Scissoring Spray

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

One of my favorite things to do is hand scissor a dog into a beautiful pattern.  Groomers are artist. We have a gift of being able to create a gorgeous piece of work using the hair.  It goes without saying that dog must be clean and the skin and coat must be in good condition in order to accomplish this.  But, what else does it take to create our beautiful finished product?  Choosing the right equipment is necessary.  That doesn’t mean it has to be the most expensive, but it does need to be in good working order and properly maintained.  Choosing shears that work best for you and your hand is vital too. In addition,  we need to be able to choose the right products for the coat type. I also believe it is important to use a scissoring spray when styling a pet.

Rather than allowing a coat to work against you, scissoring spray will help the coat work with you. It not only will help reduce the static, but it will also allow the coat to be more pliable. Remember, you do not want the coat to be damp or wet, but rather a light mist so the coat will stand up and allow you to scissor the dog.  The use of scissor spray throughout the groom helps create a smoother finish on the dog because the coat is working in your favor.  It doesn’t fall down like it normally would if I did not use it. It also helps keep the coat hydrated and in the best possible condition.  Of course, I want my groom dogs walking out the door looking their best.  But, I also want that groom to look good next week, the following week, and so on. Keeping the coat in the best condition possible and putting a great finish on the dog allows me to do my best work.

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.

Why Coddling your Dog is Doing a Disservice to your Dog and Groomer.

Sarah Drouin NCMG – Pet Tech CPR CErtified – Award Winning Stylist – www.theplushpooch.com

One of the most frustrating things groomers encounter is an overbearing dog parent. I mean this in the kindest way, as we genuinely care about your dog.

The reason it is so frustrating is that we know your dog is anxious because of your actions. As humans, we coddle children when they are scared. If they fall and cry, we pick them up and assure them that it’s okay and we often coddle them.

This is not effective with dogs because the canine brain is not as complex as the human brain. Humans comprehend that you are reassuring them that they will be okay and the pain will go away. Dogs are unable to comprehend that you are telling them it will be okay. In fact, what you are showing the dog is that their state of mind, anxiousness, fearfulness and uncertainty is okay.

Dogs are pack animals and follow their leader. In a pack, if the leader is nervous or uncertain, the dog thinks there is a reason to be in that state of mind. So, unfortunately being a kind human and doing what you would do for another human has the reverse affect for your dog. The best thing to do for a dog who is always anxious, fearful or uncertain is to remain calm, with a clear mind and avoid coddling.

Talk to your groomer while your dog is on a leash and let them assess the situation for themselves. Do not encourage the behavior you are wishing away, but be calm and assertive. Allow your dog to have a sense of security by feeling your confidence when dropping them off with your regular groomer. Most importantly, allow your groomer to build the foundation for long term and confident relationship with your dog.

Trust me when I say, your dog and groomer will thank you!

You will eventually feel great and see the rewards that come of it!

The Big Picture – Attention to Detail

Sarah Drouin NCMG – Pet Tech CPR CErtified – Award Winning Stylist – www.theplushpooch.com

Sometimes the devil is in the details, and other times the devil is in spending too much time on the details. Detail orientation is most  useful when it is sufficiently complemented by an eye for the big picture.

So, I have a friend who is learning to groom. She attended a school and learned the basics, but she is still trying to hone her skills. She mentioned to me that she wondered how she could start developing an eye for attention to detail.

I know that she is not the only one; regardless if you have been grooming for one, five or twenty years, this has probably crossed your mind.

How can you train the eye to pay attention to detail?

Some activities that can help train your eye; finding what’s wrong in this picture, memorizing photos, and even making little rhymes to help you remember something.

“Norwich terrier has the pricked ears and Norfolk terrier has the folded ears.”

I think we have all compared ourselves to others.  While you may want to steer clear of comparing, I do think it is a great learning experience to watch another groomer.

Begin with the feet; focus on what you want your feet to look like, invision it. Work on feet for a week or two. If it takes longer, then do it until you are satisfied.

Once you have feet down pat, move on to tail sets. Tail sets differ between breeds, but you should start looking and reading your breed standard. When you learn which tail set is for each breed, you will already know how to set the tail for a mixed breed.

Next, work on faces. Take as long as you need and focus on what you want that face to look like on that client.

Once you are comfortable with faces, it is time to perfect your finishing  work. Step back when you are done with your dog and take a look to see  what sticks out to you. What don’t you like about this groom?

Go back and fix it.

Before that dog leaves, do yourself a favor and take a picture. Over time you will see how much you have progressed. You will also go home, see that picture and pick things out that you didn’t see at the salon.

