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Discussion Starter #1
Someone's answer got me wondering if it ever just gets too bad and you turn them away and refuse to groom their dog? I know as a beginner there are many things I will not do or even attempt to try because I haven't had someone teach me. Shaving a matted dog down to the skin is one of those. Post some of your grooming stories. I'd love to read them.
 

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for 4 years I could say that I had taken on and done every single dog that walked in my door. Some of them weren't finished as great, but I DID them all!!!

But just recently, I have turned away two. !!

The first was a soft coated wheaten X, that was showing sign of aggression when the owner bought it in, but I gave it a go anyway (often it's worse with an owner around, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt till the owner left) it was to be shaved down due to knots anyway. I was super busy at the time, so left him in a crate for a few mins while I sorted myself out (noting that I left his lead outside the cage!) and the dog went nutty at me through the cage door when I went to open it. I told him to quit being an idiot and got him out anyway (no nonsense ya see, usually works fine when ya don't react to their stupidity!) so he came out, tail up and wagging, jumped about happy as larry again, jumped on me to give him a cuddle while going over to the table... I go to hold his collar so I can then bring my arms down and help him up.... YIKES! I'm glad I'm quick, cos he was gonna get me. Ok, so we settle down, and I see what we can and can't do. He'll let me pat him if he jumps on me, ok. Can I reach to pet him when he's not jumped on me? *snap growl*, umm, that's a no then. ok. Can I get him to accept me if I spend a few mins with him.... *pet fondle cuddle*..... *move towards collar* *snap growl scream snarl* hmm, k. Maybe not!! Can I try get a muzzle on him so that I can just get him shaved down.... *looks at dog* *dog lunges for hand with muzzle* ok, fine, you're going back into your crate and going home.

I cried. I felt sooooooo bad. I've never ever had to turn a dog away, and I felt like such a failure! I still do a bit... I talk myself up about it all the time, ya know, my hands are my career and he could have ruined that for me if I wasn't quick enough. I was sensible. Most others wouldn't have even let him in after the first show of aggression. blah blah blah. I still feel like crap.




The second dog was a soft coated wheaten too. Purebred this time though. Sweetest nicest lil girl ever! Except when you turn on clippers in the same room... Again, she's matted and needs shaved down. I tried spending a full 10-15 mins working with her, but she was still literally rolling on the table and climbing the framework on the wall to get away, all the while screaming and freaking out. Couldn't even get near her properly with scissors. I sent her home without grooming her, but I did try to convince the owner to bring her in to see me as much as possible so we can build up a bit of trust (ie not grooming her for ages!) but I haven't seen them again so who knows. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well first dog I would have totally given up on the first time he tried to bite me. You are right your hands are your money so if something happens to them you are out of work. The second one seems like she had a bad experience with a groomer poor baby.:(
 

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Yes.

When dogs are checked in at my work we have to check them over completely. The young daughter was holding this maltese and I needed to check his eyes, so I lifted his overgrown visor and he growled and snapped at me. So I thought okay, he's just protecting this girl. I had her turn around and hand me to his backwards, so now I'm holding him.

The mother and owner goes to reach for the dog to show me what she wants done and the dog latches onto HER hand and starts shaking his head around. Needless to say, blood is gushing all over and she got to keep that towel. So the dogs freaking out, discovers that someone else is holding him and goes completely psycho doing 'C's' to say and get me, my boss tells me to just drop him (saying it like.. 5 times in 2 seconds) so I lower him and drop him to the floor and he scurries below a chair where even his owners couldn't get him out for a couple minutes. I don't know what became of the dog, they can't come back.

I've had other cases where I was able to finish the dogs with a muzzle and team work, but I had to tell those people that those dogs, as a liability and their temperments listed in the 'don't groom' section in our rule books, that they couldn't come back to our salon.

It's also a given that we have to turn away any dog that's pregnant. We're SUPPOSE to turn away extremely matted dogs, but our groomers are experienced enough to deal with mats.
 

