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!

JenniferJo Tue 24-Jun-14 08:07:00

I think you are being a bit U. Perhaps you should have stayed to help, rather than just drop him off.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 08:09:23

We were on holiday, hence why he was in kennels, so we weren't in the country to help.

zippy539 Tue 24-Jun-14 08:09:41

He was in boarding kennels - she couldn't stay!

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 08:09:49

I think yab a bit u tbh.

She only has your word for it that he doesn't bite. After all the work you have put in, a groomer pudlshing the limits is surely the last thing you would want?

Perhaps she thought she'd give it a go and it didn't go as planned.

Can't you get a pair of clippers and try yourself? Or get someone to come to your home to do it? Maybe your dog would be better in the comfort of his home.

OwlCapone Tue 24-Jun-14 08:09:50

I can see why you're annoyed - especially as she charged you full price and had reassured you all would be fine. On the other hand, I can see her side too and maybe he was extra stressed from being in kennels and away from you.

Can you find a groomer who will let you stay to reassure him?

I have my spaniel shorn all over with no feathering bar a couple of inches of firing to his tail. Far more practical as he is in no way a show dog and makes it easier to spot ticks. He also brings far fewer brambles home in his coat smile

JenniferJo Tue 24-Jun-14 08:13:15

Sorry, I should have said maybe you should have waited until you could be around.

diddl Tue 24-Jun-14 08:14:02

I can't even think why you'd leave him to be groomed whilst you weren't even there to see how it went!

Did you book the groomer yourself or did the kennels?

I don't blame them for not doing it tbh.

Hoppinggreen Tue 24-Jun-14 08:17:47

I can see why you are a bit cross at having to pay but given the dogs issues why the heck did you think that it was a good idea to get a stranger to clip him when he was probably already stressed from being in an unfamiliar environment?
If he needed to go In Kennels you should have taken him to be groomed before or after and stayed with him .

RoganJosh Tue 24-Jun-14 08:17:53

I think that's fair enough if she decided she didn't want to attempt it, but she should refund you. Have you paid her?

WaywardOn3 Tue 24-Jun-14 08:18:34

Yanbu you told them what would likely happen and suggested a muzzle. I wouldn't be paying for a service my dog didn't receive!

I would have stayed with him if he had those issues as a familiar face in a scary new place can help some dogs. Then you could have ensured a muzzle was used and that the kennel didn't have to transport your dog.

Groomer sounds over confident in her ability to handle difficult dogs but fails to deliver when presented with such dog. She's being unreasonable to try to charge you.

Could you buy your own set of clippers and give it a go? It doesn't have to be perfect but it will help desensitise him to the noise and feel so that if another groomer can get past the growling he'll be familiar with clippers.

Fairenuff Tue 24-Jun-14 08:22:38

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

How can you give that assurance? All dogs bite. You cannot guarantee that he won't. You should have said that you had never known him to bite.

It would be better to take him to a groomer another time when you can stay with him to reassure him. Once he is used to the stranger touching him, you can try leaving him.

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Jun-14 08:25:24


They were told he was going to growl, therefore they shouldn't be surprised when he does. They shouldn't have charged for work they didn't do.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 08:34:34

We did say that he hasn't bitten in the time we've had him. I was paraphrasing to get the point across, not quoting our conversation verbatim.

I think I'm frustrated that in her over-confidence, she didn't give any indication that "failure was an option" IYSWIM, especially as we didn't play down his issues - we didn't say he "might" growl, we said he "would" growl.

Our behaviourist had suggested beforehand that it might be a good thing we weren't there, as he wouldn't associate it with us and therefore possibly set us back with the other issues we're working on, but I see the logic of being with him as reassurance also.

TTTatty Tue 24-Jun-14 08:40:58

She should have muzzled him and got on with the job, I had a 'grumpy' dog (sadly pts now) that had a couple of different groomers (including one at a kennels) that never had any problem with her. I wouldn't be paying for a service I didn't get especially as you had explained the likely scenario.

diddl Tue 24-Jun-14 08:42:40

Maybe that was her intention when she accepted & it just didn't go as planned?

DartmoorDoughnut Tue 24-Jun-14 08:42:51

Personally I'd phone the kennels and tell them you wouldn't be paying her bill - or asking for a refund if it was just part of the overall bill.

I think you were more than fair and gave her all the information she would need, including letting her know that it would be ok to use a muzzle. If she was worried surely she could have asked the kennel staff for help? I'm assuming that his groom was at the end of his stay so therefore the staff there knew him by then and probably would have been happy to pop a muzzle on him if she'd asked ..

