The 3 C’s of Dog Grooming: Part 1 – Calm, Confident, & Compassionate

I believe that to be an excellent dog groomer there are 3 components that a person must practice and develop into their character. I’m going to try to cover a topic that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. I’ve even considered writing a book about it, but I think it’s best to keep things short and simple so I’ve decided to write an article for each of the three aspects that makes an excellent dog groomer. I call them the 3 C’s of Dog Grooming.

The first C stands for Calm. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Calm is defined as

: a quiet and peaceful state or condition

: a peaceful mental or emotional state.

I believe that another way to look at being calm is to be mindful, or awareness. It is to be mindful of the moment and completely aware of how you’re feeling. When we are calm, the dogs can feel it and they will immediately be more calm. But we can’t fake it. Two weeks ago I had a lady bring her vicious, little Toy Poodle named Diva. She said that no groomer has ever been able to finish her, and she always ends up looking horrible because they can’t finish the groom. Little Diva was a hot mess. Her mother stayed and watched the entire groom, and said that she’s been looking her whole life for a groomer like me. She couldn’t believe how calm I was while her little Diva was screaming and biting me. The trick is to breathe deep through the belly rather than the chest, and fight off any feelings of fear or anxiety.

Cesar Millan is one of my favorite mentors, and I watched several episodes of the Dog Whisperer where he would just allow the dog to bite him. He wouldn’t pull his hand back, but instead he would leave his hand exactly where it was. He explains that if he pulls away in fear, than the dog will no longer trust or respect him because by his actions he has shown the dog that he no longer trusts him. By not pulling away, but rather staying, the dog doesn’t bite down hard and understands that his hand is supposed to be there. By his actions he shows the dog that he trusts him not to harm him, so the dog in return trusts that Cesar’s touch will not harm him. It’s amazing to watch, but even more amazing to actually experience. I explained this to Diva’s mom as she watched in amazement. Diva never bit down too hard, and when she would bite a bit harder than I’m comfortable with I would correct her with one of Cesar’s trademark “Tssst”.

Being calm comes from self-confidence, and self-confidence comes from self-respect. I’m paraphrasing, but I heard that in one of Brian Tracy’s motivational speeches and I liked it a lot. I am able to be calm when a Scottish Terrier wants to snap my hand off, because I am confident in my abilities. I am confident in my abilities because I spent countless hours practicing my scissor skills, and clipper control. I’ve worked through the muscle cramps, the achey joints and sore muscles. I’ve been bit too many times to even try to keep count. There is no substitute for hard work and the experience that it brings. It builds self-respect, knowing that you put in your best effort. That self-respect builds self-confidence, and having that confidence in myself gives me the ability to stay calm no matter what the circumstances. It takes practice, and I still have times where I feel myself panic under the pressures of the day. That’s when I have to remind myself to be mindful of the moment and how I am feeling. I take a deep breath in and visualize my muscles relaxing as I breathe out. Every time I do this the dogs seem to notice the physical change in my body and they calm down as well.

It takes courage to be calm rather than give into our fears. I know when business slows down we tend to panic, and some people start sending out coupons and discounts in desperation. All businesses and industries have their trends, ups-and-downs, and cycles. When it slows down, don’t panic. Do some deep cleaning that may have gone neglected while things were busy. Work on some other projects that will help the business. Or have a brainstorming session to bring in new ideas. When we do our best, and we know that the work we do is good, than we don’t have anything to worry about. Dogs will always need to be groomed, and they all can’t go on vacation or die at the same time. Being calm is about focusing on the moment and doing our best with the task, or groom, at hand. Remember, when we are calm the dogs will be calm, but they know us too well to be faked out. We can’t fake being calm when we’re feeling anxious. The dog will pick up on it immediately. That’s why I love working with dogs so much. It keeps me honest with myself. They don’t care how many YouTube subscribers I have! They couldn’t care less that I’ve written a book about grooming dogs. All the dog cares about is the energy you represent, as Cesar Millan would put it. Are you calm or are you fearful/anxious?

In the next article I will discuss the next C that makes an excellent groomer: Confidence.

Thank you so much for your time!

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