You’re probably wondering what to look for in a dog groomer if you’re ready to hand over the grooming of your beloved pooch to a stranger.
In this post I’ll share what to look for in a dog groomer whether you’re looking to find your first groomer or a new groomer.
Finding a top dog groomer is sort of a big deal because:
- Dog grooming accidents, such as cuts, allergic reactions, bites, or burns do happen
- Your pooch can sense the dog groomer’s confidence thereby making the experience relaxing or stressful
- You don’t want to pick up your pooch only to see the wrong cut or technique was used
Note that there are a particularly high number of unskilled groomers during times of low unemployment, so keep reading.
Identify the Actual Dog Groomer
First, find out who will be grooming your dog. Most salons have multiple groomers. This makes it impossible to know the skills and qualifications of the groomer that will actually be handling your dog.
Inquire how many groomers there are at the salon, and if the groomers have regular schedules and clients. This will allow you to find a dog groomer both you and your dog adore, and then use them regularly.
Your dog will undoubtedly be more comfortable being groomed by a groomer he knows and trusts.
If the dog grooming salon can’t guarantee the same dog groomer on each visit, you’re putting your trust in the salon owner. Then the question boils down to whether you trust the salon owner to only hire the best dog groomers, which is not always an easy feat.
What Motivates the Dog Groomer?
One of the things we like to see with all dog services, whether it’s dog training, dog boarding, or dog grooming, is a sense that the person providing the service loves what they do. The best dog groomers absolutely love dogs, and truly care about their furry clients looking their best.
This passion will be evident in your conversation with the dog groomer or salon owner when checking out their services.
Fortunately, there are many excellent mobile dog groomers now providing a good option if you cannot find a consistent groomer at a salon near you.
One of the most important things to look for in a dog groomer is experience to state the obvious but often overlooked truth.
The reality is that the longer you’ve been doing something, the better you get at it.
Seek a dog groomer with lots of experience, ideally with dogs of your own dog’s size and breed.
Visit the Dog Grooming Salon
Be sure to make a surprise visit to the potential dog groomer’s facility.
There are many revealing clues to look for when you visit the grooming salon.
- Is the salon is a safe and clean environment for your dog?
- Is grooming facility welcoming?
- Are there treats for furry customers when they enter the salon?
- Do dogs get treats after tolerating those unpleasant but necessary grooming procedures?
- Does the salon feed the dogs healthy treats or junky treats?
- Are the dogs and employees happy or fatigued and stressed?
- Is the owner of the dog grooming business present?
- Is the staff professional with you and other customers?
If you happen to run into a customer, try to strike up a conversation and ask if they are satisfied with the service.
Trust Your Dog
Do your best to take your dog with you to visit the groomer so you can check his reaction.
In the first few minutes, it will be evident whether your dog feels comfortable in the environment or not.
I know for Blanco, one treat and he’s all in, regardless of what he must tolerate. On the other hand, there was absolutely no way we could get my previous labrador, Tex, into a wildly popular dog bakery in Austin, Texas. There was something about the bakery that Tex sensed and didn’t like.
On the other hand, Tex walked right up to the veterinary clinic (which many dogs dread), opened the door with his paw and confidently walked right in; no kidding:)
Rely on your dog’s comfort level with any salon or groomer you’re considering.
While you’re at the salon, also check out the grooming area.
Notice if the equipment is dated and grungy or current and sparkling clean.
If dryers are being used, find out if someone always supervising the drying area to ensure the dogs don’t get overheated.
Look for a dog groomer that works in a room with viewing windows so you can watch your dog being groomed vs an enclosed room. Viewable grooming areas also help ensure groomers are doing a good job, since their work is always visible.
If your dog is fearful, you can stick around and watch your dog being groomed to help your dog stay calm. This can be especially helpful if your dog is not accustomed to being groomed or you’re using a new salon.
One more thing to look out for is that the grooming area is spacious and well ventilated. You don’t want to see a small heated grooming area packed with stressed out dogs in their kennels waiting for their owners.
Dog salons attached to pet stores located in expensive shopping centers can often end up with a small grooming area.
Dog Grooming Certifications and School
One more thing you’ll want to look for in a dog groomer is proper training and certifications. The two may go hand in hand.
Since the dog grooming industry is unregulated, be sure to ask about credentials. In the United States, a popular dog grooming certification is from the National Dog Groomers Association, the NDGAA.
If you live outside the United States like many of our readers, find out the grooming certifications for your own country.
There are many dog grooming schools, including the AKC Safety in the Salon course.
Also, find out if the groomers stay current with industry trends and new products and methods from trade shows or organization memberships.
Find out if the groomer requires that all dogs be vaccinated, and which vaccinations are needed.
Dog Grooming Products
Inquire about the grooming products being used. See if organic or fragrance free products are an option if this is important to you.
I personally prefer organic grooming products as they tend to be healthier and less allergenic, as you can see from our Dog Products I Like page.
Dog Grooming Insurance
Dog groomers are exposed to being bitten and dogs are sometimes injured during grooming. For this reason, you’ll want to find out if a dog groomer or grooming salon has insurance.
Cost of Dog Grooming
Ask for the price and the specific services that will be included for the service you’re considering. After finding a dog groomer you like, you may be able to get a membership or discount on regular grooming.
On advantage of a salon over a mobile dog groomer is the salon is probably less expensive than a mobile dog groomer.
Convenience of Grooming Sessions
Inquire about the process of booking appointments and wait time before you can get your dog groomed.
Also, where will your dog wait before and after her grooming session–a dog kennel or another area?
How many dogs are typically waiting for their owners?
Also, find out how long grooming sessions usually take.
Cat Grooming Services
Inquire whether the salon grooms cats also.
This can be an immediate and complete deterrent if you have a dog with a cat obsession or fear.
Dog Behavior Problems
If you have a highly anxious or aggressive dog, ask the groomer if they’ll be able to handle your pooch.
Some groomers are able to work with dogs with behavior problems, but, understandably, others won’t.
Breed Specific Grooming
If your dog has special grooming requirements, find out if your needs are a specialty area for the groomer. Poodle French cuts, especially long hair, or hair growth over eyes all require special grooming skills.
Check Out the Groomer’s Online Presence
Thank goodness for the internet. Now almost all dog groomers have a website, if not social media or YouTube channels.
A picture paints a thousand words. Look at the photos the dog groomer has online.
Importantly, read the Google reviews, starting with the bad reviews. Keep in mind that, sadly, sometimes competitors have someone write bad reviews.
We always read the business’s response to bad reviews. In doing so, we often see the businesses have no record of the “customer”.
You can also tell a lot about how the dog groomer responds to negative reviews.
It’s also important to remember that people can definitely be overly critical, often simply due to a difference in opinion about how things should be done.
Not to brag, but we’ve gotten pretty good at this after assessing thousands of dog groomers, dog trainers, and boarding services.
What to Look for in a Dog Groomer Summary
Your dog can only look and feel his best if he feels calm and cared for at the salon.
Take a minute to think about what you need to look for in a dog groomer and go about finding it without compromise. The end result will be that your dog enjoys the grooming experience, and that you’re getting the services you need within your budget and schedule.
This popular YouTube channel can help you know what to look for in a dog groomer if you want to see a groomer in action.