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I've talked a lot in various threads about the loss of our wonderful groomer. She went on sick leave back in the summer, and shows no signs of returning. We tried her colleague a couple of times, but the last appointment turned out like this: Miserable after grooming :(

Needless to say, we won't be going back any time soon.

So despite my physical limitations (and emotional reservations!) I'm diving headfirst into home grooming our spoo. Some things to know:
  1. I have zero aptitude for this.
  2. I want to enjoy it, but so far I really don't (probably because it physically hurts me).
  3. Peggy is prone to resource guarding, so although she's never actually bitten me, I have seen her in a scary defensive state and am apprehensive when it comes to pushing her past her comfort zone.
  4. She's actually been a dream client for the pro groomers we've used, and I really don't want to undo all that careful positive socialization with my clumsy efforts.
  5. I'm committed to doing my best, prioritizing her comfort above all else.

I'll use this space for updates, in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation and is comforted by the knowledge they're not alone. We've got some fabulous home groomers on Poodle Forum! Learn from them....and then come here when you need to be reminded that someone's worse at this than you are. ;)

Here's my entry for Day 1:

I made my first real attempt at shaving Peggy's face today. When I brought out the clippers, she took one sniff and ran away. Sigh. But surprise! It turns out she ran straight to the ottoman and hopped up! That's where I've been doing her daily brushing, so this was a rather special moment.

I used the #10 setting on my new Wahl Bravura Lithium. I love that these clippers don't get hot. Peggy also tolerates them much better than my corded Andis, but she was still extremely unhappy with the situation. She was yawning and ducking her head so much, it broke my heart ignoring all her very clear "Please stop" messages. I had to tell myself to toughen up, project confidence, and hold her muzzle firmly, with occasional rewards for tolerating my fumblings. I got about 25% done.

The end result is that she looks like she came nose-to-nose with a lawnmower.

472242



I finished by running the clippers over her ears. She was so happy I wasn't touching her face anymore, she settled in and watched TV while I worked! Progress.

Next up? You can probably guess from that photo....

Her nails!
 

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Poor Peggy (and poor Robin!).

Annie got her feet and face and tail and sanitary done today. She was unusually stressed by it. I think because, since it is now WINTER I didn't do it outside with her lying on the porch, and there was stuff on the kitchen table, so instead I stuck her on-top of the chest freezer. She promptly slid and almost fell and scrambled! Oops. So I scooped her up, held her in my arms, yelled for my mom, and mom ran and put a bathmat on the freezer. Anyway, she was doing the yawning stress thing by the end, despite tons of petting, so I ended it with her still having pretty sad looking feet. I also noticed today that the corners of my 30 blade (which I used on her feet) are pokier than I would like so that might be why she was objecting. I may send them for sharpening and ask the sharpener to round them off a bit.

Then I did a big groom on poor Trixie, who always looks like I took a lawnmower to her.

When I was learning to use the clippers on Annie's face, I found it really helpful to practice with the clippers turned off to get the angles and grip on the dog right before stressing about the actual CUTTING part. I liked to do say 2 strokes with it off, then the same 2 strokes with it on. It felt like fair warning to her so she understood what was going on.

As for nails - I do one nail = 1 treat with Trixie. It works really well. She had gone from trying to bite and needing to be restrained, to dancing near me, jealous, when she hears me clipping Annie's nails. 1-2 mm at a time, and if you squeeze a bit and the dog flinches, don't cut there, take off less than you had planned.
 

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Great job making progress! You will get there! Just remind yourself she has had it done many times. She is probably testing to see what she can get away with when you are grooming instead of her usual groomer. She will learn that it is going to happen whether she likes it or not. Don't despair if you have a rough day. I've had days where I feel I will never be able to keep grooming Misha because he is so bad. I went many months where I could only manage to get a few swipes at his front feet every week even with a grooming hammock. But persistence pays off. Trying new methods is always good as well. One thing I do is keep the trimmer off until I have it placed properly on the face, and then turn it on and quickly swipe forward. That way they don't get nervous feeling the vibration. It really helps with sensitive areas.
 

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The first time doing the face is a big step. I read and reread that bit in the Kalstone book and studied all the photos of how to hold the face and stretch the skin, and somehow we managed. Poppy does not mind having her face clipped, but hates me doing her toes. We compromised on two swipes then scissors for those - nowadays they are practically bare from the steroids, which for Poppy is another benefit of being ill!
 
