41: Your Doodle Grooming Questions Answered: Why Do Groomers Charge So Much, Shave Dogs, or Poodle Doodles?

If you’ve ever wanted to know what your Doodle groomer is really thinking (or why you’re having difficulty getting on the same page), this episode of The Doodle Pro™ Podcast is for you! Host Corinne Gearhart welcomes River Lee, a sought-after speaker and owner of The Savvy Groomer, who is lifting the curtain on what goes on behind the scenes.

doodle grooming questions answered I The Doodle Pro Podcast River Lee

You’ll get answers to questions like: 

  • How often should Doodles be groomed and starting at what age?
  • Why does it cost so much?
  • What level of skill do dog stylists require – and what occupational stress do they endure? 
  • What are current trends shaping the grooming industry?
  • Why do groomers hate Doodles? (Spoiler Alert: They don’t.)
  • How can pet guardians make life easier all the way around?

River, who is both a master grooming technician and business coach, shares insights into why Doodle hair maintenance isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine; how a pandemic influx of large, high-maintenance dogs and shop closings/retirements has generated a grooming vacuum; and where we can do better in terms of setting up our Doodles, our groomers and ourselves for success. As you’ll learn, it all starts with defining terms clearly, communicating consistently and setting realistic expectations all the way around. “If you build a relationship with your groomer, you’re going to be so much happier,” says River. “We all love the dogs. It’s a matter of coming together and bridging the gaps!”

If you know a groomer who could benefit, River’s coaching includes self-paced workshops and masterclasses, community membership and lots of free resources.

Want to know how to brush your Doodle the RIGHT way before your next grooming appointment? Then click here to listen to Episode #6 and find out everything you need to!

Don’t forget to check out our free gift to you. The Doodle Coat “Must Haves” Cheat Sheet is available at this link.

If you’d like to listen to, rate or review previous episodes of The Doodle Pro™ Podcast, please visit us here. And a full transcript of this episode is available at this link.

KEY TOPICS:

  • River shares a bit about herself and her entrepreneurial desire to facilitate understanding among dog owners and groomers – particularly in the Doodle world!
  • About Savvy Groomer, which is all about teaching groomers to build businesses that are fulfilling rather than draining.Get ready to take on Doodle community questions one by on
  • Question #1: What are the trends in the grooming industry as a whole?
    • The business model has tightened up: Shop owners are now required to pay their groomers a fair (and fully taxable) wage. 
    • The cost of grooming products has increased significantly.
    • Old-school groomers – who used to clip as many as 10 dogs a day – do not represent the current standard of care.   
    • There are corrections going on to compensate for:
      • No price increases for decades.
      • Covid-inspired retirements among many burned-out older groomers.
    • There’s a current projected shortfall of about 50,000 groomers by 2030.
  • Question #2: How do grooming costs break down?
    • Commercial lease prices have increased exponentially in many areas.
    • Typically 30% of revenue goes to payroll: groomers, receptionist, bathers.
    • Typically 20% goes to taxes.
    • Mobile services add about $100,000 to bottom-line expenses.
    • Insurance comps are based on dogs as a depreciating asset and often do not cover incidents, which can shift the onus onto groomers.
    • Grooming has intrinsic physical costs in terms of wear and tear on the body.
    • Doodles in particular require extra scissoring, brushing and special skills.
  • Question #3: What do requests for hand scissoring mean in terms of groomers?
    • There are two different methods:
      • Combing method. 
      • Hand scissoring (which is far, far more time consuming and stressful on the hands).
    • It takes an average of two years to train a “finished groomer,” and they are still not equipped with the skills necessary to hand scissor.
    • The technique requires knowing how to blend flat with wavy hair.  
    • The majority of groomers leave after just five years.
  • Question #4: How has the Doodle Deluge impacted groomers? :
    • The industry wasn’t ready for the explosion of pet owners with large, high-maintenance breeds.
    • Groomers tend to avoid having candid conversations with Doodle owners, including setting appropriate prices that may cause sticker shock. 
  • Word of Advice: If your dog isn’t accustomed to grooming from a young age, they will always be stressed by the environment (and likely their coat badly matted as well).
  • Question #5: What does it mean to emphasize “humanity over vanity”?
    • Groomers are impact by what kind of hair your dog has – and how long it has been untended.
    • If your breeder says you’ll ruin your dog’s coat by shaving it, in all likelihood its double-coated and demands particular attention.
    • The Doodle’s undercoat can get trapped in wiry curls, which requires specific remedies like blow drying the roots.
    • Complex grooming is a lot of work all the way around – so give grace!
    • Hair texture changes as dogs age and not all styles are suited all dogs. Again, give grace!
  •  Question #6: Why is the “blow-out” so important (and challenging)?
    • The roots have to be straightened.
    • The ends are attached to the roots.
    • Coats are cut dry, which means dogs’ hair has to be washed and dried first.
    • Pet parents often don’t understand what the styled esthetic means and the amount of effort required.
    • Masking and fixing a Doodle’s flaws (extra poofs, for example) takes a lot effort and navigation around either anxious or playful Doodle temperaments.
    • It can take a year or two to train a dog to stay still and cooperate with grooming.
  • Question #7: What can Doodle owners do to prepare their dogs for the groomer?
    • Start regular visits at an early age.
    • Contact your mobile groomer (and get on the client roster) before your Doodle even arrives.
    • Teach your Doodle to “stack” or stand still. 
    • Since spritzing is necessary for grooming, don’t use squirt bottles as punishment. 
    • Don’t play with vacuums or dryers or turn them into monsters whose sounds have negative connotations.
    • Don’t use your backyard hose as a plaything, which can teach biting behaviors that create havoc when groomers bathe your dog.
    • Don’t half-brush your dog, turning them into a skunk whose legs and muzzle are left matted. Get them used to brushing the belly, the tail, behind the ears.
    •  Remember that when you pet your dog, you’re inadvertently spreading whatever products/oils are on your hands.
  • Question #8: What are top tips for keeping our Doodles from getting shaved?
    • Be clear on terms. A shave is “Mr. Clean” close – and a lot more severe than a basic sport (or “kennel”) cut.
    • Recognize that a puppy cut is actually a poodle cut.
    • Consider maintaining a half-inch coat, which offers Doodles a lot of freedom of activity with very low maintenance.
    • Be honest with yourself about how much home maintenance you want to do.
    • If your dog loves swimming and romping, choose styles that make sense.
    • Have patience while your groomer figures out and learns to provide exactly the style you envision. 
    • Allow for the fact that dogs’ hair textures (and requirements) change with age and season.
  • Question #9: What’s the optimal grooming schedule for committed Doodle guardians?
    • Four weeks is the longest you should go between appointments.
    • Regular intervals ensure:
      • Regular flea and tick checks.
      • Groomer-dog familiarity and comfort.
      • Less matting and other issues to manage.
    • Even with brushing, delays make managing patterns of growth more challenging.
    • Develop a good relationship and regular communication with your groomer.
  • Question #10: What are we doing that drives Doodle groomers crazy?
    • Failing to recognize the ongoing reality groomers deal with in terms of workplace regulations, physical stress and financial pressure.
    • Not knowing what “Poodle my Doodle” really means.
    • Not understanding that your dog’s hair is going to change continuously.
    • Not affording your groomer the grace to figure out what works best for your particular dog’s coat.
    • Not appreciating that grooming is an unlicensed industry rife with burnout and unrealistic expectations.
    • Not being appreciative (i.e. tipping) and appreciating the work involved.
    • Underestimating the amount of time and investment necessary to foster a great relationship with your groomer. 
    • Undervaluing the 10- to 15-year relationship you should be establishing with your groomer.
    • Delaying first appointments and initiating a long-term plan for your Doodle puppy right out of the gate.
  • In Wrapping Up: Doodle guardians should be prepared to pay $200 to $500 every four weeks to maintain a reasonable level of grooming. It’s an investment that pays off!

