Grooming your dog at home can save you a lot of money. It's also a great bonding experience for the two of you. However, not all dogs can be groomed at home and not all owners have the time, patience or skill to do so. Knowing how to find the right dog groomer isn't as easy as it sounds. You need to make sure your pet will be safe and the groomer will get the job done right.
Most people are comfortable grooming their short haired breeds. Brushing and bathing usually don't give dog owners much anxiety. But other grooming needs like nail trimming, ear cleaning and expressing anal glands make most pet parents a bit nervous. If you're not comfortable performing these dog grooming tasks, it's best to leave things to the professionals.
Understanding how to find the right dog groomer is as much about you as it is about your Fido. You need to find a groomer that you can trust. Someone who has your dog's best interests at heart, and also someone that will get the job done correctly while keeping your dog safe and making him as comfortable as possible.
How to Find the Right Dog Groomer
Ask for recommendations
First thing is first. You know your friends and family well. If they are responsible dog parents, which I certainly hope they are, they may be able to recommend the dog groomer that they use. Your veterinarian may have a good suggestion as well. Other people to ask could include folks at the boarding kennel you use, staff at your local animal shelter or the dog trainer that you work with.
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If you are new to the area or don't know many other dog owners in your neighborhood, you can search online for groomers in your area. When learning how to find the right dog groomer, you must be sure to read reviews left by other pet parents and NEVER drop your dog off at a groomer without visiting the establishment first.
Once you get some recommendations or find the names of groomers in your area, you need to make sure they are certified through the National Dog Groomers Association of America. This association works with groomers to encourage professionalism and further education throughout their career.
If a groomer isn't certified it's not an immediate deal breaker, but you'll need to be more thorough in your screening. Likewise, just because a groomer is certified doesn't mean you don't need to check their facility out yourself.
Visit the facility
After you've gotten some recommendations you'll be able to narrow the selections down or at least prioritize the options you have. Check online reviews to make sure the groomer is reputable. If you can't narrow down the choices put them in order based on their location.
Which facility would be easiest for you to access? Maybe there is one on your route to work or there is a groomer right around the corner from your home. Once you've got your list prioritized it's time to make some visits. Understanding how to find the right dog groomer really begins with a visit to the shop.
It may sound sneaky, but it's best to show up unannounced in order to get the true feeling of the atmosphere in the grooming salon.
You won't be bothering any of the grooming work that is going on just by stopping by to look at the facility. There may even be a receptionist that can help you and answer your questions about the business and the care of the animals before you even need to speak with one of the groomers.
- Does it look and smell clean?
- Do staff members appear knowledgeable? Do they seem to care about the animals?
- Are staff members gentle with the animals?
- Are kennels the appropriate size – can the dog stand up, turn around and lie down?
- Are dogs and cats kept in separate areas?
- Are there drying cages or do they use blow driers?
- Do they keep complete records including medical records and your emergency contact information?
Talk with the groomer
When learning how to find the right dog groomer, it's very important to sit down with a groomer and have a brief conversation before they care for your dog. This conversation should happen before your first appointment. If the groomer isn't willing to do this, they aren't the groomer for you!
The first thing to do is tell them about your dog. Does he have any health conditions? Anything at all could be helpful to the groomer. For example, our boxer has a heart condition, which is controlled by medication, but it's important for our groomer to know in case of emergencies.
If your pet has any health issues that will impact the way he is groomed, ask what the groomer can do to help with the conditions. If you're worried about your dog's dry skin, skin allergies or dull coat make that clear. A reputable groomer should be able to discuss options with you, like special shampoos or skin treatments, that could help with your dog's condition.
Depending on your pet and his needs, there will be certain questions that only pertain to your situation, but you should feel comfortable enough to ask any questions that you want. If something doesn't seem right, don't worry. There are a lot of other dog groomers out there, so there is no need to pick the first one you come across.
Some questions that every dog owner should ask perspective groomers include:
- Do you hold any certifications or licenses and what is your experience level?
- Do you have experience grooming ________ (insert your dog's breed here)?
- Will my dog be in a kennel at all? If so, can I see the kennel area?
- Will my dog get regular bathroom breaks?
- What will you do if my dog has anxiety about grooming or feels scared?
- Is someone always watching the animals? If not, how often will someone be checking on my dog?
- How long do you keep the animals for grooming?
- What does the grooming package include?
- Are there other treatments that my dog should have on a regular basis and how often?
- If applicable, ask if the groomer provides discounts to families with multiple dogs.
As I said, there is no need to go to the first dog groomer you find or the one that is closest to your home. Even if you live in a rural area and have to travel to find a suitable groomer, it will be worth it. There is no price that you can put on being able to leave your dog with a well-trained professional that you know you can trust.