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I have no advice but I am definitely following this thread as I want to learn to do all of Bobby’s grooming at some point. I am slowly working on doing his nails myself using a dremmel. I still have the groomer clip them but I want to eventually be able to do them. I just do little bits at a time. I want to learn to shave his face next as I love the clean face and would like to keep it nice and clean between professional grooms. Eventually I would like to do more but if I could learn those two things for now I would be quite pleased. I know I will learn from this thread.
 

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That’s a very nice start ! I’m sure you will both be so much more comfortable in no-time. The hurting part stinks, I know. My dogs are small so we can be done faster but it’s still a challenge.

Merlin hates having his nails done and I stopped doing them for a long time but started again with COVID. I put a cone on his head so he doesn’t have a chance to bite me. That makes me relax and I can get the job done faster.
 

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I’ll add my two cents about nails. My Poppy hates nail clippers but dozes off when I use a Dremel so that is what we do. Once in a while her nails go too long between trimmings and I wind up dremeling in them a little bit every 4 days....the quicks shrink back in between sessions and you are not very likely to “quick “ a nail the next time. For me it is easiest to do nails with her lying on a sheet on the couch which I also drape onto the floor. The sheet catches the nail dust from dremeling. I sit next to her on a stool which is about as tall as the couch seat and have her feet in my lap. Convenient and comfy for my old back. Here is an illustration which has helped me visualize how best to do nails.
2358DDE0-0C2A-40E3-A33F-9DDE58712550.jpeg
 

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VQ- that nail diagram is really helpful!

PTP - Congratulations on taking your first steps in doing Peggy's grooming. I am an amateur groomer of my poodles, and have been doing it for a few years now. Stick with it- it gets easier!

One thing that has always helped me is to STOP when I am ahead :) . Meaning that, if things are going well in a groom session, and I kinda like how I have scissored Betty's topknot (for example), I stop trimming it, and move on to another part of her body. Since I tend to obsess a bit, its better for me to leave hair a bit long, or a bit uneven. Then I can always go back over that area later, or not!
 

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White nails are easier to trim. Noelle has dark brown nails and I have no idea where the blood supply is. It's scary trimming her nails.
If you look directly into the center of the nail, where you cut, you can see a dark circle starting to appear. That’s the quick. Even with black nails, it’s visible.

I bought a new Dremel this year and it has a built-in light at the tip that helps you see the quick. I use it on both dogs and it’s great. It seems to be one of the preferred tools for professional groomers which is part of the reason why I bought it.

 

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Peggy’s nails are mostly white. I think three are black. But it’s irrelevant because I’ve been unable to try clipping even one. We’re still at the “tapping each toenail and then rewarding with a treat” stage. She literally sprinted away when I first pulled out the nail clippers so this is progress, albeit maddeningly slow progress. I wonder if she had a bad nail experience with the groomer?

As for her coat, she’s looking more and more like she’s been wrestling with a lawnmower, and it’s making me sad. I’m longing for my neat girl, but oh well. Onward.

Day 2:

Today she allowed me to do a formerly tricky spot: The top of her nose. I also went from a 9 to (I think) a 15, which gives much more satisfying results. But when I attempted her moustache, she leapt away like I’d hurt her. So I did the top of her throat instead, choosing not to go down very far because she’s got loose neck skin, which I’d like to hide with hair.

Look at that scraggly moustache. :(

472421
 

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Oh shoot! How did I forget? I also worked a little on her front feet, just shaving the very tops. They look messy, but I was impressed by how she tolerated it, wanting to run away after each, but staying still until then.

I think this part would be much easier on a table with a stable, grippy surface, vs. the cushioned ottoman I’ve been using. On the ottoman it’s easier for her to lay down than hold a paw up, which won’t be possible when I do her back feet.
 

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The front of the muzzle is actually very sensitive because the whiskers seem to tickle when trimmed. Misha for sure will twitch when I clip one. It is one of those things they just have to get used to.

