Britain goes barking for Bring Your Dog To Work Day

ITV This Morning presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford from were just some of participants in a different kind of day at the office, as Britain went barking for its very first Bring Your Dog To Work Day.

Held on Friday 27 June 2014, companies across the nation welcomed their dog-loving employees into the workplace, along with their loyal four-legged companions.

byd-oneThe idea took hold in businesses of all kinds, including film studios, hair salons, dentists and boutique wine stores.

Businesses and employees both made donations of £50 and £2 respectively to participate, with all proceeds split between All Dogs Matter, Animals Asia and Pup Aid - three organisations that make a huge difference to the welfare of animals.

“Bring Your Dog To Work Day was a fantastic success,” says Jo Amit, co-founder of natural grooming product company Butch & Bess, one of two pet industry businesses behind the initiative.

“The participation was out of this world and we’re very proud to have raised money for our three official charities. Some fabulous businesses adopted the idea and planning has already started for next year’s event, which is scheduled for Friday 26 June 2015.

“We’re very hopeful that we can build on the success of 2014 and raise money for even more animal welfare charities the next time around.”

Both businesses and individuals can still submit donations too. In return for a minimum donation of £50, a company logo and website link will be displayed on Bring Your Dog to Work Day’s homepage. For a minimum donation of £2, an individual can submit a picture of their dog to be published on the official website’s gallery entitled the ‘Dog With A Job Hall of Fame’.

The initiative was also backed by one of the UK’s leading pet insurance companies, Animal Friends, who made a £5,000 donation as headline sponsor.

byd-twoLeean Young, director of LoveSniffys, the other pet company behind the initiative, adds: “Attracting a business like Animal Friends Insurance as the headline sponsor for the first year of Bring Your Dog To Work Day was incredible. Their donation has made a huge difference to each of the charities.”

The animal organisations that stand to benefit from Bring Your Dog To Work Day were chosen because of their noticeable work for protecting and promoting the welfare of vulnerable animals.

For instance, All Dogs Matter rescues and re-homes more than 300 dogs a year in London, Norfolk and the surrounding areas. The dogs in they care for are usually homeless, or come from local dog pounds. A mixture of foster homes and kennel spaces are used to take care of the dogs.

International charity Animals Asia is devoted to ending the barbaric practice of bear bile farming, as well as improving the welfare of dogs and cats in China and Vietnam.

Pup Aid is an organisation that aims to end the practice of puppy farming in the UK. Last year it launched an e-petition to help ban the sale of young puppies and kittens. Over 100,000 people provided signatures and the topic is guaranteed debate in parliament.

Please visit for further information.


It goes with the territory for most dog owners that their mutts seem to love to roll in muck, mud or smelly water and, in the main, hate staying clean for long.

This is good news for dog groomers as it will undoubtedly mean repeat business especially during the muddy, murky months of winter.

In general, the smell of the average mutt can be minimised by regular bathing, grooming and household cleanliness.  For groomers, these problems present an opportunity as there is now a multitude of products in the marketplace that aim to eliminate smell related issues.

Some breeds smell more than others.  This is because some have greasier skin and waxier ears than others, cocker spaniels and retrievers for example. But there are additional problems that groomers need to be aware of and discuss with their clients.

Medical conditions can cause odour

However, there could also be a medical reason why a dog has a more distinctive odour. Here are just a few possible smell-producing medical problems:

  • Breath - some diseases, like kidney failure and diabetes, can cause a change in odour. In the case of diabetes a sweet odour is detectable.
  • Diseased teeth and gums - dental disease and infected gums can produce a foul odour.
  • Infected ears - bacterially infected ears are often extremely smelly.
  • Flatulence - is the odour on the dog, or from your dog? Flatulence, or "gas" may indicate a dietary or intestinal problem or be the result of a poor diet.
  • Anal glands/sacs - this is perhaps the most common cause of doggy odour that won't go away. Anal sacs are two small scent-sacs in the area of the anus. These are a type of "marking" glands. When a dog has a bowel movement, these sacs are normally squeezed, and a very smelly, oily secretion is released with the faeces. Dogs suffering from anal problems often ‘scoot’ or drag their rear end along the ground.
  • Atopy is the inflammation of the skin that causes severe itching due to seasonal or food allergies. This condition triggers an overproduction of sebum (oil on the surface of skin) by the inflamed skin. It gives the coat an oily feel and a musty, foul dog odour.  It is also possible that food is not being adequately digested, moving slowly through the digestive tract offsetting abnormal bacteria growth. The dog may need supplements that will aid with digestion.

