November Lockdown at Clipsters

Clipsters remains open for urgent appointments only.

Advice from the Canine & Feline Sector Group, the official body for everyone working with dogs and cats.

In line with official advice (above) from the Pet Industry Federation and the Canine & Feline Sector Group, Clipsters, in common with all groomers during November, will only be grooming dogs where their health and welfare is an issue.

We will be happy to book any appointments for after 2nd December, although these might be subject to change if restrictions are extended.

If you’re unsure, either about whether your dog is in urgent need of attention, or about how to look after your dog’s coat and nails until groomers are fully open again, please get in touch.

Information for Clipster customers during November:

  • Please DO NOT book an appointment if anyone in your house displays symptoms of Covid-19 or if they have been ill within the last 14 days.
  • Clipsters will continue to offer their pick-up and drop-off service in the local area. Appropriate distancing measures will be taken and discussed before confirming the appointment. The Clipsters car will be cleaned (inside) between journeys.
  • Whether you’re coming to Clipsters or we’re coming to you, we ask that you wear a face covering at all times, even outside.
  • At Clipsters Charlotte will greet you at the door. Drop off, hand over and collection will take place outside maintaining a 2m distance at all times (in line with official advice).
  • The Clipsters grooming space will be thoroughly cleaned between dogs. As ever, we will only work with one dog at a time (or two from the same household).

The safety and wellbeing of our customers (human and canine) is our top priority. We won’t take any unnecessary risks. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Thanks to all our customers and those that have shown us their support over the last few months. Stay safe everybody.

Grooming Anxious and Nervous Dogs

Some dogs will be more unsure of the grooming process and need more reassurance throughout the groom. If you know your dog can be anxious then please tell your groomer when you make an appointment. As a groomer, I am always happy and ready to work with dogs who can be a bit ‘grumpy’ or a little vocal expressing their disapproval!

Some dogs, like humans, are just a bit nervous in unfamiliar places or around new people.

If you know your dog does not enjoy a groom (even by someone they’re familiar with) then let your groomer know. It’ll be best for the dog. There are some things both the groomer and the owner can do to make it a better experience:

  • When possible, book a later appointment. That means I can spend more bonding time with the dog without worrying about time constraints. It also gives me time to carry out some trust exercises, to find what the dog’s ‘trigger points’ are, and what they are more comfortable with.
  • Carrying out the groom in a different order.  If the dog has particularly sensitive areas (for example, around the feet) then I ‘dip in and out’, balancing doing a little work at a time on those, then focusing on other, more comfortable areas to minimise their stress.
  • Having a meet-and-greet session before the groom. At Clipsters, you and your dog are welcome to come and spend some time with me in and around the grooming pod and the garden. The dog will have the chance to become familiar with the sights and smells, so they’l be less anxious when they come back for an actual groom. It may be that I have only a little interaction with your dog in this pre-session if they are happy to just sniff and have a look around the place. I always try to let the dog come to me rather than force them to interact when they’re not ready. All of this will mean they’re less uncertain about being in a new place with a new person in the future. We don’t charge for these introductory sessions. They usually last around 20-30 minutes, the owner will always be present (with Covid-19 measures in place) and we can usually fit them in at a time to suit you.
  • Have realistic expectations for the groom itself. If your dog has not enjoyed grooming in the past then the first groom with me may not be perfect. What is important is carrying out a safe, low-stress groom that builds a foundation for future visits. Grooming is an ongoing process, not a one-off event. If I can’t do everything on their first visit, or if it’s taken a long time and the dog is getting tired or unhappy, we’ll do more next time.
  • Allow time for breaks. If your dog is displaying anxiety signs then it is time for a break to release some stress. We’ll take five minutes to just rest, play ball, explore or have a tickle. I’ll always give more anxious dogs longer, with regular breaks away from the grooming table and we’ll always arrange appointments so we have plenty of time. (Signs of stress or anxiety could include stress yawns, ‘false play’ behaviour – apparently playful behaviour that is actually an attempt to avoid being touched – ‘frozen’ body language, or the more obvious signs like baring of teeth and growling/snapping.)
  • Praising and reinforcing good behaviour. There’s lots of praise, a relaxing tone of voice, tickles and treats to reinforce the good behaviour. It is sometimes difficult to ignore the bad behaviour but I understand that sometimes dogs might have had bad experiences in the past and it’s natural they’re wary.  It can be a long process of repeated routines, building trust, and patience but the results are worth it. Good grooming is important for dogs, so getting them comfortable with being groomed matters.

