Have we talked about ‘Comfort Grooming?’ Do you know what that means? Well here’s a breakdown.
There will come a point when your dogs haircut will be about 10% determined by me and about 90% determined by them. When this happens your pup will have entered the comfort groom stage of their life. No matter how hard I try, how much you beg, or how sweet your dog is there is no way a senior dog will be going home looking the same as they did as a young puppy or a middle aged adult. If I’ve been with you through a pets ageing we’ve probably had some diﬃcult conversations about how your pups grooming evolves as they age. If we haven’t had to have those conversations yet hopefully this prepares you.
Getting older aﬀects them just as ageing aﬀects people. Their joints become stiﬀ or sore, their skin becomes tissue paper thin, they start losing their sense of awareness, their muscles tremble, their balance is shaky and they get various skin blemishes and tumours. But how does this change their haircut? Here are some examples:
- A Poodle with arthritis in their toes might not be able to spread them apart to get those pretty shaved toes anymore and so we adapt and start doing a fluﬃer teddy bear foot.
- A Schnauzer who’s developed some canine dementia might not tolerate having tangles brushed from his beard without panicking so we will start trimming it short to keep him calm and comfortable.
- A Shihtzu who’s always had long hair might end up having to get a short puppy cut because their skin has thinned too much to handle the extra brushing required at home to maintain a lot of hair.
- A Bichon who’s always had a pretty fluﬀy scissored Bichon trim but when his joints start getting stiﬀ and his legs start trembling we do a shorter cut that can be done faster.
Along with this are a few things that I ask you as an owner to remember. A comfort groom is not a show groom, odds are it won’t be perfect. I do what I can while keeping the dog comfortable which means sometimes there may be some slightly straggly looking areas depending on your dog and their individual issues. If they can’t balance or stand for long without collapsing then their feet may still be a bit fluﬀy for example.
Occasionally I will have a senior who just can’t be totally finished in one session for whatever reason, either they’re having a particularly bad day and just can’t handle it or there’s something else going on with them.
Perhaps to make the process easier, we could split the session into two: bath, blowdry & nails on the first day, while completing the clipping & styling the following day.
No matter how much I try to make it easy on them grooming is still physically demanding for older dogs who usually nap 23 1/2 hours a day. I am moving their legs out to shave them, manipulating toes to trim nails and turning their head side to side to trim it. If they start acting sore after routine grooming they may need a prescription for arthritis medication from your vet to be given on grooming days.
While these conversations can be hard to have I’ll always be 100% honest with you and discuss any changes that I think have to be made to help them through the grooming process. These decisions will always be made with your pups comfort as the ultimate deciding factor. I do this job to help pets, not to hurt them for the sake of human vanity. Now hug your pups and cherish those grey whiskers as they aren’t here forever ❤