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Great info from previous posts. I also go toward the eye in a scooping motion while holding the muzzle. You won't get all the lower eyelashes but that's fine as they look good with 1/4" left on them. So I don't worry about getting it super close to the eye. Just enough to shorten them up. I don't think it's possible to go away from the eye. In fact, that might be more dangerous as you won't be able to see where you're placing the trimmer very well. Once you do it, you'll probably see it's not nearly as nerve wracking as it sounds. I always start from the back of the eye and work my way forward.
 

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Peggy’s face looks good!
By the way, a long time ago you mentioned that you let Peggy eat her eye boogers after you picked them off as a reward. I immediately put that plan into action with Lacey. She’s always been more than happy to let my fingers near her eyes. But she wants to lick my fingers the second they’re by her eyes, lol.
 

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I bought a very short plastic guard (the Wahl size on it is 0.5 or 1/16”) which gives me so much confidence on the face.

Just knowing that there’s something between the blades and skin makes me feel comfortable, an added bonus is that Mr. Sensitive doesn’t get irritated (a risk even with a #10).
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Peggy’s face looks good!
By the way, a long time ago you mentioned that you let Peggy eat her eye boogers after you picked them off as a reward. I immediately put that plan into action with Lacey. She’s always been more than happy to let my fingers near her eyes. But she wants to lick my fingers the second they’re by her eyes, lol.
Lol. This delightful technique can be applied to other things, too, like ears. Poodles are gross.
 

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Yesterday I had a slicker-brush breakthrough. Somewhere along the way, I started doing an upward lift/flick at the end of each stroke. Not only was it inefficient, I saw a video recently that explained how it actually damages the coat. So I switched up my technique a little and am seeing much better results. Even my husband remarked on how fluffy she is. Without the flick, I get much deeper into the hair and cover more area in less time.

Last night I decided to take advantage of sleepy couch time with some nail desensitization. I got out a human nail file and tried a few swipes on her back nails: Zero objection. So I did the same with the front: Chill poodle!

The nail file had no effect on her hard nails, but it had to have been a strange sensation. And it got me more comfortable holding each nail firmly.

Now I’m researching nail files that are designed specifically for dogs. They don’t replace nail grinders or clippers, but still might be a nice addition to the toolbox.

Here’s Peggy and her sad topknot enjoying a little post-nail-file treat:

 

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Poodles are gross.
Yep, they sure can be. I’ve told my family about this trick and they nearly gagged.


hooray, Peggy doesn’t mind the nail file! That’s a good sign.
A nail file with a sturdy handle would definitely be a helpful addition to clippers to smooth the rough edges. Only downside is how quickly they dull.
 

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Hooray! I clipped ALL of Peggy’s nails today. That’s a first. :)

While she didn’t exactly love the experience, there were no theatrics. What I did differently:
  • I stuck to low-value treats, which make a huge difference. The cheese was sending her through the roof!
  • When she figured out what I was about to do, she ran away, which I expected. But I noticed she ran to the rug where we do most of our indoor playing and training. So instead of coaxing her straight back, I took her through some basics commands. She settled right down and became very obedient.
  • I had her sit on the couch instead of the ottoman where I usually groom her. I wanted to break the “ACK! Scary stuff is about to happen!” association. The couch also allowed her to comfortably lean back into various positions so I could more clearly see her nails with my headlamp.
Full disclosure: I hated doing her black nails. H-a-t-e-d. But I could clearly see the quick in her white nails, which helped my confidence a little. The headlamp is essential. I previously used it for doggy first aid situations, but it makes so much sense to use it for grooming, too. Thanks, @Raindrops!
 

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Hooray! I clipped ALL of Peggy’s nails today. That’s a first. :)

While she didn’t exactly love the experience, there were no theatrics. What I did differently:
  • I stuck to low-value treats, which make a huge difference. The cheese was sending her through the roof!
  • When she figured out what I was about to do, she ran away, which I expected. But I noticed she ran to the rug where we do most of our indoor playing and training. So instead of coaxing her straight back, I took her through some basics commands. She settled right down and became very obedient.
  • I had her sit on the couch instead of the ottoman where I usually groom her. I wanted to break the “ACK! Scary stuff is about to happen!” association. The couch also allowed her to comfortably lean back into various positions so I could more clearly see her nails with my headlamp.
Full disclosure: I hated doing her black nails. H-a-t-e-d. But I could clearly see the quick in her white nails, which helped my confidence a little. The headlamp is essential. I previously used it for doggy first aid situations, but it makes so much sense to use it for grooming, too. Thanks, @Raindrops!
That's awesome! Great job! I use my headlamp all the time. Black dog life... 😄
 

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Discussion Starter #49
I’m feeling so overwhelmed by poodle maintenance today. She doesn’t look good, which I need to just be okay with for now. But I’m also worried she’s uncomfortable.

