Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

Archive for August, 2006

Dealing with Doggie Anxiety

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Kathleen Valenzi, one of our customers, has a dog named Karma who suffers from anxiety during thunderstorms.  She asked us: Do you know why some dogs are affected by storms this way, and are there things one can do (besides getting tranquilizers from your vet) to put them at ease?



The best I can determine based on experience and research is that fear of thunder storms can be either a learned behavior or genetic. Some dogs are particularly shy and timid, even fearful, at birth. When you have a litter of pups, the one that is timid will require more careful treatment than the rolly polly one that runs out to greet you. It is the timid one that is genetically predisposed to anxiety at such things as loud noises—like thunder.

Dogs pick up on human emotion very easily—they can sense when we are anxious, afraid, or nervous. Assuming you have a normal puppy to begin with, you want to be very calm during rainy or stormy weather. If you jump and run for shelter during a storm, don’t be surprised if your dog mimics that behavior. My wife was in a tornado as a child which flattened the neighbor’s house. Now, when she is in a storm, she’s off to the bedroom to put a pillow over her head. Whether by following your lead or through a more direct experience like Loretta’s, dogs can develop similar learned behaviors.

If your dogs act anxious during a storm and you pet and praise them in order to calm them down, you may actually make it worse. When you want a dog to repeat behavior such as sitting upon command, you give verbal praise and a treat. If you do the same when they are behaving inappropriately then you encourage that behavior.

The best cure is to prevent the problem in the first place by ignoring the weather and engaging in play. Dogs’ sense of smell and hearing alert them to weather changes before we are aware. If your dog has a fear of storms despite proper training, the only alternative may be watching the weather prediction closely and with the advice and consultation of your veterinarian, give them tranquilizers to help calm them down.


Karma’s owner adds that her vet “said that these days the protocol is to prescribe the human anxiety medicine, alprazalam (known as Xanax), to dogs with thunderstorm anxieties. He said that drug has been found to be more effective than the traditional sedatives in that it treats the anxiety itself. Otherwise, with traditional sedatives, you’re likely to have a sedated pet who is still cowering in fear. Not cheap: 5 pills (purchased to try it out and see whether it works) cost $10.36 at CVS.”

The Golden Retriever

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Country of origin:
Group: Sporting
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Color: Varying shades of gold

When it comes to a large dog that is an all around great pet for singles, couples, or a family with children it’s hard to beat the Golden Retriever. After researching many breeds and talking with Dad, my daughter Rebecca decided that a Golden was the choice for her and her husband. I suggested she do 3 things; first find a reputable breeder, second, observe the parents or at least the dam on location and third, be willing to spend money—at least $500.

Through an online search, Rebecca found the Golden Retriever Club of America which helped her contact a reputable breeder in Winchester, VA.  This breeder has a national reputation for quality dogs and interviewed Rebecca to see if she was fit to adopt one of the puppies. In the interview, Rebecca described herself and husband: where they lived, how they would exercise, play with, and share their lives with this dog. Upon approval, the breeder selected a puppy from the litter that best suited their situation.

Rebecca wanted a dog to run and play Frisbee with who would also be calm at home since they lived in a town house community with lots of other families and dogs. She also planned on having children so the temperament had to be just right. Ellie cost her $900 and is one of the nicest Goldens I have ever met. She is now four years old and for the past year has shared the limelight with my grandson Logan. Rebecca did it the right way and got a wonderful dog that will hopefully give her 10-12 years of pure love and companionship.

But just like the Cocker Spaniel, Goldens have suffered for their decades of popularity.  Preying on demand, careless “back yard” breeders have ruined many of the breed lines.  We’ve seen Goldens that are exceptionally hyper, hard to train and either too big or small and skinny—very different from the breed standard.  But if you do your homework, your chances of getting the perfect pet are greatly improved.

In terms of grooming the Golden—that big dog does have a big coat! They need to be thoroughly brushed at least weekly with special attention given behind the ears, to the tail, and to the chest area between the front legs. Trimming the feathers can make grooming easier and still retain the “Golden Look.”

We have three basic clips for the Golden. The first and longest of these is the Breed Groom.

Breed Groom

The standard Breed Groom for the Golden is primarily a good brushout. The feathers on the tail, chest, and legs are lightly trimmed to remove dead ends, the pads are rounded and the groin area is clipped short (maintains cleanliness when dogs relieve themselves). The hair around the ear opening is clipped as well to make ear cleaning an easier process. Keep in mind that every groom includes a nail clipping. This groom requires the most maintenance at home–heavy brushing followed with a comb at least weekly. Professional grooming to maintain this coat needs to happen at least every six weeks.

    Summer Cut

The Summer Cut. This is the “in-between” cut, not too short but not too long either! After thoroughly brushing out your dog, we trim all the feathering on the legs, chest, rear and tail to about half of the original length–less hair means less maintenance and yet your Golden still looks like a Golden instead of like a yellow Lab.

Utility Cut

The Utility Cut is the easiest cut to take care of at home. It is not so short as to show skin but it’s short enough to need minimum brushing. This cut can help your pet stay cool in summer but so can the Summer Cut! The real benefit to the Utility cut over the Summer Cut is that it requires much less maintenance to prevent matting.  Read more about the differences between these haircuts in our Brushout, Short Cut or Something in Between article.

“Dog Whisperer” and Grooming

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

I have recently been watching a great show called “Dog Whisperer” starring Cesar Millan. I was really amazed at how well-versed in animal behavior he is since he has no formal education—his philosophy comes instead from first-hand, on-the-job training. Initially he worked in a veterinarian’s clinic, then later as a dog groomer’s assistant. After my own 31 years of dog boarding and grooming, I can really endorse much of his teaching. Whereas he works with dogs that already have problems, I prefer that the dog-owner relationship be established before problems arise.


Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #2, August


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The American Cocker Spaniel

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Country of origin: England
Group: Sporting
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Height: 13-15 inches
Weight: 24-28 lbs

AKC Rank 2006: 16

Most of us are familiar with the cocker spaniel from the Disney movie, “Lady and the Tramp.”  Because of this movie, the cocker spaniel’s popularity skyrocketed.  Everyone wanted a dog like “Lady” (many of our cockers were even given that same name).  Unfortunately, this high demand led to indiscriminate “backyard” breeding that took a typically happy dog breed and created genetic lines of snappy dogs that tend to squat and pee at any new situation or distraction. Ask any veterinarian, groomer, or boarder and we all agree that improper over-breeding has made the task of finding a good cocker very difficult. Along with a possible sour disposition, they often have chronic ear problems and skin disease. That doesn’t mean you should discount the breed as a possible pet, but it does mean that you need to be vigilant in your search for a reputable breeder who will give you several references as well as allow you to examine the parents of your potential puppy.

I had a cocker spaniel named Sugar and she was a wonderful family pet for our four children. Sugar was exceptionally friendly, never snapped, was easy to groom, and well house-trained. I can’t find anything negative about her or some of the many that come in for grooming. If you do your homework and are willing to spend some money ($500-1000) you can get the perfect family pet from a litter of cockers. Think that’s too much to spend on a dog? With an average lifespan of 12 years you’re only spending 17 cents a day for a $750 dog. Spend a lot less and you run the risk of getting the worst. Is it worth it when you then end up being unhappy for a potential 12 years instead of spending that 17 cents a day for a dog that thoroughly enriches your life?

Outside of breeding, grooming is a very important area to consider when choosing a dog. The amount of time, effort, and money you’re willing to spend on your dog should reflect in your breed selection so that both you and your dog can be comfortable and happy. The coat of the cocker spaniel is long and silky with lots of feathering on the chest and legs. This coat requires light brushing at least twice a week and serious brushing followed with a comb every two weeks. If you’re not willing to spend the time, stay away from the breed because they matt very easily. Professional grooming should take place every 4 weeks for show coat dogs and every 6 weeks for coats kept shorter.

We offer four basic haircuts for our Cocker customers.

Breed Groom

The first clip is what we call our Breed Groom–what the breed standard calls for. Here we cut the muzzle and head very short–to about 1/8 of an inch. We also clip 1/3 of the top half of the ear leather. The back is taken down to between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch at about shoulder height and blended into the skirt. The chest is lightly trimmed to remove dead ends and the pads are rounded. The groin area is closely clipped (maintains cleanliness when they relieve themselves). Remember, this style requires a lot of grooming at home as well as professional visits about every four weeks.

Summer Cut

The Summer Cut. Here we maintain the Cocker pattern and style but shorten the feathers, chest, and legs to about half of the original length. This reduces the brushing required at home and can delay your need for professional visits to between 6 and 8 weeks.

Benji Cut

The Benji Cut. For a Cocker that has plenty of chest, this is a nice cut. We continue the short clip down the back and also clip out between the legs and do the chest and stomach. We leave the legs long and scissor them round into cylinders blending in at the shoulders. If you are having trouble keeping the chest from matting, this may be the clip for you. You still need to brush the ears and legs well at least weekly and professional visits should be 8 weeks apart.

Utility Cut

Utility Cut. With this groom, we turn your Cocker into a Beagle with long ears. Basically a maintenance-free cut except for the ears which can be maintained with occasional brushing. Don’t forget to come back to us every 8-12 weeks to maintain the short length of the coat!

Pet Owner and Neighbor Responsibilities

Monday, August 14th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #1, July 

We’re going to take a moment here to discuss our feelings on a recent incident you may have already heard about in “The Hook” or other nearby newspapers. For those of you who don’t know, a cat strayed into a man’s yard and not knowing whose cat it was (or whether it might be feral) the man shot the cat.

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Health Care in the Heat

Monday, August 14th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

 On top of the heat advisory, watch that humidity too.  High humidity and moderate temperatures can stress a dog as much as a midday sun.  Obese dogs, flat-faced dogs and the combination of both run an even higher risk of heat stress and/or heat stroke.  Pay attention to the weather and what your dog can handle.  Right now, it’s best to exercise your dog in the cooler air of dawn and dusk only. 

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #13, July

Dogs need water but keeping your dog hydrated is not a complete solution—neither is a short haircut.  Left to their own accord, dogs will seek out shade and dig holes in the earth to avoid midday heat.  Most wild animals do.  Hunting usually takes place at night and very little activity goes on during the day.  Even the birds in my backyard disappear and are most active at dusk and dawn.

My Golden, Lizzie, pants to stay cool even when she’s in the shade.  To beat the heat, we only exercise in the morning—5:45am!  It is dangerous to do otherwise.

For more information about haircut styles and keeping cool read our Brushout, Short cut or Something in Between article.

To read our past story about health care in the heat, continue reading below.

Archived from “The Paw Report:”  Issue #1, July

My Great Dane Molly was almost 8 years old last summer (for a member of a giant breed, she was getting up there in years). At least five days a week, the first thing we did in the morning was go on a three mile walk. Finished walking, she would accompany me to work (or to Lowe’s or on any other trip I needed to make). She was my “bud” and I think my wife Loretta was jealous! At any rate, when I would head for the door she was following right behind, happy to go anywhere with me.

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