How to Use Anatomy to Groom the English Setter

Anatomy is the Foundation of All Grooming 

You’ve heard me say this before:

All dogs – whether a Yorkshire Terrier, a Great Dane, a Bulldog, or a Dachshund – possess identical bone and muscle structure. Fundamentally, they all are the same.

Excellent grooming starts always starts with a firm understating of canine anatomy. It is the FOUNDATION of all grooming.

Basic pattern lines are set based on the muscle and bone structure.

Depending on how physically active a dog is, the muscle structure may be very prominent. It could be lurking under a layer of fat. It may also be poorly developed due to age or lack of physical activity.

Nonetheless, those muscles are there. They will help you set symmetrical and correct pattern lines.

The bones are there, too. Whether the dog is anatomically correct when compared to the breed standard is something else altogether when we are dealing with pet dogs. Understanding what a physically sound dog is will help you immensely. When you know the difference between good and bad structure, you’ll be able to hide many faults.

When we combine all the layers of the dog – the bones, muscles, the skin and the fur – we will be able to mold and shape the coat to highlight the dog’s best features and downplay the others. If the bone structure is a little less than perfect, you can use the hair to camouflage those defects.

Before you begin grooming any dog, get your hands on them! Close your eyes. Feel the structure under the coat. Sink your fingers deep in the fur. Pay close attention to the muscle groups highlighted in color in these diagrams.

The Essence of the Breed

Before you start grooming any dog, you need to familiarize yourself with the breed and understand its essence.

The English Setter is a Sporting dog of great style. It should be physically fit and structurally sound to work long hours in the field flushing game. The general outline of the English Setter will be rectangular. The shoulder lay back and the angles of both the front and rear assemblies should allow for adequate reach and drive.

The coat is silky, flat, and should lay close to the body. English Setters have longer feathering on the ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs, and on the tail. The longer coat should not be so long as to hide the true lines of the dogs, movement, or the function of field hunting.

Landmarks for Grooming & Styling

When it comes to grooming, let’s work around the dog using its anatomy as a reference.

When done “correctly,” Setters are hand stripped for a very natural look. However, in pet grooming circles, it is common to see the pattern clipper-cut or styled using a combination of clipping and stripping to save time. Regardless of the method you chose, the anatomy reference points – or landmarks – will remain the same.

Setting the Throat: Feel for the muscles at the sides of the neck to set the throat pattern line. A visual clue to this area is at the “frill” or cowlick line running down the sides of the neck. The throat area is directly below the jaw, inside the muscles running down the outside of the neck. The shape is generally a soft “U” shape. The lowest part of the “U” stops a few fingers above the prosternum bone.

Body: The jacket coat on the bulk of the body is shorter and lays flat on dog. Follow the natural lay of the coat when working this area.

Shoulder: Use the turn of the muscle at the shoulder to set the jacket pattern on the body.

Elbow: The turn of the shoulder will also tell you the location of the elbow. This is the general location of where to start the pattern on the body, sweeping back and upwards towards the flank of the dog.

Spring of Rib: The turn of the ribs will help set the pattern line separating the dog’s body jacket which consists of much shorter coat, blending invisibly into the longer feathering found on the lower portion of the dog’s body.

Undercarriage: The undercarriage line creates a focal point for balance of the overall dog. The highest point of the graceful sweep will be directly under the last few ribs.

Flank: Moving into the flank area, the thigh muscle should be exposed to help accentuate a physically fit and muscular dog.

Tail: For balance, the tail should reach to the hock and be a triangular flag. There is a slight gap of fur on the underside of the tail at the base. This slight space separates the longer rear furnishings with the feathering on the tail.

Topline: The top line maybe level or slightly sloping from the withers to the tail.

Neck: The long graceful neck is well muscled and slightly arched.

Head: The lines of the skull are parallel with a well definite stop.

Ears: Set well back and low, even with or below the level of the eye.

All these areas are natural landmarks used as reference points on any breed. When you combine anatomy with the official breed standard for any purebred dog, you have knowledge. You can use this understanding to accentuate the proper structure of the English Setter.

Always remember, all transition lines should be invisible. Ideally, the English Setter should look totally natural when finished – as if the coat simply grew that way.

Combining the use of these anatomical landmarks and skillful technical skills, a talented pet stylist can easily create a symmetrical, stylish, and well-balanced trim on any dog – purebred or mixed breed.

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteP.S. Has this helped? Let us know if there are other topics you’d like us to explore.  Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us what would help you.

Building Teamwork Within Your Salon

TeamworkCreating teamwork within a grooming department is a challenge. Getting ANY group of people to work in harmony with one another is no easy task.

Teamwork requires four things:

  1. Communication (sharing information)
  2. Leadership (direction and guidance)
  3. Accountability (rules and boundaries)
  4. Clarity (understanding the cause and purpose for every task)

Teamwork helps achieve goals. It also creates an enjoyable, rewarding place to work.