In the case of any accidents around the house a non-toxic cleaning solution is ideal to clean up any urine, faeces or sickness.

There are also sprays and wipes available for removing any surface dust or dirt from pets.

Toothpaste is available for dogs and cats to help keep breath smelling sweet and to help avoid any dental hygiene issues.

A good diet is vital for all-round health. This combined with a regular grooming regime will help to minimise a smelly coat or bad breath.

Retail Opportunities

Groomers can expand their knowledge of likely causes of odour and meet consumer demand with a range of products designed to combat odour problems.

Saying goodbye to one and hello to another…

Popular and talented groomer Jitka Krizova will be sadly missed as she decides to retire from competing in order to devote her time to developing the training side of her business Vita Canis, based near Uttoxeter.

Jitka Winning GOY 2006
Jitka Winning GOY 2006

Highlights of Jitka’s competition career are too numerous to mention but do include Best in Show wins at British Dog Grooming Championships, Eurogroom and Mastergroom. She has also been a member of Groom Team England for the past six years. Considering she was someone who started out doing an Animal Health degree and found grooming boring and not something she was particularly interested in, she has achieved an incredible amount! “I feel I have achieved more than I ever wanted and with different breeds of dog,” says Jitka. “My inspiration to compete was seeing some of the top groomers competing in Europe. Before that I wasn’t convinced that grooming was ever going to be the right kind of career for me. You can learn a lot from watching those who are at the top of their game.” Jitka has always provided specialist training days for those groomers wanting to improve their handstripping skills or concentrate on terrier-types but having recently acquired PIF’s recognition as a Premier Accredited Training Centre she can also deliver and assess City & Guilds grooming qualifications at levels 2 and 3.

Jitka has a natural knack for being able to translate the art of grooming into easily digestible chunks and groomers who have

Jitka demonstrating on the Aesculap stand at BDGC
Jitka demonstrating on the Aesculap stand at BDGC

attended her specialist training days say they always come away with some useful tips that they can use in their own salons. She has also inspired groomers who have watched her at the many demos she has given when not competing! For now Jitka is happy to impart some of her knowledge and experience to the next generation of up and coming groomers. And nothing gives her more pleasure than seeing some of her students go on to win. So what is Jitka’s advice for new groomers in the industry? “To succeed in grooming you need to be passionate, determined and not afraid of hard work. Doing City & Guilds qualifications is just the start as learning never stops and you should never underestimate the worth of hands-on experience. Attending competitions, seminars and training days will all help you develop your skills and I don’t mean just in grooming. There are lots of other things to consider if you want a successful career, for instance customer service and how to manage a business.” As well as offering training Jitka also offers a boarding service for her customers. She has also developed a passion for essential oils used in aromatherapy and has been impressed by the impact they can have on a dog’s behaviour. As a result she and has decided to take her interest further by undertaking some courses and I wonder how long it will be before she is concocting her own lotions and potions for groomers and their dogs alike! She will be missed in the competition- world but I’m sure we’ll it won’t be long before we see one of her students raising the GOY trophy in the future. She will also continue to support the development of the grooming industry in her home country Slovakia.

Introducing the new…

Newcomer to competition Rich Smith has taken the dog grooming world by storm and showed how a bit of support can go along way. His first competition this year was Mastergroom and his last the British Dog Grooming Championships where he won reserve Best in Show!

