Thorough prep work
Any experienced groomer will tell you, without a high level of prep work, you won’t get a high level groom. Unfortunately there is no substitute for a bit of elbow grease and a thorough bath and blow dry. Use a high quality shampoo and make sure you rinse, rinse and rinse! Shampoo residue can make drying take longer and can leave a greasy feel on the coat. This can make getting a nice finish nearly impossible.
Make sure all your equipment is sharp, serviced and working efficiently. Dull blades will not only take longer but will not give you the best finish. Make sure you use good quality drying equipment and brush the dog during the drying process. This will speed up the process and also get rid of any rat tails. Scissors should be sharp. Contrary to what you may think- a sharp blade is safer than a blunt one. This is because if you have a super sharp blade, you need only apply a small amount of pressure to cut the coat. If you have a dull blade, you will get used to using force behind your scissors and will be less aware when you come in contact with the skin.
Between strokes with your clippers, back brush the coat with a slicker brush. This will pick the hair up and give you a much nicer finish. Aim for no more than three strokes with the clippers. One to remove the bulk, one to set the length and a final stroke to remove dust and give a nice finish. Any more than this and you are not being economical with your time or it may be time to pack your blades up for sharpening.
Be breed specific
Many of our customers buy pedigree dogs but may not be able to keep up with the maintenance or grooming costs that come with it. This is often why they opt for a clip off as you can leave the dog a little bit of their breed characteristics while giving them an easy to maintain coat. Clip offs could have a breed specific head, tail and foot. The rest is all the same. Leaving a round head and a carrot tail on a Westie or a bit of padding on a spaniels ears can make all the difference to the owner.
Balance is just as important on a clip off as it is on a breed trim. Make everything in proportion. If you are leaving a head or tail, keep it shorter to balance out the dogs shape. You don’t want the dog to look like its going to fall over because its head is to big or heavy. I am a big fan of short tight feet on most pet grooms. It makes them easy to maintain and it keeps the dogs balanced. Long floppy feet can look like unattractive slippers.
Pay attention to details
Pay particular attention to the hairs around the toe nails. This can make a dogs foot go from ‘ok’ to ‘great’ with just a little bit more attention. I usually pick up the foot and pull all the stray hairs away from the nail from underneath. Other areas include the groin, arm pits, private parts and under the ears. Take a small pair of trimmers to tidy up those areas with a 10 blade. I like Moser Arco trimmers.
Check your work
Excellent! So you’re all finished. But before you start sweeping up, put your dog on the floor and have a good look as it moves. You may be surprised to see a little stray hair. Checking your work is a vital step and one you should make a habit of. I always say, its better you find it before the owner does. This skill will also put you above others in any competitions or exams.