Pup Care

Guest Article: What To Tell Your Groomer To Get That Perfect Doodle Haircut

Both Allie and I get the question “how do you keep your floof so floofy!”…”We also get how do I tell my groomer what to do with my dog?!” Below Allie Schamburg (@thelifeof.polly’s mom!) complied all of her grooming goodness into a guest article here at Leader of the Pax.

Allie also just launched her own blog, The Life of Polly, which you can check out here! Allie writes about all things polly and all things dog mom! She’s also been featured on leader of the pax for her extensive research how to guide on how to find your lost dog.

Make sure to check out this post before heading to your next grooming appointment.

xo, Nikki

Everything You Need To Know About Bringing Your Doodle To The Groomer.

by Allie Schamburg

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“What do you tell your groomer to get Polly’s hair to look like that?!” Out of all the DMs and questions I get about Polly, this is hands down one of the most common! While doodles are some of the cutest, cuddliest, and fluffiest dogs out there, doodle owners know all too well that it comes with a price - grooming. Because they are often non-shedding, goldendoodles and other poodle mixes are some of the most high-maintenance breeds when it comes to grooming. In addition to at-home grooming care, this also means taking your pup to the groomer every couple of months for a haircut and spa day. The groomer can bring up anxiety for a lot of dog owners, and it’s understandable. If you’re spending that much money for a hairdo your precious pup will sport for the foreseeable future, you want it to look just right! I finally took the time to write out all of my tips and tricks to help you get that perfect, short-but-not-too-short puppy cut for your doodle.

Why do I like to get Polly’s hair cut so short? I have 4 main reasons:

  1. It gives her that puppy look we love.

  2. It is all-around more comfortable for her. The shorter cut keeps her from overheating, helps her to see better, and keeps food out of her hair.

  3. We can see her cute features better! Her adorable puppy eyes, the shape of her face and body, even her little tongue and lippers - all much easier to see when it’s not covered in long overgrown hair.

  4. It’s easier to upkeep and brush in between her grooming appointments! Less tangles and mats, quicker baths and blow dries equals more time for cuddles and playing.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional on this subject! I am just a dog owner. If you want a professional opinion, I would definitely recommend to go speak with your professional dog groomer. If you do like Polly’s grooming style, hopefully this article can help provide you with some specific language and photos to better communicate the exact style you’re looking for to your groomer.

Find a Groomer You Trust

This is the best place to start! Without a great groomer, it will be much harder to achieve the look and style you’re going for. If you’re picky about grooming, don’t take shortcuts on this! You need to pick a groomer based on reviews and referrals, not geographic location. There is a grooming salon 5 minutes from our house, but we take Polly to a place that is 15-20 minutes away instead because it’s our favorite. We always schedule the appointments for a Saturday or Sunday, drop her off, and then go run errands, try a new restaurant or explore the city while we wait. Make a day of it!

To find a good groomer, ask your friends or go online. Do you have a friend or family member with a doodle that gets cute haircuts? Ask who they use! Referrals are always the easiest way to make sure you’re picking a trustworthy business. Make sure you ask for the specific name of their groomer, so when you call the salon you can make an appointment with the same person.

If you don’t have a friend to ask, go do some internet sleuthing. Google and Yelp reviews are great places to start. If you want to get even more specific info, go on Facebook groups. Facebook groups are the BEST for finding out really specific information and reading forums! For me, I wanted a recommendation for an individual person to do the grooming, not just a highly rated company. So I went to the “Dogs of MSP” Facebook group since we live in Minneapolis. If you’re not a member of one yet, search Facebook and you should be able to find a dog group in your city. Once there, I searched “groomer” “grooming” “doodle groom” and other similar keywords in order to read posts and comments that matched what I was looking for. Try to find ones with pictures so you can make sure it’s the style you like. It wasn’t long before I realized a pattern - a lot of the pictures I liked all used the same groomer! From there I was able to make an appointment with her, and we have used her ever since. If you can’t find past posts with this kind of information, try creating a post in the Facebook group to ask.