I shaved the base of her tail today (9 setting, Bravura), which left her biting at herself in a panic. So I gave her a bath—stopping the biting but making her equally miserable. She wouldn’t take treats and just hung her head like the saddest dog. :( But it was pretty cute when I let her out of the tub and the first thing she did was reach back for the treats she’d previously ignored. She also loves being towel-dried.

Of course, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “This is destroying her coat! I should be using a high-velocity dryer!” And I start feeling overwhelmed all over again.

I’ll be honest - I almost caved and texted our groomer to ask her to book us back in with her colleague (the one that left Peggy miserable in November). But I stopped myself and took a deep breath. This isn’t rocket science. It’s poodle grooming. Relax.

Other things I did today:

-practised clipping closer to her eyes
-cleaned up some wild hair along her jawline
-cleared a bunch of hair out from under her ears
-did some paw desensitizing by just lightly clipping the tops


472818


Takeaway from today: I am absolutely going to need a grooming table to properly tackle her tail. Or my husband will have to help. It’s very hard to keep her from sitting while I’m working back there. And in general I’m spending more time managing her than focusing on what I’m doing. I think that’s what makes this all so hard. I need at least a second set of arms. But even more would be nice.
 

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I’m feeling so overwhelmed by poodle maintenance today. She doesn’t look good, which I need to just be okay with for now. But I’m also worried she’s uncomfortable.

I shaved the base of her tail today (9 setting, Bravura), which left her biting at herself in a panic. So I gave her a bath—stopping the biting but making her equally miserable. She wouldn’t take treats and just hung her head like the saddest dog. :( But it was pretty cute when I let her out of the tub and the first thing she did was reach back for the treats she’d previously ignored. She also loves being towel-dried.

Of course, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “This is destroying her coat! I should be using a high-velocity dryer!” And I start feeling overwhelmed all over again.

I’ll be honest - I almost caved and texted our groomer to ask her to book us back in with her colleague (the one that left Peggy miserable in November). But I stopped myself and took a deep breath. This isn’t rocket science. It’s poodle grooming. Relax.

Other things I did today:

-practised clipping closer to her eyes
-cleaned up some wild hair along her jawline
-cleared a bunch of hair out from under her ears
-did some paw desensitizing by just lightly clipping the tops


View attachment 472818

Takeaway from today: I am absolutely going to need a grooming table to properly tackle her tail. Or my husband will have to help. It’s very hard to keep her from sitting while I’m working back there. And in general I’m spending more time managing her than focusing on what I’m doing. I think that’s what makes this all so hard. I need at least a second set of arms. But even more would be nice.
Sounds like you did a great job today! Deep breath. She looks really good. You won't hurt her coat by letting her air dry! Don't worry about it. She is short enough that it won't matter. A 9 blade is perfectly fine for tail shaving. She may itch for a little while but the itching will subside pretty quickly. I have probably mentioned it, but I like to use vitamin E oil for itchy areas and it seems to help. I'm going to try to do a feet video tonight since Misha's due for feet. No idea how I'll get the camera in proper view but we'll see.
 

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Sounds like you did a great job today! Deep breath. She looks really good. You won't hurt her coat by letting her air dry! Don't worry about it. She is short enough that it won't matter. A 9 blade is perfectly fine for tail shaving. She may itch for a little while but the itching will subside pretty quickly. I have probably mentioned it, but I like to use vitamin E oil for itchy areas and it seems to help. I'm going to try to do a feet video tonight since Misha's due for feet. No idea how I'll get the camera in proper view but we'll see.
Ahhh! Thank you! I can’t wait to see. Will definitely be tricky to get the camera in there. Thanks for making the effort.

I’d read that rubbing with a towel is bad for poodle hair, but you’re right - her hair is still quite short. And it’s soon to be even shorter. I’m hoping to tackle her body in the next few days.

