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Category: Tips & Tricks

How To: Educate Doodle Owners

As a groomer, when it comes to building a successful relationship with the dog you are grooming the number one step seems obvious, right? Train the dog to act accordingly on the table, in the tub, with the equipment, blah blah blah. Wrong (in my opinion – even though that is very important). Of course you have to train the dog, but you also need to train the owner. Even more so with “doodles” because almost everyone that buys them seem to be first time animal owners. It’s not a bad thing whatsoever! No matter how much learning they attempt to do on the internet – at some point they inevitably need the assistance of a professional. That is our chance to shine, to educate, and to build a relationship that will benefit not only them but us as well.

My clientele list consists of about 60% doodle type dogs. I love the long beautiful hair, the eye lashes, the flowing tails, and the excited personalities that come with them. I understand why they are at such a high demand.

My goal is to teach new doodle owners how to properly care for their pets at home from the day they are brought home- how to maintain a regular professional grooming schedule, how to wash/brush/dry properly at home, and how to communicate what they’re wanting the dog to do with grooming.

That’s what I think is important when it comes to communicating with these owners. As much as you, the professional groomer, think it’s common sense when it comes to regular care- and yes it should be BUT why not take a few extras minutes to express these needs to these people that just want what is best for their “new fur baby.”

 

So what are my secrets?

1. REGULARLY SCHEDULED GROOMING APPOINTMENTS

At the end of the appointment when the owner is picking up, I try to schedule at least one or two future appointments. Most of my clients schedule their own sessions online through my booking app but I make sure they are on the same program. Four-week schedules are what I typically like to do, full groom- next four weeks- bath and tidy- another four weeks a full haircut, etc. Any time more that, unless they’ve been properly trained, doesn’t work for me- most of the time they come back matted. A lot of people honestly do not brush their dog everyday, but if they’re doing it thoroughly 2-3 times a week it’s okay.

2. Two Baths

Every dog I groom gets two baths. One hypoallergenic (tear free) shampoo nose to tail. Followed by a slightly fragrant shampoo, usually Nature’s Specialties Almond Crisp or Plum Silky. When it comes to conditioner I use the Bobbi Panter Nourishing- I am EXTREMELY stingy. Not like I am trying to save a buck but it just takes forever to blow dry a coat that is 5+ inches long. I apply my conditioner on top of the second shampoo in order to reduce that time, along with adding more water than conditioner to the mixing bottle. They’re so soft after that, I’m kind of jealous their owners get to take them home to cuddle.

Do you sell these shampoos to owners at your shop? 

As of right now, I’m not currently selling shampoos to clients- I recommend a place they can purchase online or in store if needed right away. My next step is to add an online shop to my website where I can also sell merchandise like custom Alien Pups dog bandanas, human shirts, sweaters, etc. My business has grown so much in the last few months so I’m still trying to figure out other ways to improve.

Why do you tell them about two baths/washing/drying?

Some of my clients like to wash and dry their dogs at home, which is when I recommend blow dryers and other equipment necessary. I tell people I wash their dogs twice because they’re always wondering why they smell so good or are insanely soft. First bath to get the grim off, second bath for fragrance- I noticed people have a harder time rinsing the conditioner when it’s straight on the coat. That’s the why I like to remind them about putting the conditioner on top of the second shampoo. Not only does this cut down the drying time but it also cuts down the amount of water used to rinse the dog. 

3. Blow Drying

I love blow drying dogs. Nature’s Specialties “Fluff & Puff” spray all over the body is a MUST. It has a light scent and it’s unbelievable with volume once properly dried. Granted some dogs don’t like the dryer, that is when I go low and slow. The Flying Pig blow dryer is my favorite for situations like this, being able to adjust the speed is extremely necessary. I know most groomers are having to do 6-10 dogs a day, whereas I groom maybe 4 a day- 5 at most. Not everyone gets to take their time with the dryer, that is why plenty of groomers use fans or those crazy kennel drying contraptions. To each their own, we are all here to get the job done.

What do you recommend that they use at home for blow drying? 

I started my business using the Shelandy blow dryer from Amazon, it was $60 when I bought it over 2 years ago and now it’s about $80 or so. The clients I have that like to do the in between baths have this one, a couple with bigger dogs have the same Flying Pig dryer as me. I like to remind them to secure the dog in one place when drying, rather than chasing the dog all through the bathroom. We know that gets messy. Plus, that doesn’t help with with their professional appointments in the future if they make blow drying an annoying game to the pup.

Do you sell them the Fluff & Puff Spray?

