Take a good look at this face!
Did you take a good look?
You can’t imagine that this face could attack you, can you?
That sweet, sweet face…
He attacks me if I look at him!
He attacks me if I pet him! 
Oh boy, does he attack me when I dare to talk to him!!
It takes a few minutes after each attack to calm him down to continue the groom.
I have been grooming him since he was a puppy.
Every groom is the same.
Attack, attack, attack.
I have even told his owner about his attacks.
He just can’t help it.
I have learned to be careful with how much I make eye contact while grooming.
I am careful not to pet him too much during the groom.
Most of all, I try to keep my mouth closed and not talk to him during the groom.
Or I would never get him finished.
Sometimes I just can’t help it.
Sometimes I want him to attack.
Yes,  you read that right…I want him to attack.
He is the best and happiest attack dog I have ever groomed.
Just make eye contact, or pet him and he will attack you with the best kisses
Oh, and when you talk to him, or praise him he just goes crazy with a full body wiggle and an attack to the face with a million kisses!!
 This little guy….
I love this little guy!
He is one of my favorites to groom.
I would take him home in a flash.
Always happy, always good, always sweet.
And best of all….
He ALWAYS attacks!!!  🙂
No matter what kind of day I am having, this guy
is the best medicine to make me feel happy.
On a side note:
For anyone still reading my blog, I would like to apologize for disappearing and not writing for a while.
It has been a long hard two years personally.
The loss of two parents and a very dear Father-in-law, with-in one year, seemed to have effected me more than I would like to admit.
Followed up with my son leaving to join the Marines was also a major adjustment for me.
There were many times, while at work, I would think ‘this would make a good grooming post’, only to get home and just not have it in me to write.
I also experienced a possible career ending injury this summer.
Thanks to the Doctor and a well placed Cortisone shot I am back to scissoring again.
My daughter Jessica was a life saver this summer when I suddenly found that I could not even hold a pair of scissors much less scissor a dog.
What to do?
We were fully booked for the summer.
There were no open appointments to move anyone to.
We did not want to cancel any of my long time regular customers.
And, I had to wait weeks for an appointment with the Doctor.
So, what did we do?
I should say, what did Jessica do? 
She stepped up!
I became a bather.
My son and I did all of the bathing and drying.
I roughed in what I could with the clippers, (I got very good at ‘finish’ skimming) and Jess did all of the scissor finish work.
She was grooming 14 to 16 dogs a day.
For over 8 weeks!
And, we managed to get done on time everyday. 
We are now back to each grooming our own clients.
I am so grateful to be scissoring again with no pain.
I could not even imagine having to give up grooming. 
My daughter has been after me to continue my blog, because she knew how much I enjoyed writing it.
I am going to make an attempt to continue it, so bare with me please.
Oh, and thanks to anyone who still checks in to see if I have posted anything new.  🙂 

One of the draw backs of grooming for 30 years is watching so many of your furry clients grow old and sadly, eventually pass.
Today I had one of my senior furry customers in for a groom.
Sadly, he is failing fast from several different health issues.
He did so good for his groom today.
I can no longer use the HV dryer on him, so he gets dried with the small hand dryer.
He can no longer see, so I scissor as best I can around his eyes.
He jerks his face a lot when he senses the scissors close to his eyes.
Thankfully he still stands still on the table.
So many of the blind dogs that I groom tend to have a habit of walking forward even though they can not see.
If you didn’t stop them, they would just walk right off the end of the table.

It has always amazed me how a dog, that I have groomed all of its life, and has always stood very good and still on the table to be groomed, will suddenly become a ‘walker’ on the table when they become blind and can no longer see where they are going.
That can be a source of many heart attacks (for me) while grooming.
It is also hard to watch some of these senior fur babies become senile.
You may have been grooming them all of their lives, but they no longer remember you, or remember what you are doing.
You need to spend extra time grooming and reassuring them that all is well.
Sometimes it is like grooming them when they were a puppy and you have to show them that what you are doing is okay.
They do not remember you or what it was like to be groomed before.
Some can’t see anymore.
Some can’t hear anymore.
Some can’t no longer stand up.
Some dribble pee constantly.
Some do all of the above!
The saddest thing for me is when a dog, that I have groomed since it was a puppy, becomes senile and aggressive.
I am talking about a dog that has always been very, very sweet and gentle.
They suddenly become very mean and very aggressive.
Biting for everything.
It is the saddest thing.
I have had this happen to at least a half dozen of my very favorite dogs.
I once read about a groomer that refused to groom any dog over 10 years old.
She would also stop grooming dogs that she had been grooming for years once they turned 10.
I can not imagine doing something like that.
How could anyone groom a dog for so long and then just say “no more”.
No matter how hard a senior dog has become to groom, I have and always will try to continue to groom and make that dog feel good for as long as I can.
I do make sure that my senior dog owners understand that I will only do what the dog will allow and that the groom may not be the best that it used to be.
All of my senior customers have always understood and been grateful for any grooming I was able to do on their old pets.
I will say that I do tell all of my very senior, or sick pets (and I tell this to them right in front of their owners) that they are not allowed to pass on my time. 
All senior pets owner must be available to pick up their dogs the second that I finish them.
The owners also understand that the grooming will come to an end if I feel the dog can’t handle being groomed that day.
They are also booked as an in and right back out dog.
I have actually had customers tell me not to worry if their dog does pass away while I am grooming it.
That they will not blame me or be upset.
Well I will!!!
I always tell them to “bite your tongue!” or “don’t wish that on me!”
I actually had one customer that was hoping that her dog would pass away while I was grooming her, because they did not want to make the ultimate decision that was coming.
For the last two years of that dogs life I thought, that every time I groomed this clients dog, it was going to be the last time, but that dog just kept on going like the energizer bunny.
Scared me to death to groom it sometimes.
A small Terrier….need I say more?
The hardest part of watching my furry customers become seniors is when the owners ask me to tell them when it is time to help their dog pass.
It is amazing how many times I have been asked when, or how they should decide…
Receiving that finial phone call from the owner of a long time fur customer is hard, but I am so very grateful to have been able to make that fur baby clean, happy and beautiful for so many years. 
Even though it can be sad sometimes, I will always groom the fur seniors to make them feel good in their golden years. 🙂

