Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Winter Grooming

As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, it is understandable that clients start wondering "How short is too short to keep Fido warm??" Fortunately most coats grow back pretty quickly, much quicker than human hair so this is only presents a problem for a week or so after grooming.

You may be happy to simply slip on a woolly pully but if you are not into doggy dressing up you may well be considering rearranging your grooming schedule over the next  few months. But how best to approach this for maximum effect?

Two things to think about: A very short cut may be too cold for Winter weather BUT Winter walking conditions are predictably a lot more mucky and it stands to reason your dog's coat will hold onto a lot more dirt the longer it is - and all dog owners will know and love (?) that smell of cheesy wet socks as your BFF walks into a room!!
Mud glorious mud!

If your dog is normally clipped short on a regular basis, it isn't difficult to leave a little bit of extra length on so your dog isn't left feeling naked and shivering immediately post groom. It's probably goes without saying that the majority of coat types will naturally increase the undercoat layer and thicken in response to colder weather too.However this does mean that the coat will reach the optimum length for easy maintenance more quickly and so you may have to reduce the time between each groom - or be prepared to be a bit more hands on with the brush & comb! Generally, if your grooming appointments are a regular 6-8 weeks apart this really should not be a problem.
If you like to keep your dog in full coat and/or want to keep a lot more length on it to keep out the cold, consider booking a few maintenance grooms during winter. Cheaper than a full groom, your BFF will be thoroughly bathed, brushed out to knot free and all the awkward spots taken care of  (footpads, armpits & between the eyes cleared of hair) plus nails clipped and ears cleaned. BFF will emerge fragrant and fun to cuddle once more - at least until the next opportunity to bog snorkel!!

If, like a lot of customers, budget is an issue and you can only afford to have your Scalliwag groomed at intervals, thoughtful timing can really make a difference.

A client of mine had re-homed a very heavy coated cocker spaniel. Taking him on had very much been a heart over head decision and (like many) she had not taken into consideration the cost of regular visits to the groomer because (like many) she had not understood that for most heavy coated dogs this is essential for their health and comfort, not just a matter of vanity. After a chat we agreed that 4 visits a year for a clip down were affordable for her and sufficient to keep the dog in good health. But she was concerned that the dog might be too cold in winter and too hot in summer when the dog's coat was in extremis. So I suggested we schedule the grooms: Beginning of November/Beginning of February/Beginning of April/Beginning of June. This way she could avoid the dog being in unseasonably short coat during the worst of Winter and unseasonably long coat during height of Summer. And experience showed this worked a treat!!

So don't leave it until the day before to think about booking your dog in at the groomer. Start thinking NOW about a seasonal schedule that will keep your BFF looking and feeling in tip top condition. Please, please don't leave it until even your teenage son cannot stand the smell of wet dog a moment longer to try booking in, or (worse still for your groomer) cancel a groom the day before because there is suddenly a cold snap. Seasons happen every year!

Call/Text 07555207128 today to organise a grooming appointment with Southend Scalliwags or visit www.southenddoggroomer.co.uk for more information.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Cocker Spaniel Masterclass

Mike Wildman started grooming at 12yrs old
Last Sunday I attended a Cocker Spaniel Masterclass with Mike Wildman ICMG in London. A rare opportunity not to be missed, since Mike is actually based in Chester and only makes occasional visits South.

Both my husband and my brother have to attend CPD (continued professional development) for their various professions and claim their sessions are invariably a waste of time &/or money amounting to box ticking exercises. So I feel really blessed to be in a profession where Master Groomers like Mike are so generous in sharing their knowledge & experience on a huge variety of topics. I generally find grooming seminars to be fun and interesting and this one did not disappoint!!

During the morning Mike took us through the traditional method of grooming a Cocker Spaniel, hand-stripping. A hand-stripped coat is breed standard for show dogs (no clipping allowed) although sadly most pet owners find this method too high maintenance &/or too expensive so will opt to clip. Also many pet spaniels do not have suitable coats for stripping due to neutering, which alters the coat texture as a result of hormonal changes.
For a silky coat in top class condition Mike recommended monthly grooming appointments. He warns against being tempted by any short cuts or quick fixes as once these are used on a spaniel coat sadly there is seldom any going back. For both owners and groomers, PATIENCE is a necessary virtue!!