I have not personally sold the Fluff & Puff spray yet, I tend to buy the gallon so if I know a client is struggling with brushing at home I’ll give them a little sample of the spray so they can test it out at home, if they like it I recommend different sites that sell the product or products similar. I would love to be able to sell the Fluff & Puff in the future so my clients don’t have to worry about running out and having to wait.

4. MY FAVORITE GUARD COMB

The yellow comb attachment, 0 comb, 5/8th’s guard comb- whatever you want to call it. It’s my go-to. After properly brushing and combing out the coat, I’ll do one rough cut all over. Once I’ve gone over the whole body up to the neck, I’ll comb the hair up and go over again with the clipper. I like to do this a couple times with my Andis ZR II to cut down my scissor time- by A LOT. Face trimming is next, I typically grooming the face before I scissor the feet because it gives me a chance to double back once I finish the paws to see where the face lays. Always double check for fly away hairs, I’ll put the dog on the floor once I’m finished to see if there’s any extra hairs that go astray before I return the pup to the owner.

If I use a yellow attachment for the body, I’ll use it for the beard as well. No one likes a wet doodle beard (if you do, you’re wild). For the head I’ll do 2-3 lengths longer than the body- most of my clients like a big ole fluffy head. Thinning shears and chunkers are my favorite tools to use to finish off my giant doodle heads, it gives that soft look that their owners adore. Make sure you’re combing the hair forward when scissoring the face. I made that mistake a lot when I first started, it tends to look a little funky once those after photos come out.

Do you have clients that clip at home?

Typically, my clients don’t clip their dogs at home, when COVID started- everyone got groom crazy! I can’t tell you how many people video chatted me in order for me to go through the process with them. As a former military brat, I like to groom a lot of military dogs- which means they are here for a short amount of time and then ship off to another location. Those are clients I LOVE to teach how to groom their dogs themselves. I set them up with a list of equipment needed and either show them the process I do on their dog in person, or set them up with video footage of the ways I groom their dog.

Do you tell them to brush consistently?

I’m OBNOXIOUS about it. I constantly tell my clients to brush, de-matt, and comb out their dogs. They know too! Some of them tell me “I’ve been brushing Fluffy all week for our appointment, I know you don’t like the matting.” That makes me giggle, I know you haven’t brushed your dog.

Do you tell them which tools to purchase?

Always tell them which tools to buy! Or else they resort to some Facebook group. You know what they say about the blind leading the blind… I have videos on my Instagram of tools, sprays, and techniques I like to use.

How do you teach them to communicate what cut/style they want?

Honestly, a lot of the clients I have base their dogs’ haircut off what I think would look good on them. Sometimes that’s a lot of pressure, that’s why I have a go-to, but I like to base it off how I think the body structure would look on this specific dog. Then there are also those people that bring me a picture and I just do what they want done in that photo. I have a few clients that write cute little lists for me, I LOVE LISTS. I don’t care how many times I have groomed your dog; you want to bring me a list of everything specific you’re looking for. PERFECT. I love that.

What else do you do to educate Doodle Owners?

Honest communication is what it comes down to. If they’re not doing a certain thing correctly, tell them. No sense in repeatedly shaving the dog down time after time and everyone getting so upset. I like to inform them of the dogs’ problem areas, aka where they get the most tangles. Arm pits, I tend to shave those but they still grow out- so check and brush them. Chest, most dogs wear harnesses so that friction creates matting- so brush that after taking it off. Sides of back legs, these dogs are napping most of the day so clearly it gets messed up back there. TAILS, goodness don’t get me started on these long tails. I love them, but lets not forget to brush the tail. I would hate to shave it to look like a rat…

 

All of these tips are valuable for you the groomer, yes- but they are the same things I share with every one of my doodle owners. Owning a doodle requires endless amounts of maintenance and as long as I am able to send them in the right direction for tools and different techniques, then I know we are set up for a wonderful future together. Grooming is a working relationship, not only between us and the dogs but also between us and the owners. Communication is key. Nurture that relationship with the owner, earn that trust, give love to that dog, and I feel extremely confident you will be able to find the same success. Two years into my business and a majority of my regular clients are like family, once you’ve made that connection everything else is golden.

 

Thank you to Tasha Torres aka @alienpups for sharing how she educates her Doodle owners. Doodles CERTAINLY are a popular breed and won’t be going away anytime soon. But that’s ok because it’s ~Job Security~ baby! All we can do is try to educate these owners on how much work it is to maintain their dogs and why it is so costly. That way everyone can benefit and we can avoid matted doodles & upset doodle owners.