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I'm still learning, I've been grooming for over 8 months now, and there was one dog that I agreed with my boss wasn't worth grooming.
Regarding behavioral issues, which was the case with this dog, we will groom basically ANYTHING. I got the worst bite of my life from a silky that the owner tried to hand to me. I kept the dog that day and worked up to grooming her (she even let me hold her beard to scissor her face). I haven't been bit again (yet), but because she had a long period where she stopped coming, she was bad again when she returned and we're now having weekly visits to build up a bond again. So long as an owner is willing to work with the dog, I will do the same. If there are aggression issues that pose a significant threat and the owner is unwilling to acknowledge or work with the problem, then I have no problem refusing the dog. Some dogs bite and are very difficult but they don't bite for blood or really pose much risk. For these types of dogs we'll often add a handling charge (always much less than it should be) to compensate us for our time.
Because I have a strong interest in dog behavior and a soft spot for fear aggressive dogs (which are most of the biting dogs I've encountered at my job) I really enjoy working with them and teaching them that grooming can be a fun, painless experience that they have no reason to fear. This tends to work really well so long as the owner is on board and keeps on a regular schedule, works with the dog at home, etc.

As far as matting goes.. we donate our services to needy shelter dogs who are usually so horribly matted that I've often had to fight back tears. It is amazing how neglectful people can be. The shelter dogs are very rewarding because their personality changes completely once they're freed from their matts. They are usually extremely friendly and seem to bond with us throughout the process. Most of them get adopted almost immediately after grooming. One of our groomers and one of our clients have adopted shelter dogs we've groomed, so it's great to know that they're going to good homes. But when clients bring in severely matted dogs and have no concern over the dog's wellbeing... it's tough. We want to help the dogs so we'll groom them.. but it is impossibly difficult to return a dog like this to a situation where you know they'll be neglected and become matted again.
One client has been in two or three times over the past 3 years. The severely matted cockapoo he owns lives in the backyard. The animal control officer has been to the house several times. I just called last week when another client saw the dog in the road down the street from our shop. The owner had been in a few weeks ago wondering where he could buy clippers to shave the dog down himself. After leashing the dog and returning him to the house (which I regret), I reported the severe matting and off-leash dog hoping that eventually they'll take him away and he'll find a good home. These are the dogs I have trouble with. I would never refuse to groom him, because he needs a compassionate groomer who will take the time needed to remove his matting without any unnecessary pain or stress.. but it takes a toll emotionally when you know it's not going to improve anytime soon...
 

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it is soooooo rewarding to be able to work with fearful dogs and over time bring them around to at least tolerating being groomed. Like dazydaizee said, pretty much alll dogs who bite, don't actually want to BITE you, they simply want to make you stop what you're doing, and will snap to make their point. I'll muzzle a dog if need be so i can work with it, but can usually end up finishing it without the muzzle totally fine. There's not many truly aggressive dogs, and that first dog I was talking about is the first one I've come across in 4.5 years (IMO he was dominant and aggressive, he was happy to wag his tail and bounce about and 'happily' lunged at me when I wasn't doing what he [entire] wanted! He certainly wasn't fearful) I do plenty of fear-aggressive dogs, and they're fine to work with when we both know each other and the 'trigger' points to work around!

And I don't turn away matted dogs. They need groomed!!! I know it's crappy and I could throttle the owners who let their dogs get that way, but darn it, the dogs still need groomed! I will NEVER turn away a dog simply cos it's matted. I will charge like a wounded bull though, cos that's where it'll hurt the owner and help the dog.
 

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I always get worried about the extra charges for matting. We will add matting charges and it's easier if it's a client who comes routinely and you know that they'll be back.. but when we see a dog in really rough shape I worry that by charging appropriately, they'll be deterred from bringing the dog back or having the dog groomed again because they clearly value the money over the dog's well-being. Usually we'll only add an extra 10 bucks or so, which is extremely low considering the amount of time we put into dematting some of these dogs. Occasionally we'll add more. We groomed a Saint Bernard who had to have 5 baths (we have a hydrosurge and rinsed and hand-bathed between filling the tub again.. so it wasn't for lack of effort or capability, she was FILTHY). She had drool that had caused matting and staining extending from her muzzle down to her chest that had to be shaved, along with matting in other areas. She was just a giant dog in terrible shape that took hours and hours to finish. We charged accordingly and the owner said he'd return to pay the remainder of the bill because he only had so much cash. We never saw him again. We groomed 4 Saints from the shelter a month or two later. These dogs were from a group of 8 seized in a neglect case. They were in better shape than the client's dog.
I wish there was a way to ensure the dog continued to be groomed AND get paid for our time..
And we do have a few dominant aggressive dogs as well. We're lucky that they are not terrible enough that we can't work with them, but it is more challenging. We rarely muzzle (dominant or fear aggressive), but there are a few dogs we muzzle for certain parts of the grooming, but like flyingduster we work with them, learn their triggers, and can usually finish all or most of the grooming without a muzzle. And we rarely get bit..
 