One thing I should have mentioned is that she’s tolerating the clippers on her face much better with each attempt. That’s worth celebrating.
 

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Ahhh! Thank you! I can’t wait to see. Will definitely be tricky to get the camera in there. Thanks for making the effort.

I’d read that rubbing with a towel is bad for poodle hair, but you’re right - her hair is still quite short. And it’s soon to be even shorter. I’m hoping to tackle her body in the next few days.

One thing I should have mentioned is that she’s tolerating the clippers on her face much better with each attempt. That’s worth celebrating.
Rubbing with a towel just causes matting, but won't be an issue for short hair. For long hair I still towel off but just use pressure to squeeze the water out. No issues with that!
 

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You may not think she looks good, but I think you’re picturing how Peggy looks after she was done by your first unicorn groomer and comparing it. Had you never taken her to a (very talented) pro groomer, I think you’d be thrilled with what you’ve been able to accomplish in this short time. To me she looks tidy and presentable and has an owner that cares about her.

You just started this undertaking so it makes sense you’re overwhelmed. It takes a lot of patience and practice. She’s also a lot of dog to groom.
Physically struggling to wrangle Peggy for grooming would be frustrating and hard on the body. A grooming table will help so much. She will wiggle and try to pull away but once she realizes she can’t go very far she won’t try to fight it as much. Hopefully the elevation will make it easier on your body too.

I have faith you’ll find your groove, get Peggy mostly tolerant and be satisfied with the result.
 

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@Porkchop, you are such a brilliant encourager. Thank you! Can you tell I’m a recovering A+ student? Lol. It’s hard not being great at something.

I think we start to forget, as our educations recede into the distance, that learning is a gradual process. Right now I’m in poodle grooming kindergarten and there’s no point comparing myself to someone who’s in poodle grooming high school.

The “grooming ottoman” is probably working against me, too. Peggy's comfortable there, which is good, but she has the freedom to hop on and off as she pleases throughout the day. Expecting her to stay still there—with no collar or leash or assistance—while I groom beyond the basics is asking a lot. With that in mind, I should really be proud of how amenable she’s been.
 

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This lovely piece feels relevant:


And it’s made me extra glad I started this thread:

“[F]eedback, especially the positive kind stressing what you’re doing right, delivered by an actual human teacher or coach watching what you do, is crucial for a beginner—which might seem obvious except that, in an age when so many instructional videos of every sort are available online, you might get lulled into thinking you could learn just as well without it.”

Thanks for the positive feedback, poodle friends. :)
 

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I think you would really like having a dedicated grooming table. Peggy would learn that the table=grooming time, and she would learn to stay on it. She would be at a more convenient height for you to work on her too! When I put up the table, Betty will go to it, and put her front paws on it waiting for me to boost her up. She has never been allowed to jump off of it, and she reliably stays on it until I lift her off.

The “grooming ottoman” is probably working against me, too. Peggy's comfortable there, which is good, but she has the freedom to hop on and off as she pleases throughout the day. Expecting her to stay still there—with no collar or leash or assistance—while I groom beyond the basics is asking a lot. With that in mind, I should really be proud of how amenable she’s been.
 

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I’m glad the feedback and encouragement has been helpful! Yep, your former A+ student is showing. A positive of that, you do a lot of research and share your knowledge with everyone here!

For some reason I get an error page when I clicked on the link you shared. But I’m glad you pulled that quote. It reminds me that when I’m training a new person at work to remember to give feedback on what they’re doing right. I don’t do that enough.
 

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I’m glad the feedback and encouragement has been helpful! Yep, your former A+ student is showing. A positive of that, you do a lot of research and share your knowledge with everyone here!

For some reason I get an error page when I clicked on the link you shared. But I’m glad you pulled that quote. It reminds me that when I’m training a new person at work to remember to give feedback on what they’re doing right. I don’t do that enough.
I think positive feedback is so easily forgotten. We correct, correct, correct, correct.... We do it with dogs and we do it with humans.

Sorry the link’s not working for you. Here are the details if you’d like to dig it up:


Is It Really Too Late to Learn New Skills?
You missed your chance to be a prodigy, but there’s still growth left for grownups.

By Margaret Talbot

January 11, 2021
The New Yorker
 
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