Over the years, I have had varied levels of success with fostering teamwork. I’ve had times when the entire organization was working together as a single unit. We were energized and excited. We met objectives. We knocked goals out of the park. Life was good.

I have also had times when there was very little teamwork. Frustration and negativity took over. Meeting objectives was almost impossible. Goals went out the window. More than once I questioned if the company would survive or if it was worth the effort to keep it going.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.

  1. You can’t succeed without strong and effective leadership.
  2. Individuals/organizations need to understand WHY they do what they do.
  3. Systems are crucial to duplicate desirable performance.

2017-02-15_1533Building teamwork requires strong leadership that explains WHY the work is being done. Every activity is begun knowing exactly what the end will be. Systems must be made that ensure the activity is done the same way, every time.

For a business to thrive, everybody needs to work together. Whether your team is made up of just two or fifty people, everybody needs to be accountable for results. Those results are tied to the goals and objectives of the business. Everybody needs to understand what role(s) they play in the success of the company.

Years ago, I learned about a formula in Keeping Employees Accountable for Results by Brian Cole Miller. It’s called the SIMPLE approach to accountability.

S = Set expectations

I = Invite commitment

M = Measure progress

P = Provide feedback

L = Link to consequences

E = Evaluate effectiveness

 

S = Set Expectations

  • Success = how well a staff focuses and works toward a common theme/goal.
  • Employees need to know what is expected of them.
  • The clearer the expectations are, the easier it will be to uphold those expectations down the road.

I = Invite Commitment

  • Team members are more likely to cooperate when they understand three things: what the goals are, what’s in it for them, and how the goals will help move the business forward.
  • Once they understand these three things, they are more likely to commit to the goals and being held accountable for the results.

M = Measure Progress

  • Once they’re committed to the goals, you need to track their progress.
  • Goals must be measurable. If you can’t clearly see where you are, you can’t see how far you need to go.
  • Track progress daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. Keep it simple and consistent.

2017-02-15_1319P = Provide Feedback

  • Team members need feedback to know how well they are doing and where they can improve.
  • Feedback opens the door for problem-solving discussions and follow-up actions.
  • Understanding expectations, followed by honest feedback, is the backbone of accountability.
  • When providing feedback, focus on the behavior, not the person. Be specific. Do not mention characteristics like attitudes or intentions.

L = Link to Consequences

  • Teams need to understand the consequences of actions toward a goal. Ideally, these consequences are built into the discussion of goals and objectives so that expectations are clear from the start.
  • Consequences are not rewards or punishments. They are simply the natural result of behavior tied to the goals and objectives of the business.

E = Evaluate Effectiveness

  • Create a system for regular and timely performance reviews.
  • Review how the process has been handled. Praise positive performance. Fine-tune lackluster performance. Redirect underperformance. Explain how their performance affects progress toward the goals and objectives of the company.
  • Be consistent, honest, and fair to the entire team.

For goals to be meaningful and useful, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. In other words, you need to identify the “big picture” and work backward to set smaller milestones that will lead you there.

Staff members need to understand the roles they play in business. If they don’t, they are likely to feel disenchanted, lost, or hopeless. Team members at every level should be able to communicate exactly how their efforts feed into the larger business objectives – WHY the business exists, at all.

Teamwork is not just about how effective and efficient a group is, it’s also about the relationships in that group. Always remember, it takes work to create and maintain a positive relationship. Building a healthy marriage, raising a family, training a dog, winning at soccer, and growing a business all require time and effort.

Remember, anytime you’re dealing with more than one person, teamwork is needed. Successful teamwork requires clear communication, leadership, and accountability. Always begin with the end in mind. Once you know why you do what you do – everything else falls into place much easier.

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_white P.S. How do you build teamwork in your salon?  Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.

clinicSpend the day with Melissa

Melissa Verplank will be in the Tampa, Florida area on Sunday, March 19, 2017 for an all day seminar.  Melissa will present four of her most popular lectures that are sure to help you and your business!

The 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is Almost Here!

Westminster2017-1This time of year I always get excited. The 141st Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is just around the corner! For almost as long as I can remember, I have firmly planted myself in front of the TV for two nights. I would watch the show in its entirety. Why?

Because, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the “Superbowl” of the dog world. It is the best way to stay up to date with the latest trends and styles. I would throw a Westminster party. I loved inviting my entire grooming team over to be glued to the TV for two nights as the show aired. For days after the show, we would talk about the newest breeds that had been accepted by the AKC. The unique haircuts we saw. The latest style trends on established breeds.

The show was important for me. I was actively competing in the pet grooming contest arena. In the old days, we would record the show on VCR tapes. I can’t tell you how many times I would review those tapes before I stepped into the contest arena. Today, you can stream videos to any device or save it on DVR systems. By watching some the most spectacular dogs in the country compete at this level, I was able to get a clear image etched in my mind before I stepped into the ring at a grooming competition. Visualization is a key to success.

