What is holistic dog grooming? The word holistic is a term meaning whole, an adjective that describes caring for the entire needs of the person or animal that ensures their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

When you take your dog to the groomers you would expect to pay for a typical service where your pet is bathed, dried and their hair cut along with their nails being trimmed if needed. This is the basis of most grooming environments. For a holistic groomer, this is just the foundation of their work. For me, there is much more involved in addressing the needs of the dog, both within the way that I work and the way the salon is set up, as well as working with other practitioners to ensure the overall wellbeing of the dog. The dogs are all treated as individuals with their own specific needs.

First impressions

When a dog comes to see me for the first time I want to know everything about them:

  • Are they a rescue?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they a working dog?
  • What is their personality like at home?
  • Do they have any ailments or health issues?

These are just a few of the things I want to know about a client’s dog so that I can give them the best care possible. When all the note-taking is out of the way, I’ll begin introducing myself to the dog. The way this is done will depend on how the dog reacts and their temperament. I work with all sorts of dogs including those who have have shown aggression in a salon environment, those that are extremely nervous, mischief-makers, elderly dogs and even dogs recovering from illness or injury. There is no single approach that fits every dog in the way I work and I am constantly assessing and watching how the indvidual dog reacts to everything.

Additional therapies used with grooming

There are numerous complementary therapies that can be applied to grooming and to enhance the dog’s experience. The two I tend to use most are Massage and Reiki. When using these therapies, it’s important that the dogs are happy and comfortable so they get the maximum benefit from their treatment. Aromatherapy with essential oils is something else I might use if appropriate ~ this can create a calming environment, especially the use of lavender oil which I tend to use a lot in the salon.

Peggy on the grooming table which has been lowered to the floor after a Reiki session

My working environment

My salon is an open-spaced, crate-free, bright and spacious zone. It was so important to me when designing my salon layout that the dogs could have free roam where it’s safe to do so. We always carry out a risk assessment to ensure the safety of our dogs when interacting with one another, but we find when our dogs are allowed to express their natural behaviours they are more relaxed and happy. During the grooming session, I stick to a general process of how I groom, but the actual techniques and handling methods will be different for every dog depending on their own specific needs.

Grooming products

Another element of holistic grooming is the natural products I use. I am very strict about the products I use in my salon and spend hours researching to ensure I am happy with the quality. Not only this, but it’s also important that the products are not tested on animals, and are organic wherever possible.

Professional partners

Each element of a dog’s care is part of a bigger health picture and I am very lucky to be able to work with some amazing professionals who help me to do the best I can for the dogs I see. When we all work together, we create an amazing industry for our pets and when you can work with like-minded people it’s particularly special. Yaz from Yorkshire Pooches Therapies is my go-to for canine massage. Davina and James at Walkabout Hounds Training Centre work with positive reinforcement training ~ their expertise is vital when I work with dogs that need extra development and training.

It’s fantastic to be able to communicate with other professionals so that we can all help our pets in every way possible. This also includes passing on information to our veterinary professionals as groomers are in a good position to see more of the dog’s skin when wet and drying than a vet or owner would on an average check-up. We can sometimes pick up on injuries or illnesses that need veterinary attention.

Case study ~ Peggy

Peggy is a Romanian rescue and when she first came to see me, she sat next to the table her sister was being groomed on and just watched. This was her desensitisation process and was an essential part of her experience. Loud noises and new people can overload any dog, but a dog that hasn’t had the best start in life can find themselves being 10 times more overwhelmed by these sorts of situations. The second time Peggy came, it was like she had been coming to see us for years. With not a care in the world, she loved her hydro spa bath, blow-dry and her entire groom. Watching your dog go from being so nervous and just ok watching the procedure to being able to complete an entire groom in one appointment is mind-blowing and very rewarding.  However, taking your time and allowing a dog to observe is all some dogs need to learn that they are safe.

Peggy the Romanian rescue dog helping with admin

Case study ~ Rodney

My little gem Rodney is just the sweetest little heart melt. He has some problems with his legs which his mum let me know about on his first appointment. By doing this I was able to tailor his grooms to his particular needs. Rodney sits for most of his groom, but I’m able to support him with a cushioned belly strap when I need to work on his legs. I also use Reiki on Rodney as he is a nervous dog. He can’t get enough of this and will quickly nudge his sisters out of the way so he can sit on my knee for a session. These sessions are not only relaxing for the dogs, but they are building their trust in me which makes the entire grooming experience a happy one.

Educating canine guardians

As dog owners, we can all pick up bad habits in how we look after our dogs, even down to how we maintain their coats. My objective is to educate as many of my clients and followers as possible so that their dogs benefit from the same quality of maintenance grooming at home as they do with their professional groom in the salon. For example, have you ever used a conditioner on your dog? Do you dampen your dog’s coat before you brush? Or how about this… do you know what temperature the water is when you’re bathing your dog at home? None of these things we would ever think of as a rule, but just considering these three things alone will affect your dog’s skin and coat and how quickly fluff can mat up. Everyone has a role to play in the wellbeing of their dog.

Danielle Staton

Danielle Staton is a Holistic Canine Dog Groomer from Castleford, West Yorkshire. Her salon is The Big Paws Little Paws Co Holistic Canine Grooming Parlour. She loves all animals but dogs are her life passion. Danielle is City and Guilds Level 3 certified in dog grooming and has been trained in Advanced Canine First Aid by a vet. She has also completed Dermatology Applied to Grooming training and is currently working towards certification in this. Danielle is a Reiki Level 2 practitioner. She is continually looking for more training and workshops to advance her skills and knowledge. At home, she has seven dogs, four sons and an amazing husband who helps keep her grounded and focused!

Disclaimer – Where blogs have been created by a guest author, CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information

The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website