We might sometimes think of a visit to the groomers for a dog as like a visit to the hairdressers for people. Actually, we ask a lot of dogs during the grooming process. They are washed when they might not like getting wet, dried with a dryer that is noisy even on the lowest setting, placed on a table and moved around when they might just want to go home and have a snooze or play with their human. By building trust and gradually familiarising them with grooming routines your dog will become more familiar with the processes, sensations and sounds, and consequently less anxious.

But remember, you need to work with your dog too…yes, the dreaded homework for owners!

Owner homework: If I see your dog once every 6 – 10 weeks there is a lot you can do at home during those intervening weeks to help keep your dog on track. As well as brushing and coat maintenance, I may ask you to do a few trust exercises and touching tactics. These could include activities such as stroking their legs and lifting their feet – dogs often don’t like their legs touched, but groomers need to be able to trim legs and clip nails. These should be done at home every day to help build the tolerance levels of your dog. Believe me, I can see the difference with dogs whose owners have done this sort of thing on a regular basis. It means we get more work done and the dog is less stressed. I will post more about these sorts of exercises soon.

Work with your groomer to support them and get the best groom possible for your dog. They (the dog and the groomer) will love you for it.

With patience, care and attention, dogs will become confident and comfortable visiting the groomers.

At Clipsters, our purpose-built grooming space and quiet surroundings make an ideal, low-stress environment for nervous dogs and puppies. We only work with one dog at a time (unless they come from the same household), making sure there are no distractions (for the dog or the groomer).

To talk more about how Cipsters work with nervous and anxious dogs, or for any advice on how to prepare your nervous or anxious dog for a visit, please get in touch.

It is recommended that dogs are professionally groomed every 6-8 weeks, depending on breed and lifestyle. Clipsters have appointments available seven days a week. To book an appointment or discuss what’s right for your dog, contact us.

© 2020 Clipsters

How to brush your dog

Brushing your dog’s coat is important. As well as providing excellent bonding time with your dog, regular brushing keeps a coat healthy, looking good, and can prevent knotting (where hair is tangled together) and matting (a tight, compacted knot which forms a flat patch of hair). And that means your groomer won’t have to shave off all of your best friend’s hair on their next visit.

Clipsters’ Chief Groomer Charlotte brushing Olive the Labradoodle.

There are lots of different types of brush and comb for different hair/fur types. L-R: a slicker brush, metal comb, pin brush, rake, curry brush/comb.

If you have a woolly or curly coated dog, breeds like Bichons and anything ending in ‘-oodle’ or ‘-oo’, then you have a lifetime of brushing ahead of you. But it doesn’t have to be daunting.

So what do I need to do to brush my dog properly?

Firstly, you need the right tools. A slicker brush is going to be your most reliable friend if you have a fluffy dog that could be prone to matting.

Examples of slicker brushes

It may look a bit scary, but used properly, in a rocking motion, it helps to clear knots and tangles, but you must brush the full length of the hair down to the skin. Brushing from the middle to the end of the hair is the easy bit – it’s the base of the hair near the skin that can be overlooked. This is the risk many owners run. Overlooking the base of the hair means it can become matted lower down, where it’s less obvious. If the matt becomes compacted and felt like, the only way to clear it without risking hurting the dog is to shave it off, hence it’s really important to make sure you brush ALL of your dog’s hair.

What are matts? Why do they matter?

Matts – fur or hair tangled and then compacted together with dirt, water and/or natural oils – can form close to a dog’s skin. It can irritate them and pull on other hairs and their skin making movement uncomfortable. It some cases it can even lead to patches of dermatitis. Dogs also need air to circulate through their fur, and matts prevent that from happening.

As a groomer, when matts occur I cannot cut or clip through the compacted hair itself. I can only clip under the matt, quite close to the skin. If there’s any particularly bad matting the dog has to be very closely clipped. Having their hair cut short doesn’t hurt a dog, but they might not look their best (at least for a few weeks until it starts to grow back).

When a dog has to be clipped close to their skin they may experience some itchiness for 48 hours or so as their skin reacts to being exposed to air again. That will pass, but as ever, any concerns, speak to your groomer.