Rich with his winning Welsh terrier and Bichon at BDGC
Rich with his winning Welsh terrier and Bichon at BDGC

Rich has always been interested in dogs as his dad used to show English Setters and he would often accompany him to the shows and help him prepare the dogs for the ring. “I’ve always had an interest in the different breeds and the skill that goes into making them all look unique,” say Rich. When he left school he couldn’t really find a job that suited him but liked the idea of becoming a groomer, especially as there wasn’t a salon in the town. A loan from his step dad helped pay for his training and he’s now been grooming for 11 years. “I started out on my own in a small shop in Kettering town centre but the business gradually grew so I moved to new larger premises in 2008 and now have two employees,” says Rich. “I did my Level 3 Intro to dog grooming at Look North with Zoe Duffy and I’ve literally just finished my three dogs for the diploma last weekend at vita Canis so it’s on to the highers next!” For several years Rich was quite happy grooming away in his own salon and as long as his customers were happy so was he. He admits he was in a bit of a bubble so a few years ago he decided to give his grooming a boost and improve his skills by taking further training with a lot of the top groomers in the country. “I used to go to the British Dog Grooming Championships every year and say to myself that there was no way I could groom in a competition with everyone watching me,” he says. “But then I did some training with Colin Taylor an he basically told me I had to enter Mastergroom so it’s all his fault! As my grooming started to improve and with encouragement from Jitka Krizova and Alison Rogers I decided to give it a go. I’ve learnt so much this year from going to the competitions and I’d recommend it to anyone who
hasn’t tried it. It has really helped improve my salon work.” Rich admits to being really dazed and finding the whole experience somewhat surreal doing so well at the British Dog Grooming Championships. He’s determined to continue learning as much as he possibly can and I’m sure this year is just the start of many competition successes for him.

Rich Working in his Salon
Rich Working in his Salon

Does your dog want to smell like a pineapple?

Your dog definitely doesn’t want to smell like a pineapple. Given a choice he’d rather smell like fox poo or the equivalent!

Ria Winstanley from the Pet Spa at Harrods gets to work on Hannah, a miniature poodle.

As a nation we seem to have gone to the other extreme with pet owners wanting their dogs to smell like fruit, sweets, babies or whatever else seems to be in fashion.

When it comes to choosing shampoos, to be honest it’s a minefield out there. There is a plethora of products available that profess to do anything your want them to, from curing skin problems to making coats perform in a certain way and with a variety of perfumes to accompany as well as shampooing systems that allow you to create a bespoke blend for every dog that comes into the salon.

To start with I wanted to know if the way a dog smelled had an effect on its behaviour and/or how other dogs responded to it. Here’s animal behaviourist Tracy McCrindle’s answer:

“To my knowledge, there are no major scientific studies into the effect fragranced products used on dogs in terms of how they affect a dog’s behaviour. I have, however, experienced instances where behaviour changes post-groom would appear to be scent related. Anecdotal reports of other dogs in the household showing aggression towards a freshly groomed member of the family do come up and many of us will have witnessed a dog rubbing himself on the floor or being mounted by his companion when he is set down after grooming.

“Dogs use scent as their primary sense, experiencing the world through their nose. They have hundreds of millions of scent receptors compared to the average five million a human has. It's entirely possible that dogs find another dog's scent being masked just as worrying as we humans would find wearing a blindfold when meeting another person. Also, what smells quite strongly to us must be completely overwhelming to a dog so I personally choose to use as little scent as possible in my salon. Managing owners’ expectations of how their dog should smell post-groom can be a little tricky at times but most are happy when the reasons are explained to them. I jokingly tell them that had I allowed their pet to choose his own cologne he'd have eagerly searched for the nearest dead rodent or pile of fox poo to roll in!

Klaudia Szonyi from Vita Canis starts the bathing process on Ted, a terrier cross

“Another factor in terms of behaviour is that the dog could be making a connection between a scent and an emotion – just like the smell of candy-floss can take us right back to a childhood fairground. If the dog finds the grooming process stressful he may associate the smell of our favourite shampoo or cologne with this negative emotion and react accordingly. Equally, he may enjoy grooming so much that the smell of a certain shampoo sets tails wagging.”

Secondly I spoke to Marcus Norfolk who’s company Astor & Windsor International has manufactured cosmetic products for the last 25 years for many high street retailers and currently manufactures shampoos, conditioners, perfumes and grooming sprays for specific companies within the pet specialist industry to find out about trends. According to Marcus: “We have no ranges with our own branding but are given a brief by the customer to produce product that is based on the following criteria: price, quality, fragrance, current market trend and performance, for example white shampoo for light coloured dogs.

“Trends start in the human cosmetic market and then move slowly over to the pet sector. Plant extracts and nourishing oils being a prime example, yet with the difference between human and pet hair, how effective they are remains to be seen.

