Finding The Right Groomer
Remember when we reviewed pet apps? Well, put them to good use while finding a groomer!
Otherwise, you can usually trust Yelp in helping locate a suitable, safe groomer for all of your clipping and buzzing needs. Asking friends, family or trusted veterinarian about their experiences is a great way to find out about a grooming facility.
Many people assume that all dog groomers are made equal, when in fact, licensing from the National Dog Grooming Association of America (NDGAA) is voluntary. Be sure to look for certification at the front desk of any groomers, to make be sure of the business’ credentials. This guarantees that each groomer has experience with not only grooming, but maintenance and animal safety as well. Note: Even skilled and experienced groomers occasionally cut below the fur, but someone without the training can do much, much worse.
When you walk into the shop, do you feel calm? Do the dogs around—for the most part—look relaxed, as well? Yeah, you might have some high-energy Chihuahua or Corgi going crazy nearby (that’s the nature of the business) but are the cages clean? Is there quiet, soothing music being played? Are people sweeping and cleaning regularly?
You want to find a groomer that treats your dog gently and with respect, so go with your gut instinct: if you have an uneasy feeling (or your dog acts completely uncharacteristically), think about taking Fido to another place. Don’t feel bad about checking a few places out: you want your dog to have a great first experience!
Word to the wise: if you walk into the 'grooming facility' and it's a kitchen, have another think about it.
In case you’re uncertain of your dog’s future reaction, ask grooming staff about their methods of dealing with ‘difficult’ clients. You want to hear a groomer explain that they will take a break if a dog is having a difficult time, distracting the dog with rewards or treats, or even flat-out stopping everything if the dog is having an unbelievably difficult time.
Do not patronize a groomer if they mention anything about threat or force, and run the other way if they offer tranquilizers as an option. The former is a horrible, terrible method to treat any animal; the latter should only be performed only when necessary and under the advice of a veterinarian.
You’re a client who loves their animal very much, so asking about an animal’s age and grooming history is a start, but groomers should also ask if there are specific parts of the animal that should be avoided or if there are any medical problems (arthritis, heart issues, etc.). Because most groomers act as temporary kennels, they should also ask how your dog responds to others. Be honest!
Before leaving your groomer’s, ask about policies regarding accidents, and how they would be resolved. Your groomer should always be straightforward and should ask for your contact information in the event anything occurs while you’re away.
If you have any other questions, PetEducation has a fantastic list to choose from.
Staff and training:
- What breeds do they own?
- Are their pets' hair coats kept neat and clean?
- Did the groomer go to school to learn grooming or did they learn it 'on the job?'
- How long have they been grooming dogs?
- What breeds are they proficient at grooming?
- Do they provide different styles of cuts for different breeds?
- Will they give a 'show cut' versus a 'puppy cut?'
Hours, fees, and payment:
- What are the hours?
- How are dogs admitted and how do you know when to pick them up?
- How long does it take to get an appointment?
- What is the range of fees for your breed of dog?
- What does that fee include?
- What methods of payment are accepted?
- When is payment due?
- Are credit cards accepted?
- What type of shampoos and conditioners are used?
- If your veterinarian recommends a certain shampoo do you need to supply it?
- Is a hand-held or cage drier used?
- Is the ear hair plucked from those breeds with hair in the ear canals?
- Do they accept dogs that need to be sedated for grooming?
- Who sedates and monitors your dog?
- Will the groomer trim nails between regular grooming appointments?
- Is the area kept clean, neat, and orderly?
- Are there unpleasant odors?
- Where are the dogs kept?
- How are clippers, scissors, etc., cleaned between use?
Signs of Stress
If you feel that your dog may be suffering from acute stress, please consult this website to see if the symptoms match. You are the person who loves and knows your pooch the best and are therefore the best candidate to take the necessary steps to solve the issue.
You understandably take your dog’s health and safety seriously, so don’t take Mr. Bojangles or Bella to just anyone. A knowledgeable and calm groomer is what you deserve, so don’t settle for any less!