All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

Listen To The Pet Place Radio Show with Marie Hulett

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bad Grooming Experience

Dear Marie:
We've just returned from a very frustrating day at the groomer’s. My Springer Spaniel, who is normally an affectionate and loving dog, growls and bares his teeth at the groomer. He really hasn't had any “bad” experiences at the groomer’s and was an angel last visit. (This was his second time with this groomer.) We've switched groomer’s as this has happened before but we chalked it up to youth and inexperience. This present groomer is older, more experienced and has Springers of her own. We are otherwise crazy about this dog. Any suggestions?

Dear Kay,
Since I wasn't at the groomer’s, and I don’t have all the information, I’m going to have to piece this mystery together. One thing is certain. Your Springer Spaniel is trying to communicate a very important message. He is frightened of groomers or the grooming process. That is the reason why he is baring his teeth and growling. Obviously, he has experienced something bad.

During his first trip to the new groomer, as you stated, he was an angel. Whatever is frightening to him did not occur at that time. Compare all the visits. What was different? Were there dominant dogs growling or barking at him? Were electric clippers used? Did shampoo get into his eyes? Perhaps you should consider a mobile pet groomer. Away from the sights, sounds and smells of a busy grooming parlor, he will probably be much more relaxed. If this is not possible, ask if you can stay with your pet while he is groomed.

You soothing voice and presence will help him remain calm and understand that he has not been abandoned.
If your groomer objects to this request and suggests that you are babying your dog, or that your presence will only make things worse, you might need to find another groomer. You’re trying to solve a problem that will carry over to veterinary visits, or any other circumstance that reminds him of the grooming experience.

No one knows your dog better than you....even if he or she is familiar with the breed. All dogs are individuals. You will be able to determine if your dog is having a bad reaction to a particular stimuli far better
than a stranger.

There may also be physical reasons for his reaction. Perhaps the manner that he is restrained causes pain. He may have an injury that you are not aware of that is aggravated during grooming. Further, Springer Spaniels sometimes have chronic ear problems. If grooming involves ear cleaning, this may be very unpleasant. This may be a good time to take your dog to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination.

If everything checks out OK at the vet’s office, consider at least as a temporary option, grooming your dog yourself. Loving, familiar hands, a safe environment, and a calm voice may be all he needs. If due to time
constraints, this is not possible, check with other dog owners in your area and ask for their grooming parlor recommendations. I’m confident that you will find what works best for you and your pet.


  1. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!
    Fairfax Dog Training

  2. Your story is very interesting and I have learnt lot of things from your above mentioned blog.
    Dog Vaccinations