Dogtopia’s Environmental Biologist Lorraine Rhoads answered your questions about dog safety in our recent Facebook Live session. Topics included pet nutrition, protecting your dog’s paws in cold weather, and what to bring for your pet if you have to evacuate your home.

Q: With all the natural disasters and other emergencies, what essentials should dog parents keep accessible in the event of an evacuation?

A: First thing’s first: plan ahead! Know your local concerns – wildfire? Hurricane? Heat wave? Consider the worst case scenario and create a family plan. Also, make sure your dog is up-to-date on all of its vaccines before a disaster hits!

Create a Canine Go Bag, which should include:

  1. A copy of your current vaccine records from your veterinarian, including a photograph of you and your pet together. KEEP A HARD COPY. You may not always be able to have your phone. This will help in identifying you as the pet parent as well as provide proof to the authorities of current vaccines in the event you and your furry family member are separated.
  2. A set of feeding and water bowls in the bag as well as a supply of dog food (minimum of 3 days.) Also make sure you have a supply of any special medication your dog may need (insulin, heart medication, seizure control medicine, etc).
  3. Collar and leashes for each dog with current ID tags – better yet, make sure your dog has a microchip!
  4. Flashlight with back up batteries and/or glow sticks or reflective tape
  5. Consider having a labeled carrier or collapsible crate ready in case you can use a vehicle to evacuate safely. Label carrier, crate and/or Canine Go Bag with your name and contact information.
  6. A basic first aid kit with doggie safe items.

Before and During a disaster:

With enough warning, make sure your phone is fully charged and do your best to maintain a full charge with your communications by keeping extra chargers ready.

Keep in mind: if you have to evacuate, you need to take your dog with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay, it’s not safe for your dog.

Always evacuate as early as possible. The “better to be safe than sorry” rule applies here! The longer you wait to evacuate the more difficult it will be to do so.

Find a safe place to stay ahead of time. If friends or family are not close enough, contact dog friendly hotels and motels. Keep a list of these places, including their address and phone numbers printed out in your Canine Go Bag. Always check with your closest Dogtopia to see if they can help shelter your pup if it becomes difficult to find a pet-friendly place to shelter.

After the danger has past, there is still danger!

Assess any damage to your home or neighborhood carefully. Always keep your dog on a leash and thoroughly inspect all areas of a yard or enclosure for security before letting your pup off leash. This could be a scary time with many different, sights, smells and sounds, so keep this in mind in the aftermath.

Be aware that there might be wild animals displaced from the disaster that could feel disoriented and scared. Check your pup’s area carefully before letting them off leash in your yard. If you do find a wild animal, keep a good distance for you and your dog because wild animals can carry many communicable diseases.

Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make

Not being current on vaccines – It’s possible that your pup will come into contact with strange and different surroundings, including other animals in the days after a disaster. Protect your pet’s health from preventable diseases by keeping them current on vaccines!

Not having their dog microchipped – The unthinkable can happen and you could become separated from your fur baby. Having your dog microchipped will be the easiest way to be reunited. (Anecdote – During Hurricane Harvey, one volunteer veterinarian estimated less than 20% of displaced pets were microchipped. They were able to contact pet parents right away to reunite lost and scared pets if there were microchipped.

Not having enough supply of prescription medication – If your dog requires regular medication like seizure control medication or insulin for diabetes, make sure you always have a good supply to carry you though a disaster.

Not having enough food supply on hand – Keep your dog’s food supply stocked. It will be important to have enough food with you to last. Going through an unexpected food change during a stressful time will likely result in an upset stomach.

A: Has there been any recent safety tests done on seatbelts for dogs? Any recommendations for a dog safety belt?

Q: Currently manufacturers are not required to test products before going to the market. That means that you can buy a dog safety harness at a local store that is advertised to protect your pup and your human passengers without that product having to undergo any kind of vigorous testing.

The good news is dogs have their own “CPS!”

The Center for Pet Safety is a registered non-profit research and consumer advocacy group. They state on their website that they are dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety. Likewise, they:

  • Conduct rigorous crash testing on commonly available pet safety products using realistic, specially designed, crash test dogs.
  • Do not use live animals in our crash testing.
  • Are not affiliated with the pet product industry.
  • Do not endorse products.

