Frequently Asked Questions
1. What makes your service different from other dog grooming services? There are four significant issues as follows:
I. Nothing in the grooming experience, when done well, should be discomforting or problematic for your dog. It has taken years of experience to develop these methods. We have many dogs who are totally at ease with the grooming process. On the other hand, many of the dogs we see have already developed grooming fears and need to be retrained. Our goal is to have a dog that is relaxed and at ease on the table and who is happy to come to our shop.
II. In most traditional grooming shops the task of dog grooming is shared by as many as three people, one who rough/trims, one who bathes, and one who finishes the grooming. In such a process, the dog does not get to know the groomer well and can become nervous regarding the rushed assembly line process. It is important to remember that in a traditional grooming shop the groomer typically gets 50% of the cost, the bather gets near minimum wage, and the owner gets the remainder. Since we usually work alone, we do not need to rush to do as many dogs per day to make a decent living. This means we can give your dog the attention it deserves. A rushed grooming simply will not accomplish these goals. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your dog to bond with us. We want your dog to like us. We like to put ourselves in the dog's place - How would I like to be treated and groomed if I was a dog? That is our goal, plain and simple.
III. The dog grooming industry in Texas is not regulated per se. In this regard, the old Latin saying "Caveat emptor" ("let the buyer beware"), applies. In addition, many groomers are not certified by a national entity. Some of the chain grooming facilities will have in house training that can vary in quality because they are not subjecting themselves to a standard that is provided by an external national certifying agency. Also, in most grooming shops your dog will be under the care of a minimally trained person with little or no direct supervision. Many times these employees bathe, rough-trim, clip nails, etc. and provide most of your dog's grooming experience while the trained groomer only finishes the dog to be presentable. We are pleased to provide high quality grooming (13+ years experience), and we also take numerous special need dogs such as recumbent, deaf, blind, anxious, etc. We often offer helpful advice to clients regarding: general coat care, maintenance between groomings, diet, leash training, inappropriate licking, jumping, etc. if interested.
IV. In regards to quality of dog grooming, many shops will leave out several key components of the grooming process or charge you extra for these services. We include everything that is necessary to assure your dog is groomed properly. This includes: using the appropriate shampoo and cream rinse according to the dog's skin and hair type, cleaning the ears (as necessary) including removal of ear hair if appropriate to breed, trimming fur from the bottom of the feet if appropriate to breed, expressing anal glands, filing the nails (since this is a better method than clipping), and trimming the dog if appropriate to breed. In addition, we adhere to the Human Barber Standards for disinfecting equipment. Although this is very important to reduce the possibility of skin disorders and disease transmission, it is not commonly practiced in the dog grooming industry.
2. Why do you file nails round rather than clipping them?
When clipping nails, a groomer often guess’s how close to clip the nail and is either right or wrong. We have seen veterinarians and groomers with years of experience cut nails too short because it is simply not always possible to see the quick through the external nail. If wrong, the dog experiences pain and consequently becomes shy and nervous, ultimately disliking having his nails done. Another reason dogs learn to dislike nail trimming is because someone has used significant restraining procedures to accomplish the task. If a dog is forced by restraint they will naturally fight the procedure and become even more upset making the situation more and more difficult each time. Most dogs can learn to be still and accept grooming procedures but the situation needs to be presented to them in a gradual non-threatening manner. Before proceeding with filing, the dog needs to be retrained to just let the groomer hold its feet. After the dog accepts this, then the file can slowly be introduced and used. In addition, instead of a sharp right angle cut, when nails are filed they are rounded at the end and much smoother. It does take longer particularly if a dog has had its nail clipped previously. It is very important that none of the grooming processes are uncomfortable to the dog so it is well worth the extra time spent. If a groomer takes his or her time, particularly during the first several groomings, the dog calms down and subsequent groomings are much easier. Please note, we are often faced with retaining dogs when it comes to shortening nails.
3. My dog sheds quite a lot. Can you help me please?
Thankfully shedding can be tackled to such a degree, that it is reduced significantly in most cases. There are several things at play here. The dog breed, coat density, grooming frequency and the grooming method. Many dog owners nowadays have heard of a method or two to reduce shedding. The most common commercial method uses a type of comb, and from what we have seen, usually is insufficient to adequately control shedding. To control shedding much more intensive grooming methods need to be employed than what is commonly done in most grooming establishments. With routine commercial grooming, very little is done to control this problem as most grooming simply consists of a bath and surface brushing of the hair. When a shed control method is used, it is usually just the addition of a certain type of comb, and although somewhat helpful, is still insufficient for adequate shed control. Our method uses a number of control techniques, which when used in combination, result in satisfactory management of this problem. The time involved to do this properly and the number of techniques we perform is significantly greater than most grooming shops; however the results, as attested by our clients, are worthwhile. In addition, if you want to get involved as the owner, we can show you what you can do to reduce shedding improving your dog's coat even more and reducing the frequency of professional groomings.
