How to find the right person to keep your pups looking and feeling their best
By Gayl Board
Editor’s note: We received a lot of questions after Gayl’s last article with many people wondering how to choose a dog groomer (and some hoping she’d visit them a long way from NYC where she’s based). As a response, Gayl has written a second article! We hope you enjoy it.
You got a dog! That’s wonderful! Now what?
Obviously you want to do everything you can to keep your new furry friend in the best shape possible. Of course you’ll take them to the vet to keep them healthy, but other than that, you need to find a groomer to keep your pup looking and feeling their best. But, with so many options out there, where do you start?
As a groomer with years of experience, here are some helpful tips for finding the best grooming shop for your dog:
1) Ask your vet
Most vets, if they are established in an area, know many groomers. They get to see great work when dogs come in looking beautiful and healthy and they also get to see sloppy work as well as injuries such as clipper burns and nicks and cuts. Your vet can give you a couple of places to check out. Their staff is also a great wealth of information about local groomers.
2) Ask everyone!
When you are out and about, check out other dogs. If you see one that looks particularly adorable, ask the owner who they use as a groomer. Dog owners love to spread the word about who to see and who to avoid. Try to find people who have the same breed as your dog, since some places do better grooming of certain breeds than others.
3) Breed Clubs
Do you think your Schnauzer is the cutest one ever born? Does your Maltese put all others to shame? If you feel this way, then you should probably join an online breed club, and you should definitely ask other members where to go for a great grooming. You will get tons of wonderful information from those in the know.
When you are exploring shops close to you, stop in to take a look. Is it clean? Does it have an odor? Do the groomers seem to really care about their charges? Talk to them. Find out what they charge, how long it takes, if they often groom your breed, if they use cage dryers etc. Spend a few minutes watching. Most places have open areas and you can see what they do. And you can also see that it’s not an easy job.
5) Ask Clients
Try to be around when someone is picking up their dog. Talk to them when they leave. Are they happy here? Do they come often? Are the people working here competent? You can also see the demeanor of the dog as they leave. Do they seem sullen and dehydrated or are they happy to see their owner, ears perked, tail wagging?
6) Try a bath
Once you think you’ve found a place, ask if you can bring your dog in for just a bath. If your dog comes back looking clean and happy, it’s a great start. If there is more than one person working in the shop, ask who did your dog and make the next appointment with that person. This is a relationship you want to cultivate. As your groomer gets to know your dog, they will know if something is wrong, like if your pup has an ear infection or needs his teeth cleaned. In addition, they know what lumps and bumps are normal for your pet and what’s new and needs to be checked out.
7) Don’t worry!
Once you get your dog home, if they seem happy and you’re happy, it’s a home run. If you see that they shake every time you bring them in, it’s ok! It’s normal. Remember, they know that you are leaving them. They are smelling other strange dogs who could be barking or whining. They also know they are getting a bath, which is not something every dog likes. If they are still shaking after you bring them home, this is a problem. It’s not the place for you.
8) Keep trying
You are happy with the place you found, you like the groomer and your dog seems happy but…the grooming isn’t exactly what you wanted. Maybe their hair is too short, or the ears aren’t cut the length you wanted – but don’t worry. We groomers aren’t mind-readers. We want you to be happy, so tell the groomer the truth. It may take some trial and error, but have faith your groomer can get your dog looking just the way you want. As they get to know you and your dog, you’ll both soon be coming home happy every time!
Good luck on your quest!