Questions about grooming and doggie psychology?

Hi, Here is the newest blog site to one of the best grooming facilities and grooming schools in the country.

I am the owner, DuAnn Chambers, and also the primary grooming instructor for the Pet Grooming Academy. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. I moved to northern Idaho (Priest River area) in 1994 and did not feel that I could support myself in this rural area with a psychology degree. So, I went back to school and received my grooming diploma in 1997 and have been grooming ever since.

I am childfree by choice and I live with my husband (whom I adore) and my 3 dogs, Mini Schnauzer, Annie-12, Monte-std pdle - 3, and Marli- Rott. cross-6.

My 4-legged dogs come to work with me and it’s a wonderful way to spend my days and make a living. I get to use both of my degrees every day in the grooming shop and I work with talented and fun dog-loving people. I now own 2 shops, and employ 6-8 groomers and bathers.

I start one student at a time, and have graduated dozens of students that have gone on to become hugely successful groomers and business owners. I love being a groomer! And I love being a teacher!

I have started this blog so that I can assist groomers with grooming questions, and dog-owners with dog psychology questions. In my 11 years of owning 2 shops and grooming thousands of dogs, I have come to notice a LOT of really cool things that co-exist for dog and owner.

Please help me to start my blog by sending me your questions regarding your dogs. Thanks a bunch for visiting my site, and I hope to be a service to you!

DuAnn Chambers

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dry or sensitive skin in dogs

Lots of customers have been having issues with itchy skin with their 4-legged dogs.  'Why, why, why?' they ask me.  Their are many reasons for dry skin, but when a great many more dogs are experiencing dry skin in the grooming shop, generally, it is the season, or season change, that causes this.  Here are the top 5 reasons that your dog may have dry or itchy skin:
1. The outside temperature is low, usually below 40 degrees.  The low temperatures create static in the air, which encourages itchy skin and/or dandruff.
2. You have an inside dog and you heat with wood or radiant floors.
3. Your dog has been playing in the snow often
4. You have recently bathed your dog. (Typically owners use the wrong shampoo for their dog's breed or they do not rinse the dog well enough).
5. You have a short-haired dog.

The majority of our customers that complain that they have itching dogs have or are experiencing one or more of the conditions above.  For this customer, we always bathe their dog in emu oil  shampoo and finish with a moisturizing emu spray.  We have many customers that request the emu treatment for their dog weekly.  You can use these professional products at home singularly or paired depending on the severity of the dog's itching. You can purchase the emu oil shampoo or emu oil moisture spray in either shop, or online at  You can also find emu oil pills that are available at any health food store.  If you have a dog with sensitive skin and itchy issues, try the cheapest, natural remedy first, EMU OIL.  Why does it work?  I do NOT know, I just know it works.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pet

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why won't my dog be social anymore?

I was asked by my business coach, 'My dog sleeps a lot.  Is that normal?"  She told me her dog always wants to be upstairs where her bed is, and she cannot be coaxed to spend much time on the main floor being social with her family.

My reply to that Suzanne is that dogs and peoples base feelings and behaviors mirror each other through life.  Just as with humans that need more sleep as time passes, so it happens with dogs too.  Remember to multiply your dogs age by 7 to know how to compare her to a human.

My guess is that your dog is close to 10 years old, so you could compare her behaviors and feelings to those of a 70 year old human.  I have noticed that as humans age, they tend to filter out all environments, peoples, foods, and pastimes that are not their favorite.  Older people can and do become more predictable and patterned in what they do everyday.  Older people like to sleep, rest and nap.  Older people do not want to be in the middle of activity, they want to be in the space they are most comfortable.

Additionally, dogs needs mirror those of their human family.  My guess is that you need quiet and your own space (your own office) to focus on your work - what is important for you to do during the day.  It seems strange, but your dog wants a productive day also - sleep is her work, and that's important to her.  She needs her own space and her own things (like her bed) around her to get serious about her sleep.

Rest assured that your dog's need to sleep and not seek social time with her human family is not a reflection of her love for you. Just like you have designated times for work, and for personal, you may be surprised to find your dog being more social if you actively encourage and support her need to get productive sleep during your productive work hours.