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I will charge like a wounded bull though, cos that's where it'll hurt the owner and help the dog.
Unless the owner decides it's not worth the $$ to bring the dog in anymore because it's so expensive!! I wonder if a "frequency discount" would make it more attractive to the owner and then it really would help the dog - the ONLY way they get the discount (which could be a small one so it doesn't hurt the bottom line for the groomer) is if they regularly bring their dog in every X number of weeks. That way, the dog never gets matted, the owner thinks they're getting a "deal" and the groomer gets to condition the dog to regular grooming...

Even then, there are some owners that really shouldn't own dogs that need regular grooming (or maybe shouldn't own a living dog at all - go get a stuffie!!) :wacko:
 

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One of my dogs is a rescue, and when we got him he was severely under weight, and full of mats. We literally clipped three grocery bags of mats off the poor fella. His testicles were matted to the insides of his legs. His ears were matted to the sides of his head. He was in rough shape. Once he realized that we weren't going to beat him with the clippers, or the slicker he relaxed. After all those mats were off him he was like a new dog.

I was so embarrassed by the condition of him (even though it wasn't my fault) I wouldn't have taken him to a groomer. I didn't even like taking him for walks because I was afraid that people would think I had starved him. I was fortunate to know a groomer that knew the whole story and came to my house to clip him. I can't believe that people aren't more ashamed of the way their dog looks when they bring it in!

I think plumcrazy might be on to something with the frequency discount idea. People like to think they are getting a deal. And for the record, I would hate to have to do it, but I would turn a dog away if it was remotely aggressive.
 

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Plumcrazy.. we actually do this for all clients.. we give a "pre-book" discount.. so if they make their next grooming appointment when they pick their dog up (and it's within an allotted time frame) they get a "pre-book" discount. We also break down charges and tell the client that this is how much extra you paid for matting. If you bring the dog in on a regular schedule (we will let them know when the next appt should be scheduled), then you will only pay this base price. If you pre-book, then you save this amount off of the base price.
We also offer very reasonable brushing rates for a client who can't brush at home to stop by and let us brush the dog out for 15 minutes to prevent matting between groomings. We offer a multi-dog discount, we have senior discounts, military/police/firefighter discounts. We give $5 off for each referral. We have tons of first grooming discount cards that our dog walking clients and a few other people/businesses give out. We have free first groom certificates for dogs adopted from the two shelters we work with. We also will offer further discounts and very low/free maintainance prices for people who honestly can't afford it. I think the best thing is to just charge for our time, but I always worry for the dog.. usually it's just that person who shouldn't own a dog in the first place, and there's nothing I can do about that...

Skye.. I can picture your dog. I've groomed exactly that numerous times. This is what basically all of the shelter dogs we groom look like. And some were found as "strays" but are clearly friendly and the owners were probably just too embarrassed to surrender them or have them groomed, so simply let them loose instead. Others were seized or surrendered. And just like you described, so many of them have clearly never seen clippers before, and once they get over the fear, they typically seem to realize that it's helping and they're feeling better and they always seem so grateful. Total personality change... They're finally happy.
I'll try to get some pictures up and post the link.. it's unbelievable..

Also.. I don't think it's wrong to turn away an aggressive dog if you're not comfortable working with them. Dogs do feed off of our energy, and if you're apprehensive, this reinforces the dog's fears and it's not good for either of you. As mentioned, most aggressive dogs in the grooming environment are fear based, and these dogs need to be groomed, too.. but they need groomers experienced and comfortable working with them. I don't think it's wrong for anyone who isn't comfortable with it to turn down a dog showing signs of aggression.
 

