Your dog’s groomer is more than someone that washes and dries your dog’s fur; he’s an additional support person in your dog’s life. He helps keep your pooch clean and happy, and he can let you know if there are problems with his feet, ears, teeth, and skin in between vet visits. Visiting the groomer should be a pleasant experience, and your dog should be excited for his time to get trimmed, clipped, shaped, and pampered.
So what if you aren’t happy with your current groomer or you just moved to a new area? How do you find a dog groomer that fits your needs?
Here are some helpful tips for finding the perfect groomer to meet your dog’s needs:
1. Get a Feel for the Facility
One of the best first steps when deciding on a pet groomer is to visit the facility in person. A reputable dog groomer will let you visit most areas of the salon so that you get a good feel for the atmosphere. It should look and smell clean, and there should be good lighting everywhere. Both the kennels and the workstations need to be sanitary, and the groomers need to appear calm and patient with their pet clients.
Perhaps most importantly, the dogs need to look happy themselves. Of course, there may be some nervous Nellies regardless of superior service, but for the most part, the dogs should be comfortable, calm, and quiet.
2. Ask a Lot of Questions
As the patron, it is your right to ask a lot of questions to determine if the groomer is a good fit for your dog. You don’t need to aggressively interrogate, but you should politely ask some key questions, including:
What kind of training do you have?
Not all dog groomers have official training – many groomers get their training as an apprentice to a master groomer – but it’s something to consider. If nothing else, their commitment to obtaining ongoing certifications shows that they are dedicated to their craft. Certifications to look for include:
- Training focused on specific breeds
- AKC S.A.F.E Grooming
- International Professional Groomers, Inc.
- National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc.
- International Society of Canine Cosmetologists
Can I watch?
All local dog groomers worth their salt should have no problem with you watching the process. How the groomer handles other dogs can give you a lot of insight into how he’ll handle yours.
Where will my dog be when grooming is finished?
If they use special kennels that dry the dog’s fur, the kennels need to be nearby so that the groomers can check to make sure the dogs aren’t overheating. Separate, individual, clean kennels or a supervised activity area should be available for your dog before or after his turn.
What products do you use?
Make sure that the kennel uses products that are safe for animals and contain little or no harsh chemicals.
What do the services cost?
The groomer won’t be able to give you an estimate until he sees your dog because a lot of things influence the final cost. Coat, temperament, size, and additional services (cleaning ears, brushing teeth, clipping nails, mat removal, etc.) may add extra cost.
How long have you been open?
This isn’t a dealbreaker question because plenty of new businesses offer exceptional service, but this will allow you to consider depth of experience as one factor in making your decision.
Do you have a business license?
A business license shows you that they are a legitimate business that is willing to go through the legal hoops to ensure that everything is safe and up-to-code.
3. Make Sure They Ask the Right Questions
A knowledgeable groomer should have questions of their own after you finish with your list. They should ask you questions about your dog and his temperament. Additionally, they should ask about your dog’s:
- Health history
- Sensitivities or allergies
- Treat preferences
All of this information can help them provide better service and keep your dog safe in the event of an emergency or accident.
4. Ask About Additional Services
Many dog groomers offer additional services that can benefit everyone in your family. In addition to dog baths, some groomers offer pet lodging, puppy daycare, dog obedience training, and dog sitter services. Going to a groomer that provides extra services is helpful because they’ll already know your dog if you need training or daycare at a later date.
5. Take Emergency Policies Into Account
Heaven forbid there be an emergency, but it’s always good to know that there are policies in place before you choose a groomer. Ask about first aid training and their plan in the event of a weather emergency or fire. You should also ask if they carry liability insurance if something happens to your dog on their watch.
There’s no one right way to find a groomer, and you shouldn’t necessarily choose the first one you contact. Visit a few different candidates before choosing one to ensure that you find the best fit. You can get good recommendations by:
– Asking friends and family
– Asking your vet
– Asking for recommendations online and on social media
– Checking AKC GroomerFinder or the National Dog Groomers Association of America websites
Perhaps the best way to tell if a groomer is great is to watch dogs as they come and go from the facility. They should look clean and happy (and not just because they’re leaving). The grooming experience should be relaxing and rejuvenating – like a day at the SPAW.