Let me know if that makes a difference.  I would encourage to take your dog on a walk every day at the same time for 10 days, making it obvious that the work day is over, and family time is starting.  After you have started this new exercise regimen with her, I bet she expects and asks for it.  That will encourage her to interact with you in ways that you need to be social.  And if she is sleeping her life away, she does need to move her body sometimes to stay healthy.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sharing the grief of losing a pet helps to heal

Today my customer and friend,  Karen Smith brought her bichons in for us to groom.  She recently lost her 9 year old German Shepard, Bria.  We shared in the grief of losing a 4 legged family member.  Two years ago, Karen was a shoulder for me to cry on when I had to come to work right after putting my beloved 12 year old Mini Schnauzer to sleep.

Saying goodbye to our furry friends takes every ounce of courage that we have.  People that love their dogs as much as The Pooch Parlor family of customers, friends and staff does not occur in every day life. Finding empathy and sympathy from your friends and family when losing a pet is not hard.  Finding empathy and sympathy from another dog lover that values their dogs as children is very hard.

If you know someone that has recently lost their 4legged child, show them, hug them, call them, be there for them. We pet lovers need to share with those that UNDERSTAND the deep grief of losing a pet.  If you have a friend, or you have lost a pet, please add them below that so that we all may honor your dog or cat and share in the grief of your friend.

Karen, I honor the memory of your faithful friend Bria Smith, gorgeous and loving German Shepard. And I share in your grief of losing a loyal companion.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch
Karen Smith, Bria the German Shepard, and Benson the Bichon, 12/2007

Monday, November 15, 2010

Telling your clients about medical concerns can save a dog's life!

Today we were surprised and thrilled when one of our favorite customers brought in their St. Bernard/Pyrenees cross, Bandit.  You may recognize this dog from an earlier blog that we mentioned had a suspected urinary tract infection.

This owner told us that our mentioning the symptoms and our concerns saved the dogs life.  Bandit's urinalysis showed that her urinary tract infection was so serious and pervasive that she would have been dead in another 24 hours.

That is amazing for us to know, and thank goodness we take good notes on dogs behaviors to have a baseline to compare to.  Tell your owners about the medical findings or concerns you have with their dogs, it might just save their life!

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
The Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Monday, November 8, 2010

When is the right time to FIRE a customer?

The majority of customers that bring their dogs to my shop are people that I appreciate, and respect.  Many of my clients become my friends.  Without these wonderful clients I would not have a business to run.  In any business, there will be customers that do not behave ethically.  Fortunately, this type of customer is seen in our shop less than .05 % of the time.  That means that 99.95 % of our customers are wonderful, honest respectable people that fit our business perfectly. 

I would much prefer to spend my energy praising the 99.95 % of our great customers.  Today I mention the other .05% of those customers simply because of the stress that this type of customer brings to the grooming business.

In this bony economy, it does not feel healthy to let a customer move on to the next groomer, but even skinny people will skip a meal that doesn't smell right - and they will be better off for it.  Here is the summary for walking away from a poisonous client.

Fire your customer when the customer has a history of complaining, when they have a history of miscommunication,  when more than one groomer has experienced the same issue with the customer, when the customer is degrading, insulting, or patronizing more than once, when the customer has asked for a refund or other compensation more than once within a year period, if the customer leaves you feeling bad about yourself, your grooming, or your company more than once.

In my shop, any one of these reasons is enough to fire a customer over, especially if a pattern is established by them. Detailed grooming logs are essential for this reason.

Here is the long version of the summary.  And this happened today with a high-class woman that was having a bad day:

Today a client came in with a 1.5 year old yorkie.  This client was happy enough at the check-in, telling me what she wanted.  I groomed the dog as per our conversation. She picked up the dog and  and mentioned that she and I had had a miscommunication on the grooming and that wasn't quite what she was expecting.  I told her I would take great notes on what she wanted.  She told me that would work and she would be back.  She took the dog and called me two more times within moments of picking up her dog.  In the calls, she complained for 10 minutes about the communication problem.  Ten minutes of pure complaining qualifies as a tantrum when she insults me personally.  She mentioned 4 times the dog looked so bad that she could have done a better job at home (incidentally, I had done my best to fix her home groom job).  She mentioned that she has had her dogs groomed all of her life and never had these issues.  She told me 13 times she was 'really really unhappy with this cut'. She asked for a partial refund because "forty dollars was too expensive for this terrible groom".  During her complaining, she was not openly patronizing, but the repetition of her complaints took patience to endure. She did take partial responsibility for the miscommunication, but not until she had finished  her list of complaints for the tenth time. 

