Matting in a dog’s coat is a common issue that can lead to significant discomfort and health problems if not addressed properly. However, not handling this topic appropriately with pet owners can result in negative reactions. This blog aims to demonstrate the best and less effective ways of tackling this difficult subject, providing an opportunity to clearly educate pet owners on preventing severe matting, emphasizing the importance of transparent communication during grooming and effective pricing strategies for mat removal.

Understanding the Causes and Effects of Matting in Dogs

Mats in a dog's fur develop when hair intertwines into dense clumps, trapping dead fur within. These mats result from friction and shedding, and if not addressed with daily care, they can grow larger and tighter, causing continuous pulling on the dog's skin. This persistent discomfort and pain often lead to behaviors like licking, itching or biting, which can, in turn, cause hot spots, skin infections and bruising. Dogs with long, silky coats, curly hair or a mix of both are particularly susceptible to matting. Matting is more common during seasonal changes as a dog’s coat adjusts to the upcoming weather. Additionally, activities such as swimming can significantly increase the likelihood of matting if the coat is not properly maintained afterward.

The Importance of the Check-In Process 

Starting at the check-in process is key. Provide as much information as possible before the customer leaves, so they know what to expect. Take a few minutes to feel the pet’s coat and visually show the pet parent any mats or tangles you’ve identified.

Be transparent with pet parents about pricing and communicate any additional charges upfront to avoid misunderstandings. Use this time to connect with both the pet and the owner. By addressing and explaining things at this stage, the client will know what to expect when they pick up their dog, both in terms of appearance and cost. This is also a great opportunity to educate the owner about matting, including its causes and prevention methods.

Sometimes a mat is hidden, and it’s okay if you don’t find every single one, especially if the dog is large or has a particularly thick coat. However, if you discover additional mats after the check-in process, it is always best to call the owner and explain the situation. People rarely respond well to surprises, especially if they are not pleasant ones. If mats need to be shaved out or there will be additional fees, they should know before coming to pick up their pet. 

Pricing of Matting 

At our grooming business, Smoochie Pooch, we charge $1 per minute for additional dematting services, on top of the regular grooming price, whether brushing or shaving the dog. However, we advise against overcharging. For instance, if you spend 13 ½ minutes on a dog, you don't need to charge exactly $13.50; rounding down to $13 or even $10 is acceptable. While some groomers prefer charging an hourly rate or a flat fee based on the severity of matting, we choose to charge by the minute to ensure fairness for all customers. 

To learn more about why we price matting this way read here

What Not to Say to Pet Owners 

When informing pet owners that their matted dog will need to be shaved, it's crucial to communicate effectively and provide clear details. Simply saying, "We are going to go short today," without further explanation, can be alarming and confusing for the owner. “Going to go short” also can mean something different to the pet owner. They may imagine you taking off half an inch when you mean you are taking off an inch and a half. This lack of communication leaves them unaware of the severity of the matting and the necessity of shaving, which can result in anger and surprise when they see the final result.

Not explaining the situation is the worst thing you can do. If a pet owner leaves the salon unaware that their dog is matted, and then picks them up to find their dog shaved down and the bill higher than expected, it can lead to significant frustration. This lack of communication can escalate the issue, leaving the owner very angry and uninterested in understanding why the shave was necessary. To them, it may come across as lazy grooming. This can also lead to the customer disputing credit card fees with their bank and leaving bad reviews on Google and social media. 

What to Say to Pet Owners 

Providing detailed explanations is essential when discussing the need to shave a matted dog short. Avoid vague statements and ensure you explain the situation thoroughly. Describe the extent of the matting and why shaving is the most humane and practical option. Explain how matting can cause discomfort, pain and potential health issues for their dog, and that shaving is necessary to alleviate these problems. It's also crucial to communicate potential injuries that could occur due to matting, as well as what may be revealed under the mats whether it may be hotspots, scabs or parasites. 

By showing the pet parent the blade and elaborating on what "short" means, you ensure clarity and avoid misunderstandings. Each person's interpretation of "short" varies, so clear communication is key. You could say, "Due to the severe matting, the only way to ensure your dog's comfort and prevent skin issues is to shave the coat down. This will allow us to remove all the matted fur safely. I understand this might be surprising, but it's the best option for your dog's health and well-being. After shaving, we'll give them a full groom and explain how to prevent matting in the future."

This collaborative approach helps the customer feel involved in the decision-making process, fostering trust and understanding. Saying something like, "It looks like there is matting here and here. This is what I’ll have to do," demonstrates that you're working together with the customer rather than imposing your own preferences.

Creating a Better Experience 

Properly managing and communicating about matting is crucial for the well-being of dogs and the satisfaction of their owners. By providing thorough explanations, maintaining transparency about pricing and involving pet owners in the decision-making process, groomers can foster trust and prevent an angry reaction. Educating pet owners on the causes and prevention of matting not only improves their pet’s comfort but also enhances the grooming experience for everyone involved. With these practices in place, you, the pet and their owner can enjoy a better grooming experience and hopefully prevent future matting issues.