How to Choose the Best Dog Groomer

by Nicola Parry, DVM

Have you ever dreaded looking for a new hair stylist? Well finding the right groomer for your dog can be just as harrowing! As much as you want his locks to look luscious, even more importantly you’ll want him to be safe while he’s there, and unfortunately groomer abuse is on the rise.

Often times frustrated groomers will abuse dogs causing minimal to major damage and even death. Luckilly most grooming professionals are caring and loving but even still you’ll want to do your own due diligence so your dog is treated well while she is there.

Start out by gathering a list of possible contenders. In addition to searching directories for grooming facilities in your area, ask friends for any recommendations that they may have. As soon as you have the names of some groomers that seem to fit the bill, pop in and visit their facilities. Although there are many points to consider when choosing the right groomer for you and your dog, here are some tips to help you in your search!

5 Things To Look For When Choosing A Groomer

  • Membership and Credentials

Do they belong to a professional organization such as the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America? This at least shows that they enjoy keeping up to date with grooming standards and changes within the grooming industry. Also ask if they have undertaken any certification programs – these can demonstrate a level of skill that meets a recognized national standard.

  • Experience

There are no formal training requirements for groomers, so standards can vary widely. But you can at least ensure, for example, that inexperienced staff members are not doing clippings.

  • Safety

Do they ever sedate dogs for grooming, and if so, who does this? If they use cage dryers, do they ever leave dogs unsupervised here? Is there a veterinarian on call? If not, how do they deal with urgent or emergency medical issues? If you leave your dog at the groomers all day, be sure to ask if they get a potty break. If not your dog may be suffering by the time you pick him up in the evening.

  • Their work

Grooming is definitely an art form, so make sure that their work is compatible with the style you are hoping for. Ask to see a portfolio of their work, or ask other customers about their experience with the grooming facility.

  • Level of Service

Do they have a standard grooming fee, and what does that cover?

Can they help with any breed-specific cuts that you may require?

Do they offer any perks such as natural grooming products?

  • This can be especially important if your dog has any special requirements when it comes to skin products. If he has allergic skin disease, for example, you may not wish for him to be far away from his favorite soothing products such as Comfy Dog oatmeal shampoo and Fur Butter ultra-rich conditioner. If he has irritated skin, warn them in advance of grooming, and ask if they can apply his Itchin’ For Relief spray afterwards. And since he’ll be hanging out with some new buddies while he’s there, don’t forget to apply his Flea The Scenebeforehand, otherwise you never know how many new friends he may return with! And even if they don’t already use these favorite products, many facilities are more than happy for you to send along your own supplies for use on your dog during his visit. So you can always stock up his overnight bag with your favorite items!

Choosing a groomer is never an easy task! But while styling skill is important, it’s not the only essential to look out for – look for someone with a caring manner who genuinely likes dogs. Someone who can easily relate to your dog will put him at ease and make the whole experience much more relaxing for him, and for you! Above all though, always trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right about a certain establishment, move on to the next on your list.

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  1. We have been thinking about sending our dog to get groomed for a while now, but just weren’t sure who to take them to. It makes sense that you should look at their work and make sure you are okay with their style. It would be nice to have someone that can make them look nice, while keeping it pretty mild.

  2. My wife and I recently moved our family out of state. We had a really great pet groomer for our dogs, but we have had some trouble finding one in the new area. Thanks for mentioning to ask a potential groomer for a portfolio of their work to inspect. I want to make sure our dog is groomed beautifully, and looking at a groomer’s past work is the best way to ensure that happens.

  3. I personally think experience can play a huge role in whether or not a dog groomer is right for you. Although there is no formal training requirements for groomers like the article says, I know I would feel much more comfortable seeing a groomer who has experience handling dogs similar to my own. You can find out the experience of your groomer by asking questions about the amount of time they’ve been grooming, the types of dogs they’ve handled, etc.

  4. My wife and I have recently adopted a dog. She is a beautiful poodle, and we want to find a groomer that can help us keep her clean and pretty. I didn’t realize how important it is to check if a pet grooming service is able to provide breed-specific cuts that you need. I’ll be sure to remember that consideration moving forward.

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