Making sure Ted's beard is clean

“Fragrance is an important factor for the end pet user as they will often choose shampoo based on fragrance with lavender and baby powder leading the market along with coconut and vanilla. For the professional groomer this is not so important; quality and performance comes first. Having a satisfied customer is the most important factor for a groomer so low cost products rarely survive in this market as any good groomer can see the affects. Few of our customers ask for natural products. Putting them into a range appears to be more of a token gesture towards the end use, rather than performance related. If natural shampoos ever provide the quality required then this may change.”

Finding the right shampoo appears to be a bit of a compromise when you have the factors of performance, something with a more neutral aroma for the dog and a product that fits in with current trends in the human cosmetic industry appealing to the customer to consider. Ultimately it will down to personal preference and with such a range of products available on the market there is definitely plenty to choose from. Whatever you opt for the best results will only be achieved if the product is appropriate to the bathing system you use and is used in the correct dilutions in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  To contact Astor & Windsor International for your own range of shampoos just call 01787 479019 or visit

Winning generations from Look North

Look North Grooming & Training Centre appears to have a knack for producing winners whether it’s awards for its successive owners or competition wins for the many groomers who have passed through its doors for training.

Jack and Diana

Look North started life as a pet shop with the original name of ‘The Pet Shop’ when Jack Pask bought it in 1965. Two years down the line and prompted by the challenge to improve on a poor job done on a friend’s dog, Jack decided to give grooming a go and so started running a grooming salon alongside the retail side of the business. Ten years on he sold the business to bored housewife Diana North. Jack spent time teaching Diana to groom and run the shop before handing the reins over, though initially he may have had a few doubts about her skills as a groomer as she started training at a grooming school but left after a week, having been told by the tutor that she would never make a groomer! Jack was awarded a lifetime achievement award in 2006 by the Pet Care Trade Association and this month celebrates his 102 birthday – happy birthday Jack!

Young Alison & Joanne

Diana discovered her niche running The Pet Shop and grooming salon and in the summer of 1978 took Joanne Angus and Alison Thomas on as Saturday girls, initially just in the pet shop. In 1984 the lease was up on the shop so Diana moved to bigger premises and changed the business name to Look North Dog Grooming to concentrate solely on grooming. Under Diana’s careful guidance both Joanne and Alison became an important part of the business as well as accomplished groomers. Alison won the first-ever Newcomers class at Groomer of the Year in 1986 and Joanne went on to win numerous awards, including Eurogroom Champion and Groomer of the Year on more than one occasion. Joanne concentrated on increasing her portfolio of qualifications, gaining the highest accolade of Licentiateship of City & Guilds Institute (LGCI). Alison took a break from the grooming industry in 1987 but returned in 1988 to concentrate on the ‘business’ side of the training school and salon as Joanne’s business partner when Diana retired. During her career at Look North Diana won many awards as a groomer and also became a founder member of both the British Dog Grooming Association and the Guild of Master Groomers. Her dedication to the grooming industry is legendary and over the years she’s become one of the key influencers in establishing recognised qualifications for the industry. Deservedly, she was the first person to receive a lifetime achievement award at the recent inaugural Liz Paul Awards.

Look North Training celebrated success in its own right this year winning UK Grooming School 2013 at the Liz Paul Awards and Look North lead tutor Zoe Duffy was a finalist in two categories.

Zoe & Student

Zoe Duffy joined the business on work experience from school, then became a Saturday girl and then went on to be trained by Joanne as a professional groomer. Zoe continued to work at Look North for the next seven years before leaving to teach at a grooming college. As the business continued to grow and demand for training increased Zoe re-joined the team as its main tutor and has been training numerous aspiring groomers ever since. Zoe has also won numerous awards including Groomer of the Year, European Grand Champion and Intergroom USA.Today the business is very much a team effort with Zoe and Joanne supported by Chris Swain (LGCI) as head stylist and Pippa Murray as tutor’s assistant. Chris also started his career at Look North on work experience, then Saturday work before joining full time. He’s been with the company 10 years and is currently completing his City & Guilds higher diploma. Today they are the only grooming school to have three LCGI awards amongst their staff and their experience at competing seems to give groomers the competitive edge as many students have gone on to win awards at competitions.

