Many dog owners rely on a professional grooming service or a trained groomer to keep them looking and feeling in tip-top shape. Just as humans struggle to find someone to cut or style their hair or perform other grooming services, with which they are compatible, offering affordable services, and satisfying results, finding a suitable and compatible groomer for your pet can be equally challenging. All pet grooming service providers are naturally different from one another, and you may not be able to fully evaluate the compatibility, fit, and quality of service until you and your pet have visited them a few times.
Still, there are some general pieces of guidance that can be used to help you narrow in on the better dog grooming service choices near you, to help cull from the list of possibilities and hone in on a few top choices. This will allow you to find a groomer or some groomer candidates who you can try when your pet needs grooming. As most experts recommend regular grooming sessions approximately once per month or once every six weeks or so, you’ll have ample opportunities to test out different groomers with your doggie and find one that checks off all of the criteria on your checklist. Our guide will help you in this process.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Dog Grooming Service
There are several different aspects of dog grooming that can define what is and isn’t a “good” or “best” grooming service. These will vary based on the individual and their pet. Whereas one person may find Groomer A to be the ideal choice, that may, in fact, be the worst choice for you and your pet, depending on their temperament, grooming needs, and the other considerations that we’ll highlight below.
Regardless of personal preferences or individual variability, it goes almost without saying that any grooming shop or service should be licensed and certified (if required in your jurisdiction), clean rather than dirty, and with personnel who are, at a minimum, displaying good attitudes and demeanor towards their jobs and the pets they service.
In addition to positive attitudes and a cheerful familiarity with the trials and tribulations of dealing with different dogs, any good dog groomer will be able to clearly demonstrate their skills in the area of patience. This includes taking the time to talk to you about your dog’s temperament, grooming needs, history, and so on. Patience is doubly important if you are visiting a dog grooming service where you leave your pet for a period of time, and come back later (e.g. you are not supervising or standing alongside your pet during the grooming). Patience will ensure that, even if your dog acts up or something goes wrong, the groomer will be able to handle things and won’t turn it into a nightmare. The last thing you or your pet need is the stress and anxiety of someone who clearly isn’t cut out to be working with pets in that high-pressure situation. That’s why patience is a key attribute to consider when evaluating dog groomers.
Communication and Transparency
Another important trait that goes hand in hand with patience is a strong ability to communicate well. This ties in with transparency as well. As the pet owner, you should be able to clearly communicate information about your pet, their grooming, and any styling or special considerations, and feel confident that they’ve genuinely heard you. They should be able to ask intelligent questions, get clarifications, and tell you what you expect, how long it might take, and what it will cost. They should also be able to answer any questions you may have about equipment or methods they use, especially if there are any particular issues, health concerns, or peculiarities in your dog’s personality that might come into play during the grooming. This applies both at grooming shops as well as in any kind of mobile grooming services.
Let Them Know What to Expect
At the same time that you need open communication from your dog groomer, it’s incumbent on you to fully and openly communicate with them. Every dog is unique – some are extremely calm, others are extremely nervous. Some have no problem with someone cutting their nails or combing their coats. Others are extremely aggressive, especially around strangers. All of these kinds of behaviors and any other special needs should be fully communicated to your groomer before the first appointment. They may not want to proceed if they feel they are going to be in a situation where they might otherwise end up worried, distressed, or afraid of being bit, or unintentionally harming your pet.
Provide References or Details for Desired Haircuts and Styling
Even the best groomers can’t read your mind. If you have a particular haircut or styling in mind for your pooch, be sure to bring some images on your phone or hard copy, so that the groomer can use them as a reference. Otherwise, leaving it up to the groomer to choose the best haircut can often be advisable, if you are not particular about how your pet looks or want to achieve a certain style. In cases where your pet is a purebred, and you want to meet a certain show-standard look, you may need to find a specialized groomer who has experience with show dogs or specifically with your breed. For most pet owners however, this is not a consideration.
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How to Prepare for Your First Dog Grooming Service Visit
Before you visit any groomer or grooming service for the first time, there are a few things you should do to fully prepare your pet (and yourself) for the experience. Many of these steps are either expected or well-appreciated by most groomers, and will set things off on the right foot. Likewise, some are just common courtesy that should be extended to any service provider, such as arriving a little before your appointment – especially if you have a lot of questions or concerns, bringing vaccination records or information with you, and so on.
To Stay or Go
Typically, most owners who are leaving their dog with a groomer for the first time may want to either stay for awhile, or the entire appointment. Always talk to the groomer and see what they prefer – you don’t want to get in the way or be a problematic customer. In fact, many experts recommend that you stay a short period of time on the first visit, but then at least get out of sight. Seeing you nearby, but being unable to move or run towards you, can increase stress on your dog and make the grooming process more difficult for the groomer and your pet. If you are leaving and not waiting in a waiting room or other area in the building, then be sure the groomer has your phone number and contact information in case there is an issue, or to alert you when they are done and your dog is ready for pickup.
Do Your Homework
Another good tip before heading to see a groomer is to have a sense of what kinds of services they offer, and what you are looking to have done. Many groomers have websites in this day and age, listing the services and prices associated with those services. Since what each groomer or service offers may vary, it’s useful to do a little research, and have a short list of what you want done during the appointment. It also doesn’t hurt to go a bit “light” on services on the first appointment, just so your dog and the groomer can get a sense of one another, without turning into a marathon grooming session. The most common services that groomers offer include:
- Nail trimming, clipping, and/or filing
- Ear cleaning
- Haircuts/hair trimming
- Hair brushing
Additional services that some higher-end dog groomers, dog or pet spas, and other service providers may offer can include:
- De-shedding and de-matting
- Gland expression
- Teeth brushing
- Medicated baths or skin treatments
- Mud baths
Visiting a Grooming Service Shop vs. Using a Mobile Grooming Service
Most mobile grooming services offer the same range as services as a traditional grooming business, and may offer some of the additional services as well. They can typically come to your home, and may work out of their truck in your driveway or the road, which can cut down on some of the stress on your pet generated by being in a new place, or a place with multiple strangers and strange dogs. Some mobile groomers come inside your home and work in your bathroom or other space you designate, which can take that familiarity and comfort factor for your pet to another level. Just be sure you research and check on what a mobile groomer vs. grooming shop or service offer in your area, and what they expect or prefer in terms of treating your dog. Some mobile groomers (and even grooming shops) may have breed or size restrictions based on their equipment or comfort level, so it’s worth taking note of that as well.