day between styling appointments to keep the skin and coat in optimal condition.  Dead Sea Mineral Mudbaths if your dog has skin issues will help soothe the skin, get rid of the dead skin cells, exfoliate the skin, and allow your pooch to feel so much better.  Deep conditioning treatments and hot oil treatments are also great for dog’s that have dry skin and coat.  They will help hydrate the coat allowing the natural oils to permeate the skin which in turn will help add a beautiful shine to the coat. And if your dog has a lot of staining from playing hard this summer, select a whitening bath to help lift the staining off of the coat.  Your pup might need two or three if he had a lot of fun romping this summer in the yard, hiking, or even swimming.

In order for your pooch to have healthy skin and coat, you must stay on top of the game.  Remember, it is a process.  Sometimes it takes several visits before you can get your desired result.  So if you want your pooch sporting a nice “do” for the Holidays, there is no better time to start than the present.

A Good Life in the Golden Years


Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products

Our pets are living longer than ever before.  Not only are they living longer, their quality of life is better!  Some say it is good genetics, but I think it comes from understanding the changing needs of our aging pets.

There are so many ways to enhance the quality of life for our senior friends. Staying active is a crucial part of keeping your pet healthy and enjoying those golden years.  A short walk, even if it is to the mailbox and back, would not only be beneficial physically, but mentally as well.  A healthy diet is also a key ingredient to enhancing the quality of life with your senior pet.  Not only diet, but supplements are another way to offer cognitive support to promoting joint health to allow your pet to age vibrantly.

Keeping teeth and gums healthy is also imperative.  Red, swollen, or bleeding gums are not normal.  Talk to your veterinarian about ways to promote good oral hygiene.  Brushing their teeth, water additives, brushless toothpaste are just a few ways to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.  Regular visits to your veterinarian are important too.  Immune systems can weaken with aging pets.  This makes them more susceptible to disease and infection.  Keeping your pet fresh and clean plays a major role to your pet aging gracefully.  Sometimes caring owners have a tendency to not bathe and groom their senior pets.

Keeping the skin and coat clean and healthy is a major component to feeling better.  Don’t you feel better when you bathe and wash your hair?  Don’t you want the same for your loyal four legged companion? Let him have a spa day at home with a lavender infused shampoo for relaxation.  Or better yet, give your buddy a massage while shampooing him with one designed to sooth sore muscles, inflammation, and arthritis.  That will alleviate the hip ad joints providing immediate relief for your pet.  Don’t you wish you could have a spa day like that?

Take a few extra minutes out of your day and continue to develop the bond with your senior pet.  Human touch and interaction are important in their golden years.  A hug, a kiss, or a quick massage  helps assure them that everything is going to be alright.  They have been your loyal companion and always by your side.  Knowing that you have done everything you can to help your pet during the golden years.  After all, they have been devoted to you since day one!