The Look North Team with their Award: Back, L - R Chris Swain, Alison Thomas, Joanne Angus Front, L - R Pippa Murray, Zoe Duffy
Look North Team L-R Chris Swain, Pippa Murray, Alison Thomas, Zoe Duffy, and Joanne Angus

All the training happens within the busy salon so students learn what it’s like to work in a real business. Students also get a good taste of  the communication between customer and groomer giving them an insight into the responsibilities of running a salon as well as the difficulties that are sometimes encountered – an invaluable insight for those thinking of setting up their own businesses, which the majority aspire to. “As a private school, we not only offer City & Guilds qualifications but breed specific training,” says Joanne. “All our training is designed to suit individual needs and to date all students taking exams have passed with merit or distinction.”

Whilst the training is going on they are also grooming 15 – 20 dogs to a very high standard every day. Although they are situated in the heart of Keighley the majority of their clients come from the surrounding villages about five to 10 miles away. “We get anything and everything – Lhasas, Westies, designer dogs, Schnauzers, cockers, Labradors, German Shepherds,” says Joanne, “which means all our students get to learn about all sorts, including difficult dogs. This is the bread and butter of most grooming businesses. Grooming is a tough business; to succeed you’ve got to have a lot of patience, be dedicated and be prepared to put in a lot of hard work.”

And the Look North legacy goes on….recently Alison’s daughter Abbie started work as a Saturday girl in the salon and older sister Rebecca spent some time helping out in the offices before going off to university. Will they be the next generation to maintain Look North’s winning streak.

When accidents happen in the grooming salon

However careful you are, at some point you will have an accident in the grooming salon. Lesley Garratt of the Canine Design Academy of Grooming offers her advice on what to do in an emergency situation…

Obviously we should all take as many precautions as possible to avoid a mishap, by doing risk assessments and following safe working practices at all times, but as we are working on live animals with sharp implements, it is unlikely that you will go through your grooming career without experiencing some problems along the way.
There are many precautions you can take to try to avoid accidents happening in the first place. Firstly it is important to have a good working practise. This means no wet floors and no trailing wires. You should sweep hair regularly, return equipment to its designated area when not in use and dry hands before touching electrical switches. Equally important is a good salon design, for example use non-slip surfaces, sockets that are not too close to the bathing area and not too close to the floor (to avoid dogs soiling them and electrocuting themselves) and have a safe dog holding area. Make sure you handle equipment safely and correctly, don’t be heavy handed (for example with slicker brushes to avoid brush burn) and check/change blades regularly to avoid clipper burn. It is essential to monitor dogs at all times, especially if using equipment such as cabinet or cage dryers. Never leave dogs unattended on the table – the most common claim insurance companies have to pay out for is dogs hanging in the grooming salon – don’t become one of these statistics!  Never think ‘it will be okay’ as one day it won’t. Always have one hand on the dog while grooming.The salon and equipment

Protect yourself and your dogs

Be careful when using scissors to remove matts. Don’t hold scissor blades across the skin – jam points of scissors into matt, being careful not to puncture the skin, slice through matt several times then tease out – it is generally a better and safer method to use the point of a fine clipper blade to carefully remove the matt. Observe dog’s body language for any pain, distress or aggression and alter your methods accordingly and don’t continue grooming if you are becoming impatient or agitated – put dog away, have a five minute break, then start again. It is important never to groom when you are feeling stressed or agitated.

Always monitor dogs for heat stress, particularly in hot weather and never let dogs mix with each other in the grooming salon – their safety should always be paramount when in your care. It is not your job to let them socialise – leave this to their owners. You should be careful when doing matted shave downs – there is a much higher chance of the dog being cut. Use a finer blade in danger areas, so as not to feed skin into the clipper blade. Wet clipping is a good method to enable you to leave a longer finish, but always use a cordless clipper when using this method. Be aware of how you are handling the dog’s limbs – the last thing you want is for the dog to go home limping. Always be calm, patient and assertive – this will instil confidence in the dog and they will behave much better for you. You should be aware of danger areas when clipping a dog too (see box on the left/right).