Find Pictures To Show Your Groomer

Once you’ve made your grooming appointment, it’s time to have your research ready to show your groomer! What’s the saying “a picture says a thousand words”? Expressing your desired style with words is definitely necessary, but sharing pictures is invaluable because it minimizes the chance of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Use Instagram or Pinterest to find great pictures! Save or screenshot 3-5 pictures of dogs with haircuts you’re aiming for to show your groomer when it’s time to go drop off your dog. Pick photos from a few different dogs and different angles. If Polly is your ~*hair goals*~, save a couple of your favorite pictures of her to show them! When looking for photos, also make sure you pick dogs with similar types of fur. So if your dog is super duper curly, pictures of Polly may not be very helpful or attainable.

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Get the Language Right

This is the part that I think is the most mystifying for owners. How do I get the picture and the words in my head across correctly to my groomer?! It can definitely be a complex thing to try to explain. My first tip is to try explaining things in a couple different ways. Don’t be afraid to use specific and descriptive language to get your point across, and say things in different ways so you give your groomer a better chance at understanding what you’re trying to say.

As far as explaining the specific style, if you want your pup to have a look similar to Polly, here ares some notes for what to say:

  • Don’t use electric razor on body. Do an all over scissor cut. This means using scissors for the entire haircut. This will probably cost a little extra.

  • Body

    • Make it one length all over.

    • Some groomers will make the length on the legs longer. Ask them to make it the same length as the body.

    • Trim the tail down. You don’t want it to look huge and unruly with long and stringy hair, want it to look more like a puppy tail with shorter hair.

    • Do a “sanitary” on the private parts, and shave all around that area.

  • Face

    • Want the face to be very very short. The way I request her face to be trimmed is pretty extreme by dog grooming standards, I think. I find that a very short haircut on the face is the cutest because it’s how she looks most like a puppy, we can see all of her features the best, and she is definitely the happiest that way too.

    • Trim eyelashes. I like the puppy eyelash look - you know how they were basically human-length eyelashes when they were first puppies? Trim so they are closer to that length. They will still look beautiful and you should still be able to see them - just want to avoid that look where they are all starting to gather together and go way past the eyes, or even droop down.

    • Top of the head: just want to make sure it’s not doing a hair part down the middle of the head.

    • Trim the ears, don’t let them grow out and get super long and stringy. I think our groomer layers them a little bit. You want them to look like puppy ears. Make sure they trim on the inside by the ears too so that gets cleaned up.

    • Don’t “scoop out the eyes”. This means don’t shave around the eyes. You want the fur around the eyes trimmed very well so that you can see their eyes fully. No fur should be impeding their vision or growing up or down into their eyes at all. But only do this by trimming; don’t shave around the eyes. (FYI: I only say this because I trim around Polly’s eyes on a weekly basis to make sure hair stays out of them. If you don’t do face trims in between grooms, then I would recommend that you do let them shave this area so that hair won’t grow up into their eyes. You want to be able to see their cute eyes, and you want them to be able to see you!)

    • Don’t shave the top of the nose, or in other words don’t shave the bridge of the nose. Just trim.

    • Cut the hair on their beard or chin very short. Don’t want a long beard. This will help keep their face from getting as dirty or messy.

    • Definitely no mustache! This is probably the #1 thing to ask for. Basically, the hair on the snout should pretty much “stand up” versus drooping down and forming a mustache. Ask for them to cut the hair on the whole nose or snout area very short. If done right, their nose should almost have a circle shape if you’re looking at your dog head on, if that makes sense. It should be cut the same length the whole way back on their nose, so it’s like a cylinder. This is hard to explain, but that’s the best I can do! You want it to look puffy and kind of give a chubby cheeks look. Pictures will be helpful in explaining this.

    • Trim the cheeks so they will look short similar to the nose.