When a matt is left unattended large parts of the dog’s coat can stick together and it can become felt-like. It can’t be untangled or cut through. It has to be clipped off between the matt and the dog’s skin by a professional groomer.

(The photo here is a particularly extreme example. It’s no reflection on the owner. Once a matt starts it can quickly develop into something bigger.)

I brush my dog regularly. They look great.

You might feel like you’re brushing your dog sufficiently and it looks lovely and fluffy. That fluff, however, might be the ends of the hair only and you could still need to brush right down to the skin. Can you get a metal comb through their hair from the base to the end? If not, some de-matting might be needed.

Ask your groomer about effective brushing, especially if your dog is double-coated where it might helpful for them to demonstrate the technique of line brushing to you. No groomer wants to send home a shaved dog, but when the matting is really bad it is the kindest option.

Owners sometimes brush only the middle-to-top of a dog’s coat, missing the end nearest the skin. Knots can develop into matts which need clippering off.

How and where do knots and matts appear?

Areas on a dog to check and brush regularly are the ‘friction’ areas; where the collar or harness rubs, the back legs and sitting patches, armpits and behind the ears. Many dogs are sensitive on their legs so be gentle when brushing (and possibly have a treat on hand), but also be thorough and consistent – it will pay off!

If your dog is a water-lover then you need to be extra vigilant. Knots and matts will only worsen if they get wet and are then allowed to dry out. Brush out any knots before a walk that could end up in a lake or a puddle. There are specialised tools as well as sprays and other products to help you loosen and remove knots. Every dog is different so as ever, have a word with a professional groomer for the best advice on coat maintenance and brushing.

Puppy coats are often easier to deal with and knots are generally easier to remove, but as their adult coat comes through it will be more prone to knotting, so start them young. Introduce them to a brushing routine and save yourself headaches later on.

My dog has short hair so brushing’s less of a problem.

Curly or woolly coated dogs aren’t the only ones that need regular brushing. Any owner of a shorter-haired breed such as Pugs, Staffies and Jack Russels will know they shed A LOT of hair.

You might feel it’s a never-ending battle, but when they are shedding a thorough bath with shampoo and conditioner will help. After a good towel dry, end with a rubber curry brush/comb (a soft rubber-toothed comb) to remove the shedding hair. It’ll give your arm a good workout (you can have a week off from the gym) and you will be amazed at how much hair is collected.

The Zoom Groom curry brush. Curry brushes/combs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and tooth arrangements.

Combine all that with regular visits to the groomer where we can use safe, specialist products and equipment, take our time, and blow out loose hairs with a blast dryer (note that owners should generally avoid using domestic hair dryers on a dog – they’re usually too loud and, most importantly, too hot).

My dog has loads of hair so I know brushing’s important.

Malamutes, Chow Chows, long-haired German Shepherds, Akitas and similar obviously require a huge amount of brushing, and when their coat is ‘blown’ (that means you can pick clumps of hair out easily with your fingers) then a visit to the groomers and a good blast with the dryer will help ease the amount of brushing out you need to do at home. For a groomer, it is so satisfying when the brush out on dogs like this is finished, and you soon forget about your dead arm after two hours or more of working through the coat. The clean up takes another hour too!

Double-coated dogs (like some of those mentioned) will need a rake to be used to remove undercoat hair. Again, there are lots of different types and sizes so speak to your groomer before buying.

The undercoat rake is essential for owners of double-coated breeds to make sure they brush both layers of hair.

Whatever type of dog you have, long-haired, short-haired, double-coated, wool-coated, mixed coat, silky coat – they all benefit from regular brushing all over. Your dog will love the bonding time and a knot-free coat helps them to regulate their temperature whilst avoiding matts means avoiding the discomfort of pulling on their skin.

If you are not sure which type of brush or comb to use, talk to your groomer. They will be more than happy to offer advice and recommendations, to show you examples of what they use, and how to use them most effectively.

At Clipsters, we do everything from washing and brushing your dog to a full groom, including detangling knots and cutting out matts if required (see details of our costs here). It is recommended that most dogs are groomed every 6-8 weeks, depending on breed and lifestyle.

If you have any questions, need some advice, or want to book a groom, please get in touch to discuss your dog’s needs.

© Clipsters 2020

A Puppy’s First Groom

If there is one thing guaranteed to raise a smile here at Clipsters, it’s a puppy’s first visit. The first groom is an introduction to the smells, sights and sounds of the grooming space and the equipment used. Regular grooming is important for a dog’s health, so it’s vital their first visit is a positive one.