SybilRamkin Tue 24-Jun-14 08:53:45

YANBU - and I don't think you should pay given that you explained the issues to her and she said she could handle it.

Call the kennels and ask to speak to the manager.

YANBU she shouldn't charge.

That's like when I was hairdressing in a salon and someone feeling ill or stressed but still charging for not doing their hair. Very strange way to do business. She's taken advantage.

jeanmiguelfangio Tue 24-Jun-14 09:01:40

Im no expert thats for sure, but surely there are a lot of dogs that would growl at someone new or in a new environment, or from a kennel situation. I cant understand why a dog groomer wouldnt be used to that, even without the backstory. And also they would have experience with dogs like that and use a muzzle (which the owner allows)
I can understand why the groomer would want paying for her time if you had cancelled or the dog tried to bite/be completely uncooperative but having explained everything first I think you are in the right. YANBU

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 09:08:11

It's important to bear in mind though that he may well have been much worse than op had said, because of the stress of the kennel environment.

Of course they are used to a bit of growling or resistance. But we don't know his bad he actually was

piratecat Tue 24-Jun-14 09:09:54

yanbu, i doubt she even really tried tbh.

mommy2ash Tue 24-Jun-14 09:17:18

before i had read your entire post i thought that the issue was going to be the dog was groomed but was now traumatised by it. my dog doesn't particularly like being groomed and once or twice we have had to leave it as he was becoming too stressed at the situation. i have a lovely dog groomer who has tons of experience so when she says the dog had enough i trust that she is right.

if your dog was too stressed or it seemed likely it could bite maybe it was for the best. to be honest i can't believe you thought it was a good time to get it done, with you being away and the dog already being in an unfamiliar place. i think you were being unreasonable to book it in the first place.

i think the groomer really should have told you upfront you would still be charged for the slot if she couldn't groom the dog.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 24-Jun-14 09:20:44

I wouldn't leave a dog with that many issues in a kennels in the first place, let alone expect a dog groomer to cope with him. Sorry, YABU

Stinkle Tue 24-Jun-14 09:24:25


You clearly explained the issues, she assured you she could handle it. She can't now charge. Why did she not try a muzzle if you'd given permission?

We had similar with our spaniel - he's scared of the noise of the clippers and growls so has to be cut by hand with scissors (he's never actually bitten, but I can't guarantee what he'd do if he was really frightened).

We tried a new groomer, I explained that he had to be cut by hand and why. It's more expensive to cut by hand, but that's fine, we know this, she quoted me a price, no problem

An hour after I dropped him off I get a call to say they were unable to cut him as he'd growled.

I get there to find they'd tried cutting him with clippers, despite my explicit instructions not to and then tried to charge me.

No way was I paying

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.

OwlCapone Tue 24-Jun-14 13:44:49

Do ex working gun dogs never need rescuing then?

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 24-Jun-14 13:48:24

Not if they're just working dogs, no. I know lots of people who say they have 'rescued' a dog, only to find out that in fact it hasn't been mistreated or abused, just rehomed. That's a 'rehomed' dog, not a 'rescue' dog.

MyFairyKing Tue 24-Jun-14 13:52:46

"Having written all what you did, I'm astonished you didn't go with him to comfort him through his dog grooming visit."

I agree with this. I think you should have waited for him to be groomed when you were available.

maninawomansworld Tue 24-Jun-14 13:57:38

You explained the situation and sanctioned the use of a muzzle and they were happy to go ahead and take the booking.
Okay, she decided not to do it in the end but she shouldn't be charging you.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 13:59:19

I've known a few people who's dogs it has taken a few visits and various people for their dog to be successfully fully groomed. And year are dogs with no issues.

Your expectations are too high. And your idea that a groomer should carry on with grooming an obviously stressed/uncomfortable animal is bonkers.

These things can take time, it's often trial and error.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 13:59:41

And these

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 14:02:49

I've been inside a dog grooming place. What the dogs learn to sit thorough is actually quite a lot. And of there are other dogs being done by other people then they have the noise of the other dogs, clippers, blow dryers, showers, people talking/giving their dogs commands or reassurance.

It really can be alot.