Feedback & Adjustments

Try to remember that your dog will come out from the groomer with a blow-dried look. Their fur will look very different, and won’t have that shaggy wavy look that most owners love. Don’t freak out, and try to cut your groomer a little slack. It just looks that way because they have to blow dry them. The fur should look normal again in 2-4 days. So when you’re looking at the haircut, pay attention to shape versus the texture.

When you go to pick up your pup, be sure to give feedback! My groomer always asks if there’s anything we want adjusted or fixed while we’re still there, and I take her up on it if needed. If I want the face shorter or the tail trimmed a little more, it only takes 2-3 minutes for her to go fix it. Your groomer is happy if you’re happy, so be honest about what you like and don’t like. If you go home and then realize there are a couple things you want differently, write it down. The next time you go in, tell them you want the same cut as last time but with a couple adjustments.

Another thing I do is trim Polly myself in between cuts. If I realize in a few days that I wish her beard was just a little shorter, I just do it myself!

Lastly, make sure to tip your groomer well! It is a service that you are supposed to tip, and these groomers do a LOT more than just the haircut itself, so be generous and build a good relationship. We always tip 20%.


Have fun with it - It Grows Back! :)

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The most important one to remember! Don’t sweat the small stuff, at the end of the day it’s just a haircut. For your dog. Even if you hate it, it will grow out in a few weeks and you can try again next time. If you’ve tried a few times with your groomer and don’t think they can get it right, then go try a new one.

A couple more tips:

  • Start bringing your puppy to the groomer at an early age! This will get them used to the environment and ensure they will think of going to the groomer as a fun experience for years to come. I brought Polly for her first “groom” at about 4 months old. She was too young for her first haircut but she got a bath, nail trim, paw trim, and sanitary to get her used to being there.

  • We got her first full hair cut at 6 months old.

  • I can do another post on at-home grooming soon, but in the meantime, make sure you brush your pup’s hair and teeth regularly! Brushing their hair will help prevent mats, which will help prevent having to get your dood shaved.


I hope this was helpful for your next groom! Let me know what you think or if you have any questions on this topic that I didn’t answer, and make sure to show us your before and after success stories!

Thanks Allie! Make sure you reach out to her for questions and subscribe to her blog, and follower on instagram to make sure you catch her upcoming posts!!

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Want to share some tips or tell your story? Fill out the form and let me know! We are always looking for contribution writers!

You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it.

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YAY! Let’s talk grooming!

Luckily, we as a family have had the privilege of working with some fantastic groomers. They listen to our desires, concerns, and follow through with those wishes. I have also had the opportunity to be close by while the grooming magic happens and gained an education on the process.

DOODLE HAIR

Doodle hair can be extremely complicated to take care of and when it mats- it’s super frustrating for everyone including your pup. The longest we’ve had Pax’s coat was 5inches. As much as I loved my darling little puff ball he was miserable. Stickers would trench themselves in his hair, paws, and belly… we had to spend so much time working out tangles that it took away from fun things he could be doing. That wasn’t ok for us, so after our most recent road trip vacation we cut Pax down to 1 1/2 inches- and it’s made the biggest difference. We went from having mats covering his body and brush outs on the daily to no mats and brush outs 1-2 a week. Pax has more fun, it’s much easier to maintain his coat, and I can tell he’s happier not having to be groomed for 7 hours :)

CONSISTENCY.

It’s not your groomers fault if your dog comes in matted and leave the salon looking half its size. Some dogs mat more than others and if you aren’t diligent about brushing, combing, and detangling you’ll most likely have to shave your pup. Once the mat’s get attached to the skin, there is really no other way. Mats are NOT GOOD for your dog- they can cause infection and carry bacteria. Yuck. We use a bunch of products on Pax’s coat, and they are located here in my FAQ sheet. Try combing your dog once a day or a few times a week as you get started. Right now pax gets cut every 6 weeks and he gets a bath and blowdry every 3 (right in between) this helps with keeping him clean, that fur looking shiny, and us letting him sleep in our bed.

