Put Your Best Foot Forward

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

Every pet stylist has those strong, energetic, and determined dogs that truly test our patience when they are being groomed.  Hopefully, we don’t have too many, but we usually will have at least a handful.  After all, groomers have a passion and love for animals that is second to none.  The difficult ones need to be groomed too.  So, how do we handle this strong, energetic temperament without letting it ruin our whole day?

We need to figure out a way to transfer positive energy to these dogs when they are in the salon. Every morning, we must prepare our self for the day.  We do it for ourselves and we should do it for the dog’s that we will be grooming for the day. Try to bring your best self for the day.

When these more challenging dogs are on the table, remember to center yourself.  Try not to get upset or frustrated ( I know, it is easier said than done).  Just take a moment and breathe. We do not want to project any anger, fear, or uncertainty.  What we project to the dog, they will project right back to us. They will feed off of our emotion.  You must stay positive, calm, and be in charge.  Heavy handling is not an option.  Not only is it unacceptable, but it gets creates a negativity about grooming. We eventually would like them to enjoy or at least tolerate the grooming process. Always try to put your best food forward and do the best you can.

Puppy Grooming 101


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

We always see in increase in young puppies in grooming salons during the spring and early summer months.  As they appear on the books, I always find myself hoping the puppy has come from a breeder that has worked with them on grooming behavior.  Or if it is a rescue puppy, maybe the foster home has had the opportunity to work with the young dog too.  But, sometimes we aren’t so lucky for one reason or another.  It then becomes my job to teach the puppy how to get groomed and make it an enjoyable experience.  That first groom is so important.  We must keep the puppy safe and at the same time make it an enjoyable experience for the pup.

Depending on the circumstance with the pup and what I have scheduled for the day, determines if I try to get the puppy in and out of the salon quickly, or I might choose to keep it longer and put it on the table several times to get through the groom. Most often, I try to get keep the puppy for a brief period of time to help minimize stress.  I let the client know that if the puppy needs to take several breaks from being on the table, I might be calling asking for a few more hours for the visit.  When they know this ahead of time, and I explain how I want to make it an enjoyable experience as it sets the pace for grooming for the lifetime of the dog, they seem to be more understanding.  As long as I communicate with the client and let them know why I might need to keep the puppy, they are more understanding.  So not only is it our job to teach the puppy to enjoy being groomed, we have to train the client to do what is in the puppy’s best interest.

Grooming a puppy for the first time can be very scary for the young one.  If the dog is on the smaller side, I will often put the dog on my lap holding it close to my body for the first nail trim.  I lower the tone of my voice and try to comfort them and offer praise when we are finished.  I always keep one hand on the puppy at all times when on the table.  After all, being on a table can be a scary thing for the puppy.  I also take the time to massage the pads of their feet, and familiarize them with the sound of clippers and scissors.  I even will gently hold their face under the chin as if I were going to trim the face. I pet them and give them a little massage to get them to relax and begin to trust me.  If the puppy is really nervous, I might not do a full groom the first time.  Sometimes, a bath and tidy is a better choice. If this happens, I ask the owner to bring the puppy back in 2 weeks for another groom.  Even though puppies can take more time to groom, I want them in the salon every 2 to 3 weeks.  I want to take the opportunity to teach them Puppy Grooming 101 so they can enjoy coming to the salon.  After all, I plan on grooming those puppies for their life time! I want them to have fun and behave so as they mature, I can put a cute, stylish trim on them!

The Wonders of Argan Oil


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

The Argan tree is one of the most magnificent plants in the world.  The unique properties of its oil has been used in the development of skin and hair products for quite some time.  With its deep nourishing properties, argan oil will rejuvenate your pet’s skin and coat.