4. I want to get my dog groomed, but he or she is so afraid of the trimmer and/or the dryer, and I am worried that my dog will not do well. What can you do to comfort my dog?
This is a very good question and thankfully is normally easily solved. First, understand that sudden noises in general are frightening to us all. Thankfully, our dogs (and humans for that matter) can learn to be calmer with proper training. We believe the most extreme example of this is in horses. A horse can be taught to accept a rider on his back that shoots a gun. Now if a horse can learn this, we assure you that your dog can learn to accept the noise from a trimmer or a blow dryer. One key is not to turn on a device directly in front of the dog's face, because that is a sure way to scare her. Instead turn on the clipper or dryer in an adjacent room, letting it run for a while, then slowly bringing it closer, taking one's time to be sure the dog is not frightened works for most dogs. With a little patience on our part, taking one's time, going at the dog's pace, and with a loving voice and other positive reinforcement, we can retrain most dogs.
5. Okay great, you say you can retrain a dog to accept grooming but my dog has numerous fears and is so nervous that I cannot see how you will accomplish this. So what do you think about the use of tranquilizers?
Dogs are just like humans in many ways. That is, because of past negative experiences we all can develop patterns of behavior difficult to change. There is a small percentage of dogs who are so nervous and afraid that retraining would be too slow a process for a good groomer and it becomes cost prohibitive. We estimate about 5 to 8 percent of the dogs we deal with will benefit with the use of a tranquilizer. If you will discuss your dog's behavior patterns with us we can usually decide if using tranquilizers will be the right option for you and your dog. We do not use tranquilizers unless an owner wants to and he or she obtains them from a veterinarian. A dog on a tranquilizer can still learn, however, it is IMPERATIVE that grooming practices be changed otherwise tranquilizers will continue to be needed and this becomes problematic as the dog gets older. We have particularly good results with acepromazine; however, it is up to your veterinarian to choose the appropriate drug. Usually, only 2 to 3 groomings with a tranquilizer and accompanied training, will return your dog to average behaviour. During Jim's years working with veterinarians and in our grooming practice we have never seen a serious reaction to this drug and we have seen hundreds of tranquilized dogs. If using acepromazine, it is necessary you give the dose about 1-½ hours before the grooming and it is best to keep the dog quiet and in a dark room beforehand to promote calmness.
6. My dog needs trimming periodically but usually just a bath, nails, and a teeth brushing. Can you do this?
Yes, and the fee will be adjusted accordingly. In fact, this is very good practice and when done properly, may result in a reduction of price in the long term.
7. When you come mobile do I need to be at my house when you groom my dog?
When we groom your dog the first time you must be at your house at the beginning and end. We want you to get know us and what you should expect from us plus we need to learn your dog's specific grooming needs. We often do clients’ dogs while they are away from the home. We have numerous clients who leave access to their dog(s) with payment, and a routine grooming schedule is established. When they come home their dog(s) are freshly shampooed and nicely groomed. So if you are interested in routine mobile grooming, please inquire.
8. Will you allow me to watch you groom my dog?
Yes you may watch your dog being groomed, however it is VERY likely that the process will take much longer which may result in a up-charge. The reason for this is very straight forward. First, it is very important to realize that good grooming is much more than the actual grooming process of bathing, clipping, filing nails, etc. It is also teaching the dog to be still and at ease. If you are present, the grooming process generally is more difficult. Your dog is bonded to you, it looks for comfort from you, you are the dogs “security blanket”. Your dog will be paying much more attention to you than to the groomer who needs to bond with the dog in order to teach the dog to move towards a calmer state, using the various methods such as desensitization, positive reinforcement, etc.
9. I have an elderly dog. Are there any particular problems with grooming an elderly dog?
We estimate 40% of elderly dogs have issues resulting in longer grooming times as compared to younger dogs with average behavior and condition. This is particularly true for older dogs who have experienced standard grooming practice found in the industry. These dogs exhibit stressful behavior (shaking, whining, biting, lying down), and are slower to comprehend the grooming process. Older dogs may not be able to stand long and must lay down resulting in longer grooming times. This does make grooming more difficult. When a dog is older it is less likely a veterinarian will prescribe standard tranquilizers to help the dog through a grooming.
