By: Stephanie Zikmann!
Learning how to groom your dog with less stress couldn’t be easier, take it from me – oh sorry, I forgot to introduce myself! In my industry I’m often referred to as ‘The Holistic Dog Groomer’ but my friends, family, and clients call me Stephanie (or Steph for short) so let’s just call me that.
As my pseudonym suggests, I am a holistic dog groomer from a small town in Ayrshire (Scotland), and over the last few years, I have spent a lot of hours investing into learning how to make the grooming experience for ALL dogs guardians, and professionals, as stress-free as possible.
You know what I’m talking about, right? The many dogs who like to chew our brushes, bark at the dryer, jump out the bath, and resist those nails being trimmed. And there’s no denying that it’s hard!
But the problem doesn’t solely exist on a professional capacity, what I found was that the dog who struggles in the salon, is also struggling at home, along with many of their guardians too.
Suddenly, we had a dominating state of helplessness that was preventing our dogs from truly benefiting from the purpose of grooming – that is, the preservation of health, wellbeing and welfare, and the strengthening of social structures between members of their family unit.
And that was the moment I knew, I had to learn more about WHY.
My observations as a grooming professional had me re-evaluate the entire approach to the grooming procedure itself, and how we are taught to groom a dog at school. The reality was that the commercial grooming curriculum seldom addressed how to handle the more advanced, behavioural cases that we see on a daily basis.
Alas, it’s not as black and white as what we are taught, and there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” protocol. Instead, I began to see that it was more to do with adapting our approach based on the individual needs of each of the dogs we see in front of us.
Each dog has his own needs.
And so, grooming became a more bespoke service in my salon that considered the history, lifestyle, current medical and emotional state, and the overall needs of the dog himself.
I began to advance my existing skills and learn how to think dog, speak dog, and communicate with dogs to ultimately understand what the cause of some of our most troublesome behaviours were – was it a reflection or a certain texture? Was it an object in the background, or a noise coming from a certain piece of equipment? Was it pain that suggested an underlying medical condition, or was it an existing medical condition that was lowering the dog’s tolerance to a certain handling aid?
When I began see things from the dog’s perspective, everything changed for the better.
It didn’t take long before the dogs in my care were showing positive progress, and responding the adaptions I had made. Equally, the bespoke care plans that I had carefully devised, were implemented at home with their guardians, helping them to maintain the basics of grooming between professional appointments too.
Guardians at home began to ask themselves the right questions -
WHY is my dog fearful of being bathed?
WHY does my dog not enjoy having his nail clipped?
What can I do to show my dog that these experiences need not be something to fear?
How do I manage the situation better, when the cause is perhaps too deep-rooted to resolve?
Many people have asked me what I mean when I say “I’m a holistic dog groomer”.
Really what I mean is coming from a wholesome perspective and considering what could be causing a dog distress in the grooming environment. We consider what makes a dog tick, how we can adapt our approach, and offer complementary therapies to make the experience a whole lot better. But it’s also to do with self-care and a synchronised care plan - teamwork.
In my book, ‘The Magic of Holistic Grooming’ I reveal the many methods I use to help make the dogs in my life more relaxed being pampered – after all, grooming (when done mindfully) is in fact one of life’s most ancient practices.
It’s not about styling a dog to Breed Standard, especially when it comes to grooming our family dogs at home.
But it’s more about how we can strengthen our family unit through nurturing the techniques required in helping to preserve the health, and overall well-being of both ourselves and our beloved canines.
Learning more about canine behaviour and psychology, anatomy and physiology, dermatology and cosmetology, and even how we approach our own self-care are totally relevant when it comes to what makes grooming, holistic.
I am sure you will be more than surprised (and enlightened) when I reveal how important holistic grooming is on our overall need to stay connected to ourselves and others, to enhance our health and wellness, and to increase our compassion.
If it’s not already obvious, I am in love with holistic grooming – coming from a girl who battled with chronic depression for SIXTEEN years before embarking on this journey, I am my own original case study of just how magical it is.
Since starting on this journey, I have felt more empowered to overcome my own fears, and I am proud to say that my depression is now more manageable than it ever was before.
I implore you to open your hearts to the idea that there’s more to holistic grooming than you could ever have believed possible.
While my book is directed more to the many professional groomers out there who are struggling to cope under the pressures of commercial grooming, there are many lessons within its pages that could benefit the entire world of pet guardians too.
If you would like to learn more you can purchase the book on Amazon, and I invite any of you that do to write an honest review of what you think about what I’ve learnt thus far.
About The Author
Stephanie Zikmann is an Amazon Bestselling Author, Award-Winning Holistic Dog Groomer and Mentor who runs her own online Holistic Grooming Academy as well as a dog grooming Spa in Scotland.
She is a certified canine behaviourist, reiki practitioner and licenced pet ambassador instructor with a passion for learning.
She has featured and spoken about Holistic Grooming all over the world including Canada, America, the UK, and France, and dedicates her time advocating for a more positive-led grooming industry.
Stephanie was recently crowned ‘Scotland’s Best Pet Influencer 2020’ at the Scottish Pet Industry Awards.