In Safe Hands

As a professional groomer, your goal is always to make your clients’ pets feel and look good; however, keeping pets safe in the process should be a top priority. While some pets don’t mind a nice haircut and shampoo, others will do everything they can to get away. Scrambling with Fido mid-cut with scissors in hand can put professional groomers in a tricky situation. Below are helpful safety tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my grooming business, Puff & Fluff Grooming & Pet Sitting, which has four locations in the Phoenix area.

Perform Frequent Safety and Wellness Checks

The key to keeping a safe grooming business is to perform daily safety checks. Safety should always be at the top of your list—not something you look over at the end of each week. With pets in and out of your shop, you need to make sure each client is going to have a healthful and happy experience.

To ensure pet safety throughout your shop and prevent a mishap from occurring, you

(or your colleagues) should check for the following:

• Ensure grooming stations are being cleaned and vaccummed between each pet.

• Make sure pets are never left unattended—on tables or in tubs.

• Pets should be properly restrained and handled (no tight leads, no pets on tables without a lead and no pets tied to tables, and check that the table arm is being used properly).

• In the bathing areas, cleanliness must be maintained, and water shouldn’t pool on the floor.

Don’t Forget Equipment Checks

No matter what business you’re in, frequently used equipment can easily become worn out, outdated or unsafe. In the grooming industry, it’s your job to maintain the safety of the equipment that is used daily on your clients’ pets. This includes:

• Keeping up with the maintenance of clippers. Clippers are a crucial tool and need to be kept clean and safe, from changing blade drives and oiling gears to servicing/repairing them if needed. At our Puff & Fluff locations, we make sure our clippers are sharpened at least once quarterly.   

• All other products, tools and equipment used in the performance of the work must be maintained in good working condition and used in a safe, professional manner.

• Grooming and drying tables should be safe, sturdy and in good operating condition. A wobbly leg can lead to a potentially dangerous situation—don’t let it get to that point.

• Grooming arms, by which the pet is restrained, should always be pet-friendly and secure.      

When you perform frequent equipment checks, your clients’ pets will always be in good hands. Whether you set a daily alarm, mark them on your calendar or use another method, don’t let safety checks slip through the cracks. Also, know when it’s time to replace or upgrade equipment—no customer wants to see their precious pet being groomed with rusty clippers or in grimy-looking sinks.

Keep Up with your kennels

All kennels must be cleaned between each dog. This is a huge priority at Puff & Fluff, and it should be for your business, too. Dogs can spread germs to each other just as humans can. To avoid that, all kennels and kennel trays should be cleaned daily. Always keep an eye on pets that are in the kennels—some can get rather anxious, and it’s your job to make them feel safe.

Be Sure to Handle with care

Handling pets safely is one of the most important elements of grooming. Here are some crucial tips to keep in mind:

• Continuous, gentle and secure restraint should be on your mind at all times, especially when a pet is on the grooming table. The grooming arm should have a loop with a quick release in case you need to disconnect the pet quickly. The loop should hang straight when the pet is being restrained but should not be tight.

• Remember to always remain calm during the grooming process. Pets can certainly pick up on our emotions, and they’ll know if you’re nervous or anxious. Use simple, common and direct pet commands such as, sit, stay, no and OK.

• Did you know dogs have a pressure point in the center of their forehead, in between the eyes? By applying light pressure to this point with a slight front-to-back movement, you can release their "happy hormones," which can help to keep them calm.

Final Tips

There are many factors that go into keeping a safe grooming shop. Here are some final tips to keep in mind:

• There should be a nonslip surface on the floor by each tub for groomers as well as a nonslip mat in each tub for the pets.  

• The water temperature should be set at an appropriate level for all pets.

• Fresh cleaning products and equipment should be made readily available to all personnel.

• If you give water to a pet, be sure to use a clean bowl, and do not leave the bowl in the kennel with the pet.

From one groomer to another, I know how challenging this business can be, but it’s equally rewarding. By maintaining a safe environment for your pets and colleagues, your grooming business will surely earn the trust it deserves.

Liz Illg is the owner of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting, which has four locations in the Phoenix area. She received her bachelor’s in business from Arizona State University and her master’s in education from Northern Arizona University. Her education and passion for animals turned her college pet-sitting days into full-time business ownership. Illg has hosted events and raffles to benefit local pet rescues by partnering with other pet businesses in the community. She has also been featured on several local media outlets to share her love and knowledge about caring for pets.