Getting What You Want from Your Groomer

As your groomer, we are now a partner in maintaining your pet’s coat. Here are some tips and tricks as well as advice on how to phrase what you are looking for so you are likely to leave satisfied!

How to Communicate Your Expectations

– “Short,” “puppy cut,” and “trim” do not tell us what you are looking for as people envision these terms differently. Be specific on how much length you would like LEFT on various areas of the body after we trim, i.e an inch on the body, and two inches on the top of the head. 

– Be advised that the longest comb attachment available leaves about 1 and 1/2” on the coat. If it sounds like that might be more of a cut than you’re ready for, opt for a mini groom where we only trim around the eye area and paws, or simply a bath and brush out instead of any length off!

– Be prepared to describe how you want the ears, tail, face, feet and body to look. If you have pictures to reference, that’s great. The pictures should be of your dog or the same breed; we can’t compare a doodle to a shih tzu or even to a doodle or poodle with differently textured hair as the look will never turn out the same.

Let Us Know About Your Unique Pet

– There are a few services provided with every groom type available: ear cleaning and plucking of dead hair, nail trimming, and, for long-haired pups, paw pad trimming and sanitary shaving. If you do NOT want one or more of these services performed as part of your pet’s groom, it’s important you inform us. For example, if your dog is prone to skin infections or has particularly sensitive skin, you may not want his/her private area shaved or if your pet is suffering from an ear infection, you may wish to forgo ear plucking… or if your pet simply goes ballistic for a nail trim, a heads up would be appreciated before we try!

– If your pet has warts, skin tags, or bumpy areas that are likely to get nicked by a clipper, please let us know so we avoid them! Likewise if he or she is sensitive in any particular areas.

– YOU MUST inform us if your pet bites/has bitten groomers, is aggressive/unpredictable, and/or has any other behavioral issues. We will make every attempt to groom uncooperative pets, but we may not be able to complete grooming on those that pose a threat to themselves or our staff. We reserve the right to muzzle any dog for their safety, and our own. Extremely aggressive and difficult pets will NOT be groomed. WE WILL NEVER SEDATE YOUR PET.

Tips to Keep a Lush Coat


– Bathing your dog at home 

– Allowing your dog to swim or immerse itself in water

– Harnesses that cover areas of the coat for prolonged periods   


– Allow your dog to go “naked” at home (no collars or harnesses that can rub and causing matting along the neck and chest)

– Brush daily at the skin surface (see brushing guide below!)

– Dry your dog if they become wet and brush out. Do not allow your dog to air dry!

– Ensure you’re using the right equipment 

A Few Words on Matting…

As groomers, we play a small part in maintaining your dog’s coat. Between appointments, it is up to you to brush and maintain the coat so we can achieve the look you are hoping for. Long hair knots up (matts) extremely easily, especially when wet. When matts become hardened and at the skin surface, over time, it will trap bacteria, cause skin irritation, and infection, and force us to shave your dog to remove them safely. If we are able to remove the matt by de-matting (a process of delicately separating the knotted hair), it will leave uneven spots on the coat and possibly even bald spots. 

Brushing to Avoid Matting

– Be sure you are using the right equipment first. A slicker brush with metal pins appropriate to the size of your dog for brushing, a dematting brush for getting in knots, and a comb are the essentials. You may also want to invest in a good conditioning spray to help you work through the coat. All of these are available for purchase in our Spaw, or here are a few products on Amazon we like: slickerdematting brushcomb

– Layered brushing is a relatively simple method that guarantees your dog is matt-free. This involves picking up and holding the hair at the top of the coat and brushing what is underneath (the base coat at the skin surface) first. Using a slicker brush, brush everything below your hand. When that area is brushed out, check your work for matting with a comb; if you find a tangle, switch back to your slicker and work the tangle out, or use a dematting comb to carefully slide into the knot and remove, then comb again. Then, slide your hand up slightly to release more hair and repeat until the area is completely brushed and combed through. 

– Check and brush high friction areas more frequently. These are the ears, tail, chest, neck, legs, feet, armpits, and where a harness would sit if your dog wears one.

Maintenance Schedule

Long-haired pups require more maintenance. Our groomers would be be happy to get you on a schedule for a brush-out at ALC every week to two weeks to keep a longer style. This does not involve bathing or any extras and will cost considerably less than a full groom, especially if the coat is kept in good condition on a regular schedule.

For ALL long-haired dogs, we recommend scheduling a full grooming with body haircut every six weeks, with a brush out every week to two weeks. If you are brushing consistently at home, you can substitute brush outs at the Spaw with a mini grooming (which includes cleanup around the eye area and paws) or a bath and brush out at the three-week mark.

When a Curly Pup Walks Into the Groomer…

– Know that dogs with curly hair will temporarily come out “straight.” This is part of the brushing process to remove matting and it is temporary. Your dog will get its bouncy curls back in a matter of days. Do not fret!

– Curly coats require time to beautify! We will absolutely communicate anything you may need to know, but while your dog is on the table please give us time to work without popping in or calling to check in frequently. If your dog sees or hears you, it makes it very difficult for us to keep working as they will get antsy. 

– Be realistic. Is your dog’s coat well-maintained or is there matting? The coat condition will affect what is possible. 

– Puppy owners: please keep in mind that coats change over time. Your puppy’s hair will be much easier to brush and maintain, and this is a critical time to get your dog used to the process so they do not become fearful or aggressive about grooming. As your dog grows into their adult coat, it becomes thicker, curlier, and more difficult to manage. This is often when we find dogs starting to matt.

We love fluffy pups and want to help you get a look you love! Any questions, do not hesitate. 


The ALC Spaw staff