In some cases physiological changes in an older dog may be the cause of these difficult behaviors. The good news is that if a veterinarian can be involved in the process and can see the dogs reaction there may be other safer and beneficial drugs that will allow the dog to relax. In this regard, we can come to your veterinarian's location so that he/she may observe and find the appropriate drug and dose to allow your dog to relax. Of course while this is being determined the up front cost can be greater but in the long run if it reduces the dog's anxieties and facilitates the grooming process this can result in significant benefits for the dog plus substantial cost savings.
10. You provide the type of service that I want for my dog, but how much do you charge?
Pricing for grooming depends on a number of variables such as condition of your dog, size, the last time groomed and/or brushed, hair type, hair length, behavior, and mobile or shop service. We can give a close estimate over the phone. This estimate works approximately 85% of the time, however, some dogs need considerably more time to be re-trained, to be at ease with grooming and/or because of the dog's condition, so there may be an additional charge for these services. This surcharge is sometimes necessary if a dog has special needs, has never been groomed before, is elderly, or has learned defensive behaviors because of improper grooming practices such as shaking, jerking, or biting. We work hard to teach your dog to be still, stand, sit or lie down, all while being relaxed. We love when a dog is so at ease that she/he dozes off on the grooming table. Many clients appreciate that at our shop we set up individual appointments based on your schedule. Please note, for first time grooming, we have approximately a 2 hour completion time (for some dogs longer), as we take our time to get to know and bond with your dog allowing your pet to be more relaxed with our process.
11. How do you secure dogs you are grooming?
In the grooming and veterinary profession a slip-knot leash is commonly used as it is safe and secure. Normally we tie dogs in our waiting room after the grooming and when a customer is arriving soon. A method of containment is necessary to insure a dog does not get loose and become a ‘missing dog’. We groom by appointment and do call clients a half hour before we are finished so both dog and owner can be reunited in a timely manner. Or, upon arrangement, we also can keep a dog for the rest of the work day. If a dog needs to stay with us until an owner is off from work we can also cage smaller dogs upon request. In addition, we have a secure outdoor area for the dog to run around in and we will accept a dog into our home as well.
12. How far are you willing to travel to provide your mobile service?
Our grooming vehicle gets 10 miles per gallon. With growing traffic in the area, it is more difficult to travel longer distances. We calculate travel distance, cost of gas, and other auto maintenance fees such as commercial automotive insurance ($3,000 annually) into our mobile service fees. The mobile fee is the same whether you have one dog, or several, therefore mobile grooming is a perfect solution for families with multiple dogs. We generally will travel a maximum of 8 miles from our shop location, which is near Braker and North Lamar in north-central Austin.
13. What are your policies regarding late or no-show groomings?
Since we generally give special attention to your dog and normally groom it immediately we likely do not have any other dogs in our shop/mobile unless Jim and Caroline are both grooming. Most folks appreciate this fact so they can pick up their dog immediately when they are done. As a result of this grooming method, if we experience a late or no-show situation we suffer a loss of income. We therefore request that if you cannot show or are late that you contact us as soon as possible so we can make other arrangements. If you must cancel within 24 hours of your appointment, we will request a minimal service charge, usually $30 for shop service or the mobile fee for service to your location. To cover this fee, particularly for new customers, we may request credit card information upon making the appointment.
14. So I wish to be a new client what must I do?
Please read our FAQ. If you do this you will be very informed regarding our service and policies. Call for an appointment and if you don't get us immediately, please leave details regarding your location (if you need mobile service), and your dog's basic grooming needs. We will call you back to discuss your dog's particular grooming needs and to schedule an appointment. Please be aware we will discuss your dog’s needs again upon meeting you. When you pickup your dog we generally need 5 to 10 minutes to discuss any noticeable concerns we discovered in the grooming process. At the first grooming you must be available at the beginning and the end of the grooming so that we can be sure we address all of the issues that may be pertinent to you and your dog. Thereafter, we are very flexible and will try to make arrangements to accommodate your needs. We have many clients who allow us access to their dog(s) while they are away and when they come home their dog is in top shape.
16. What are your preferred payment methods?
We prefer cash, Venmo, or check. We will take credit card if none of these are able to work for you.