QUOTABLE:

  • “There’s so much anger on either side (among groomers and Doodle parents) and I think it’s really unfortunate. But we’re here for the dogs and we’re here to bridge this gap!” (River)
  • “We’re going through a massive shift in the industry. We used to have illegal independent contractors being paid 50% commission and these shops were not keeping up with pricing because they were not paying taxes for groomers. They just saw that money as gravy.” (River)
  • “I’m in my 30s and have carpel tunnel in both of my hands, need my left shoulder replaced and I only groomed for about 15 years … Grooming big dogs destroys your body a lot faster and I don’t think owners understand that.” (River)
  • “It sounds mean – trigger warning – but I always say that it’s our fault as groomers for not creating boundaries with Doodle owners … We didn’t expect this influx of very large, high-maintenance breeds.” (River)
  • “When your dog is matted it’s basically being mummified in its own dead hair … but what guardians don’t understand is that we don’t know what kind of hair your dog is going to have at what age.” (River)
  • “A lot of people want beautiful, voluptuous hair on their Doodles … but it’s a lot of work!” (River)
  • “Groomers come in two flavors: Artists or technicians. Technicians are more likely to give you what you want because they don’t have an artistic flair … but you (still) may not get it the first time.” (River)
  • “What’s unfortunate is that what you guys consider a shave, a lot of us (groomers) just consider a sport cut or what’s called a ‘kennel cut.’ To us shaved is to the skin … and I think that’s the cause of a lot of misunderstanding.” (River)
  • “With Doodles, your dog is unique. Even if you have a litter mate, they probably aren’t going to look similar.” (River) 
  • “It’s not the dogs that we don’t want to groom. It’s unrealistic (dog guardian) expectations.”
  • “If you build a relationship with your groomer, you’re going to be so much happier … We all love the dogs. It’s a matter of coming together and bridging the gaps!” (River)

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have a pawsome day!

Corinne

corinne the doodle pro

oh hey there!

I’m Corinne, The Doodle Pro™

DOODLES ARE DIFFERENT, THEY DESERVE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY NEED.

That’s why I, The Doodle Pro™, do things differently.

All of my training methods are positive, research-based, and Doodle-specific. 

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