While they don’t endorse product for payment or advertising, they do have CPS certified products on their website.

A: How much food should a medium sized dog (under 25 lbs) eat per day? And should it be broken up into two feedings? Or is one sufficient?

A: This is a tricky question to answer. The important thing to consider is not necessarily “how much” but “how many calories” are needed. This is based on weight, age, physical activity, pregnancy, health concerns, etc. As always, consult your veterinarian before you make any changes to your dog’s diet.

There are many ways you can calculate your dog’s calorie needs. However, to make things a little easier, we can head over to the internet where the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supported the launch of the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA) website and nutrition calculator.

Based on this example, we plugged in the following to PNA’s calculator:

  1. Enter your dog’s current weight = 25
  2. Select spayed/neutered or intact = (We inputted a spayed/neutered dog since all Dogtopia dogs must be fixed)
  3. Calories currently consuming per day (feel free to leave the current calories section blank if you want to auto-calculate) = blank
  4. Use the Body Conditioning Score chart to select the appropriate value. This is crucial! = 5 is the perfect middle of the road or “ideal” body condition
  5. Select Calculate Now! = 604 calories/day


Be sure to consider how many treats your dog is getting throughout the day, as this effects your dog’s current caloric intake. Pet obesity is at an all time high, which is why Dogtopia launched Healthy Dog Central in the first place. A report in 2016 stated that conditions related to pet obesity cost the pet insurance industry and estimated $62 million.

Always work directly with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s weight because there are many factors to consider.

Q: Is there a simple solution for a dog’s paws during the cold weather months? Especially a solution for dogs that don’t like the paw booties?

A: Start with lots of positive reinforcement and practice with the botties inside.

  1. Start with very short training sessions inside
    1. You can even start smaller and put the booties next to your pup a little bit each day to get them use to their presence.
  2. Put them on, praise heavily, reward and take them off
  3. You can even reward your pup with a small pea-sized treat for taking a few successful steps in booties before taking them off!
  4. Repeat this activity frequently for the next few days (even weeks) before attempting to take a few steps outside.
  5. Once outside, keep the sessions short and sweet with lots of praise and rewards!

If the weather is that extreme, limit your dog’s exposure to the outdoors until conditions are better.

Another great product for sore paws is called Musher’s Secret. Our veterinarian, Dr. Antje Joslin, agrees that this product can be helpful in protecting sore paws from winter extremes. The label says “non-toxic and non-staining” plus they:

  • Are made from moisturizing blend of 100% pure natural waxes
  • Form a breathable, dense barrier to protect your dog’s paws from the elements in even the most extreme weather conditions

Remember: De-icing products can be extremely irritating and even toxic to dogs so please make sure you’ve cleaned your pup’s paws after any outside play!

Need a backup plan? Come to Dogtopia for indoor exercise! That’s what we are here for.

Q: What are some tips for traveling with dogs on an airplane? Is it safe? What do dog owners need to know?


  • Start by making sure you’ve chosen a dog-friendly airline (check out com for a good list) and book early to ensure the flight you want will allow your new baby to travel with you. Some flights are limited on how many dog passengers they will allow
  • Check with the airline directly to see what their policy is. Verify what type and size carrier will be allowed. You should be able to bring your love pup with you being that small dogs under 20 lbs are allowed in soft sided carriers that fit under the seat. But every airline has a slightly different measurement.
  • Bring food and water with you in non-spill containers. Have enough to last the length of travel, but don’t overdo it.
    • Don’t give your dog a heavy meal before travel or within two hours of your flight taking off.
  • Bring a favorite blanket with the scent of home.
  • Bring a current health certificate from your veterinarian with proof of vaccinations! Health certificates must be issued within 10 days of travel.
  • Make sure you travel with a printed photo of you and your dog. In the event you get separated, having a photo handy will make it much easier for airport personnel to assist you!

Regarding the length of the trip, some professionals say try to keep each leg of your journey to under four hours. Others say to do it all in one nonstop trek so as to limit the on-and-off movement. If that non-stop is quite a long flight, you might consider breaking it into two so everyone can stretch their legs!

Be sure to have a backup plan and check in with your local Dogtopia for boarding where we will look after their every need.

Q: Are there certain cleaning products dog parents should stay away from? And ingredients to look out for?

A: Many household cleaning products can be unsafe and even dangerous for our pups.

Products that are not safe include:

Chlorine (Bleach) – Yes, it’s cheap and yes, it does kill germs, but this chemical is on the top of the list for dangerous cleaners. If we are looking at toxicity levels for inhalation, contact and ingestion, bleach comes out on top for causing trouble. ASPCA has a pet parent handout titled “How to keep your pet out of a poisonous situation” – they mention bleach as a leading cause of severe oral burns and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Ammonia – This is found in many oven cleaners, window cleaners, floor wax products and fertilizers.  Ammonia is a very alkaline “natural” product that is very toxic to your dog! This chemical can cause severe damage to eyes, skin, stomach, and even causing death with enough exposure. Breathing in fumes or ingesting this chemical can lead to trouble fast. With a noticeable increase in “Natural” cleaners – there is an increase of products with Ammonia, please read labels carefully and know that “Natural” does not always mean safe!