My sister's dog is terrified of nail trims and has overgrown long black nails. While home for the holiday I have been working with him. He is better with a clipper than a dremmel. I only work when he is relaxing in his bed. I get a bunch of tiny treats and snip the tiniest sliver from each nail. For each time the clipper snips a sliver, he gets a treat. He does very good with this but panics when you have to take a lot off the nail. I am trying to convince my sister to commit to regular weekly trimming so she can just take a couple millimeters each week and he won't be scared. He used to scream when I used a clipper. But then I realized he actually screamed before I cut the nail because he just thought it would hurt. He didn't actually mind the clipping part at all. Just anxiety.
 

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So after seeing this photo:

472585


I had to sit with the realization that my fear of nail clipping does not justify this level of inaction (aka neglect). Either I need to clip them or someone else needs to clip them. No more putting it off.

So I grabbed a stick of cheese and got out the never-been-used Millers Forge nail clippers. Peggy sniffed them, happily jumped onto the grooming ottoman, and then flew off when she saw that I was still holding them. Nope.

I told her to get back up and we repeated this a few times: She’d lay down, get a piece of cheese, I’d pick up the clippers, and she’d launch herself off again. I progressed to a firmer tone, treating only when the clippers were visible and she was perfectly still. But ohhh the theatrics....

Truthfully, I thought she was going to bite me a few times. She was grumbling and talking back in tones I’ve never heard. Almost conversational?? And then she’d urgently mouth my hands or try and press her chin down on them. I responded by increasing my firmness, holding a paw until she stopped struggling. Then I treated. Then I held a paw until she stopped struggling, tapped a nail with the clippers, then treated again. Finally I made my first clip....my first clip EVER....and she didn’t even flinch. Seriously?

The theatrics subsided, but she was still obviously worked up and doing everything in her power not to bite me. It took a lot of confidence on my part to keep going despite her clear signals—confidence I had to fake because I certainly wasn’t feeling it! The second nail actually flew into my eye so consider that a warning: If you’re getting waaay in close because you’re terrified of quicking your poodle, wear eye protection!

After four nails I let her hop down and invited her to follow me to my husband’s home office. While she watched, I handed him the clippers and he oohed and ahhed over them until she couldn’t resist checking them out, too. Then we returned to the ottoman: “Up up!” I asked for a paw, she calmly offered it to me, I treated her with cheese, and that concluded today’s session.

Phew.
 

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So after seeing this photo:

View attachment 472585

I had to sit with the realization that my fear of nail clipping does not justify this level of inaction (aka neglect). Either I need to clip them or someone else needs to clip them. No more putting it off.

So I grabbed a stick of cheese and got out the never-been-used Millers Forge nail clippers. Peggy sniffed them, happily jumped onto the grooming ottoman, and then flew off when she saw that I was still holding them. Nope.

I told her to get back up and we repeated this a few times: She’d lay down, get a piece of cheese, I’d pick up the clippers, and she’d launch herself off again. I progressed to a firmer tone, treating only when the clippers were visible and she was perfectly still. But ohhh the theatrics....

Truthfully, I thought she was going to bite me a few times. She was grumbling and talking back in tones I’ve never heard. Almost conversational?? And then she’d urgently mouth my hands or try and press her chin down on them. I responded by increasing my firmness, holding a paw until she stopped struggling. Then I treated. Then I held a paw until she stopped struggling, tapped a nail with the clippers, then treated again. Finally I made my first clip....my first clip EVER....and she didn’t even flinch. Seriously?

The theatrics subsided, but she was still obviously worked up and doing everything in her power not to bite me. It took a lot of confidence on my part to keep going despite her clear signals—confidence I had to fake because I certainly wasn’t feeling it! The second nail actually flew into my eye so consider that a warning: If you’re getting waaay in close because you’re terrified of quicking your poodle, wear eye protection!

After four nails I let her hop down and invited her to follow me to my husband’s home office. While she watched, I handed him the clippers and he oohed and ahhed over them until she couldn’t resist checking them out, too. Then we returned to the ottoman: “Up up!” I asked for a paw, she calmly offered it to me, I treated her with cheese, and that concluded today’s session.

Phew.
Wow! Congrats! That is great! I do think she must have been quicked A LOT by groomer or somebody to have that negative reaction. That anxiety has to come from somewhere. I told my sister I don't think she should take her dog to get them clipped where she was as he clearly had a bad experience.
 
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