Choosing the Right Groomer For Your Dog


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It goes without saying that it takes a lot of careful handling to groom your dog in the proper fashion. You need to take the right precautions around sharp and dangerous implements like electric clippers and scissors, apart from a host of other things. A dog groomer will bathe your pet in soapy water and rinse him thoroughly. You cannot just trust anybody to do that job. Here are a few tips to choose the perfect groomer:

  1. Ask around โ€“ Talk to your dogโ€™s vet, neighbor, and kennel manager. If you notice a dog on the street with a style that you particularly like, ask the owner about where he got his pet groomed. People love to talk about their pets. Some vets have a policy not to refer their clients to a breeder or groomer. Do not despair. Make your questions more specific and ask the vet as to whether he/she has treated problems from a particular groomer, like clipper abrasions or cuts. If your vet has had a lot of complaints from a particular groomer, then that is a sure-fire sign that you need to look further.
  2. Call the groomer that you are interested in โ€“ Grill your groomer thoroughly. Ask them whether they apprenticed with a professional or went to a grooming school. Ask them about their experience and inquire if they are part of a professional organization. There is a National Dog Groomers Association and a lot of the states have their own local organizations.
  3. Ask for certification โ€“ A lot of states require groomers to be certified and licensed in tick/flea applications. So make sure you get a good look at his/her certification. Better be safe than sorry.
  4. Be patient โ€“ You need to remember that groomers are usually on very tight schedules. If they do not have the time to answer your questions, ask them the appropriate time for a callback. It is hard to answer questions when they are fluff drying some dog. Develop a good rapport with your dogโ€™s potential groomer and get an overall impression. If everything goes well, it will be a good impression.
  5. Trust your instincts โ€“ All you need to do is ask around to find answers to most of the questions you have. Going to a new groomer for the first time can be quite a disconcerting experience. If you do the right research though, you can place the trust in the groomer and you will see the results for sure. Then you can pamper yourself just the way you pampered your dog.

If your dog is anxious or scared when you take him to the groomer, you need to pay another visit to the pet to figure out the underlying cause of his anxiety. Once you treat that with medication and behavioral modification, you are all set to give it another shot.

How to Find Good Dog Groomers

Let's face it, some dogs require more grooming to stay looking their best, and you may not have the time or skill to do it all. A lot of people use dog groomers to help with the more difficult aspects of grooming, such as haircutsbaths, drying, and nail clipping, but if you're going to spend the money on a groomer, you should also spend some time choosing a good groomer who's right for your dog. 

The best way to start a search is by asking around: talk to your friends, veterinarian, and shelters to get recommendations. You can also try asking owners you meet in the dog park -- if their pooch is looking stylish they should be happy to recommend their groomer. Once you have a shortlist of potential groomers, the next step is to ask some questions.

Keep in mind that groomers' schedules can be tight, so try to schedule a time to ask your questions. While you may not be able to ask about everything before your first appointment, you can learn about your groomer over a couple of visits and, if needed, shift to another who better meets the needs of you and your dog.

Grooming services come in all forms, so you can't expect to get the same service wherever you go. It's important to ask informed questions and have your expectations and needs in mind. 

Questions to ask in advance:

1. Have you worked with my breed of dog before?

Different kinds of dogs require very different grooming techniques. If your groomer has experience with your breed, they'll have a better approach to the process. When you go in for an appointment, you can also get a sense of how comfortable they seem to handle your dog โ€” it's important for the groomer and dog to build a bond to make the experience less stressful. Grooming is easier if your dog is calm and cooperative.

2. How is payment structured and what is included in the groom?

Grooming can be expensive, especially for larger dogs with thicker coats. Some grooming sessions may only include a haircut or wash and dry, but toenail clipping and careful ear cleaning are important too. Before you get started, get a quote and make sure you know what is included.

3. When and where will you groom my dog?

Grooming can happen in many different locations, depending upon the groomer. Some commercial salons, often in vet offices or pet stores, require you to bring your pet in and may have a staff of groomers (so you may not get the same groomer every time). The upside is that these often have more flexible hours to work with your schedule, and may still include experienced and qualified groomers. Other groomers are โ€œmobile,โ€ bringing a van or supplies to your home, which can mean added convenience for you and possibly less stress for your dog.

4. How long have you/the staff been grooming and did you go to grooming school?

Not all groomers are formally trained, but this is not a problem if they went through an apprenticeship with a knowledgeable groomer. Even if they didn't go to grooming school, years of experience can make a difference, and knowing their background can inform your decision.

5. Are you certified or a member of a local or national dog grooming association?

While there isn't a nationally recognized certification for groomers, some states require certification in flea and tick application or general grooming. If the groomer is a member of an association, they are more likely to be keeping up with refresher workshops and classes and have an interest in becoming a better groomer.

6. Can you do breed-standard grooming or accommodate my styling preferences?

If you have a pure breed or are interested in showing your dog, your groomer search will take a lot more work. If you have special requests for the way your dog is groomed, the groomer should be able to accommodate these. While it's important to respect their judgment when it comes to health or safety issues, it's your dog, so you should be able to decide what they look like!

7. Can I come for a short tour of your facility?

You should be able to see where your dog will be groomed before you make an appointment. When you see the grooming area, you'll get an idea of how clean and well-maintained it is, see how the groomer interacts with other pets, and maybe have a chance to talk with current customers about their experiences.

8. What information do you need about my dog?

A good groomer should ask for vaccination history, and maybe even medical history to ensure that dogs coming in won't bring diseases to infect other animals. They should also ask you about any skin conditions to use the appropriate shampoo to avoid irritation. 

Questions to ask during your first few visits:

9. How do you handle accidents or emergencies?

Grooming requires the use of some dangerous implements, so there is always a possibility for injury. Find out what your groomer's accident and emergency policies are, and bring contact information for your vet or pet hospital.

10. How often should my dog get a bath?

Not all dogs have the same bathing schedule: it depends on a number of factors such as age, breed, lifestyle, and medical conditions. You may already know when it's time to go to make an appointment, but your groomer can help you set a general schedule to avoid bathing too often or getting caught with a smelly dog. 

11. How much maintenance should I do at home, between appointments?

Your groomer can recommend the best ways to keep Fido pretty between visits, and a little bit of maintenance at home (brushing, removing mats) may also save you grooming fees. Groomers may also be able to recommend certain foods or diets particularly good for your breed's coat.

More on Grooming Dogs

Large Dog Grooming Tips
How to Trim Australian Shepherds
Haircut Styles for a Westie

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