Attention to detail may take one person longer than another to perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others and set your own goals to strive to be the groomer that you know you can be.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short on the Bath

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

So many times, we are over booked, running behind, or a dog who doesn’t have an appointment made it on your schedule.  You need to make up some time to stay somewhat close to your schedule, and do not know where to take a short cut. Often, I hear groomers trying to take a short cut in the bath tub thinking that one bath will get the job done if they lather that coat up a bit more. Aaahhhh, don’t do it! The bath is one of the most important parts of the entire groom.

I always recommend two baths.  Call me old school, that is okay, but think
about it. The first bath, the preliminary bath, is going to remove all the
dirt, debris, and dander from the dog.  I usually recommend a more basic shampoo with a slightly heavier surfactant to get the job done.  The second bath is designed to offer a solution.  Maybe it’s a matter of adding more silk proteins to seal the ends of a drop coat, a keratin shampoo for volume for those curly coats, or a tea tree oil shampoo to help impede bacterial and fungal growth. Whatever the reason, the first bath will get the dog clean and return the skin and coat to a more neutral state. Once the skin and coat has returned to a neutral state, the second bath, the solution oriented bath, will allow you to treat the skin and coat.

Once the dog is clean and you have the coat in the better condition, then the finish work is more attainable.  You can artfully wield your scissors and clippers to turn the pet into whatever you want.  You are able to showcase your artistic ability making the pup look fantastic and keeping the client very satisfied!

Picking the Pawfect Grooming Salon For Your Furry Friend!

Samantha Mobley  |  Espree Animal Products

Going to the grooming salon, for most dogs, is not exactly a fun experience. Whether your dog is a seasoned pro, or a newbie in terms of grooming, the process can be very stressful for some dogs- no matter what the age. There are many different factors to consider when bringing your pet to a salon to allow maximum comfort and as little stress as possible.

First, your dog needs to be current on all vaccinations. Most salons require the rabies and Bordetella vaccination to be groomed. You may ask why they need shots, but this not only ensures that your pet is healthy, but it also prevents them from contracting and spreading other dog related illnesses in the salon such as kennel cough. At most facilities this is mandatory for grooming. Also, if your dog has any kind of history of aggression towards people, other animals, or specific things being done (like trimming nails, cage aggression etc.) please notify the grooming facility. They will be appreciative and take the proper measures to ensure that your pet and the staff do not get harmed during the grooming process.

Senior pets:

If your pet is a senior dog (10+ years old), it is usually recommended that you take them to a vet for their grooming. Senior dogs often times have some health issues, and they will be assessed and monitored for their entire grooming process. If something were to ever happen, a team of veterinary technicians and a veterinarian would be there to help with anything that may occur.

Injuries/ailments/aggressive behavior:
Taking your dog to a vet is also recommended if your dog has any major ailments or issues (pregnancy, trouble standing, hip dysplasia, a broken bone, severe skin conditions, post-op surgery, extreme aggressive behavior, severe matting) so that they can be handled and cared for accordingly. If your dog is extremely aggressive and cannot be taken to a regular salon, it can be sedated by the vet to ensure a safe and stress free groom for both the groomer and dog.

Corporate and mom and pop shops:
If your dog has no issues, then you could take them to virtually any grooming salon of your choice. With that said, keep in mind that corporate grooming salons often adhere to stricter rules and time tables than their mom and pop counterparts. Dogs will often be more closely monitored at a corporate salon, and they will generally be done in 4 hours or less. In the event that a cut, nick or burn would occur, you would rather be at a corporate salon who will foot the bill than a mom and pop shop that does not (usually) have any legal obligation to pay a vet bill in regards to any incidents.  A regular salon is great as well. They will often let you drop off before work and pick up afterwards. They are generally owned by a seasoned groomer who is very knowledgeable, and the staff usually consists of 3-7 groomers in the salon. If you are trying out a new salon, make sure you read current reviews online, and ask to take a look around and meet your groomer. Also, have the type of hairstyle you would like in mind, or written down to help them achieve the cut that you would like. Keep in mind that a full service groom generally takes around 4 hours depending on the size and condition of the dog. This accounts for the bathing, drying and the full haircut.

Booking an appointment:
After you’ve done your research and found a place that’s right for you and your pet, it’s time to book the appointment. Call the salon, make sure you have your info ready about your dog (breed, age, records, temperament, issues etc.), and see what time works best for you and the groomers. Some salons are booked out weeks in advance, so the sooner you can get an appointment, the better. Fridays and Saturdays are generally the busiest times for grooming salons, so a haircut may take a bit longer just due to the sheer volume of dogs scheduled for that day.

Hopefully with these tips you can find the right grooming salon for you!