RESEARCH

When researching for groomers - ask around, or your doggo community at the dog park or even on social media can help you with referrals. Yelp and other trusted sources such as daycare centers could be helpful. Talk to your breeder or vet and do research on your breed in regards to how often they need to be bathed & how to take care of their coat.

COMMUNICATE

Communicate with your groomer. Show pictures, talk to them about the lines you like (ex: round head, round face & paws) learn about their process. Ask them how long they will take and if they hand scissor or razor. It’s ok to be a rookie- they’re the expert.

SPEAK UP

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So I use to believe it was rude for me to be so specific in Pax’s haircut. Like that it was ridiculous to want my dog to look a certain way. You guys- who cares! It’s your dog and the groomer is there to make you happy! Lesson learned! I’ve since mildly calmed down and only send in a powerpoint presentation followed by text messages every so often now a days :). When you communicate accurately to your groomer they get to learn what you want! How else are they going to know what you’re envisioning?

MINDSET.

Your dog is going to look different with a blowout and a haircut. Just like you do when you leave the salon. I think people have an unhealthy attachment to an image (myself included) and we get comfortable with one look - ESPECIALLY if you have an Instagram account! I’m just going to write it out loud that I have honestly thought about Pax getting a bad haircut and people not enjoying his content anymore. What a load of shit! WHO CARES. Hair grows back, it never looks as bad as you think it does, and keep your expectations low, so you’re always pleasantly surprised. Your dog doesn’t give a fluff how they look as long as they can eat hotdogs and run after tennis balls. Main point? Keep it light, keep your expectations low, and get over it. Trust me, you’ll still have followers. We have two ways to look at shitty situations - #1 let it define us “omg my dog got the worst haircut EVER” or #2 “haha he looks like a cheeto”… Cheetos sound way more optimistic to me don’t ya think?

IF YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR SERVICE.

It happens. It happens with human things too. Like I’ve literally walked out of the hair salon HATING my hair and telling the hairdresser that it’s ok. And instead of dealing with it and communicating to the person I was too uncomfortable and bailed and found someone else. You’re allowed to be unsatisfied or have questions about the service provided. If you like the reasoning you get then cool- if not, find another groomer. It’s all good. At the end of the day this about the well being of your dog, not about if the groomer likes you or not.

Below is my checklist that I share with my groomer. I would also suggest saving a few photos of what you like and what you don’t want.

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Haircut ready?

Comment below on what your biggest fear of getting your dog groomed is!

Pax's Pumpkin Poofs!

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Pax recently had a spout of giardia. While he had it, we had to switch his diet a few times. First, he was eating chicken and rice with his medication and a probiotic. Once we saw he was starting to feel better, we switched him back to his my ollie. It’s essential to change their food gradually- and even then there may be some tummy issues. It’s common for dogs to struggle with a bout of diarrhea and then to constipation. When it comes to constipation here are some signs to look for: 1) straining to go to the bathroom 2)scooting on their booty 3)hard or dry stool 4) not going to the bathroom for several days.

A few recommendations that our vet gave us were to feed Pax 1-2 TBS of canned pumpkin & 1-2 TBS of low-fat Keifer. It was also recommended to bake a pumpkin loaf or bread that is dog-friendly. I found a couple recipes and put one together.

Pumpkin Puppy Ball Ingredients:

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie mix)

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup quick cook oats

  • 1 Tbsp. Coconut oil

  • 1 egg

  • ½ tsp. Vanilla

  • 1 Tbsp. honey

  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. Ginger

  • ¼ cup water

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Pumpkin Puppy Ball Directions:

  • Preheat oven 350° F.

  • Lightly grease or spray the cookie sheet (we lined foil on the sheet)

  • Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until oats are about half powder.

  • Then place all remaining items from the list in a large bowl and mix together.

  • Grab spoonfuls from the ball and roll the dough into a ball.

