We had the pleasure of chatting with Pooch Perfect star and award-winning groomer Abi from The Canine Barber. We discuss all things grooming and how she started her business, let's dive in!
1. How and why did you get started in dog grooming?
I always wanted to work with animals from a young age, when I was a kid I actually wanted to be a dog! But I was also an artist. I love being creative so when I saw that I could not only work with dogs but make them beautiful, sculpt them and be creative with fur, it was a natural fit. I stumbled into it at age 23 after working at a dog kennels and realising that wasn’t for me.
2. Are there any qualifications you would suggest people who are interested in being a dog groomer do?
At the moment our industry Is unregulated but there Is a huge movement to change that so I would recommend doing the best level 3 diploma course you can afford with a highly experienced teacher. I’ve just done my Internal Certified Master Groomer Qualification which is a higher qualification that’s a lot more in-depth than level 3.
3. You starred on the latest season of BBC’s Pooch Perfect which is amazing, congrats! Tell us more about the experience.
It was fantastic and surreal, I couldn’t believe it was happening, especially as I’m a new groomer. Only being in the industry for 3 years at the time, it was a massive achievement! It boosted my confidence as it’s not something I thought I could ever do. I was very shy growing up and could never talk in front of a camera but I did It! I made some friends for life and it has opened a lot of doors for me which I’m so grateful for.
4. How do you brush a dog who hates being brushed?
I first put them on a table or non-slip surface, not on the floor or your lap. I would start at the parts they like and reward them and do it in short bursts - so today one leg and tomorrow the tail. For any bad behaviour, I would ignore it and not respond. Only respond to good behaviour and praise dogs for this, they want to please you so they will soon figure out what behaviour you’re looking for.
5. How much should you brush a German Spitz before washing?
I would normally brush for a small period of time, just to remove excess dead hair. I would then blast any dead coat whilst dry, wash the dog, blast and fluff dry after with a long-pinned slicker and then comb to finish.
6. Do we have to dry dogs after grooming or can they air dry?
As I groomer I would always blast and fluff dry to remove all the dead hair but at home they can air dry, but just remember once air dry, brush all that dead undercoat out to stop it from compacting.
7. How do you know if your dog needs regular claw cutting?
Ideally a dogs nails shouldn’t touch the floor, dogs nails shouldn’t curl under or affect them walking properly, excessively long nails can affect the foot and cause problems If not cut regularly.
8. Best advice for cutting claws when our dog is stressed about it?
Take your time to keep your dog calm and reward for good behaviour, maybe do one nail and have a break. My poodle doesn’t like her nails done so I get my partner to stroke her and tell her she’s doing a good job while I snip them off, sometimes she reacts but I ignore this behaviour as it’s not what I want and I praise when she’s calm.
9. Why do I always get knots behind my dogs ears?
Behind the ears are an area of friction as they prick up and go down all the time, the hair also usually goes from short to long so this transition can also cause friction so it’s a high maintenance area that needs attention when brushing.
10. Is paw balm really an essential?
I always have some in my cupboard for dry paws especially in winter, when it’s cold, dogs are prone to cracked paws so I always use some to soothe my dogs feet after winter walkies.
11. What would you recommend asking for from the groomer for 6-month-old cockapoo but don’t want her to be too short?
Personally, I would ask for a yellow comb attachment on the body and scissored legs and head, that’s what I do on most of my fluffy cockapoos.
12. How do you wash ears and teeth? And do you recommend doing this at all at home?
I use a natural ear cleaner from For All Dog Kind on a cotton pad and then I clean the whole ear canal with It. I use an electric doggy toothbrush for my poodles with Virbac Enzymatic Toothpaste which they really love the taste of and I give raw marrow bones as a natural plaque remover.
13. Where can everyone find you on social and book in for a grooming session with you?