Speedy pet grooming is one of many ways we show compassion for the animals in our care. Grooming efficiently doesn't mean you care less about their needs. You can groom a pet quickly while still being gentle, respectful, and without sacrificing quality and thoroughness.
I understand this not only as a groomer, but from personal experience with my own fur family. I have Maremma Sheepdogs, two of which are over 10 years old. They are heavy, double-coated, large dogs. At one time, they had the physical strength to endure longer grooming sessions. However, as they've aged, grooming has become more uncomfortable to tolerate.
It's important to get them in and out of the grooming salon as quickly as possible. Anything over an hour and a half fatigues them. They have some difficulty standing on the grooming table. The risk of injury is much higher simply because they are not as steady, strong, or sturdy as they once were. When they come home, both sleep for hours without getting up. As beautiful as they are, I know they are physically and mentally exhausted from the grooming process.
Most pets benefit from minimizing the amount of time they spend in the grooming process.
- Young dogs do not have the attention span to deal with prolonged grooming sessions when they are first being introduced to the process.
- Many pets are "home bodies" that don't deal well with situations outside of their home life. The sooner you can get them back to their owners and into their home, the more comfortable they are.
- Prolonging the grooming process on difficult or aggressive dogs typically aggravates the situation. Handling them in a gentle, respectful manner in the least amount of time is beneficial for both them and the groomer.
- Senior dogs may not have the patience nor the physical ability to tolerate longer grooming sessions. Speeding up the process and/or giving them rest breaks as they get fatigued between active grooming procedures will make them more comfortable.
Regardless of whether it is a full brush-out or a haircut these are my time goals for pets being groomed every 4-6 weeks:
Most small to medium-size dogs - about an hour.
Larger, furrier dogs - approximately 90 minutes.
Of course, large dogs with excessive hair that are in poor condition or are not groomed on a regular basis are going to take longer. Short haired, light coated, smaller dogs, or pets with simple haircuts may take less time.
How do you speed up the process without sacrificing the pet's well-being?
- Equipment - Working with high-quality equipment facilitates speed, effectiveness, and quality of the final grooming product. Continually upgrade your tools and equipment. Do not hesitate to replace tired or worn out items. The investment will have a positive impact on the well-being of your pet clients (as well as your bottom line).
- Supplies - Keep your tools organized and within arm's reach. Having your supplies nearby also means fewer wasted footsteps each day. Saving steps = saving time.
- Handling - Pets are highly capable of reading energy - yours and the salon's. Dogs are silent communicators. Minimize unnecessary talk and movements towards the pet. The more you can remain calm, cool, and collected, the more enjoyable the entire grooming session will be - regardless of the temperament of the pet.
- Focus - While working on any pet, staying fully focused enables you to complete the grooming process in the least amount of time possible. If chatting and music are distractions, eliminating them will allow you to focus more closely on what really matters - the pet.
- Comfort and Safety - Comfort and safety applies to both the pet and the handler. Adjustable tables and grooming arms need to be sturdy. A well-positioned safety loop keeps the dog tethered to the table or in the bathtub comfortably while restricting unnecessary movement. Utilizing a Groomers Helper acts like a second set of hands for pets who are overly active on the grooming table. Using an anti-fatigue type matt on the tabletop offers security and comfort to the pet, especially those that are larger or older. If a muzzle is necessary to prevent a dog from biting, make sure it is comfortable for the pet. If a pet is sensitive to the noise of a dryer or the sounds of an active salon, a Happy Hoodie can reduce their anxiety.
- Knowledge - The more educated you are about the entire grooming process, the more confidence you will have. The more confident you are, the more quickly you can make a dog feel at ease. Being self-assured allows you to get through the entire grooming process quickly.
- Bows and Bandannas - These items can easily be premade prior to the completion of the grooming. Having them ready and waiting means your pet doesn't have to.
Being efficient with the entire grooming process is not just about getting more dogs done in a day. It's about being compassionate towards the pet. It's about being effective, knowledgeable and skillful with your grooming techniques. It's about knowing how to produce amazing work in the least amount of time. It's about being gentle and respectful to the pet regardless of their size, condition, or temperament.
We are here to help pets and their owners. We work as a team, looking out for the pet's overall health and well-being. To me, that's the most rewarding part of being a professional pet groomer/stylist. Being able to get a dog or cat back to its owner in the least amount of time is just one way of keeping pets healthy and happy.