  • Sprinkle oatmeal on top of each pumpkin ball to add crunch.

  • Bake for 15-16 minutes until tops are golden brown.

When muffins have cooled store in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Check out this article by the AKC on dog constipation and support they need.

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/dog-constipation/


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Sick as a dog - no pun intended

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It’s a helpless feeling knowing that your dog can’t engage in conversation with you (although I swear pax understands English) especially when they are feeling under the weather! There are clear-cut signs that you can be on the lookout for if your dog has caught a bug. Dogs pick up actual bugs all the time- parasites are common in young dogs as they build their immune system. Recently, Pax was diagnosed with giardia which is a single cell parasite that lives in his intestine. It can impact older dogs, but it is more frequent in younger ones. Dogs become infected with the parasite when they drink water or ingest other substances that have poo particles in it. Or even have rolled around in the grass that is soiled with feces…such as the dog park and then cleaning themselves. For most dogs, their reaction when infected with giardiasis is diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite, and the symptoms can range from dog to dog, and some dogs don’t show signs at all! Luckily, Pax got a mild form, and he’s on the mend with some antibiotics and rest. Giardia is contagious and also be spread to humans so it’s important to do a deep cleaning of areas that could have contamination such as bedding, crates, toys, dog food, and water bowls.

So a couple questions I’ve been asked is 1) how did I know he was sick and 2) how can they prevent it from happening to their dog.

First off, I am very in tune with Pax’s routine and his energy levels. If he’s sleeping more than usual, not eating at his usual times, I like to check a couple things. First, I check his gums to make sure that they are pink and healthy. I also press my forefinger on his gums to make sure it bounces back quickly. I then look and smell in his ears to make sure there is no infection. Change in behavior is definitely an indicator that something could be off. But don’t worry it could just be an off day for them as well. If your dog is continually irritable, lethargic, showing signs of agitation, withdrawal, or needy behavior and it’s new that’s definitely something to check into.

Of course, there are other clear signs that something is wrong like if your dog isn’t breathing or they are wheezing and choking. A persistent cough could indicate kennel cough which is common in young puppies.

Checking your pup’s poop is essential as it will give you a lot of indication something is going on. For us, there was mucus in Pax’s stool that looked different than normal. He was also vomiting bile a few times which brought concern since he does not do that regularly. If your pup has trouble passing urine or stool that’s something to be aware of. And the opposite, if your pup is having diarrhea and is having tummy troubles that last over 24 hours take your pup in. I ALWAYS call my vet when something seems off. Pax vomited once on one day, so I figured maybe he ate something that upset his belly and he seemed fine. But he then vomited 4 additional times on different days which was very usual. We contacted our vet who advised us to come in. Be aware of your dog’s patterns of eating, going to the bathroom, and what their stool looks like.

Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from different sources:

  • Does your dog have a fever? you’ll need a thermometer to get an actual reading.

  • lumps bumps?

  • sudden weight gain or weight loss?

  • persistent itching

  • persistent shaking of head or scratching at ears

Here are 5 helpful suggestions:

1. Wash all bedding, toys that could be infected

2. Wash your floors, your bedding, and anywhere that could re-infect them

3. Go to the vet where they can determine if your pup is dehydrated and give them fluids, a diagnosis, and medication

4. Follow the medications prescribed by your vet. Your dog most likely won’t like the taste of some of them so be patient and “trick” them into it. For example, Pax has to take a liquid right now, and I pour the liquid over chicken I made him, and he eats it away.

5. Remember your energy when you are giving them medications- stay calm, patient, and kind. They are most likely scared or nervous about the new item and don’t like the taste. I sit with pax on the floor and hand feed him until he’s ready to take the medication. Come up with a creative way to have them take their medicine.

To get additional tips to check out:

https://wagwalking.com/daily/8-warning-signs-dog-may-sick

http://www.petsandparasites.org/dog-owners/giardia-in-dogs/

Doodle hair I DO CARE.

