If your dog has a long coat or special grooming needs, you don’t have the time to bath him, or you just want to do something special for him, choosing a dog groomer could be just the ticket. As with selecting any professional to care for your dog, you’ll need to do a little research and leg work to find the right person.
Ask your veterinarian, other people that provide services for your dog, friends, and family for recommendations. You can also contact the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) for a referral. Keep in mind that groomers are not regulated by any government agency, so check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to see if there are any outstanding complaints against a particular groomer.
Questions to ask
Once you have a few referrals, talk to each dog groomer without setting up an appointment. Different groomers offer different services or may specialize in clipping certain breeds. You want to choose a groomer that’s right for both you and your dog. Important questions to ask include:
About their dog grooming experience:
- How long have they been grooming dogs?
- What level of training do they have? Are they certified by the NDGAA or another organization?
- Do they specialize in a particular breed or size of dog? Are there any restrictions on the types of dog’s they work with?
About the level of service offer:
- What’s the standard grooming fee for your dog’s breed and what’s included at that price?
- Do they clean your dog’s ears and pluck hair from the ear canal if it’s necessary for your dog’s breed?
- Do they check your dog’s anal glands and express them if needed?
- Do they offer different styles of cut for a particular breed?
- Do they offer special dog grooming “perks” such as natural soap products, painted toe nails, or bows? Do these cost extra?
- Do they use a handheld dryer or a cage dryer? If a cage, is someone always present or, if not, how often do you check on the dogs?
- Do they sedate dogs for grooming? If so, who does it and what type of training do they have?
- Where will your dog be kept when he’s not being groomed? Will he be taken to the bathroom? Is that area outside and fenced in?
- What happens if there’s an emergency or your dog is injured? Is there a veterinarian on call or someone with first-aid training?
- Do they keep complete records including medical, vaccination, and grooming histories?
You should also get an estimate of how long an appointment lasts and whether you need to pick your dog up right away.
Visit the grooming facilities
When you’ve found one or two dog groomers you’re happy with, you should visit them to check out the grooming facilities and the people.
The building, or vehicle for mobile dog groomers, should be well-lit and smell clean. Cages or crates should be large enough to keep the dogs comfortable and offer access to clean drinking water. If they groom other animals like cats, they should be kept separate. Equipment such as grooming tables, scissors, combs, and clippers should be cleaned and disinfected between dogs.
The dog groomers
The people should like dogs, relate to them well, and handle them gently. The groomers and staff should be knowledgeable and pay attention to your requests.
Above all else, follow your intuition when choosing a dog groomer. If your conversation or visit doesn’t go well or something doesn’t feel right, look elsewhere. You wouldn’t entrust the care of your child to just anyone; you should have the same consideration for your dog.
Learn how to prepare and what to expect for your first trip to the dog groomer.