From the stubby-legged corgis to the faithful golden retriever, dogs are part of the family. Our furry companions, just like us, require personal care. While we can handle the basics – like brushing and bathing – we need professional groomers to take care of those trickier tasks.
From clipping nails to flea dips, hair cuts and ear cleanings, a professional groomer has the tools and skills to handle those more difficult grooming tasks.
But how do you find a good grooming place? We’re going to share our top tips for finding the best grooming places for dogs.
Ask Friends and Family – And Everyone Else
Ask your friends and family for groomer recommendations. If you don’t know any pet families that live nearby, try asking your vet or kennel manager for some suggestions.
Most vets will be able to provide recommendations. In some cases, veterinarian techs can take care of things like clipping nails and cleaning ears.
Some vets are not allowed to give referrals to groomers or breeders, but don’t let that deter you from using this valuable resource. Instead, ask your vet whether he or she has ever treated any problems caused by the groomer or heard any complaints about the groomer.
Scout Out Grooming Places
Visit local grooming places to get a feel for the facility and the people who work there. Pay attention to the freshly-groomed pets, who are a testament to the quality of the groomer’s work.
When you’re not being distracted by adorable puppies, take the time to evaluate the facility.
- Does it smell clean (or as clean as a grooming facility can smell)?
- Is the staff gentle when handling the dogs?
- Is the staff caring and knowledgeable?
- Are the cages big enough for animals to move around comfortably?
- Are the animals separated properly?
- Does the facility keep pet records?
Pay attention to your gut when evaluating groomers. If something feels off about the facility, listen to your instincts and move on to another facility.
Talk to the Groomer Directly
If you find a groomer you’re interested in, take the time to talk to him or her directly and ask plenty of questions.
When speaking to groomers, ask about:
- Their education. Did they attend grooming school, or work under a professional groomer?
- How long have they been grooming dogs? Do they have experience grooming your dog’s breed?
- Professional organizations. Are they members of any professional grooming organizations?
- Certification or licensing. Some states require dog groomers to be certified and licensed for certain services, like flea or tick treatment applications.
Again, listen to your gut here. If you don’t like the groomer or the way he or she handles dogs, then move on to the next professional.
Ask About Products and Continuing Education
Find out what types of products the grooming facility uses. Do they use high quality conditioners and shampoos? Do they use specialized natural products?
If your pet has a special skin condition or allergy, it’s important to inquire about whether they can accommodate your dog’s needs.
Ideally, you want to use a grooming facility that uses natural products, which are less likely to irritate your dog’s skin.
Also, find out whether the groomers have continuing education requirements. Some facilities require their groomers to keep up on the newest trends and products as well as handling procedures.
Talk to the groomer directly about this as well. The grooming facility may not require continuing education, but that doesn’t mean groomers may not take it upon themselves to keep up on trends and advancements.
A groomer who regularly attends trade shows and attends seminars is dedicated to their craft and is far more likely to give your pet a good experience.
Ask About Emergency Plans
Does the groomer have an emergency plan in case dogs get hurt? Find out who takes the dogs to the vet in emergencies, and ask about which veterinarian office they are associated with.
If the groomer has no emergency plan, move on to the next facility. We don’t like to think about the worst-case scenario, but there’s a chance your dog could get hurt while being worked on by the groomer. You want a groomer who knows exactly what to do in case of emergency, and jumps right into action.
Ask for References and Check Online Reviews
Online reviews are a great resource for anyone looking for local groomers, but don’t rely on reviews alone. Ask potential groomers for references, and take the time to contact them.
While online reviews are great, they tend to be posted by angry or picky pet owners who only have complaints. To get the full picture, talk to the groomer’s references and weigh the comments left in reviews.
Ask About Kennel Dryers
Many grooming facilities still use kennel dryers. While this is more of a personal preference, many experts have warned that the heat and noise from the dryer can cause stress and may even be fatal in older dogs.
If you’re okay with the facility using kennel dryers, make sure there is someone there watching the dogs while the dryer is in use. Do they use timers to make sure the dryers aren’t left on too long?
Talk About Handling Procedures
When speaking to potential groomers, ask about their handling of older, fragile, scared or special needs dogs. What does the groomer do if the dog attempts to bite?
Pay attention to the way the groomer answers. Are you being told what you want to hear, or does the groomer really care about what’s best for the animals?
Also, find out if you can watch or stay with your dog during the grooming. Be wary of groomers who don’t let owners sit in with their dogs. Find out why sit-ins are not allowed. If the groomer doesn’t have a valid reason, move on to the next person or facility.
Groomers who don’t allow owners to watch may be trying to hide bad handling methods, which can lead to injury or undue stress on your dog.