Glycol Ethers – these chemicals are found commonly in many green “natural” cleaners including liquid soaps perfumes, paints and inks. Glycol ethers have been known to cause minor allergies and skin irrigations all the way to anemia and cancers.

There’s some doom and gloom on what to avoid, now, how do you effectively clean?

  1. Elbow grease – This may sound a little flippant, but it’s true! Good old-fashioned elbow grease, or mechanical removal of dirt and grime using microfiber cloths and abrasives are still the safety option for the first step in cleaning. It’s not possible to actually clean a surface until you’ve removed the soil load first – that means the physical dirt!
  2. Vinegar and baking soda –It doesn’t always smell the best, but using a mix of 1:1 for many household jobs is SAFE, easy, inexpensive and effective.
  3. Some accelerated hydrogen peroxide (cleaners with the word “Oxy”) products are safe and effective at killing germs. Read the directions carefully. If used at too strong of a concentration, there could be side effects, so be sure to dilute.
  4. Bio-Enzymatic cleaners – This one is a Dogtopia favorite! We’ve even gone so far as to brand our own cleaning chemical called Dogtopia Eliminator for sale in our stores! Not only does it smell wonderful, but the odor elimination properties can’t be beat! This product is VERY safe for any potential inhalation, contact and ingestion and can be used in various ways including upholstered surfaces, kitchen, bathroom, outdoor turf, trash can areas, etc.

Be sure to tune into our future Facebook Live Expert Q&As, and submit your questions ahead of time here.

meet our

dog experts

Our doggie experts are here to answer your questions about health, safety, nutrition and behavior.

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  • Lorraine Rhoads

    Environmental Biologist

    Lorraine Rhoads is an experienced animal biologist and environmental scientist with a background in environmental safety testing and biological surveys. Additionally, Lorraine has more than 6 years …

  • Colleen Demling

    Animal Behaviorist

    With over 30,000 hours and 15 years of HANDS ON dog training experience, Colleen Demling is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behaviorist. She is a frequent contributor to local and national …

  • Dr. Antje Joslin


    Dr. Antje Joslin brings 14 years of small animal experience in both private and corporate practice. Her love of animals is not just professional; along with her husband and four children, she shares …

Socialization has always been the most talked about topic in the dog lovers communities across the globe. While many dog owners are adequately experienced in socializing their puppies, others may have many questions, the most common of which are: why socializing my puppy is a necessity? How to socialize my puppy? What should my puppy be socialized to?

When you bring your puppy home the first couple things that need to be kept in the forefront of your mind are… a healthy and hygienic environment for your puppy and yourself and a scientific bring up strategy. Now what does this scientific bring up strategy stands for? Well, by this I meant to indicate a bring up method for your puppy so as to give him/her a balanced life, with proper health and right behavior.

Teaching “right behavior” doesn’t only mean teaching your puppy not to greet his loved ones by jumping on them, or to act as you desire on commands. The idea is a little more broad than what you may think of. A dog will be considered to have a “Balanced” and “Right” behavior if he/she is taught to consider certain situations as harmless and non-challenging, and when shows calm and relaxed behavior. This is something that cannot be achieved in a fortnight. Throughout your bringing up process your puppy should be socialized to as many adversities (situations, sights and sounds) as possible. Socializing you puppy is essentially an integral part of an organized bringing up process and should be started out at a very early stage – preferably at an age of 4 to 12 weeks.

Your goal in socializing your puppy

As the basic puppy care tips I would wish to say The goal that you need to set is to give your dog a perfectly balanced life through making him understand that certain situations, sights and sounds are harmful and/or challenging. This can be done through properly exposing your puppy or dog to those factors (situations, sights and sounds). The goal should be to help your puppy or dog to get conditioned to those factors by helping him or her to gain experiences, thereby learning to consider those factors as harmless.

Debunking a few common myths about socializing your dogs

As the goal is to share your life with safer, more relaxed, enjoyable and truly dependable canine companion, it may sound a little hard, and too technical for common dog owners to understand the methods. The fact unleashed: socializing is a very natural process where, as a leader of the pack, your primary role is to plan on what you want your dog to be socialized to. Secondarily, you need to introduce your dogs to those situations continuously and consistently until he/she start considering those situations as friendly.

However all you need to remember that the situations, which your dog is put to, must not be overwhelming for him/her. Remember, puppies have comparatively lower stress bearing limit than their adult counterpart. Canine senior citizens also have comparatively lower stress bearing limit. The introductory process needs to be very natural, calm and SHOULD NEVER BE FORCEFUL. Force will only worsen up the situation for your puppy and you cannot socialize him/her. Each time your puppy is exposed to something, he should not be overwhelmingly stressed.

Say, if you want to socialize your puppy to a group of children and noise created by them, then he/she may cower back in the corner. Do not apply force to take him near the kids. Remember, you need to be a very good observer, and you must keep a constant and close eye on your puppy’s behavior towards a specific situation. Some situations or sounds may prove to be overtly stressful for your puppy, while others may be quite smooth for him/her. If you find your puppy getting excessively stressed out, you should calm him/her by toning down the stress factor.