Secondly, I used the Westminster Dog Show as a way to help keep my grooming staff up-to-date with the latest styling trends.  Once I opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming, we continued to use the show as a key learning tool for students. The annual dog show was instrumental for students learning breed identification and trim styles.

Tune in this year and enjoy the 2017 show. The Westminster Dog Show airs Monday, February 13 LIVE ON Nat Geo WILD from 8-11 p.m. and Tuesday, February 14 is LIVE ON Nat Geo WILD from 8-11 p.m. For streaming videos of each individual breed class, click here.

Happy Trimming!

~Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_white

P.S.  Do you watch? Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell me your thoughts about how to use this show or other resources to inspire yourself and your team.

 

How to Make a Sparkle Bow

headerThis sparkle bow is a perfect fit for this fun and festive holiday season. Not only is it super cute, it’s easy to make!

It all starts with garland. It’s easy to find this time of year. The best type to use for bows is woven with very fine wire. It typically comes in a couple of sizes and a variety of colors. I’ve found the one that’s about 2 inches in width works the best for bow projects. It also balances the finished bow nicely on the pet.

To speed this project along, I work with pre-made bows. The bows are held together with a small elastic band. When finished, there is a small loop on the back side of the bow for attaching it to the pet. Bows can be placed in the fur, in topknots, or on the collar.

When trimming the garland into smaller pieces for the bow centers, the wired garland should hold the tinsel together. When trimming, use only the tip of the scissors to trim at the very center to the garland. As you trim, try to avoid cutting the tinsel.

Once trimmed to length, the tinsel piece will only be about a ¾” to an inch long. The small piece of wire ends up getting crimped, creating a circular spray of sparkle for your bow center. When picking up the small garland chunk, gently hold the garland between your fingers. Push your fingers together in one smooth movement, slightly rolling the center of the garland between your fingers to get a consistent spray of tinsel.

Quickly add a few dabs of hot glue to the center of the pre-made bow plus a few quick spots on the loops themselves. Apply the garland to the center of a pre-made bow while the glue is still very warm, pressing down firmly. Hold for a few seconds until the garland sparkle center is firmly attached to the bow.

To add the final finishing touch, add a small bead at the center of the garland spray center with a dab of hot glue. Personally, I like to use Mardi Gras-style beads. You can find these during the holidays, too. Trim the strand into single beads.

When trimming the strand, I snug the shear up to one side of the bead. This allows for a small thread nub on the opposite side of the bead. If you strategically sink the thread nub into the hot glue, it will stay firmly in place. Hold for a few seconds while it adheres.

Once the glue has cooled, remove any hot glue cobwebs.

These bows are fast, fun, and festive. If you work with pre-made bows, these are easy to make in seconds. My regulars would request them in colors matching their personal holiday theme. My clients always loved them on their pets.

Items that you will need for this bow style are:

  • Pre-made basic bow – 2 or 4 loops
  • Christmas tinsel garland
  • Beaded garland or Mardi Gras-style beads
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Glue sticks

 Step 1

Gather your supplies and select the color of garland you want for the center of the bow. Bows and tinsel can be prepared ahead of time. Once the bows have been made and the tinsel pieces trimmed and shaped, they can be quickly and easily assembled with the glue gun.

sparkle-bow-1supplies

 Step 2

Trim a small section of garland. Using craft scissors, cut the wire that holds the sparkly tinsel in place. Use only the tips of the shears or slide the open shear in until you meet the wire. Make a small cut, minimizing how much tinsel is cut with each snip. Trim the garland over a paper plate or shallow box to minimize cleanup.

sparkle-bow-2-tinsel-length

 Step 3

Once the garland pieces are cut, crimp the wire by holding each end on your fingertips and pinching the ends together. With the wire crimped, push your fingers against each other to send the strands out into a uniform spray shape. This also flattens the tinsel so it lies nicely at the center of the bow.

 sparkle-bow-3beginning-crimpsparkle-bow-4crimping

 Step 4

With a hot glue gun, place at least 4-5 small dabs of glue around the bow – one on each loop and each tail – just off center. Place the final dab right in the center of the bow. Work swiftly as the glue dries very quickly.

sparkle-bow-13holding-w-glue-dabs

 Step 5

Place the tinsel right at the center of the bow and push firmly down, using care not to burn your fingers in the hot glue. Check that the tinsel is firmly in place. Remove any hot glue gun cobwebs (slender strands) that are typical when working with hot glue.

sparkle-bow-6-adhereing-tinsel

 Step 6

Once the tinsel garland is in place, hold the strands away from the center. Add another dab of glue to the center of the tinsel. Quickly add a complementary colored bead to the center of the bow. Place the thread nub into the warm glue. Apply pressure to the bead to ensure its firmly attached. Remove any glue gun cobwebs.

sparkle-bow-9-thread-nubsparkle-bow-14glue-dabsparkle-bow-15securing-bead

 Step 7

The finished bow.

sparkle-bow-finished

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

What bows do you like to make? Hop onto our Facebook page and tell us!