All of these complaints were not easy to take, but my nature is to give the benefit of the doubt , bitten the bullet and kept her as a client, except that I looked at the entire history of her card.  AND, what a history she had!  There were many notes from other groomers about miscommunication issues with her (5 separate small incidences), including 1 huge tantrum 5 months prior with a request for a full refund .  The issues written previously by a different groomer were the same issues she was having with me that day - miscommunication (intelligence) issues, bad grooming job.

This woman had established all of the key points as a poisonous customer.   I am guessing that this tactic (tantrum complaining) worked for her often to get what she wanted or to get things free when she needed a price break.  The history of tantrums, complaints and dramatic behavior with other groomers would be enough reason for me to believe that she was faking.  A customer that meant the things she had said over the course of the last 2 years would not have returned to that grooming shop.

I feel great about my decision to fire this client and true to what I promised - I sent her a partial refund.  The stress and bad feeling that she brings to the shop and my employees is not worth her business.  And incidentally,when I fire a customer, I always do it gently, letting them know that no one of the groomers feels they can confidently give them great service and we suggest so and so down the street that may fit their needs with more success.  I thank our poisonous customers for their trust and business and wish them well from all the staff.  It is always best to leave a snake plenty of room to get away.

Stay healthy and happy groomers! Remember that some types of customers will charge a price that you cannot afford.  And fortunately for all of us, this type of customer is seen only .05% of the time. The majority of customers are wonderful, perfect, respectful, and grateful:)

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thyroid issues are very common to see in the grooming room

Today we groomed a 10 year old Golden Retriever that was a bit overweight.  He hadn't been into our grooming shop for nearly 2 years, but his owner has been doing owner grooming at home.

We noticed that Riley had a lot of dandruff that was not explainable.  Even after the bath, parts of his skin felt greasy and had dandruff simultaneous.  We rewashed the greasy areas right down the spine and recombed this part.  During the combout, Riley continued to have lots of hair loss and dandruff. 

Because of his age, his weight, the hair loss, the dandruff and the grease, I suspected that Riley was suffering from a thyroid issue.  I did ask his owner if there was a change in his weight and if the hair loss was normal for him.  His owner confirmed that the recent hair loss was new, and so was the weight gain.

I advised the owner to have a blood test done on Riley.   

For those groomers that are interested in steering a customer to the vet for valid reasons:  Hair, skin and weight issues (that are new) that happen simultaneously are typically a thyroid problem.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
The Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lifting dogs is not as easy as you think, know the liabilities

Today we had a customer that came in do wash her own dog in the self-service bathing station.  Her dog was 100 plus pounds.  There are stairs that go to the tub for the dog to walk themselves in, but the dog also must WANT to go in.  Today, even though Mistee has been there several times for full and self-service grooming, she decided to tease her owner and sit on the steps for 15 minutes while her human tried coercing, pulling, asking and begging her to go up the stairs.  Mistee just smiled and sat.

The owner is highly intelligent, and looked capapble enough physically, but she could not convince her dog to budge. The owner asked for help lifting the dog into the tub.

This seems like a perfectly normal and acceptable question to ask, and the average person would not hesitate to help someone lift their 100 plus pound dog into the tub.  However, dogs are dogs.  You cannot predict what they will do and who and what they will react to.

Dogs are so unpredictable with the tubs and with their owners, that we had to put a policy in place about NOT helping owners with the lifting.  Our groomers can help each other lift a dog because we understand what many subtle triggers are that the dog communicates to us with eyes, ears, tail set, a posture, that the owner will have no idea how to interpret.  If the owner is not aware of the lifting methods we have set in place for safety and procedure, it is entirely possible - and has happened more than once - that they drop their dog mid-lift for whatever reason.  This leaves the other lifter at risk for personal injury from the dog and from the lifting.

It seems impossible that owners would drop their own dogs while someone is helping, but guess who the owner blames if an injury happens to any of the humans or dogs?  That's right, the groomer.

