Last week I wrote about our home dog grooming routine, which I aim to do at least once a week, and the benefits of having a good grooming routine, for you and your dog. Should a professional dog groomer be part of your routine? I believe that finding a good dog groomer is as important as us finding a great hairdresser!
Whether you are showing your dog, you don’t feel confident enough to cut your dog’s nails, your dog’s coat has a specific way of being cut, or style you’d prefer, or, even, that your dog just loves to be pampered and enjoys the whole experience.
Whatever the reason, you will want to ensure that you choose a trustworthy, experienced and understanding dog groomer.
1. First Steps To Finding a Dog Groomer
- Look on the internet ~ type in ‘finding a dog groomer’ into Google and it will bring up dog grooming businesses in your area. If there is a website and Facebook page, have a look at them. Check out any reviews on their website or Facebook page. Their website and Facebook page will give you a good ‘feel’/insight to the company and people who work there.
- Ask your vet ~ Your vet may be able to recommend at reputable dog groomer in the area and, in some instances, they may have a groomer who works out of the clinic.
- Word of mouth ~ the one thing that dog owners are, is very chatty, especially if you meet someone who has a dog the same breed as yours. If the dog looks well-groomed, ask which dog groomer they have used. Ask friends, and family, for recommendations of the groomer they use. You could also ask your breeder, if you have a puppy, but often the breeder does not live local to you.
- Dog grooming associations ~ have a look at dog grooming associations websites. Very often they will have a ‘Find A Groomer’ search function. Whilst groomers do not have to be a member of an association, ones that are members, have signed up to a ‘Code of Conduct’ and follow the associations standards. There are the following associations in the UK, the “International Professional Groomers Inc”, the “British Isles Grooming Association” and the “British Dog Groomer Association”.
2. Things To Consider When Choosing A Dog Groomer
- Does your dog have any special requirements? The grooming visit should be positive experience for your dog, so the groomer should be able to meet any physical or behavioural needs when your dog is left with them.
- Would your dog be happier to be groomed at home or in a salon You know your dog best, is he/she nervous? Or maybe they don’t like being handled? Doesn’t like loud noises? Being groomed at home may help calm a nervous dog.
- How often would you like your dog to be groomed? We have our dogs washed and tidied up every 6 weeks or so. However, Barney gets a full handstrip twice a year, it might even be 3 times this year! Some people like to have their dog spruced up every week or only once a year, your groomer should advise you when your dog needs grooming for their coat/breed.
- What would you like the dog groomer to do? Groomers usually have different packages, which will include different aspects of grooming.
3. Visit the Dog Grooming Salon
Once you’ve found a groomer and before making an appointment, you should visit the salon. A good groomer will be happy to take the time to chat with you and show you their premises.
You will be looking for a clean and safe environment for your dog. A place where you feel comfortable leaving your dog. Take your dog along with you, this will be a good socialisation experience for your dog to meet the groomer, who should interact with your dog (positively), ask you questions and what your expectations are for your dog’s grooming session.
Does the equipment look clean, is it safely stored? Is premises safe for dogs, clean with good lighting?
Would you be happy to leave your dog in the care of the groomer and at these premises?
Does your dog, and the other dogs in the salon, seem happy being around the groomer?
4. Questions To Ask Your Potential Dog Groomer
Your potential dog groomer should be happy to answer any questions you may have. Here are some questions you may like to ask, if they don’t come up whilst in conversation at your visit;
- What qualifications do they hold? I was amazed to learn that the dog grooming industry is unregulated. Anyone can set themselves up as a dog groomer, without qualifications (in the UK), so it is up to the owner to ensure they are completely happy with the groomer they choose. The qualifications you should be looking for, in the UK, are City and Guilds, either preferably Level 3 (Level 2 is for dog grooming assistants and anyone wanting to start working in the industry).
- Do they have experience of grooming your breed of dog?
- Do they have any before and after photos to show you?
- Do they have a price list, detailing what is included in the services offered?
- Do they keep records of your dog?
- Will your dog be left alone at any time?
- Will trainees be working on your dog? Are they supervised at all times?
- Will the same person always groom your dog?
- How many staff to they have per animal? Our groomer works on an appointment-only basis, this ensures that each dog is given the correct amount of time and that the job is done properly and not rushed.
- How many dogs are in the salon at any one time?
- Do they have insurance, to cover your pet in case of an emergency?
- What happens in an emergency? What vet do they use?
- Ask to check their references and see a copy of their police check or CRB certificate (to check that they do not have a criminal background).
- Do they have a wait list? Our groomer is always booked up and I book my next appointment ahead, as she is always busy.
- Can they show you how to groom your dog correctly at home, using the right tools and technique?
5. Things You Can Do To Keep Your Dog Groomer Happy
The relationship with your dog groomer is an important one, you are leaving your much-loved dog in their care. Here are some suggestions for ensuring you keep your groomer happy;
- Always be on time, they are running a business, not a dog crèche!
- Make sure your dog has done his/her business before their appointment.
- Keep up to date with your preventative treatments. It’s not a good idea to take your dog to the groomer if it has fleas!
- Advise your groomer of any dietary requirements your dog may have, and take any treats you would prefer them to use.
- Advise your groomer if your dog has had any issues recently i.e. smelly ears or they had an upset tummy a couple of days before.
- Don’t take a bitch to the groomer when she is in season.
- Ask them to show you how to groom your dog at home. Grooming at home will ensure you are able to carry on their good work between visits and build your relationship and trust with your dog.
6. Trust Your Intuition
After all of the above, I believe the most important decision maker is the ‘feel’ you get about your potential dog groomer.
I experienced one dog grooming salon from the inside, before we had Barney and Sandy. I thought I might like to be a dog groomer and so did a one day taster course. I left the course, feeling unhappy about the premises, the way I was taught and how the equipment etc was stored. Something just didn’t feel right to me.
So, when we got Barney, I looked around for another groomer in our area. The one we found, after quite a few people mentioned her business, has been amazing.
She knows and has experience with border terriers. She has given me advise on what grooming to do, at home, and I love how she manages to get the ‘border terrier’ face just right. After a quick tidy-up, or a full hand-strip, Barney always looks and smells fantastic! Barney loves going there and has no problem with me leaving him, as we had several taster sessions and socialisation when he was a puppy.
Having had rescue dogs herself, our groomer is really understanding with Sandy. She has gone out of her way to help calm Sandy and get her used to being groomed. She books us in when there are no other dogs booked in, she lets me stay whilst she is grooming Sandy, in order to help keep her calm. Sandy is getting so much better at being groomed and this is largely due to our groomer’s kindness, patience and understanding.
So trust your intuition when making this decision. After all, your dog is an important member of the family, you want him/her to look fabulous but you also want them to have an enjoyable, calm, safe and happy experience.
How did you find your dog groomer? Do you have any other tips to share? Leave us a comment and let us know.