It’s universally understood that the health and happiness of pets is the main focus of all dog groomers. Through grooming courses, groomers have come to know exactly what to do in every situation. This is achieved through positive reinforcement which often comes in the form of bite-sized, tasty treats!
But is it appropriate to be giving treats and other food to pets in your dog grooming salon? The short answer is yes – but there are several factors to consider. Before you hand out those peanut butter, bone-shaped confections to your furry clients, take these points into consideration!
Get to know your client
You should always get to know the pet owner, as they are much more likely to return to your salon regularly if they trust and value your skills. But in this particular case, we’re referring to your four-legged clients! When taking on a new client, make it a priority to understand that dog’s health history, including any food intolerances, allergies, or past illnesses. Not only will this allow you to personalize the experience based on that dog’s needs, it will also determine whether you should feed her while they’re she’s in your grooming salon.
To give you a quick explanation of food allergies in dogs, they usually cause symptoms such as itching and skin problems, whereas an intolerance to food can result in vomiting and other illness. When selecting treats to keep in your dog grooming salon, it’s important to know the distinction between food allergies and intolerances. Choose dog treats that are hypoallergenic and only contain two or three ingredients, as these will be generally healthy for all your clients.
Use treats wisely
Positive reinforcement is extremely important when bringing dogs into your grooming salon. Even the pets you groom regularly can become nervous and stressed during an appointment, like when they’re brushed and bathed.
Keeping a calm, positive atmosphere as a dog groomer is the best way to ensure each dog’s comfort and cooperation while being groomed, and this is where treats come in! For all grooming tasks, but especially for bathing, be sure to have a plan in mind for when treats will be given – and how many you’ll give a pup. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re stuffing the dog full of cookies so they feel happy, and on the other hand, you don’t want to be caught short without any kind of reward to put her at ease.
Giving a dog a treat before bringing him into the bathtub is a great start – it allows him to enjoy something he loves before starting a task that might stress him out. During the bath, as you wash and rinse her fur, reward her good behavior with another treat. This demonstrates that you’re happy with her and she’ll keep it up! Finally, once you’ve completed the drying process, provide the dog with a third, final treat to reinforce the whole experience. Keeping treats controlled in this way sends a clear message that you’re pleased with her behavior, and it allows you to do your best work on a calm pup!
If you keep up this ritual of rewarding good behavior with treats in your salon, your furry clients will come to associate tough tasks with tasty treats – and that’s definitely a good thing!
Work with the pet owner
You’re the professional pet groomer, but your client is the pet owner. As such, using treats during a dog grooming appointment is something that should be discussed right away. Sure, your furry client won’t complain about cookies being offered throughout their groom, but their owner might – everyone is different, and some pet owners are strict about what they feed their dog and what time of the day feeding takes place. Be mindful of this, especially when grooming a new dog for the first time! Be sure to take the time to understand that dog’s specific needs, feeding rituals, and owner’s preferences.
While you absolutely want to keep dogs healthy, the last thing you want to do is upset the owner. Have a discussion ahead of the groom and let them know that you’re partial to rewarding good behavior and keeping the dog calm by using treats. If this is met with disapproval or resistance, respect this reaction and don’t push the owner to change their mind. You want them to feel comfortable with you as their dog groomer, so respecting their boundaries and their relationship with their dog is essential.
Of course, they may change their mind if the dog is given cookies to help it calm down! However, don’t force this on your human or canine clients. There are always other ways to reward good behavior!
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Casey Bechard of Off The Leash Pet Grooming is a QC Pet Studies graduate. Read all about her favorite breeds and pet haircuts as a certified groomer!