Clipped Spaniels can be glamorous & practical!
Happily, although clipped spaniels have a different texture to their coat, it is still possible to make them look glamorous, retaining their spaniel character and the afternoon was spent showing us how best to achieve this.

Mike also shows, judges and breeds Cocker Spaniels so was able to give us some expert tips on how to scissor on both hand-stripped and clipped dogs to show the dog's physique off to best advantage. A judicious snip in the right places can really enhance the deep chested and square build of my favourite breed. And now that tails are no longer docked Mike showed us how to trim them for a neat, practical finish in keeping with the breed style and character.

Just bought a Cocker Spaniel puppy? Want a practical groom which doesn't make your dog look like a Labrador pup? Call Babs on 07555207128 for more information.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Southend Scalliwags Customers - Wonky But Wagging!

As an In Home Groomer, inevitably much of my client base consists of nervous, anxious dogs &/or senior dogs who tend to find the hectic or unfamiliar atmosphere of a salon or grooming van overwhelming (no offense intended to my fellow groomies ). Or I am grooming puppies who have not yet learned how to stand patiently on the grooming table.
Toothless dogs tend to look lopsided
Unfortunately this sometimes means I have to lower my expectations of the finished groom because, well, it is blooming difficult to get a neat finish on a foot when the dog is tap dancing like Michael Flatley and I have noticed that dogs with no teeth tend to always look lopsided!
However I have a mission statement to fulfil, which is that every dog should leave the table clean & comfortable & easier for the owner to maintain for the next 8 or so weeks.
With Southend Scalliwags every groom is approached with the same energy and enthusiasm as though the dog is appearing at Crufts next day, regardless of the outcome.
Why? Because I understand that there is no such thing as 'just a dog'. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to every owner, their Scalliwag is a unique and beautiful soul.
And over time with regular appointments we find the dogs relax more and we are able to achieve better results.
Have your dog groomed in the comfort and familiarity of your own home. Call Babs at Southend Scalliwags on 07555207128 or checkout www.southenddoggroomer.co.uk

Monday, 3 September 2018

What Is Hand-Stripping?

Sunday is usually a day when most of us look forward to putting our feet up and doing something relaxing. For groomers it is a day when we can get together to connect, share, compare and pass on technical skills (Continued Professional Development in corporate speak!) So I jumped at the opportunity to attend a seminar on hand-stripping and hand-strip breeds, hosted by one of UK's premier groomers, Sue Pratt.
What is hand-stripping?
Before electric clippers became the one size fits all method of grooming, many dog breeds were Hand-stripped, where the coat is literally pulled out by hand. This sounds painful but done properly only the old, dead hair is being removed and should not be any more uncomfortable than tweezering our eyebrows. The two main coat types it is used for are wire haired and silky coats.
Wire Haired Fox Terrier

Any C&G trained groomer will have covered hand-stripping in their training. Unfortunately for many of us opportunities to use this knowledge are few and far between. It is time consuming and therefore prohibitively expensive for many customers. Also hormonal changes as a result of neutering render many coats unsuitable for stripping, meaning it is inappropriate for many of our pet customers.

So Sunday was a fantastic opportunity for us to extend our knowledge. Sue advised on: the best grooming programme for a hand-stripped pet dog; recovering a coat; how stripping can be blended with clipping & scissoring on pet dogs to attain the best of all worlds; the nuances of stripping a wire haired v a silky coat & what is involved in developing and maintaining a full show coat on a silky breed.

American Cocker Spaniel- Before
Two valuable pieces of advice I learned were:
  • It is sometimes possible to continue hand-stripping a dog after neutering provided the dog was stripped regularly before and provided the dog is not neutered too young.
  • To keep a hand-stripped wire haired dog looking sharp with their coat in top condition they should be stripped out at regular 6 weekly intervals NOT left until the coat is blowing before seeing a groomer again.
Which Breeds are Traditionally Hand Stripped?
Wire coated breeds include many of the terrier family: Fox, Irish, Borders, Jack Russels, Cairns & Westies are among the most popular. The coat should feel harsh and wiry to the touch and this texture is practical for these outdoor working breeds because it is to an extent water & weather proof. A hand stripped coat will maintain a vibrant colour and pattern and is normally less prone to matts and tangles.