Clipsters of Walthamstow dog grooming customer photo
Winston the Cockerpoo puppy visiting Clipsters for his first groom

When should my puppy have its first groom?

For most puppy’s they can be groomed a couple of weeks after they’ve had their final vaccinations. Depending on your vet’s advice, this is usually around 12 weeks old.

What should we expect when we first visit Clipsters?

All Clipster appointments start with the customer filling in a client record card and discussing what they want whilst I introduce myself to the dog. Some puppies will be jumping all over me and licking my ear off, others will be a little more cautious and take a little time to be coaxed before being handled. Either way, it tells me a lot about the pup and how I am going to manage their introduction to grooming.

Making a puppy comfortable before grooming

Once the customer has completed their card we then discuss what I hope to achieve during the groom. Quite often the owner will be the nervous one and not the dog!  I will go through the whole grooming process and put the owner’s mind at ease. We will take our time and go at the puppy’s pace. I will also send text updates to the owner to let them know their pup is safe and well and adapting to the new experience.

Once the groom has been discussed I ask the owner to walk away without any fuss so the pup is not anxious that they are being left. Once the owner is out of sight the dog will readily follow me into the house and through to the garden and our purpose-built grooming pod.

The puppy is then given plenty of time to explore and smell the small, enclosed garden and to wander around the grooming pod at their own pace. I put them onto the grooming table and let them have a sniff around and put a leash on them so they are safe and secure. When they are comfortable and satisfied that the table is a safe place it’s off to the bath we go.

Washing and drying a puppy

Some puppies are wary of the sound and sensation of a shower head, so a jug can be used to wash them and to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner. I always use specialised, gentle shampoos on puppies and will also use shampoos for sensitive skin if the owner has alerted me to any possible issues.

Again, the pup is secured loosely but safely in the bath and we take our time. I never rush a puppy through the grooming process. We take breaks between stages and I give plenty of tickles and strokes to help them feel safe and comfortable. I also have one hand on the pup throughout, so they do not feel afraid or that they’re on their own. Most puppies enjoy a nice, gentle face massage before being towel dried and then going back to the table. A little homemade biscuit treat may be on hand before the drying begins.

Clipsters’ professional grooming table and dryer

The dryer can be a bit scary for some pups. It’s quite loud and strange to them. First I introduce them to the dryer before switching it on, so we get any sniffs and bites out of the way if needed! I then turn the dryer on but directed away from the puppy so they can become accustomed to the noise. The air is then slowly directed onto the pup from a distance so as not to overwhelm them. More treats are on hand as and when needed and again, we take our time and will stop if it’s all getting a bit much.

After the drying I will gauge the puppy’s needs. Do they need to play and run around a bit to release some stress? Are they calm and happy to continue? Or do they need a few minutes quiet time with some gentle stroking? Whatever they need, they get.

Clipping puppy nails and coat

On the table, the puppy’s nails are then trimmed a tiny bit. Keeping a dog’s nails under control is important, so it’s good to start this early in a dog’s life so they are not anxious in the future. Owners can help a bit here by regularly holding their puppy’s feet and legs so they get used to the sensation, even if they’re not actually clipping the nails themselves.

After nail clipping it’s time for the hair clippers to be shown to the pup so they can sniff them. The clippers are then turned on so the dog can hear the noise, and then they’re gently rubbed on the puppy’s body so they get used to the vibration. Similarly grooming scissors are also introduced and sniffed at before making a gentle cutting action at a safe distance away from the dog, again so they get used to the sound and movement.

It is always safety first with grooming. If I cannot safely trim around a puppy’s eyes or face, or they become agitated, then we’ll leave it and will do more during their next grooming visit.

Then it’s time for the puppy haircut, based on what’s right for the breed, time of year and the owner’s preference. Once the trim is complete (and a little spritz of puppy perfume applied) the pup has a little play time!  It is important to end on a positive note so the dog is happy to come back. I’ll text the owner around 30 minutes from when the groom should be finished and always allow for a bit of fun time whilst we wait.

When collected the pup goes home smelling fresh, looking adorable and wagging their tail! They will also take home some nasty-free homemade doggy biscuits and a report card to share with the family.

