I own, and operate, a mobile grooming business with my kids. Our philosophy is to groom pets in their comfort zone. Meaning that we bend over backwards to make your pets grooming experience something they look forward to, instead of fear. King Julio is a prime example of what we aim for.
The first time his owner called to have him groomed, she warned us, he bites. I appreciated her honesty. Some owners won’t mention their dog bites, and we find out the hard way.
When we arrived King Julio was suspicious of the grooming trailer. His owner asked if we had a muzzle that would fit him? Before I could dig the muzzle out she was off to the feed store to pick up a muzzle for him. She was very concerned for our safety.
It didn’t take long before King Julio went for his first bite. I had just begun to come him out, while my son was at his head, and he suddenly spun around and snapped! Thank goodness my son was on it! King Julio’s sudden spin was caught by my son’s arm, and he missed me! The owner arrived with the muzzle. King Julio knew exactly what that thing was, and he wasn’t having anything to do with it! After a snapping, spinning, struggle the muzzle was on.
King Julio looked sad, but it was necessary. It took about two hours to brush him out, bath him, and then dry all that hair. Several times throughout the groom, before I did anything, just my being near certain area’s of his body, he would assume I was going to hurt him and try to snap at me! We finished up the groom job. I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results, but the struggling to keep him in line, after two hours, we were exhausted, the dog was exhausted, and the owner was happy that her dog was at least cleaned up for the most part.
The next groom, same thing, but less snapping, but he still snapped at me occasionally, and he still wore the muzzle.
We soon came to see that King Julio was snapping at me, and my son, because he was so fearful I was going to harm him with my combing. When I would be working in a high matting area of his body he would stiffen up, and snap at me. I understand how he developed this protective feature. The standard grooming shop has an allotted time for each dog. Groomers don’t have time to dilly-dally, especially with a biter. They put the muzzle on, and come hell or high water, their gonna get those mats out NOW. That’s what the pet owner wants, so that’s what they do. We have a different approach, if the dog is resistant, or snapping at us, we will stop the activity. I will consult with the pet owner that we came upon an issue, and then, on each consecutive groom, we’ll teach the pet to accept whatever it was. This owner already knew, King Julio was a biter, so we didn’t have to consult her. Each time we went to groom him, we would pay particular attention to the area we were combing out, so my assistant was on high alert when I was in the sensitive matting area’s, and I was diligently gentle when working these area’s. Rather cutting a difficult mat out then comb it out. It took about three, maybe four, groom’s for King Julio to realize I will not hurt him.
My daughter assisted on the fourth groom. King Julio went nuts when the muzzle came out. I told my daughter, “Let’s give this a try without the muzzle. We groom him in his “area” (the back porch of his owners house) which has made him more comfortable, he’s learning I won’t hurt him. Let’s give him a chance.” The muzzle was set aside.
My daughter was on high alert, especially since there was no muzzle between me and King Julio’s teeth. I groomed him as before, brush, bath, blow-dry, comb/brush out for another hour. Only one time did King Julio try to snap at me, and it was a half effort. I was in his sensitive zone, and pulled a hair while removing a mat. My daughter was ready for it and caught him by the neck when he rose up, and he laid right back down.
Ever since then King Julio does not wear a muzzle anymore. He just lies there. He’s paying attention to where I am on his body, but he’s trusting me not to hurt him, and he is starting to LIKE grooming!! He gets excited when he see’s us drive up.
Here’s King Julio on the last groom:
King Julio is what I look at as our biggest success story. He’s one of our favorite grooms now! I don’t hurt him combing his fur, and he doesn’t bite me. What a beautiful compromise!