How well does it work when husbands and wives move furniture together?  Speaking from personal experience, NOT very well!  We all have a different idea of how things should go and be done, but rarely is it verbalized.  Its the same way with dog owners.  Add with an overprotective owner and an unpredictable dog, and you have a recipe for a very bad day.

So, groomers, limit your liability with your customers, do not help them directly.  There is no need to be ungracious, if help is needed lifting a dog you don't know, ask a fellow professional to help you do it.  The injuries and bad feelings you will be avoiding by following this unusual practice will save you lots of heartache. 

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
The Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grooming the Scottie

Today Leslie G came into school special to groom a Scottish Terrier, Walley.  He is a gorgeous brindle.  It was like wrastling a horse to get those nails clipped.  Phew!, But, it WAS worth the effort.  When Walley was done, he was transformed into a beautiful specimen, and his brindle back just glowed.

Scotties are also very smelly dogs in general.  It seems to me that they have the strongest body odor of any dog that we groom.  They stink like doggie dog within 6 hours of a good scrubbing.  Why is that?  I do not know.  I just know it IS so.

Keep a muzzle on hand, scrub and bathe them twice, and hope that you have a buddy to help you on the nails!
Great job Leslie!

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Friday, October 15, 2010

bladder or kidney infections in the grooming room

Today we groomed a beautiful, and well-mannered Great Pyrenees cross.  She is normally extremely patient for her grooming.  We noticed while shaving her sanitary area that her vulva was surrounded by a brown,  gooey area that was not easy to shave.  Shaving this area clearly irritated her.  This dog, Bandit, also had a vulva that was recessed inside a pocket of flesh and was not open to the air.

The combination of a recessed vulva and gummy brown substance around the vulva, |AND an annoyed dog made me wonder if she had an infection somewhere around there: either a bladder, or kidney infection.  I asked her owner about her pee habits, and her owner confirmed that indeed, Bandit was urinating more frequently than normal and not in the normal areas.

All of these signs together are highly indicative of a bladder or kidney infection.  Groomers take note as these symptoms are seen very often in the grooming room and the soon you can detect an issue, the better for the dog, for the owner, and for you.

The owner did take Bandit to the vet immediately and was prescribed antiobiotics.  He did not take a urine sample to confirm, but if she does have a bladder infection, the meds will quickly help her feel better.

Mention these small details to the owner either verbally or on in a report card for the dog.  You would be surprised how often, your details are more than just small, they are real medical issues.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers

Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why do dogs pee in the same spot?

One of my customers asked me today, "Why do dogs always pee in the same spot?"  She has a female cocker spaniel named Bella and my little mini schnauzer, Greta, peed in the same generic stretch of grass after their groom.

Well, I think, where dogs pee, is a lot like humans wearing the most trendy clothes.  Who is to say that dogs don't pee in groups because its trendy?  It makes sense to me.  Dogs don't shake hands, they sniff butts.  They pee in the same spot like groups where bellbottom pants!

Thats one reason why dogs pee in the same spot:)

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How do you know if your cat is having a groomogasm?

Cats typically are not thrilled by the grooming process if they have any kind of mattes or knots to contend with. However, there is the occasional cat that really enjoys the grooming process.  When this cat is being groomed, they purr, they meow, they arch their backs and necks into the clipper and against the groomer.  This is called a groomogasm, and about 10 % of the cats that come in for professional grooming, experience this!

Look for the groomogasmic cat next time your in the grooming shop.  They will be arching, stretching, mewing, giving love nips, needing their claws, and pushing themselves against you.  Trust me, you want this kind of cat over the opposite when it comes to grooming!

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pet

Monday, September 27, 2010

my dog rolled in an animal carcas, what do I do?

It happens at least once a week at the grooming shop.  A customer comes in with a dog they have washed 3 times at home and cant get the stench out of.  What did they roll in they ask us!

Well, here in northern Idaho, the answer is, an animal carcass.  How do you get the smell out?  The same concoction as for a skunk bath, hydrogen peroxide, dawn, and baking soda, mixed immediately before using it.