Although at the very early stage (3 to 12 weeks old) a puppy tends to be quite inquisitive about gathering new experiences – especially smells and situations, this may something turn out to be quite scary for them too. If you notice your puppy getting timid, and showing shyness and lack of confidence to certain new experience(s), start introducing him/her in a very gradual way and progressively. A sudden exposure to a frightening experiences should be avoided, as it will only worsen up his/her experience and he/she will never learn to consider it as harmless. 

What type of situations should your puppy be socialized  to?

There could be innumerable experiences that a owner may like to socialize to. However, some of the most come experiences.


People of disability, and/or in wheelchairs and crutches
Older people  – senior citizens who cannot walk normally
Crowd, group of kids or adults, playing and making noise
Men with unusual  mustache and/ or beards
Person carrying certain things, like umbrellas, helmets, masks, hats, sunglasses, strollers, wagons, parcels, sack etc.
People: Bikers – Bikers, cyclists, skateboarders
People in usual garments

Vehicle horns
Thunder claps
Fireworks and crackers
Loud sound
Running vehicles
Separation for few hours
Other animals and pets
Conditioning to grooming sessions

Puppy socialization classes in your location may be safe and organized means of socializing puppies. However, try to get as much information as possible before you enroll your puppy’s name in any socializing classes. Canine behaviorists have associated many dog attack incidences with lack of socialization. Understanding dog attacks is hence important for any dog owner.

Well, at least I think these small silly tools could be helpful some days.
My kids…..
Well they took one look at what I bought today and told me I was officially crazy, nuts, insane, and have finally lost it.
True, all true, but that’s okay.
I know that I am not normal. 
That is what the dogs love about me. lol
Anyway, I had to make a run to the bank today and Harbor Freight was right across the way.
I decided to go in because we needed to replace a couple of the earphones we use while drying the dogs.
And because I was by myself.
You see, my family hates to go to home improvement stores and tools stores with me. 
They say that I spend too long in them.
We never just run in, pick up what we need and walk out.
I love walking around home improvement stores.
Hence, just one of the reasons my kids think I am nuts.
So, I walked up and down every isle of that tool store.
That is how I came across these two things.

 That’s right, I heard you…..all of you.
That is the same thing that my kids said to me when I got back to the shop and they saw these two items.
 “What are they for?” to be exact.
I am sure you are also wondering; ‘how is she going to use these two tools to groom, and for that matter, what are they?’
This is a Telescoping Magnetic Pickup Tool.
I guarantee you that I will be using this tool just about everyday.
Yes, I said just about everyday.
Because I am guaranteed to drop my comb everyday, and sometimes a blade or two. 
My daughter took one look at this tool and said; “Mom, just how lazy can you be?”
Let me just say that I did not get this tool to be lazy. 
I got it because my back hurts everyday.
So do my knees, and I have tendinitis in my ankle.
I sit to groom about half of my dogs to give my ankle a break.
When I saw this tool, the thought of not having to bend over to pick up a blade or my comb was enticing.
But, there was one other reason I thought that this tool would come in very handy, and it was the main reason I bought it….
Now I know other groomers can relate to this.
How many times have you dropped your comb, or had it kicked out of your hand, and it falls to the floor into a pile of dog hair…and disappears!!
You spend precious grooming minutes searching through the hair, and sometimes still can’t find the darn thing.
Wouldn’t you just love to have a magnetic tool that would root through all that hair and grab that comb?
Or, you have a dog on the table that you can not, must not step away from, but your comb landed a couple of feet from your table.
Wouldn’t this expandable tool come in real handy?
It expands to about 36 inches.
Picks that comb right up!
So, what if the comb is under a pile of hair?
Will it find the comb and still pick it up?
How about a blade?
How about a blade under a pile of hair?
Yes, even with all the hair.
See, there it is.
Yes, I am excited.
Do I sound excited?
The silly thing only cost me $4.50
 Now you are just dying to know why I bought this and and what am I going to do with it, right?
You are still there aren’t you?
I mean you have to at least be a little curious, right?
Well, if you have stuck with me through this entire post, thanks. lol
Anyway, I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan on using this light to sit on my table when I am scissoring hard to see areas under the dog.
This old girls eyes are not what they used to be.
 I can stand it up and aim it at legs, or I can lay it down and aim it up at a belly to see better when clipping.
I will see, not sure if it will help or not.
I’ll test it out the next few days and will come back and update this post.
Doesn’t hurt to try, the silly light only cost $3.
So there is my silly tip for the day.
Maybe these tools can help another groomer. 🙂

