How to Choose the Best Dog Groomer. 1

How to Choose the Best Dog Groomer.

I often receive new enquiries from owners who are terrified of trying a new groomer or going to one for the first time. This could stem from having a bad experience, or learning about it from others.

Not every dog groomer will suit every dog or owner.

I’m here to set the record straight and help prevent you from having a bad grooming experience by explaining what to look for in a groomer and some considerations to keep in mind.

When choosing the “wrong” groomer for you and your pup, the end result can be that your expectations haven’t been met. This can happen when your pup receives the wrong haircut, isn’t handled correctly, or the customer service isn’t quite what you thought it would be. 

None of this needs to happen if you know how to find the right groomer.

One way that you may have previously searched for a groomer is by scouring Facebook but rather than jumping on social media and reading about the bad experiences others have had, find some reliable information on the groomer before you conclude that grooming your dog by yourself is the only way.

You can do this by:
1. Checking their website information.
2. Reading online & website reviews.
3. Follow them on social media and see what they post about, maybe even engage with them.

Then, if you like what you see and your ethos line up, contact them directly and have a conversation.

What you need to know:

  • Location
  • Accessible Facilities
  • Service Inclusions
  • Products
  • Training Methods
  • Knowledge
  • Availability
  • Cost

Wow! What an exhaustive list! Actually, it’s not. These are very basic things that you might need to look for in a groomer but it’s certainly not exhaustive.

LOCATION

The first thing I would recommend including in your search is location. Unfortunately, that amazing groomer you follow on Instagram might be interstate or even in another country! Begin by narrowing your search down to areas that you want to or can visit, and then expand your search a little further if you can’t find what you’re looking for. You might need to travel further for what you want, but if it’s just not physically possible, it’s best not to include those areas in your search to avoid disappointment.

ACCESSIBLE FACILITIES

This might sound really silly, but, if you have a REALLY large Giant Breed Dog, you and the groomer will need to know if they have the facilities to physically handle your dog.

Things like:

  • A ramp or stairs
  • A large enough bath or grooming table
  • Appropriate muzzles or restraints
  • Bedding, crates, housing
  • Do they have grass?
  • Do they offer treats? Is my dog allergic to their treats?
  • How many groomers are on hand?

There are so many considerations to think about when it comes to the actual facilities a groomer has access to.

Write a list of what you think your dog needs or even better, explain a little bit about your dog to the groomer. Most dogs don’t need any special requirements but if you feel they might then talk about it.

SERVICE INCLUSIONS

You send in a dirty dog and pick up a clean dog but don’t underestimate how much effort is required in grooming your dog. Therefore, I’d encourage you to find out what’s included in the service and what isn’t.

Remember, if you’re enquiring with a professional, expect them to advise what your dog may need based on your concerns and what your dog is presenting with. Education and information is constantly evolving so the service you used to get, might not be what’s required anymore.

Ask about what you think your dog needs and allow the groomer to explain how they can help you.

PRODUCTS

Technically, this should go along with service inclusions but I feel it’s important enough to have its own paragraph. Your dog’s skin is thinner than yours and therefore more delicate. So you would assume that anything labelled “for dogs” takes that into consideration. Unfortunately, dog cosmetic products are not regulated.This industry doesn’t even require mandatory labelling. A good dog groomer will not use any products that aren’t adequately labelled as any products used on the skin will affect the skin in some way. If the effect on the skin is negative, it’s important to know what ingredients were used to help establish the best course of action.

You don’t need to understand ingredients or particular brands but you should explain to the groomer anything you or previous groomers have noticed in the past. This will help the groomer to determine the right products for your dog. If you’ve never noticed anything, a knowledgeable groomer will identify the correct products to use based on the individual in front of them.

TRAINING METHODS

Your groomer’s job is NOT to train your dog. However, your job IS to train your dog. That being said, you have to remember that every person who communicates with your dog is inadvertently involved in their training. Therefore, while your groomer probably won’t be attempting to train your dog to sit and stay, every interaction that’s necessary for grooming will be “taught” to them. Your dog needs to learn to sit still, allow paw holding and 100 other things. If your groomer uses methods you don’t agree with or methods you don’t use, this can then become confusing for your dog.

The other side of this is what your dog might NEED. Do you have an aggressive dog? Is your dog really, really nervous? You need to communicate that with a potential groomer and see how they can or can’t help. Not every groomer is able to, or wants to work with aggressive dogs, and that’s okay – groomers shouldn’t have to go to work and be bitten.

KNOWLEDGE

Did you know there are over 200 breeds of dog that are recognised by the ANKC? And that does not include the vast array of commonly mixed breeds. While many breeds often follow similar haircut patterns, it’s quite common for a groomer to have never groomed or met a particular dog breed. This doesn’t make a groomer unknowledgeable. Groomers have many breed manuals that they can use to correctly groom a breed they’ve never groomed before, similarly to how a mechanic can follow a particular vehicle’s service manual if they aren’t familiar with that type of car.

Qualifications aren’t everything. What I mean by knowledgeable, is someone who has a wide range of skills. Choose a groomer with a foundation of qualifications coupled with experience and understanding about your dog’s breed and its coat.

If your dog is particularly difficult to handle, you might want to find out if a groomer has a background in dog training. If your dog has a lot of medical issues, you might want a dog groomer who has a background in Veterinary Services and so on. Whether their list of merits is long or short, you need to make sure that they are in line with what you want and need.

Now that you’ve found the best groomer for you and your dog, there are two other important factors to consider.

AVAILABILITY

It is very common for a groomer to be booked out months in advance. It’s even more common for groomers to only consider accepting clients who follow a particular appointment frequency. This is due to the level of care each dog needs to receive rather than locking you in for consistent work. Having regular appointments with your chosen groomer is also the best way to secure your dog’s future grooming and ensure that they are kept in good condition and health.

If you are not able to do this, you may need to find 2-3 suitable groomers and see if you are able to bounce between them. I generally don’t recommend this method because dogs are habitual learners meaning it can be hard for some individuals to cope with the constant changes, but if this is the only method that will work for you, just ensure the groomers are on the same page.

If you work odd hours or struggle to find the time to do anything, be sure to check their trading hours and see whether you’re able to make an appointment at a suitable time for you.

Lastly, how does drop off and pick up work? Some groomers have a window for drop off and a window for pick up and others follow specific drop off and pick up times. If you work 7 days it might be more suitable to find a groomer that allows for early drop off and late or after work pick ups.

PRICING

All specialist services are priced differently. Like most industries, you generally get what you pay for, so be sure to follow your new criteria and determine whether the groomer has the right experience, knowledge, facilities and understanding to accommodate your pup. This will give you a better understanding about what you’re getting for your dollar.
When comparing groomers, remember they are individuals too and at the end of the day, you’re investing in the individual service provider too.

WHAT NOW?

Not every dog groomer will suit every dog. And that’s okay. Now that you have an understanding of what considerations you may like or need, you can begin to make informed choices. There are so many suitable groomers out there just waiting for you to find them.

Are you looking for a wellness retreat where your dog can enjoy being groomed and pampered in a relaxing space? Then sign up to our wait list for your chance to experience this and more, right here in Wyndham Vale.