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 14:07:12

He was sold by the gamekeeper who bred and worked him for the first six years of his life to someone who intended to work him but who was not, in fact, the right sort of person to keep a dog. He suffered two years of heavy handed treatment (the flinching and dislike of anyone carrying a stick suggests he was beaten); had a number of untreated medical issues including an oral growth which was inhibiting his ability to eat and in the end was essentially abandoned when his new owner changed jobs and had to travel a lot - that was the point at which he was surrendered to the rescue organisation from which we got him.

Is that "rescue" enough for you?

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 14:08:49

We saw the salon at the kennels beforehand - it wasn't multi-use so only one dog worked on at a time, so there would have been no blow dryers or showers or other dogs/owners in there at the same time.

OnlyLovers Tue 24-Jun-14 14:12:07

WTF does it matter whether he was 'rescued' or 'rehomed' anyway? confused

SelectASweetBreadTwist Tue 24-Jun-14 14:12:36

I appreciate that it's trial and error, and we made an error. We had hoped that with an experienced, apparently confident groomer on board, we could keep the experience as short as possible for him without him associating us with being briefly uncomfortable - one quick clip to keep him cooler in the worst of the summer heat, and then plenty of time before a repeat required next year for us to continue to work on improving his acceptance of touch. Obviously it's back to the drawing board.

ChelsyHandy Tue 24-Jun-14 14:13:48

We saw the salon at the kennels beforehand

But you're not a dog, never mind a nervous one! You can't assume that a dog is going to react in the same way as a human and think "oh well, here I am to be groomed, it will make me a lot more comfortable and it isn't too noisy, so I will sit here and let them trim me, because I've never done anything lik ethis before!.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 24-Jun-14 14:14:30

I would attempt yourself for now, and maybe see if a mobile groomer could come to yours or you keep trying until your dog developes a trust or bond with one of them.

Do you have a telephone number you can call? Speak to the groomer and get a full report of what happened to put her off.

MissMilbanke Tue 24-Jun-14 16:48:55

Do you think this groomer came all the way to the kennel to groom just the one dog ?

Nah neither do I. I think she and to do a block booking of Almost all the dogs in the kennel on that day. Easy job !

I wouldn't feel guilty and I certainly wouldn't be paying her.

MehsMum Tue 24-Jun-14 16:48:59

YANBU - where was the muzzle? Why didn't she use it?

Mind you, in your shoes I would have had the dog clipped at a time when I could be there. 20/20 hindsight is a great thing.

CalamityKate1 Tue 24-Jun-14 16:54:18

I think she did the right thing for the wrong reasons.

I think if she'd gone ahead, muzzled and groomed him, ignoring the growling, it would have undone all the work you've done.

PuppyMonkey Tue 24-Jun-14 16:55:36

If she'd said at the outset "I'll give it a try, but bear in mind if I try and don't succeed I will still have to charge you full price" then you could have made an informed decision. She didn't mention that and reassured you all would be fine. I'd be at least questioning the bill, maybe offer something for her trouble.

rumbleinthrjungle Tue 24-Jun-14 17:03:48

YANBU to expect some reduction in the charge at least, if she didn't even try, although I suppose at least your dog didn't end up having a bad experience from someone not confident.

My spaniel is a drama queen on the anxious/neurotic side, and the first time I took her to be groomed I said I wanted it to be a good experience and would be happy even if all they did was a bit of brushing or a bath and stopped on the grounds of building up to a full groom over time. I could hear her screaming from the carpark, they had no interest if she was calm or not, they were just going to run her through the system and stuff how stressed she got! I went back and demanded they stopped, took my shaking dog away and found someone else who is lovely with her.

I could find no groomers in the area who allow owners to be present during the grooming, they all said the dogs get more stressed trying to get to their owners. I did for a while go down the clippers/doing her myself route, but she behaves much better on a grooming table with someone who knows what they're doing than she does for me.

tuttifrootie Tue 24-Jun-14 18:51:14

Yabu to vent without calling her to find out more about what happened as the note seems too brief and sketchy to know for sure how hard she tried or what put her off and it would be useful for you to know more details anyway for future use.

I do understand her charging for her time but also agree she should have made you aware that is her policy so maybe if you call to discuss further you can reach a compromise.

kitchensinkmum Tue 24-Jun-14 18:58:56

As the owner of a dog who behaves badly when worried or stressed ( barking and growling at other dogs) I would personally have been with the dog when he had his hair do. The dog groomer should have suggested this to you anyway . Any dog groomer with experience would have asked the owner to be present the first time to allow the doggie to get the hang of things with out undue stresses. She made an error of judgment so should not charge you for her time . Quite rightly you should not pay for the no hair cut .

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