I have said it before in other posts…. Good Customer Service is very important!
Most of the time, something as simple as a phone call goes a long, long way.
Like yesterday for example.
Yesterday we had our car in at the dealership for a recall repair and an oil change.
We had an appointment at 8am for the car.
We always drop our cars off the night before and pick them up after work whenever we have repairs or maintenance done.
The service department always calls when the car is ready to be picked up.
The whole day went by without receiving any call from the dealership.
So, my husband called them when we where ready to leave work.
The service departments phone just rang and rang.
We have a 40 minute ride home. 
The dealership is about 10 minutes from our house.
My husband tried to call two more times on the way home with the same results…the phone just rang and rang.
We decided to go ahead and walk in to see if the car was done.
Mind you, it had been scheduled to be worked on at 8am. 
The lady behind the service deck copped an attitude as soon as my husband asked about our car. 
He was not in anyway nasty with her.
My husband explained that we just walked in to check because the phone was not being answered every time he tried to call.
“We have two people out today and I have been on the phone all day. How can I answer the phone if I am already on another call!” the lady behind the counter told my husband in a very snide tone.
 Our car was just then being pulled into the bay to be worked on.
“Your car will be ready in about an hour if you want to wait.”
Needless to say, my husband did not stay.
He had to get away from the woman behind the service desk before he lost it.
It was now 4pm.
He checked to make sure the lady had our home phone number and told her that he was only 10 minutes away, and he would come to get the car as soon as she called.
Fast forward to 5:30pm…..no call.
My husband calls the dealership once again.
The dealership receptionist once again tries to transfer my husbands call to the service department. 
The receptionist comes back on the line and tells my husband that the service department is not taking calls at this time. 
My husband explains why he is calling and the receptionist says that she will pass along the message and have the service department call us back in a few minutes.
Fast forward again to 6pm.
My husband calls again.
He once again explains why he is calling and that the service department has yet to call him back.
The receptionist puts him on hold.
After a few minutes she comes back to the phone; “I am sorry sir, the service department is now closed for the day. I am sorry I can’t help you. You will have to call again tomorrow.” 
Fast forward again to this morning.
After we get to work, my husband checks the caller ID.
Sure enough the dealership called the shop at 5:51pm the the day before.
They called the shop number after my husband specifically told the woman that he would be home and made sure that they had the home number.
So many things handled wrong.
First of all….answer the phone!!
Believe me, I understand getting busy, but you should always answer the phone and do at least one of two things.
If you have multiple lines coming into your business, ask the person that you are already talking to to please hold for a second, answer the other line and tell that customer that you will be right back with them as soon as you finish on the other line, and then get right back to the first person you were talking to.
It is then up to the other caller whether they want to wait on hold or hang up call back a little later. 
At least you acknowledged the call and did not just let the phone ring and ring. 
The second thing that this large dealership should do is, have an automated system that will kick in and come on if the phone is not answered after a certain amount of rings to say that all their representatives are busy at the moment and give you the option to hold or call back.
We as groomers should always answer the phone.
Your customers pets are in your care, and if that phone is not answered owners will panic, and the next thing you know you will have an owner showing up at the door because you did not answer your phone and they thought that you closed up with their dog still there.
If you are the sole groomer and do not always hear the phone because you are drying a dog, you should have an answering machine that will pick up after two rings and let the customer know that you are working with a furry friend at the moment and unable to get to the phone,  and will return their call as soon as possible.
Remember to return the call!
The next example of bad customer service….
Don’t take your bad day out on the customer.
I understand that some customers can be nasty. (my husband was not)
There is no reason to take having a bad day out on the customer.
I have found that most customers understand and are sympathetic when you call them to warn them and explain that your are having a rough day and have fallen behind in your work.
A simple phone call can go a long way.
Just give the customer the common curtsy of a phone call. 
A simple call from the dealership to let us know what was going on would have saved a lot of frustration and hard feelings.
If you are having a rough day and talk in a nasty tone to a customer you are waiting on, they are going to think that you are also being nasty to their dog….I would think that. 
And for goodness sake, don’t wait on a customer and start gripping about your bad day, or the bad dog you are working on.
That is unprofessional.
Just try to make a little joke that ‘you have had better days’, or ‘it’s been a long day’ and leave it at that.
I personally can’t stand when I go into a business and the employees are having a discussion, while waiting on me, about how bad the last customer was, or how stupid their boss is, or how much they hate their job, or what an idiot a fellow employee is, ect.
It is not always easy, but keep a smile on your face and be polite.
If you have a grumpy customer try to get them to smile.
I like to do that.
I take it as a challenge.
Kill them with kindness till they smile.
It works almost every time.
I have to say, that I do have a few that couldn’t smile if their life depended on it, but I keep trying. 🙂
The last example of bad customer service…
Make sure that you do what the customer asks you to do.
Call them where they tell you to call.
Of course, in the grooming world this means do what the owner asks you to do if you can safely.
The dog always come first!
Great customer service will get you great word of mouth (free) advertising.
Today great customer service is hard to come by.
Customers will remember how well you treated them.
They will come back.
They will tell others about you.