Here’s how Pax stays so fluffy.

  1. A tired dog is a good dog to groom. Best time to do this is after your pup is worn out from a walk or from the park.

  2. Squeeze a small amount of cowboy magic in your palms, rub your hands together then through your pup's coat.

  3. You must always use a comb in addition to a brush for a doodle coat. Start with a comb (check out FAQ on some of these products) and gently brush through your pup's coat while grabbing the fluff with your other hand and comb through. Do it this way so you aren't pulling at their skin.

  4. If you have some tangled areas or matts use the de-matter (in FAQ) to get through these tough areas.

  5. After this use the brush to fluff out your up.

  6. Make sure to give them lots of kisses and treats during/after.

The general rule of thumb is that you should be able to comb through your pup's coat without much of a challenge. I brush Pax 1-2 times a day. ALWAYS after he rolls around while playing, after a bath, and after he's worn the harness for several hours. The younger you start this the better. You pup will just get use to it and will know it's part of his routine. In the beginning use treats such as bully sticks, teething bones, spoonfuls of PB, kings, anything to keep them occupied! Video to come! 

Grooming tips!

Ok, as a doodle mom I take a lot of pride in Pax's hair. I comb, brush, dematt him 1-2 times a day. I often get asked what I use, How I use it, best products, and what to tell your groomer when you go. Luckily, I have found a doodle hair angel named Tasha here in San Diego. If you live in the area make sure to check her out at Dunk n Dogs in Clairemont. Tasha is patient, has excellent communication skills, and listens to everything us crazy dog mom's want. Most importantly she absolutely loves the dogs. Before I found Tasha I cut pax a bit by myself around his eyes but wasn't really sure what to do next for the rest of his coat. I have compiled bullet points of the top wanted and unwanted details to share with your groomer. The best advice I would share with you is to find pictures of dogs hair you like and dogs hair that you dislike and show it to your groomer. Remember, communication is key. You cannot expect your groomer to know what you are thinking- it's the same with men, so this should come easy for some of you. Remember to always be OK with sharing your concerns and needs for the dog's spa day. If you don't feel comfortable or heard, it's OK to walk away too! Another big thing to remember when your dog get's a grooming session they are going to look different when you go pick them up. If they did not have to shave your pup down they will come out extremely fluffy and blow dried. Their coats will look different and it may be alarming. Remember, it is temporary, it is not forever, hair grows back, your baby is still your baby, and if you spritz some water on their coat it will wave back up a bit and look a little more textured. Stay tuned for all my favorite grooming products in another post!

Ok, as a doodle mom I take a lot of pride in Pax's hair. I comb, brush, dematt him 1-2 times a day. I often get asked what I use, How I use it, best products, and what to tell your groomer when you go. Luckily, I have found a doodle hair angel named Tasha here in San Diego. If you live in the area make sure to check her out at Dunk n Dogs in Clairemont. Tasha is patient, has excellent communication skills, and listens to everything us crazy dog mom's want. Most importantly she absolutely loves the dogs. Before I found Tasha I cut pax a bit by myself around his eyes but wasn't really sure what to do next for the rest of his coat. I have compiled bullet points of the top wanted and unwanted details to share with your groomer. The best advice I would share with you is to find pictures of dogs hair you like and dogs hair that you dislike and show it to your groomer. Remember, communication is key. You cannot expect your groomer to know what you are thinking- it's the same with men, so this should come easy for some of you. Remember to always be OK with sharing your concerns and needs for the dog's spa day. If you don't feel comfortable or heard, it's OK to walk away too! Another big thing to remember when your dog get's a grooming session they are going to look different when you go pick them up. If they did not have to shave your pup down they will come out extremely fluffy and blow dried. Their coats will look different and it may be alarming. Remember, it is temporary, it is not forever, hair grows back, your baby is still your baby, and if you spritz some water on their coat it will wave back up a bit and look a little more textured. Stay tuned for all my favorite grooming products in another post!