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

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