How to Choose the Right Groomer for Your Dog
Part of being a responsible pet parent is ensuring your pooch feels their best. The quality of your dog’s grooming routine plays a significant role in your pup’s health and should be at the top of your doggy checklist. After all, imagine how you would feel if you never took a bath, combed your hair, brushed your teeth, or trimmed your nails? You probably wouldn’t feel too great (or look too good either).
But, different dog breeds require varying degrees of maintenance, and depending on your schedule and skills, you might need to enlist the help of a pro. But choosing a dog groomer isn’t just a matter of running a quick Google search.
Where Should You Look for Potential Groomers?
You have several options when it comes to finding the right groomer for your dog. A good starting point is an online search looking for groomers in your local area, but it’s also a good idea to get recommendations from your vet or trusted friends and family members. You can also check out resources like AKC Marketplace for Groomers or the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America, Inc. for more possibilities.
What Should You Look for in a Dog Groomer?
Once you’ve found a few potential groomers, you should look a little deeper into each one before making a final decision. The main things you want to consider are experience, skill level, how the groomer treats the dogs, cleanliness of the grooming facility, and if the groomer is insured. You’ll also want to ensure more personal aspects, such as if the groomer offers the services you require and if the prices work within your budget.
Questions to Ask a Potential Dog Groomer
The best way to determine the various points mentioned above is to ask the groomer a few essential questions. Ask each groomer the same list of questions so you can equally assess them to make the best choice for you and your pup. Here are some questions that should definitely make your shortlist:
Can I see where you groom the dogs? Check out how things look, feel, and smell. It should be clean, organized, well-ventilated, have quality equipment and products, and you should feel comfortable with dropping your dog off there. You can also check out where your dog would stay while they wait. If your dog won't be distracted by your presence, you could also ask if you can watch the first grooming session. If the groomer denies you access or you feel uncomfortable when you’re in the salon, this is a red flag.
Do you have liability insurance? Even under the care of the best groomer, accidents can happen. If your pup gets hurt while at the groomer, the salon’s liability insurance should cover the costs of any expenses you incur to care for your dog.
How long have you been a groomer? What is your training? It’s always a decent indicator of skill level if a groomer has been in business for a while. But even the best of the best had to start somewhere. So even if a groomer doesn’t have a lot of experience, if they check off all the other boxes, have good reviews, and you like their work, they could still be a winner. But, inquiring as to their training is non-negotiable. You obviously want to go with a groomer that knows what they’re doing.
Are you and your staff in any sort of ongoing certification program? Participating in programs that hold groomers to a high standard, like the AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Program, indicates that the groomer takes what they do seriously and continually improves and develops their skills.
Are you and your staff trained in any basic first aid for dogs? What do you do in case of an emergency? The salon should have a first-aid kit accessible and ideally at least one staff member present at all times that knows proper first aid. If an emergency occurs, ask the groomer what their protocol is, both with medical emergencies and in cases of severe weather.
Are you familiar with grooming standards for my particular breed? Depending on what type of dog you have, this may or may not be a big deal for you. However, certain breeds require unique and frequent grooming, like Poodles and Komondors. Plus, if you plan to show your dog, you’ll undoubtedly want a groomer that is familiar with your breed and breed standards.
What services do you offer, and what do you charge? Most groomers provide standard services, like baths, nail trims, etc. However, professionals will also offer teeth-cleaning and ear-cleaning options and other special services. Ensure the groomer provides what you need, ask for a complete list of charges, packages, and any hidden fees.
Check Out Reviews and Other Doggy Clients
If a groomer answers all of these questions to your satisfaction, your next step is to scope out some references. Check out reviews online, and you can also visit the salon and see how other doggy clients look after their pampering. If you like what you see, then you may have found your groomer. However, no matter what, never underestimate your gut reaction. If everything looks and sounds great, but you don’t get a good feeling, move on to the next groomer on your list.
What About Mobile Dog Grooming?
If you need some help with grooming your pup, but it’s hard for you to get to a groomer, then some groomers will come to you. Mobile grooming vans will set up outside of your house and give your pup a complete pampering. Other groomers may not have a mobile salon but will come to your home and use your own set-up to groom your pooch in-home.
Your dog might prefer this if they get anxious around other animals or traveling in the car, etc. However, for these more private and convenient services, you will pay a higher cost. Therefore, decide if the added expense is worth it to you.
Tips for Grooming Your Dog at Home
If you'd rather groom your pup at home, you can gather some high-quality products, including shampoo, a brush and comb, trimmers, a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste, and some easy-to-use nail clippers. These are pretty much the basics to ensure you can give your canine companion regular, proper care. If your pup doesn’t let you brush their teeth every day, then you can get an additive that you can put in their water dish to help keep up with dental health in between grooming sessions.
If your pup gets nervous and antsy during nail trims, let them use a lick mat or spread some peanut butter on the table or wall. Your pooch will concentrate on licking up the yummy goddess (plus licking calms your dog), and they won’t be as focused on what you are doing. Also, don’t tether your dog to try and keep them still while grooming; save the leash for a fun walk together.
If you just want to keep up with bothersome shedding, then you might be able to get away with a de-shedding glove or brush. You can use this at home daily (depending on how often your pup sheds), then still take your dog to the groomer for baths, trims, and so forth.
Your vet may also offer basic services like nail trims and sanitary shaves for added fees. No matter how you decide to set up your dog’s grooming plan, make sure both you and your furry friend are comfortable with the arrangement.
For more helpful tips on how to take the best care of your pets, check out the rest of our blog. There’s always something new to check out that can help you be a great pet parent.
- Fernando Becattini