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Our shih-tzu was a rescue that we got at the end of October
according to the rescue people he had been freshly groomed 2 weeks before we picked him up so we waited the 6weeks to get him groomed

He was in an AWFUL condition =\
hes a healthy weight but he was so matted the poor guy had matts everywhere
yesterday when we picked them up my mom started to cry in the car we were over joyed with how Elphie looked but she felt SOOOOOO bad she thought she had made him matt with neglect or something ((we actually don't know how long he went without a groom with us 6 weeks but no idea how long before that))

We went straight to the store and bought 6-7 different kinds of dog brushes for him, some stuff that says it dematts and all sorts of treats for him

but I agree Skye, we felt so embarrassed that we had allowed him to be so bad off with his coat
hes shaved down now and wearing a coat because he has bald patches where the matts were so bad =[[
 

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All your discounts are AWESOME, DazyD!!! You actually go above and beyond what I had suggested and the dogs are the ones who will ultimately benefit. Yeah, the owner gets a discount, but because they're coming more frequently - they're actually paying more frequently (but getting a discount each time, so it's like win-win-win for everyone!!)

I also wanted to thank you for your donated grooms to the humane societies! If I ever get good enough by practicing on Lucybug to do some "comfort grooms", I may offer my meager services to our shelters, here, too... I know how valuable those grooms are to the babies who have been neglected toooooo long!! God bless you!!
 

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I'm not even a groomer but I've done 2 dogs that have both been adopted after I groomed them. It's a great feeling to do something that helps a little dog get adopted.
 

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Keithsomething, I've seen my fair share of owners who legitimately didn't know about matting or for other circumstances ended up with a matted dog. It's understandable when it happens once and the owners are willing to learn and commit to never letting it happen again. A big part of grooming is client education, and I never hold it against someone who is concerned for their dog's best interest and willing to do what is necessary to care for their dog. Obviously you guys were misinformed and are taking measures to prevent your dog from becoming matted again, so I wouldn't feel too bad if I were you. You guys are doing the right thing!

I uploaded some pictures of a few of the shelter dogs we've done if anyone is interested: http://s673.photobucket.com/albums/vv92/groomingemporium/MSPCA grooms/
 

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Keithsomething, I've seen my fair share of owners who legitimately didn't know about matting or for other circumstances ended up with a matted dog. It's understandable when it happens once and the owners are willing to learn and commit to never letting it happen again. A big part of grooming is client education, and I never hold it against someone who is concerned for their dog's best interest and willing to do what is necessary to care for their dog. Obviously you guys were misinformed and are taking measures to prevent your dog from becoming matted again, so I wouldn't feel too bad if I were you. You guys are doing the right thing!

I uploaded some pictures of a few of the shelter dogs we've done if anyone is interested: http://s673.photobucket.com/albums/vv92/groomingemporium/MSPCA grooms/
 

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you did a great job on those dogs!!
I wouldn't mind bringing a dog to you for a grooming ^_^
 

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I have a couple success stories before and after as well.
http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs48/f/2009/160/9/a/Grooming___Shih_Tzu_Pearl_by_FluffyChic.jpg I had already shaved her body and was preparing to repair her face. I'm actually grooming her again this Saturday.

http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs44/f/2009/151/7/6/Grooming___Cocker_Bella_by_FluffyChic.jpg This was a fun story, the dad had JUST adopted her. Brought her straight to the salon from the shelter. She was A MESS! And no matter how many times I bathed her after I shaved her she was still greasy! The family came by while I was still grooming (the kids didn't know she was theirs) and the dad asked, "Well kids, isn't she a pretty dog?" And they were all oogling at her. When he announced that she was their dog they got SO excited. She now has the most gorgeous silky soft black coat.

http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs40/f/2009/033/a/3/Grooming___Toy_Poodle_Aspen_by_FluffyChic.jpg This is a client of mine. =/ She always comes in matted, and the ear infections in her ears are so badly neglected that they ooze pus and she thinks it's from me not pulling ear hair.. her ears don't seem to even grow hair in them anymore they're so infected. If the owner ever put this dog up for adoption, I'd grab her in a heartbeat. She's the sweetest thing.
 

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That toy poodle looks so sweet after shes all groomed up!!!
You did a wonderful job on all of those pooches
:D

How do you deal with them blaming you for their neglect?
 
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