As groomers we all have dealt with being thrown under bus by a Veterinarian that can’t come up with any better diagnosis than to ‘blame the groomer.’
The groomer did this or the groomer did that.
I guess in hindsight our shop has been pretty lucky, and have not been blamed by Vets very much over the years.
I did send a customer to their Vet once after I found something that I thought needed to be checked, only to have the Vet tell the owner that it must have been something the groomer did during the grooming.
Thankfully the ‘something’ that I found on the dog, I found at check-in while the owner was still there, before I groomed the dog.
The owner actually called me to tell me that the Vet tried to blame me.
I can’t for the life of me remember what the Vet ended up saying had caused the issue with the dog.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my daughter took her Bichon into our Vet because he was favoring one of his eyes, and the whites of his eye was very red and irritated.
Our Vet was on vacation so she saw the stand in Vet.
He diagnosis it as a form of pink eye and gave my daughter medicine for the eye for 5 days.
Five days go by and her Bichon is still favoring the eye, so she called to ask if she should continue the medicine for a few more days.
The answer was yes.
Fast forward about a week and a half and the eye is a little better but still a little red and irritated looking, so my daughter takes her Bichon in for our regular Vet to check the eye and see if he had a different diagnosis.
So, did he agree with the pink eye diagnosis or have a new one?
Oh, he had a new diagnosis alright!
A couple as a matter of fact.
The first one; my daughter was probably not keeping the hair out of her dogs eyes and it was causing them to become irritated.
 This is Cooper.
This is the way he looks all of the time.
My daughter never lets his hair grow into his eyes.
She trims around his eyes every one to two weeks.
This dog never has hair in his eyes!
My daughter made sure that the Vet  knew that ‘hair in the eyes’ could not possibly be the problem.
Sooo, without blinking an eye, the Vet came up with a new diagnosis.
My daughter was bathing her dog too much and the shampoo she was using was irritating the eyes.
(Now remember, only one eye was having a problem) 
We are now blaming the groomer right to their face??
My daughter once again set him straight.
She told him that she had been bathing her dogs every  week for their entire lives with no problems and had never gotten any shampoo in any of their eyes.
Plus the fact that her Bichon had not started favoring his eye till four days after the bath.
Nothing more was said.
My daughter was given a different medicine and left, but she was fuming.
She was sure that our Vet did not believe her about not getting any shampoo in the eyes.
Our Vet had blamed the groomer, and she was the groomer of her own dog!
My question is….if a Vet does not know why something is going on with a dog why can’t they just say;  “I am sorry, I am not sure why the eye is irritated but lets try this medicine and see if we can clear it up.”
Is it that hard to admit that part of Veterinary medicine is a guessing game?
Believe me, over the years I could have thrown several Vets under the bus for things that they had done wrong with some of my customers dogs.
I am proud to say that I try to be professional and not bad mouth a customers Vet if I don’t agree with how they are advising my customer.
Instead I will just suggest that they get a second opinion to see if a second Vet agrees.
Do Vets take a course on how to blame the groomer in Veterinary School?
I wonder….
Sorry, rant over.


Over-excitement is a big problem – one of the major behavioral issues in dogs. Over-excitement can be exhibited not only by the domesticated dogs but also by the dogs in the wild. Dogs are social animals and they have emotions that that they try express in their own unique ways that varies from dog to dog and from situation to situation. While some dog shows over-excitement during feeding time, others exhibit this undesirable behavior during the play or when they meet their loved ones or even during the periods or stress and anxiety.

Dealing with the hyper excitement in dogs is tough and a may be a very tricky proposition – especially because the root cause varies according to the situation. Playtime hyper excitement and feeding time hyper excitement should be handled differently. However, hyper excitement is a wrong behavior indeed, but its quite common and not any disorder.

The best way to deal with hyper excitement is to discourage the behavior by not nurturing it with treats or praises. However, at the same time it is important to make sure that your interaction with your dog and your behavior towards him/her should be calm so as to help your him/her cool down.
Here, we will discuss the hyper excitement in two different situations – during feeding and during play time.

Play Time Over-excitement
Often times the play time hyper excitement is confused with aggression. Remember aggressive behavior is way different from hyper excitement, although in novice eyes both behaviors may look very similar. Lack of outdoor socialization and inadequate behavioral training are the root causes of over-excitement during the playtime. Some breeds – especially the working dogs that are expected to have naturally higher energy level like German shepherds, Airedale Terrier, English Springer Spaniel, Pointer, Vizsla, Jack Russell Terrier, Collies, Beagle, Dobermann Pinscher naturally show overly excited behavior during the play or walk time.
Boundaries (limitations) in the play is necessary; more important is balancing the playtime. It is most important to identify the factors that stimulate the dog to become hyper active. Once those factors are identified effectively, you can control hyper activity by addressing those factors. Giving the dog sufficient exercise – both physical and mental stimulation are of utmost importance. Most common factor that stimulate dogs to become overly excited is the owner’s excitement. If you speak to him in an excited tone or exhibited excitement through your body language you will stimulate your dog to behave more excitedly if he/she is already having over-excitement problem.

Setting boundaries (limitations) include setting up of certain consistent rules for your dog and train him/ her to obey those. Make sure your dog in a calm (yet alert) state before you throw the ball. If he has a tendency to grab it directly from your hand before you throw it, it is immediately necessary to suppress this tendency through properly socializing him/her to the situations. Train him/ her to stay cool until you throw the ball. AboutGermanShepherdDog talks in depth about play time over-excitement
Feeding Time Hyper Excitement
Feeding time over excitement is not as common as the play time hyper excitement. The most common factors that stimulates the feeding time over excitement is the type of treat/ food he/ she gets, the time when he gets the food, and the treatment he gets even after showing over excitement. If your dog always gets exactly what he always expects, then he may exhibit over excitement to express his/ her emotion. If he gets exactly at the time when he expects, it may stimulate him/her to become over excited.

And finally if he gets his highly expected food, during exactly when he expects it even after showing too much excitement (which is not desirable) that you are naturally nurturing this behavior. Best way out is to keep changing his food (always keeping in mind the goodness of ingredients) frequently and alongside set different times for food, without making much delay. By doing these you can help him keep away from anticipating the food type and time.

Obviously putting him to a good exercise session (play and/or walk) at least two hours before the his feeding time is a wise plan.

