How to Choose the Right Dog Groomer

Is your newly adopted dog starting to look more like the Shaggy Dog? If so, it might be time to look for a dog groomer. Dog grooming often means placing your dog for several hours in the care of someone who will be using grooming tools like shears and clippers on him, so it's important to do your homework and find a groomer you can trust. Here are some tips on how to find the right groomer for your pet.

Do I Need a Professional Dog Groomer?

Apricot poodle getting his hair cut at the groomer.Whether or not you actually need professional dog grooming services depends largely on the type of dog you have, as well as on how comfortable you are handling it yourself. At a minimum, dogs need regular bathing, brushing or combing, ear cleaning and nail trimming, all of which are relatively easy to do yourself at home. If you have a long-haired breed that needs regular trimming, or if your dog has a thick coat that's prone to matting, you might still be able to groom your own dog. Keep in mind that in addition to specialized tools, such as pet clippers and detangling brushes, you'll also need plenty of time and patience, and perhaps a partner to help keep your pet still. If you find yourself short on any of these things, it's probably best to leave more advanced grooming procedures, such as haircuts and removing mats, to a professional. Otherwise, you might run the risk of accidentally hurting your dog and conditioning him to be afraid of getting groomed.

Selecting a Dog Groomer

PetMD recommends following these steps when choosing a trustworthy groomer:

  1. Ask around. The easiest way to locate a dog groomer you can trust is to ask for recommendations. You can ask your friends and family, coworkers, and acquaintances, as well as your veterinarian, dog trainer or any other pet professionals you know.
  2. Narrow your list. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against any of the groomers on your recommendations list. You can also check the National Dog Groomers Association of America to see which recommended groomers are members. There are also plenty of online review sites that allow you to read what other people think of the groomer when they took their own dog.
  3. Interview potential groomers. Once you've narrowed your list, give the remaining groomers a call. Ask about prices and services they provide, any rules or restrictions they have for taking on new clients, hours of operation and any specific questions pertaining to your dog's needs. It's also a good idea to ask whether they give dogs bathroom and play breaks, and to ask for references from existing clients. You should also ask if you can tour the facility before bringing in your dog. If they balk at this, you should probably cross them off your list. A reputable groomer should welcome a facility tour.
  4. Tour the facility. Pay attention to aspects such as how clean and well-lit the grooming areas are, whether cages offer plenty of room for dogs to move about comfortably, how friendly the staff is and how gentle they are with their four-legged clients. While you're there, check to make sure that pets left under blow-dryers are monitored regularly to prevent getting overheated, and ask about what kind of records the groomer keeps. Ideally, they'll not only keep grooming records, but also medical and vaccination records and emergency contact info.

Alternative Dog Grooming Services

Traditional dog grooming salons aren't the only available option to consider. Mobile groomers come to your home and provide one-on-one grooming for your pet. If your dog has special needs, you may need to look for a specialty groomer who can accommodate him.

Veterinarians give a husky ear drops while sitting on lab table.Most veterinarians offer routine services, such as nail trimming, dental cleaning and ear and eye checks, while some veterinary clinics have also begun to offer a full range of grooming services that include baths, brushing, mat removal, cutting and styling. Regular groomers aren't licensed to sedate your dog, so if your dog gets really anxious during a grooming a vet might be your best option. Another advantage of going through your vet's clinic is that if the groomer finds anything suspicious, such as a lump or cyst, your vet can check it out right away.

Mobile groomers are mini grooming facilities that operate out of a van or trailer. They typically contain all of the tools and equipment you'd find at a standard salon, but are designed to work on one dog at a time, right there in your driveway. A big advantage offered by mobile groomers, apart from the convenience factor, is that the groomer is able to give your dog exclusive attention in a calm setting that doesn't include spending time in a cage or having to deal with scary noises or other dogs. This can be a good option for older dogs, or dogs that hate going to the groomers but don't mind getting groomed. Vetstreet notes that mobile groomers tend to charge higher rates than traditional grooming salons.

Specialty groomers typically deal with dogs that have special needs, such as physically disabled dogs, or senior dogs who have temperature sensitivity, joint problems or mobility issues that make it hard to stand or sit up for long periods of time. These groomers have specialized tables and equipment designed to make your pet more comfortable. Some groomers also specialize in puppy grooming, offering special mini-grooming sessions designed more to socialize your puppy and get him used to the idea of being groomed.

Even when you're well-informed, taking your dog to the groomer for the first time can be a bit nerve-wracking. But by considering your dog's needs and temperament and doing your homework to find a groomer with a great reputation, you'll be better able to relax and feel good about your choice. The more you take your dog to the groomers you'll also learn more about instructions to give your groomer. For instance, if you don't want it cut too short or you want to leave the tail fluffy. And when your pup is primped and preened you'll have a clean looking dog.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.

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