Silky coated breeds which are hand-stripped mainly belong to the gun dog family, including spaniels & setters. Their coats were also initially designed for work & weather proofing in the field, however these days have become exaggerated to a degree that has rendered them somewhat impractical. However hand-stripping is still the best way to stunning results if you can spare the time and the money.

If you want to discuss having your dog groomed to breed standards call Babs at Southend Scalliwags on 07555207128

A.C.S.-Bathed, Brushed Out, Stripped & Scissored to Perfection by Sue Pratt

Thursday, 23 August 2018

About Puppy Grooms

You may be sitting reading this with a newly acquired bundle of scrumptious fluffiness snuggled into your lap.
He is cute, he is soft and when he playfully nips your fingers your immediate response is "awwwww..!".
You can't imagine sending him to a big, busy grooming salon. It would be too scarey for the little guy and anyway he is gawguss and they can't improve on perfection - right!??
But then you start to notice that his fur is getting tangled in places - right there where you tickle behind his ears and where all the food gets caught around his muzzle. So you try to comb them out but he WILL NOT sit still and "Ouch that hurts!" when he starts using his little razor sharp teeth in earnest to get you to stop.
You let it go because you are putty in his paws until..
What's that? At any time between about 6 months and a year old, your puppy will start to shed his fluffy puppy fur to make way for his adult coat, which will follow his breed type. It will change texture and maybe even colour.
By this time the new coat is now getting all caught up in the fluffy stuff he is trying to shed. One day you pick him up and cuddling him isn't as pleasant as it once was. He won't let you run your fingers through his fur any more (because it is uncomfortable when you snag on the tangles and the matts are making him sore) and well, he smells - nasty! You decide to bath him but you have to towel dry him because he is scared of the drier, leading to more tangles, which he will not allow you to comb out.
OK you think, time for this little guy to man up and go get his first big boy hair cut!
And you whisk him off to the groomer, who will bath him and dry him and make him look all cute and lovely again! Unfortunately when he gets to the groomer, a complete strange who attacks him with a big noisy hair drier and big, noisy clippers which vibrate against his skin, your puppy is terrified and wriggles and squirms. And because he hasn't been combed the groomer has no choice but to clip all his fur off and start again. When you go to collect him you are not happy that your pup has been shaved down like a convict, or you are mortified to see him so cowed by the experience so you don't go back until you absolutely have to.
So from his first ever visit your puppy is left with negative associations with grooming - you both are in fact. Thus begins the never ending cycle of shave down, grow out, grow matted, shave down. Your puppy, now a grown up dog, hates the whole experience and will not stand still or co-operate and the groomer is never able to achieve the beautiful finish your best friend deserves, no matter how many different groomers you try. Your dog may even become fear aggressive, so that drastic measures such as muzzling &/or sedation (via a vet) become necessary.

To help avoid this all too familiar scenario, start taking your puppy to the groomer as soon as you can (or in my case I will come to you, so that the puppy is able to get used to the routine in familiar surroundings). A good groomer will start slowly with short maintenance grooms. At Southend Scalliwags I offer the following introductory groom:
  • Bath & Dry
  • A thorough brush & comb out
  • Scissor tidy of feet, face and hygiene area
  • Nails clipped if necessary
This routine usually takes about an hour. During the process the puppy is introduced to various tools gradually so that he becomes de-sensitised to them. I am also happy to offer advice on how you can keep your puppy clean & tidy between grooms and how to brush him out thoroughly and efficiently.

I recommend booking your puppy in for 2 or more introductory grooms about a month apart and by the time his adult coat is starting to come through he will be thoroughly familiar with the routine and we can discuss options for his first big boy groom.

A STANDARD PUPPY INTRODUCTION TO GROOMING IS £20 (based on one hour of work).

Monday, 16 July 2018

Summer In Costa Del Southend

As this glorious summer sunshine continues, Social Media is awash with information and advice how to prevent our precious dogs from suffering in the heat and, worst case scenario, putting their lives at risk from heatstroke.
Take Shady Walks Near Water
Sadly I feel much of this advice being shared and promoted is largely preaching to the converted - why else would we continue to see tragic examples of what can happen? But dogs are my livelihood and their welfare central to what I do, so if reiterating some of this advice here saves even one life, here goes:
  • Whilst Temperatures remain above 22 Degrees Centigrade do not leave your dog in the car. Not even in the shade. Or with the windows open and water available. Don't do it.
Try and keep car journeys with the dog to short distances only. Have the air conditioning on as cold as possible. If you MUST travel any distance make regular pit stops and have plenty of water on hand.

