Choosing a Reputable Dog Groomer
Gather as much information as you can about the groomer and the shop before you decide whether to entrust them with your dog.
“Make sure the person has some experience. Ask what kind of program they went through,” says an Austin dog groomer we spoke to. “For example, I went through a 600-hour, hands-on program. So from day one, I was working with dogs of all kinds of breeds.”
She also recommends doing some research about what products the groomer uses. “If they’ll buy the cheapest shampoos and conditioners and charge extra for nail trims if every little thing is an add-on, chances are they’re only in it for the money,” she explains. “In our shop, we only use products we would use on our own dogs – they’re all-natural and low chemical; a lot are sulfate-free.”
How the groomer dries dogs is extremely important, she says. “I wouldn’t use a place that uses kennel dryers. Basically, they put your dog in a box with a fan attached. Dogs have died in those.”
She adds, “With a hand dryer, the groomer can get out all the dead skin and hair. The groomer can look at the skin; I’ve found cancerous lumps and infected bite marks.”
This is a valuable service a groomer can provide, she explains, because “you can’t always see what’s under your dog’s hair. The groomer has the tools and the ability to look at your dog’s skin and coat, so if there’s anything wrong, he can let you know.”
What to Look for at the Dog Grooming Shop
Before you schedule an appointment for your dog, visit the grooming shop you’re considering. It’s important to get a feel for the setup, meet the groomers, and watch them interact with clients.
“When you first go into a grooming shop, you want to make sure it doesn’t reek like urine and feces,” she says. “Be realistic; there’s going to be dog hair, and there might be some accidents, but check to make sure things are getting cleaned up efficiently.”
She also warns, “Make sure the place doesn’t smell like chemicals or cigarettes.”
It’s important to observe how the groomers interact with both dogs and humans in the shop.
“See if the groomer comes out, gets on their level, and is friendly with the dog,” she advises. “Especially if you have an older dog or a higher stress dog, find a place that will work with them.”
For example, she says, “At a lot of shops, anywhere from four to ten dogs will come in at 8 a.m. and have to wait until the groomer gets to them. At our shop, we have it set up just like a human hair salon. Your dog can be in and out in an hour and a half. We don’t have dogs waiting in kennels.”
She also recommends asking to see work samples and possibly requesting a tour.
“If the groomer has a dog, check out that dog and see how it looks. Often, they’ll have books of photos of different work they’ve done.”
She adds that during particularly busy times, groomers might not be able to conduct tours of the facility, “but see if they act suspicious about it.”
Always make sure that the groomer checks your dog’s shot records for rabies, distemper, and bordetella, she says.
With a little time and research, you can make sure that your dog will have a positive experience at the groomer. Bad grooming can result in trauma and even severe injury to your dog, so finding a good groomer is well worth the effort. As she says, “You want to make sure they’re treating your dog like you would treat your dog.”
Knowing What to Avoid with Dog Groomers
There are many things to look for and ask about when it comes to calling or visiting dog groomers. Dog groomers can come in a variety of shapes and sizes so know what to question or possibly look out for. For instance, some dog groomers may use tranquilizers to calm the dogs prior to grooming. There are also dog groomers who use cage dryers to dry the animal’s hair as opposed to drying them with a blow dryer. It is up to the pet owner to ask the questions and make sure to be fully aware of how the dog is being treated and handled behind the scenes.
It is also important to take a tour of the grooming facility. Make sure the facility is clean and the staff helpful. See what kind of equipment is being used and how it works. It is ultimately the pet owner’s responsibility to see that these things are carried out.
Private Dog Grooming Salons
Private dog grooming salons are one way to get the dog groomed but at a higher price. Private salons often get business by word of mouth and other referrals. Looking for one in the neighborhood may be a sensible solution if the dog does not prefer long trips. Getting to know the owners and groomers helps when it comes to making appointments and knowing the dog’s needs.
Dog Grooming Facilities at Pet Supply Stores
Dog grooming at pet stores is yet another option at a lower cost. Pet stores that sell pet products typically have grooming salons right in the store. It is best to be watchful and mindful of the activity and process of these types of salons which bring in a lot of dogs and whose groomers may or may not be fully trained or knowledgeable.
There is always the option of having a groomer come to the home or choosing a mobile dog grooming service for dogs that are older or skittish. Look into all dog grooming options before rushing to any decisions about the groomer. Find out what may work best for the dog according to needs, personality, and price. Ask a lot of questions to ensure the highest safety and health of the animal.