At Clipsters, first grooms for puppies are a standard £25* regardless of how much work can be done (it’s usually plenty!), then subsequent grooms increase by £5 a time until the full groom price for the size of dog is reached (see details of our costs here). It is recommended that most dogs are groomed every 6-8 weeks, depending on breed and lifestyle.

If you have any questions or want to book a groom, please get in touch to discuss your pup’s needs.

* correct as of July 2020

© Clipsters 2020

Clipsters Limited Opening – Coronavirus Update

In line with government and Kennel Club advice, Clipsters are carefully moving to LIMITED opening with strict precautions in order to ensure the safety of our customers and dogs. From Monday 4th May we will be booking appointments for all grooming services.

We are taking extra precautions including:

Dealing with only one dog at a time and only two dogs per day, in order to allow a big gap between appointments for a thorough clean.

Cleaning all surfaces and equipment thoroughly between grooms.

Only accepting appointments from households that have been illness free for over 14 days.

Making arrangements in advance with customers to ensure that pick-up or drop-off is part of their daily exercise period or essential journey (or similar appropriate arrangement).

Clipsters are following CFSG advice on handing over pets so that social distancing is maintained.

Clipsters’ groomer Charlotte will wear face protection and gloves during any contact with customers.

Clipsters will use their own leads etc.

Payment will only be accepted by card or bank transfer.

The safety and wellbeing of our customers (human and canine) is our priority. We won’t take any unnecessary risks. We also know that good, professional grooming is a key part of a dog’s health and we want to help you take the best care possible of your best friend. If you have any questions about Clipsters and how we’re working to stay safe, please get in touch.

Thanks to all our customers and those that have shown us their support over the last few weeks. Stay safe everybody.

Keep Clipsters and Carry On. We’re Staying Open (and Safe).

Clipsters do not want to add to the confusion or misinformation around Covid-19. Public Health England have stated (at the time of writing) that there is currently no evidence to suggest domestic pets can become ill with Covid-19. Nor can they spread the virus between people (despite some early reports from China suggesting it might be otherwise). However, we’re all now much more aware of good hygiene practices, and that applies to handling our pets as well.

At Clipsters, we use a clean, purpose-built grooming pod at the back of our home, so the only people that come into contact are our customers.

Clipsters’ clean grooming space

Cleanliness is important at all times when grooming. We UV sterilise the clippers to kill any bacteria and clean scissors and brushes before every groom.  All surfaces are cleaned with disinfectant specifically designed for dogs and proven to be an effective guard against numerous viruses (such as Canine Parvovirus), fungi and bacteria. (Plus my partner Simon is working from home now – so isn’t getting on the tube every day or mingling with colleagues.)

If you’re having to work from home or facing the possibility of fewer visitors popping around, the company of your dog will never feel as important. If you’re concerned about leaving the house at the moment, we can collect and return your dog (around £4 each way for customers within a 15 minute drive of Clipsters). For Clipsters’ customers who are vulnerable and self-isolating, we are currently waiving the additional pick-up and drop-off fee. Contact Clipsters for details.

Here we are.

Our first update. How exciting. We are Clipsters, and this our blog. We’ll be posting news, thoughts, recommendations and doggy health and wellbeing tips here. Follow us on Facebook to see when new updates are posted.

For our first update, I thought I’d say a bit about Clipsters.

About a year ago, I decided it was time for a change. I left my safe job in education to start my own business and have a complete change of lifestyle. I love dogs, but my partner (idiot) is allergic to dog hair. What to do? We decided to open a professional dog grooming business. I can work with dogs and Simon can keep his breathing regulated. Following a  training course at GroomArts which saw me qualify as a City and Guilds Level 3 dog groomer we saved and planned and bought ourselves a top-notch groom room and professional grooming equipment to go inside.

Our purpose-built grooming room, The Clip Joint, was delivered from Wet Pets by Nathan at Acta Crane Services.

A slightly scary moment but we got there.

After arranging the equipment and setting the water temperature we were ready to go.

We welcomed our first customers: Joel and his lovely rescue dog, Hope. Here she is before and after her Clipster grooming…

She was a little nervous, but we took our time and she was brilliant. And Joel left us some very nice feedback.

We’re excited about Clipsters and we look forward to welcoming all types and sizes of dogs for a washes, grooms and lots of belly rubs.

(We can even pick-up and drop-off in the Waltham Forest area for a small charge.)