Walk Fido early morning/evening when it is cooler and preferably in shady areas &/or where there is water available for a quick dunk or drink.

Remember tarmac gets HOT under the sun and could burn your pup's bare paws, or at least make them very sore. So try and keep the dog on the turf or dirt tracks as much as possible.

Signs of distress due to heat include excessive panting/extreme thirst/vomiting/bright red tongue & pale gums/neck skin does not snap back into place when pinched.

With a little bit of common sense heatstroke should be easy to avoid with a basically healthy dog and remember - panting is a dog's normal response to heat as an alternative to sweating as we do, so no need to over-react but watch out if it is combined with any of the other symptoms listed. Senior dogs, puppies or dogs with underlying health problems are most vulnerable in the heat. If you think your dog is struggling  here are some steps you can take immediately:
  1. Take the dog at once to a cool area - one of the best places ironically, is a car with the motor running and the air conditioning on full blast.
  2. Dogs will often lay on cold floors to help cool down so pour cold water over the belly and groin to help reduce the core temperature. Do NOT immerse the dog in freezing cold water, the shock could cause adverse reactions.
  3. Offer the dog plenty of water to drink. Do NOT give it ice cubes or ice creams which again may cause and adverse reaction.
  4. As soon as possible take the animal for a thorough vet check.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Hot Dogs In Southend

As soon as the sun comes out the dogs start panting and the groomers' phones start ringing off the hook. That lovely furry coat suddenly seems such a burden when the weather gets hot!! It's understandable that the automatic response is to get rid of it all but, depending on the breed and their coat type, this may not be the best solution for your dog.

Double Coated Breeds are not suitable for clipping and a good groomer will almost certainly question the wisdom of doing this.
Collies Are Double Coated Dogs
Double Coated breeds include Collies, Huskies, Pomeranians, Akitas & German Shepherds among others. The coat has a distinctive shiny layer known as the guard coat with a thick downy under layer known as the undercoat. The job of the guard coat is to protect the dog's skin whilst the fluffy undercoat traps air and helps to keep the dog warm. In hot weather the dog will naturally shed its undercoat and if the dog is brushed out properly and regularly air will be able to circulate easily, helping to regulate the animal's temperature. However if the dog is not brushed the old hair gets caught up and tangled with the new (or impacted ) so that the coat is unable to breath well. Consequently the dog will suffer much more in hot weather.

Clipping a double coat repeatedly will result in damage to the fur which in some cases may never recover.
The Pomeranian in this picture has recently been rehomed. The previous owner had the dog clipped repeatedly and as you can see, it has completely changed the texture and colour of the coat. This dog  should be a beautiful fox red all over. The new owner has asked me to help recover the coat. All we can do is make sure the fur is kept in good condition while we wait and see if the fur will eventually grow back its original colour without being weakened by clipping. The white fur you can see is basically all undercoat and at the moment there is only a very slight vestigial guard coat still there but there are hopeful signs it will come back if we are patient.

The correct way to groom a double coated dog is to thoroughly remove the dead undercoat at intervals with an undercoat rake. Excessive hair can be thinned and shaped (typical areas would be the ruff and the 'trousers'  and under the tail) with scissoring. It should then be relatively easy to maintain with regular brushing and combing. A healthy coat maintained this way will help to regulate the dog's temperature.

Although many breeds and coat types have this double layer to their coat, not all of them are classified as double coats and happily other breeds are able to withstand clipping with little or no damage as a consequence.

Spaniels are a typically heavy coated breed which are commonly clipped. The traditional grooming method is to handstrip but unfortunately coat changes as a result of neutering can render this method unsuitable. If clipping the dog down entirely feels too extreme then a good groomer will style the coat for you, or you can keep the spaniel look just by keeping ears & tail in character.

With so many breeds and coat types to choose from it is important to consider these factors to keep your pet looking and feeling good. If you are not sure ask a groomer!
Call Scalliwags on 07555207128 and ask about the best way to groom your pet.