To be a bit narked at this dog groomer?

(71 Posts)
SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 08:02:28

We have a rescue spaniel who came to us with a whole raft of issues, including touch-sensitivity. Over time we have worked patiently and persistently to overcome this and he has progressed from a dog who wouldn't let you put a collar on him and who flinched if you tried to pet him, to a dog who leaps up with his tail wagging at the sight of his collar and lead, will stand to be towel-dried all over, can have tangles eased out of his coat with fingers and who has started to tolerate a couple of minutes of being brushed.

With the recent improvement in the weather, he gets quite hot and we have talked about getting him clipped to make him more comfortable. As it happens we have just had to put him in boarding kennels and the ones we chose were great, very understanding of his issues etc - and they employ a professional groomer.

We had a long chat with her when we went to view the kennels, explained all about his touch-sensitivity and the fact that when out of his comfort zone, he will growl non-stop. In the 18 months we have had him he has never bitten/snapped, but he does growl when uncertain/uncomfortable. We stressed more than once that he doesn't bite but does growl, and also repeated more than once that although we don't use a muzzle on him, we had no objections to the groomer doing so if she was in any doubt about him. We didn't want a show-standard clip, just a quick job to allow him to cool down. She was very confident, reassuring us that she works with tricky dogs all the time and he'd be fine.

The kennels have just dropped him off and he is exactly as we left him. In with his things is a scribbled note from the groomer saying "sorry, he started growling as soon as he came into the salon and I wasn't prepared to risk it. Had to still charge as he took up a slot I could have used for another dog."

AIBU to think she should have declined the booking when we explained his issues if she wasn't at least going to try to muzzle him as we had sanctioned? We KNEW he would growl, that's why we mentioned it upfront repeatedly to make sure she understood and was confident with insecure dogs!

I agree that you shouldn't have to pay for a service if you didn't receive it but also wonder whether kennels are a good environment for a stressed dog.
I imagine taking the dog to a local groomers from home and then bringing the dog home afterwards would be a much kinder way of doing it? Could the dog maybe stay with someone who has the dog in their home with them next time you are away?

Appletini Tue 24-Jun-14 09:37:03

You're both BU.

SaucyJack Tue 24-Jun-14 09:46:11

I think YANBU. I don't anything about dogs and I'd back off if one started growling at me, but I'd expect someone who works with strange dogs all day to know what they were doing.

If she wasn't happy to groom him, then she should've said at the beginning- or not charged at the very least.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 09:54:32

I think YANBU. I don't anything about dogs and I'd back off if one started growling at me, but I'd expect someone who works with strange dogs all day to know what they were doing

Errr maybe she did know what she was doing and thats why she left him alone.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 09:56:14

Knowing about dogs and their behaviour and body language doesn't mean you can iverride an animals tears and instantly achieve anything and everything first time.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 09:56:36

Override an animals fears

MyFairyKing Tue 24-Jun-14 09:57:31

They are BU to charge but I think YABU too as he was in a new environment, could possibly have been stressed and this was not the time to have him groomed. Has he been groomed since he's been with you?

MyFairyKing Tue 24-Jun-14 09:58:01

Actually scrap that, not "could possibly have been stressed", he will have been stressed.

TortoiseUpATreeAgain Tue 24-Jun-14 10:08:37

She WNBU to not groom him, but she shouldn't charge. You told her specifically that the dog would growl and she accepted the booking on that basis; she can't then decide not to groom him but still to charge when he did exactly what you told her he would do.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 10:23:48

He has been in kennels - just not these kennels, as we relocated earlier this year - more than once while we have had him, and as an ex-gundog he was kennelled for most of his working life so it is an environment he is used to. Some of his issues when we first got him related to getting him used to living indoors - he's scared of the hoover, doesn't understand stairs, couldn't get used to the curtains opening and closing etc.

He was booked in for his trim yesterday, right at the end of the stay when he would have been more settled anyway. It was one of the partners who own the kennels who dropped him off this morning and he said to my DH, who answered the door, that our dog had been "no trouble" (in general, he didn't refer to the trimming at all. It was only after I came downstairs and pointed out he was supposed to have been trimmed but hasn't been that we spotted the note on top of his box of toys/towels). He certainly hasn't lost any weight (he goes off his food when particularly stressed) so while I appreciate we weren't there, there are no signs that he exhibited anything more than his "usual" level of uncertain growling when in a new situation involving touch, which is what we warned the groomer about.

MyFairyKing Tue 24-Jun-14 10:34:48

OK fair enough. I still think you may have been expecting a bit much of DDog. Grooming can make even the most placid dog feel a bit worried.

mommy2ash Tue 24-Jun-14 10:42:36

i still think yabu. a dog groomer who refused to cut a dogs hair if they growled would soon be out of business. most dogs will growl at some stage. i would think that after you explaining your dogs issues and her seeing your dog get too anxious she thought it was best not to cut him.

i have had my dog returned to me with two back legs not finished. a good groomer won't put a dog through unnecessary stress.

OnlyLovers Tue 24-Jun-14 10:49:24

I think YANBU. It sounds as though you couldn't have explained about your dog any more clearly, including sanctioning her to muzzle him if she thought it necessary. If she had any doubts at all she should have said at the start, not reassured you and been all 'It'll be fine' about it and then reneged.

I'd talk to the manager, explain why you won't be paying, then find another groomer from now on.

Montybojangles Tue 24-Jun-14 10:51:49

I think you're were unreasonable to think this would work. If you want him groomed pop a muzzle on him and drop him to a parlour, or get a home groom service to come to you.