Other Reasons For Hyper Excitement
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD): Although quite rare but but Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity may be another reason behind your dog’s over excitement.

Highly Reactive Dogs: Certain breeds are more reactive than others; while certain dogs in a same breed tend to be heavily reactive. Reactive dogs, as opposed to hyperactive dogs, tend to react to any situations – be it small or big. Hyper-reactivity may be another reason for your dog to show over excitement (often leading to barks, followed by aggression at times).

Is Your Dog Obsessed About a Particular Thing? If so, then showing hyper excitement over things that your dog is obsessed about is quite normal. Try to desensitize your dog, which is a long term process and action involves almost all approaches that you would do to socialize him or her to keep his/her emotion under control. Obsessive compulsive disorders in dogs can be treated by systematic desensitization – a technique that involves gradually exposing the dog to an ever-increasing excitement-provoking stimuli. It is recommended not increase the intensity of the stimuli/ situation until the dog fully learns to stay relaxed under the given situation.

However, nothing can resolve these behavioral problems overnight. It is a long-term process and you need to keep cool and be patience. Throughout this process it is important to the owner to keep away from showing over excitement for any reason.

Staying consistent, systematic and focused are the most important qualities for a good pack leader.

senior dog

 Dog owners are often concerned about their aging dogs, and that is natural. However, all dogs doesn’t become geriatric at any single age. It all depends on the adult size – often time determined by breed. We recommend the UC Davis Book of Dogs (published on October 25, 1995), which is the complete medical reference guide for dogs and puppies, authored by Mordecai Siegal, where you can get a more clear idea of when does your dog become geriatric. In his book, Siegal mentioned that small-breed dogs like small terriers become geriatric at the age of about 11 years; medium-sized dog breeds like larger spaniels become geriatric at an age of about 10 years, large breed like German Shepherd Dogs at about 8 years of age and and giant breeds like Great Danes become old at about 7 years of age. The famous AboutGermanShepherdDog.Com has come up with a FAQ Section for Senior Dog Care

However there are very few instances where dogs have lived for 24 years, 26 years and even 29 years. A few worth mentioning are:

Max (Terrier): Birth – 9 August 1983; Death – 18 May 2013; Life span – 29 years (United States) Bella (Labrador cross): Rescued as a puppy in 1982; Death – 6 September 2008 ; Life span – little less than 29 years (United Kingdom) Pusuke (Cross-breed): Birth – 1 April 1985; Death – 5 December 2011; Life span – 26 years (Japan) Adjutant (pure breed Labrador Retriever): Birth – 14 August 1936 ; Death – 20 November 1963; Life span 27 years (United Kingdom)

Age of a geriatric dog is often defined in terms of “human years” and “dog years”. It is a popular myth that 1 human year means 7 dog years, and this has no scientific base, but just a belief that most dog owners have. There is no single and scientifically supported method of calculating the dog’s age in comparison with the age of humans. However, alike humans the effects of aging in dogs are quite similar. Just like a 7 years old kid will be more energetic and playful than a 45 years old man, a puppy tends to show more agility and energy than a 8 years old dog.

Effects of aging in dogs
An aging dog will become physically less active and tend to sleep for a longer span of time, and eventually develop joint problems, leading to abnormal and slow movement. Aging dogs become more frequently and easily affected by environmental and climatic changes. Old age leads to dermal problems, digestive problems and mental infirmity (Senility). The most common effects of aging in dogs are as follows:

Hearing loss and even total impairment when the dog becomes too old
Vision loss and development of cataracts
Diminishing activity level
Developing joint problems like arthritis
Thickening of skin
Nails become thick and brittle
Gastrointestinal problems
Weakening of muscle
Weakening of teeth
Tumors and Mammary cysts in females
Heart murmurs
Distressed breathing
Lack of confidence (problem descending down the stairs, not eager to go to new places)
Disoriented movement

Working out a plan for treat and care for an aging dog is tougher really. An experienced veterinarian is the only best person to give you a proper guidance regarding care of an old dog. Any kind of experimentation with health and medication is highly discouraged. Remember that your dog may need a different health plan and treatment procedure.

This is a follow up to my last tip post about the small light and the telescoping magnet.
I have been using them both and love them.
I have used the telescoping magnet to pick up my comb numerous times.
Yes, I tend to drop my comb a lot.
What I love the most is, that I don’t have to step away from the dog I am grooming for even a second, or even take my hand away for the few seconds that it would take to bend over and pick up the comb, I can keep hands on the dog at all times and reach with this magnet to pick up my comb.
I even used it once to pick up my scissors when I dropped them.
Okay, so much for that, I like that tool. 🙂
As for the light.
I wasn’t so sure about the light.
I knew what I wanted it to do and help with but I was not sure it would work. 
So, did it do what I wanted?
The light worked great lighting up the underbelly to see what I was clipping.
It is small enough that it did not get in my way.
It also gave off a good amount of light.
I could also stand the light up and aim at areas under the dog or between the legs that are normally  in the shadows when I scissor.
I also placed the light behind the dog to have the light shine in between the back legs to see better while scissoring.
I found that this light did not heat up while it was on.
So, no worries about a dog possibly sitting down on, or stepping on a hot light.
Just thought that I would share. 🙂