Angry groomer. The Whippet Media

Is it ok to get angry while grooming a dog?

Is it ok to get angry while grooming a dog? A recent ‘unpopular opinion’ poll was posted in The Groomer Group this week which stated…

“There are some dogs that come into the salon, that are so difficult and nasty, no matter how accommodating, patient or kind you are in you handling, sometimes you have to walk away and have a moment or you will actually properly kill them…”

There were a few options, but I want to talk about the two slightly controversial ones (obviously). 

  1. You practice positive methods, and never get stressed with a dog.
  2. You are Snow White and can connect with all animals in a magical, Disney sort of way – there’s no such thing as a bad experience ever! 

Most people would assume my response to that poll would have been number 1. After-all I am forever speaking up about a fear-free, low-stress grooming environment, right? 

But get this. It is actually very normal to feel frustrated, angry, impatient, and upset. Especially in an industry you are passionate about!

I’m an advocate for ‘force-free’ grooming. But I’m also an advocate for removing the stigma attached to mental health (I wear the T-Shirt proudly). 

It’s not healthy to expect anyone, whether they call themselves “holistic” or not, to have the magical power to cheat the mechanics of emotion. It is utterly ridiculous to think that it’s possible to control how you feel. Because, feelings are a human instinct. Just as they are instinct to every other animal in the animal kingdom. 

We are physically, mentally and EMOTIONALLY designed to feel, and express through our very own autonomic nervous system.  

I have called myself “The Holistic Groomer”. But that isn’t my way of trying to con people into believing that I am “thee perfect example” of how a groomer ought to be. (Heck no, you should see me first thing in the morning!). 

Hell, I have two kids under 6-years-old, and I love them with all of my heart but there are times when I could literally strangle them. (Especially when I find hardened bits of chewing gum planted on my blinds behind the TV!)

I feel myself get angry more days than not, but feeling something doesn’t make me a bad mum, right? 

I’m “holistic”. Only in my investment to educate, inspire and practice how to be the very best version of myself. For myself and others. That’s it. 

So, I didn’t select number 1 above which probably surprised a few people who know me. But I’m guessing it probably didn’t surprise a lot of people too. 

Instead I selected “agree” because emotions aren’t easily manipulated. 

Force-free groomers teach students about the Autonomic Nervous System. More specifically the Sympathetic Nervous System. This is the area that ignites the “fight” or “flight” response often referred to as “aggression” in a dog. And how it’s simply not possible for a dog to be “naughty” or “nasty”. 

Behaviour is the consequence of an emotion, and emotion is instinctive. 

We humans share the same instinctive incline as our dogs to respond to our environment at every given moment. Feel raw emotions, and as a result behave in a certain way. 

In times of stress, we can go through many things… Increased heart rate, shallower breathing, and limiting our ability to listen/concentrate. Sometimes we may even snap at someone who happens to say the wrong thing, at the wrong time. 

The big difference between a dog’s emotions and our own is that we are advanced enough to recognise stress. We recognise it before it escalates. We can control our environment to a certain extent to ease the pressures. 

To summarise:

  • It’s not acceptable to shout and scream at a dog out of frustration. It is ok to feel frustrated, and take a break.
  • Smacking a dog is unacceptable. (and no, I don’t smack my children either). But it’s ok to get angry, and decide that the rest of the groom be completed the following day.
  • It’s not ok to punish a dog for being a dog. It is ok to not understand why a dog is behaving a certain way. And decide that you will investigate possible causes later. It’s ok to stop the groom at any time if you feel your emotions are getting the better of you.

Compassion to ourselves, and others comes from understanding and acceptance. 

It’s as simple as that. 

When I teach holistic grooming, one of the very first things I ask my students to practice is self-love. (Granted, some people cringe). But self-love/care are crucial when working in an environment that requires competency, and safety.  

Stress is easily managed when we break self-care down into actionable tasks. 

I wanted to share with you all, three tips from my upcoming book. I believe it is important to remember that we are capable of making a bad day, a little less bad: 

  1. Compassion from within. – If you can’t embrace the flaws in who you are, with understanding, then you can’t embrace the flaws in others.
  2. Be more Anti-Perfect. – There’s actually no such thing as “flaws”. There is only who you are, and who they are. And in the words of someone very wise (whose name has slipped my mind). “Have you ever seen an ugly tree, or a miss-shaped cloud?”.
  3. Re-connect to you. – We know ourselves better than anyone, but often forget to check-in with how we’re doing. Being more aware of our own emotions is the key to preventing an escalation of pent-up emotion. And an action you might regret. 

And whether you choose to learn more about holistic grooming or not. It’s important to understand that mental health is a normal part of being human. It’s nothing to feel ashamed of. We all have bad days, and we all must allow ourselves the time to let it pass. 

I don’t believe there is one single person out there who can honestly say that they’ve got it figured out. That that they can turn off their feelings like a light switch. (Even psychopaths have emotions that they cannot control!). Angry

Groomers who incorporate positive training methods as mentioned on the poll in The Groomer. Merely know ways of positively managing a bad situation. That does not mean that they hold the secret ingredient to guaranteed harmonious grooming. 

The point is guys, we are emotional beings often with some unrealistic expectations of ourselves. It’ll not only hinder our progress in life, but can also result in a pent-up action Action we may never be able to take back. 

Investing time in learning about emotion in all living things helps. (trust me it REALLY does). Because it explains the ways we are all connected. It allows us to mutually benefit from a more compassionate place.  angry

There’s nothing worse for you, or the animal in front of you than pushing through your feelings in desperation for the job to be over. Never underestimate the power of rest breaks. (yes, even if you are half way through fluff drying Bitzy’s leg). 

To find out more about our writer Stephanie Zikmann and to keep up to date with the release of her new book. Visit her site HERE

Don’t forget to end the year with a touch of nakedness! Our naked calendar is on sale NOW. Deliveries going out on the 18th December 2020.

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