Leaving him in a strange place for a few days with another stranger with noisy equipment booked as the piece de resistance at the end of it all probably wasn't the best plan. Did you watch that programme recently about dogs left alone, even the majority of the ones that looked settled while home alone had massively increased levels of cortisol (stress indicator), so I would be pretty sure a dog that has had his life routine chopped and changed so much recently would have some degree of anxiety at this latest change of situation and strange goings on.

You booked an appointment, so the groomer couldn't find alternate work for that slot at immediate notice, and I would guess that you were very reassuring about him at the time. If she says she has worked with difficult dogs in the past then maybe yours became a bit of a nut when cornered and terrified. Though he hasn't bitten that you know of, that's not much reassurance to the groomer if they are concerned the dog may bite if they try to muzzle it. Also, if they care about the animals they work with they won't want to over stress an animal if it seems already over anxious. I think you need to suck it up and plan a little more carefully next time sorry.

PrincessBabyCat Tue 24-Jun-14 11:07:43

We stressed more than once that he doesn't bite but does growl

I have scars on my hands from dogs "that don't bite I promise". hmm

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 11:14:01

I absolutely accept that this hasn't worked as we hoped and we need to find an alternative.

I can't stress enough, however, that I did not downplay how he would react. It's a responsibility owning a reactive dog and I take it seriously. He growls every time he goes to the vets and that's a similar situation - stranger approaching him in a strange room and touching him. But that's all he does, even when the vet is manipulating him to see how his arthritis is progressing. He has never bitten or snapped in that situation, even when the vet has taken him away from us to x-ray his joints. So I could be reasonably confident that I could predict how he would react with a so-called professional who works with dogs, was at pains to assure us how she deals with 'tricky' dogs all the time and who you could reasonably expect to be calm and confident around uncertain dogs. The note doesn't imply that he "became a bit of a nut" either - it simply says "he started growling as soon as he came into the salon". Well, yes. We said he would. It doesn't say "we couldn't get a muzzle on him" or "he was becoming distressed" or anything to suggest he did anything other than what we warned her he would do, and that she said she was fine with.

If she had said "I'll see how he goes, but if I'm not comfortable I won't push it" I would have had a better understanding of her working methods and it wouldn't have been so annoying, but if anything she downplayed it with her "oh, he'll be fine, I get all sorts in here".

Suzietastic Tue 24-Jun-14 11:14:07

I'm a dog groomer and the number of times I've been told a dog doesn't bite when it does are too many to count. I think the worst possible thing you could do would be to leave him in a strange environment for a week or two and expect him to be Ok with a stranger grooming him.

That said, if I were her I would have made it clear that you would be expected to pay up if the job were not completed so that you have the opportunity to say 'no thanks'.

You need someone to come to the house to do it. That way you can be there to reassure him.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 11:16:06

PrincessBabyCat, RTFT. I did not promise he wouldn't bite. No-one can say that with 100% certainty about any dog. As I've explained further, I said that he hasn't bitten in the 18 months we've had him - which is true. The possibility that he might bite is precisely why I authorised her to use a muzzle if she wanted to.

gobbynorthernbird Tue 24-Jun-14 12:03:02

One of my rescue mutts has a massive fear of grooming, and there would be no chance of a stranger getting a muzzle on her. She would be so scared and stressed it would be cruel to even try. I wouldn't expect a professional to put my dog through that trauma, and if that meant paying for a service that went unused, so be it.

emms1981 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:13:01

you might want to consider getting some clippers and doing him yourself, I used to cut my westies hair in the hot months. If you are not worried about just giving him a once over

ChelsyHandy Tue 24-Jun-14 12:59:59

Having written all what you did, I'm astonished you didn't go with him to comfort him through his dog grooming visit. He was already in an alien environment at the kennels. Its a lack of foresight on your part. You thought you would take a short cut in handing a nervous dog over to kennels and get back one which had been clipped and groomed, and not surprisingly, it didn't work out.

How your animal behaves reflects on you. That also goes for rescue dogs. You can't expect someone else to deal with what appears to all intents and purposes, a dog which is giving a warning that it will bite.

ChelsyHandy Tue 24-Jun-14 13:01:52

Oh, and I would get a pair of mini clippers if I were you, and do a little bit of familiarisation work each day with them, and get him used to being touched in areas he might object to. The consider either doing the whole thing yourself or taking him to a dog groomer to do small bits at a time. Possibly with sedation.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 13:38:26

Chelsy, to reiterate:

1. The behaviourist with whom we have been working suggested it might actually be a good thing we weren't with him, for the reasons explained above - this may or may not turn out to be correct, but as it appears the groomer gave up at the first growl, we'll never know.
2. The groomer did not give any indication whatsoever that what we were asking was unreasonable, despite us talking to her at length about his issue.
3. A growl is not automatically a warning that a dog will bite. It is a communication that the dog is uncertain / uncomfortable / unsure / insecure. With a calm, confident, reassuring person used to dealing with such dogs (which the groomer gave us the impression she was), it need never escalate to a bite - as indeed, it hasn't with us or with anyone we have introduced him to.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 24-Jun-14 13:41:05

So, if, in fact he is an ex working gundog, in what way did you 'rescue' him?

ChelsyHandy Tue 24-Jun-14 13:43:57

I suggest you sack your "behaviouralist" then, because that plan was always going to fail. What kind of behaviouralist would suggest taking an animal out of its own environment, with no people it was familiar with and doing something it hadn't been trained to accept? Its like negative reinforcement piled upon negative reinforcement, and the dog obviously behaved (growling) in entirely an expected way.

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