It is most commonly used to hydrate the skin and coat.  With its high Vitamin E and fatty acid content, argan oil will give the skin and coat a natural boost. Argan oil improves the overall health of the skin and coat.  This exotic, luxurious oil will rejuvenate the coat by locking in moisture while restoring the luster and shine.  It repairs dry and brittle coats by sealing split ends to restore the smoothness of each individual strand of hair.  This exotic oil also improves elasticity and manageability by bringing the coat back to life.  Argan oil is ideal to use on all coat types.  It gives new life to dry, damaged, tangled, and even parasitic coats. Pamper and rejuvenate the pet’s skin and coat with the unique properties of argan oil.

The Puppy Cut


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

From poodles to doodles, yorkies to schnauzers, the “puppy cut” is one of the most common requests that grooming salons have today. This easy to care for style works well on a variety of pets that have a longer coat.  Because of its popularity, there are a lot of different interpretations of this trim.  It is important to make sure the professional stylist and the pet owner are on the same page. The term “puppy cut” is used rather loosely leaving a lot of room for interpretation and artistic creativity.  Never assume the client is familiar with the trim, especially if they are new to your salon. I ask them questions about if they want their dog to be fluffy, like a puppy, or do they want the dog to be short and smooth.  Sometimes this can be frustrating for the new client because they can’t understand why you are not familiar with this trim.  When this happens, I always ask if they want their puppy to “look like a new born puppy, a 4-6 month old puppy with some fluff, or a puppy closer to a year old.  Of course, I always have a big smile on my face. They quickly get the idea that there are many interpretations of this trim. This is a great time to take the opportunity to start developing a solid relationship with the client.  Educate the client and offer advice on what options would work best for their pet.  Of course, it is important to take into consideration the activity level of the dog, coat condition and type, whether the coat is matted or too tangled, body structure, and frequency of grooming appointments the clients wish to have. Communicating with the client will help build trust and they will be more open to your guidance if you are open in discussions about what works the best for their beloved pet.

Controlling Tear Stains

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

One of the biggest pet peeves of pet owners and professional groomers is controlling tear staining on white and light colored dogs.  They can make a clean dog appear dirty even when it is fresh out of the bath tub.  Generally speaking, tear stains are not a major health concern, but rather a cosmetic issue.  However, it is important to get to the underlying cause of what is causing the pet to produce tear stains.  Allergies, dental infections, poor nutrition, hard water, teething, blocked tear ducts, eye ulcers, and Entropian (a condition where the eyelids roll in) are several issues that could be causing the pet to have unsightly tear stains. Whatever the reason, it is important to find out what is causing the issue rather than attempt to cover it up. Once the problem is identified, a solution to the problem can be found, and the issue can be resolved.

When I am asked about controlling tear staining, I evaluate the specific dog and offer advise specific to the situation.  I also encourage the owner to speak to their veterinarian to discuss their insight to solve the problem.  The owner must be willing to make an effort to solve the problem and attempt to take the necessary steps to stop the tearing, while the professional stylist develops a game plan to tackle the staining.  In my breed (Bichon Frise), I personally find that dogs that eat a chicken base diet tend to have more tear staining issues than dogs that eat a fish base diet as the main source of protein.  Sometimes, water that has a high mineral content causes excessive tear staining.  Distilled water could be a suggestion if this is the case.  The veterinarian might recommend to flush the tear ducts as there could be a blockage.  Every dog is different, so I always try to make recommendations to owners depending on each one’s specific circumstances.

For the removal of stubborn stains, the professional groomer must come up with a game plan.  Some facials are formulated with optical brighteners to help lift the stains. Typically, I will use a facial to help lift the stains.  I then use a whitening shampoo and allow it to sit for several minutes being very careful to make sure I do not get any product in the eyes.  After I use whitening shampoo, I ALWAYS condition the facial furnishings to seal the coat. If you do not seal the coat with a good conditioner, the hair follicle will open and cause further staining.  After several appointments, the staining dramatically lightens in color.  Hopefully, the new hair will grow in and the underlying cause of the problem will have been resolved.  Educating the client and developing a good working relationship with them is imperative to being able to tackle issues like this and find a solution to the problem.