Different dogs

You should always do a thorough health check on the dog before commencing grooming in order to check for any lumps, bumps, warts or abnormalities and use good grooming techniques. You should be extra vigilant when grooming elderly dogs – they can become sensitive to certain things. I’ve found many old dogs become sensitive to the blaster and will bark uncontrollably, almost as if they are having a fit. If this happens, stop immediately and reassure the dog until he stops barking. Make a note on the record card not to use the blaster on this dog again. Make sure you ask owner about any health problems before commencing the groom and check for any changes in health every time the dog visits. Grooming a puppy can be fraught with problems too – they are squirmy and wriggly and often will fight when having scissors around their eyes. Do not take any chances. If you feel what you are doing is dangerous and may injure the dog, stop what you are doing and call it a day. Communicate with your client and teach them how to handle the dog (e.g. getting them used to having the piece of hair under their chin held) to help you in the future. You might like to offer free puppy sessions to help get the puppy used to the grooming environment. Short, regular grooming sessions are the key. Overweight dogs may need to be given extra support e.g. with a hammock. Lift dogs correctly bearing in mind that different dogs need different treatment. You’ll need to give extra support for chondrodysplastic (long backed) dogs; never scruff the brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds as there is a danger of eye prolapse; do not scoop large breeds as this can encourage hip dysplacia.

Final precautions are to make sure you have grooming insurance in place and know when to say no. Some dogs are simply too dangerous to groom, due to their behaviour or health issues. Do not try to do the impossible – if you feel unsafe grooming a dog, then you probably are.  Know your limitations and if necessary suggest the owner takes the dog to a vet to be groomed under sedation.

Accidents do happen

Even if you follow all the above points meticulously, an accident can still happen, so how do you deal with it if it does? The box on the left/right shows the basic rules to follow. Remain calm and do not panic – this will not help you or the dog and will just make matters worse.  Recently, one of my own dogs somehow got a chair leg stuck in his collar – he panicked and twisted causing the collar to tighten around his neck. Did I follow my own advice? Unfortunately not! I have to admit I panicked, but luckily my husband was there – he remained calm and managed to release the collar quickly enough so that my dog was fine with no lasting injuries. I honestly believe if my husband hadn’t been there my dog would have died, but all it took to avoid a catastrophe was for somebody to remain calm and act quickly.


How should you deal with the owner if an accident has happened? Be calm and professional. Take responsibility if it was your fault and the accident could have been avoided. If the accident happened because the dog was severely matted, you should have ensured that the client signed a ‘matted dog release form’ prior to the groom, absolving you of responsibility should an accident happen, as the risk is much higher and the client must take responsibility for the neglect of their dog’s coat. This is not to say you shouldn’t try to avoid an accident happening, but the client must also be made to understand that they have to accept some responsibility and risk. If you genuinely believe an accident was your fault, by all means offer a discounted groom the next time, or even free if this makes you feel better. If it is only a minor injury, be calm and polite and do apologise, but do not over-do it.  Advise the client to keep the injury clean and keep an eye on it.  Assure them that should they need to seek vet attention, you or your insurance company will deal with any costs. Dog grooming as a profession is fraught with danger, and if we thought about it too much we would probably never want to pick up our clippers or scissors.  Be sensible and follow all the safety procedures listed above and you should have a long, enjoyable career with few accidents. They obviously will happen from time to time, but hopefully this article will help you to deal with them effectively with the least stress to all concerned. Remember, most owners will be understanding when an accident happens. They will know that you are very upset about it and the last thing you wanted to do was injure their dog.  Build a good, trusting relationship with your clients and you will be half way there.

Speed and efficiency in the grooming salon

How do you save time without dropping standards? Lesley Garratt, of the Canine Design Academy of Grooming, discusses how to maximise your earning potential, without impacting on the quality of your work…
When you schedule dogs into the diary, you need to work out which way is most efficient for you, bearing in mind the number of people working
in your salon and the drying methods available to you such as if you have a cabinet dryer. Take into consideration the amount of time you are spending with your customers – it is very easy to spend 15 minutes talking to a customer, but that is 15 minutes which could have been used more constructively. You have to learn to be polite and efficient with customers. Consider at what intervals you are booking in the dogs. I prefer to book
several dogs in at the same time, as it is rare that everyone is on time for their appointment and if you have a short queue, it means that people will
be conscious of the person waiting behind them. This way they won’t spend as long chatting to you, which in turn means you don’t have to feel you are being rude by cutting short their conversation. If you allow, for example, 15 minute intervals between each appointment, it is difficult to get
much done in the time between each customer arriving and you tend to spend a good hour or so, just waiting for dogs to arrive before you can really get anything done.