If the dog has had the stench on him for more than 24 hours, and has had at least one bath, you won't be able to remove 100% of the smell, but you can remove 90%.  Check out the videos on the website for skunk bath to remove the stench of dead flesh from your dog!  Good luck, and keep some citris spray for your own nose on hand.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Happy Pooch Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Friday, September 24, 2010

Airedales and grooming

Today we groomed an airedale named Gilda.  She is a gorgeous speciman!  She may have suffered from ADD however, so we renamed her as Gilda, the airehead dale.

DuAnn LustigChambers
Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pampur Your Pooch

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dogs can get nosebleeds during the grooming process

Today I had a student ask me, is it normal for some dogs to get nosebleeds during the grooming?

The answer is this, it does happen fairly regularly, however, it is not normal.  Nose bleeds can happen from a number of different factors.  Typically, it is stress induced and the dog's breathing increases enough to create friction on the air passage.  A little extra snort, or sneeze, or breath can create a bloody nose.  As a groomer, or pet owner, you want to be sure and monitor the amount of blood, the length the nose bleed lasts and the color of the nose bleed.  If the blood is clumpy or darker than fresh blood, it is likely that a tumor in the nose, throat, or lungs has burst.  In this event, you may have an emergency.  If the nose bleed is a tumor that has erupted, the behavior of the dog will tell you if you should call the vet or rush to the vet.

Fortunately, a simple nose bleed that is not an emergency is what happens 95 percent of the time.  Do you best to calm the dog and quiet his breathing.  The bleeding should not last longer than 60 seconds.  Call the owner and let them know about the nose bleed and see if they know why it happened.  You may just be surprised when you hear the owner say, 'oh, don't worry! Charlie goes diving in the mud for frogs every day!

Nose bleeds are pretty common, be sure you follow them up with the owner.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
Pooch Parlor Tribune
Professional Tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Friday, September 17, 2010

Can husbands and wives work together in the grooming room?

Today a future student asked me, 'Can husbands and wives work together to run a grooming business?"

The answer is absolutely yes.  As with any job, coworkers need to be aware of each others needs, and duties to keep the grooming shops running smooth.  When your co-worker is also your marriage partner, the need to communicate on common ground, doubles.

I have recently worked with a husband and wife team that do an admirable job at running the shop together.  Bringing the marriage into the workplace is never an easy task, but since I have seen it firsthad, the answer is yes.. with hard work, consideration, and more praise than complaining, husbands and wives can make and operate a successful grooming business together.

Check out the website, and see Sara and Jim Goss.  They are an amazing couple that are successful at working together in the grooming shop that they own and operate.

DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
The Pooch Parlor
Professional tips to Pamper Your Pooch

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The dog that picks you is the PERFECT dog!

Today I had a customer bring in their new puppy, Tucker, after having lost their 6 year old poodle cross to a freak accident last month. I told her how impressed I was that this 11 week old pup seemed to know me and know the grooming process.  It was very amazing to see.  She almost whispered it to me as she left with her new puppy, "I think Charlie told this puppy to pick us!  He would NOT leave us alone when we visited the litter".  I believer her.  When  puppy picks a human, it is MAGIC.

DuAnn Lustig Chambers
The Pooch Parlor
Professional Tips to Pamper your Pooch


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New tool used at the Pooch Parlor today!

Matt loves the new Furminator.  Matt also loves Arnold Swortzenegger!  Matt is the new Furminator man!

DuAnn Lustig Chambers
The Pooch Parlor
Professional Tips to Pamper your Pooch

Friday, August 20, 2010

Funny boy groomers

Here's a funny true one:  my new male student is interested in learning how to scale dog's teeth.  He said to me today at work.  I am going to try to do my dog's teeth, how long does it take to clean up his teeth with the dremel?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Royal Dutch Clip

Today, Montee was groomed with the Royal Dutch clip.  He looks so great!  The scissoring and sculpting work were also wonderful.  I love to see a male pick up this trade so quickly!  The funny part of his grooming was when his male student groomer moved the grooming arms around Montee, instead of moving Montee around the table (as the woman do).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Differences between male and female groomers

Here's a real life scenario that happened today.  I said to Leslie, a student groomer, did you do that dog's anals? Her husband, Gary had stepped in that moment and said, "Honey, my pliers are in the car, do you need them?"