Taking appointments 

The telephone can take up a huge amount of time in your day. If you spend ten minutes on the phone talking to six customers, that is a whole hour taken out of your day. You might like to use an answerphone to take your calls during the working day, then call people back at your convenience. Another good idea is to advance book appointments at the beginning of the year. We have many customers who make their appointments for the whole year, so we don’t have to spend time at each visit making their next appointment. Having a website and communicating with customers via email can also be time saving as can using a computer based system to keep customer records and make appointments.


You may think you cannot save much time in this area, but there are a lot of things you can do to save  yourself time, such as investing in a hydrobath, Bathing Beauty or similar. The hydrobath can really reduce the amount of time you are spending on the bathing process for large hairy dogs. For example, you can effectively bathe a Newfoundland in a hydrobath in around 15 minutes, but it would probably take around an hour and 15 minutes using conventional methods. When bathing in the conventional way, apply diluted shampoo directly onto a dry coat. This is quicker, it saves water, it will kill fleas more effectively (even using a non-insecticidal shampoo) and it gets the dogs cleaner. Use a scrunchy to get the dogs really clean. This will save you time, means you have to use less shampoo and lathers your shampoo really well.


The old fashioned method was to completely de-mat a dog before putting it in the bath as the thinking was that if you wet the knots it will make them worse. Some training establishments and a lot of books still advocate this method. Do not waste lots of time de-matting the dogs before the bath. There are so many excellent de-matting products, tools and equipment on the market now that this is an unnecessary and time consuming practise. A good rule of thumb is the quicker you get your dog in the bath, the quicker it will be finished. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but on the whole this is the fastest, most efficient way of working. It is much easier and more efficient to remove knots on a clean coat than a dirty one. After your dog is shampooed, blot it to remove excess water from the coat, blast thoroughly, then apply a good quality de-matting spray into the coat. Brush the product well into the coat, then blast thoroughly. The de-matting product in the coat will help the blaster to slide the knots away from the skin, making them easier to remove. In our salon the favourite de-matting combination is Demel’ex spray, together with a Les Poochs Matt Zapper. I have never found a combination which is more effective at removing knots. You can also use conditioner after the bath if you like, but this is not absolutely necessary.


There are drying methods which can massively speed up your time and efficiency. A combination blaster/ stand dryer is a really efficient method
of drying the dogs and will save you loads of time on the old traditional method of fluff drying from wet with a slicker brush. After initially blasting the wetness off your dog’s coat as normal, use a stand dryer on the coat and instead of a slicker brush. Utilise your blaster where you are pointing your air flow, drying the longer coat first and leaving the shorter coat until last. This will dry the coat really quickly. You can then quickly brush through on completion with a slicker brush for a better result, but you will speed up your drying probably by around 50% by using this method. There are also now products on the market which speed up the drying process – Showseasons have a speed dry shampoo and a spray, which definitely do speed up the drying process. Christies have also recently introduced a speed dry spray. A cabinet dryer can also help with efficiency. It is a very useful addition to the grooming salon and, if used safely and  responsibly, is a humane method of drying your dogs. Never force
any dog to go in who is afraid of it and always situate your cabinet dryer in your grooming room in full view of the groomers, so you can see  instantly if any dog becomes distressed or is looking hot.


The most innovative and time-saving tools I have come across in recent years are stainless steel comb attachments. These can be used in place of  scissoring in many instances and will product a lovely result, almost as good as a scissor finish. The Wahl stainless steel comb attachments are excellent, but my personal preference is for the Moser Arco clipper with metal comb attachments. The clippers are light and cordless and you can use them on a #40 setting, which will give you a sharper finish. Other time saving techniques are the use of straight scissors in place of thinning scissors wherever possible. Thinners are a really useful tool in the grooming salon and are invaluable for blending and bulk thinning, but there
are occasions when you can use your straight scissors instead, achieving a good result and saving time. Be methodical and plan your groom.
Try timing each part of the dog – allow yourself, for example, five minutes for your clipper work/blending, ten minutes for each leg, five minutes for the tail and 15 minutes for the head. If you haven’t finished each part of the dog when you reach your allotted time, move on anyway and come back at the end to finish up any tidying which needs doing. You can gradually decrease the amount of time you are taking on each part of the dog, and with time and practise you will get quicker and more efficient.

Taking the stress out of claims

If something goes wrong at your salon and you need to  make a claim on your business insurance, it can be a stressful time. But Anja Cantillon, of Pet Business Insurance says making the claim should be the easy part. …

Having specialised in providing insurance for Pet Business owners over a number of years, I am continually surprised to find many business owners do not do themselves any favours when making an insurance claim. Here are some key points that should make making an insurance claim less stressful. Your policy Good general housekeeping advice is to keep all your insurance details in a safe place – somewhere where they won’t be damaged, destroyed or lost.

Then if you need to make a claim they will be easily at hand.  If you think you need to make a claim, don’t wait too long. Contact your insurance provider immediately so that they are aware of your situation. Although speed of response is vital in making an insurance claim, it is advisable not to act too hastily. Make sure you have considered all the impact for the claim as it is very rarely that you will be able to claim for additional, overlooked losses at a later stage. When to contact the police In the case of a crime it is essential to inform the police straight away. In addition your insurer will require a crime reference number to process this type of claim. It is important, from the outset, to keep records and gather all the evidence you can to back up your account of events. For example you should keep receipts for work carried out, correspondence notes, details of telephone conversations and visits, photographs of damage and proof of purchase for items damaged. You may need to fill in a claims form so that you can begin your claim. Your insurance provider should provide you with this and having all of the evidence listed above will help greatly with filling in the form. Alternatively many insurance companies are happy to talk through your claim over the phone. Either way they will be able to assist you further should you have any queries. For more information about Pet Business Insurance and clear descriptions of different types of recommended insurances see the Pet Business Insurance information pages at


Keeping business going in the recession


The economic climate has meant tough trading times for businesses across Europe and beyond. Owner of Canine Comforts training school and grooming parlour, Gill East, looks at how the recession has affected the grooming industry...

As I have been training and trading for more than 30 years, I have coped with three recessions, but this one has proved the longest and the worst. Whereas other recessions have been brief and not too dramatic, this one is causing more concern, especially as we head into winter. Apart from broken appointments, which would not normally have happened, more customers are moving booked appointments back to eight to 12 week intervals, stating that the appointment is not needed yet, as the dog has not grown – a miracle! – or that he is not well. Needless to say, as a result of less-frequent appointments, canine clients are arriving at grooming salons knotted solid, with fleas and other skin and ear conditions, due to the length of time that their groomer has been restricted from seeing them or addressing these problems. Then there are the requests of “Can you cut him shorter?” If we go any shorter we will be on the bone.  You may find that you are not losing clients, but not seeing them as regularly. To cope with the gaps and keep you financially stable, you need a bigger client base. We have noticed as you all must have, how the public have suddenly adopted a more-demanding attitude, being harder to please, and less likely to say “thank you”. This is not to say trims are inferior or less than top quality, but shows that people are nervous and not as comfortable.

So what do we do?

It is a good idea to always make a further appointment when the animal is collected.  By giving this to the owner it is a way in which, if you have a no show, you can confidently telephone to remind them and reappoint. It is not like having to cold-call, as the client is embarrassed for forgetting and is more likely to book another appointment. Another offer we have given is to book three future appointments on a card. Each time the client returns, the card is stamped. When all three bookings have been completed you can offer the third at a reduced price. The benefit of this is that you will see the dog more often, their coats will be in reasonable condition and the trim will be faster to complete. Think like the big supermarkets – they certainly know how to get the money in.

 A few good things

A positive to come out of the recession for well-established parlours that are paying high rents, wages, national insurance, tax and generally trading legally is that a lot of technically-impaired groomers have stopped trading. I love that statement, meaning groomers that have no technical skills, no training and a bad reputation have given up. Established parlours with skills are usually able to adapt and survive. Many of you that know me, will be aware of the years of work trying to get groomers recognised and enthusiastic about continuing to add qualifications and achievements. My advice now is no different – keep advertising your qualifications, tell your owners how long you have studied to achieve this professional status and remember you are not just a groomer, but a health-care expert. Who notices any skin problems that need attention, unexpected lumps and bumps or unusual behaviour or movement for prompt referral to a veterinarian?