Finding quality dog groomers can be a difficult feat if you’re acting alone. The good news is that you don’t have to. There are plenty of resources available that make such a search the least of your worries. You can facilitate your search of course if you approach the task the same way you would search for something else: (1) Know what you want beforehand and (2) be confident enough to state what you want once you find a likely prospect. As with everything else, you might have to try a few before you find one that you like and that your dog feels comfortable with. Here’s how to manage the process in its entirety.
The first thing you need to consider is cost. The cost won’t be the end-all determinant, but it will play a huge role in your decision. You may find a wide variety of dog groomers across skills, facilities, equipment, and locations, but you should never pay more than you can afford. If you find that the most basic service at one dog groomer is too expensive, move on to another.
So start with your vet for quality leads. Your vet may offer grooming as part of its care service and since you’re already familiar with its fees, it could be something that you can comfortably afford. If not, you may find yourself inquiring kennels, pet superstores, or a couple of neighbors a few blocks nearby. A mobile groomer can drive to your home and groom your dog inside an extensive salon-on-wheels.
Should you see a well-groomed dog, ask its owner about the dog’s grooming services, location, and fees. The internet and the pet grooming section of your local yellow pages and newspaper are also resources, however, you’ll probably entrust a word-of-mouth referral more than an ad. Should you consult the services of an un-referred or unknown groomer, be sure to check its status with the Better Business Bureau. You don’t want to patronize a groomer accused of violating health policies or animal abuse.
Once you’ve secured a few leads that you’re comfortable with, visit the facilities of each one. Make an appointment just to sit and talk about the services and maybe take a tour of the place. During your visits, you want to see cleanliness and friendliness not just toward its clients, but also toward the animals that are groomed.
You’ll also want to see a portfolio of past work. Experience should count for a lot when it comes to your selection, so ask a potential groomer for photos of the dogs she or he has groomed in the past. If you see training certificates, degrees, evidence of memberships, or awards, that’s even better. Groomers that display these things are proud of their work, hold their reputations and jobs in high regard, and work hard to keep them.
Your interaction with the groomer should be relaxing and answer all your questions. After your meeting, you should know the groomer’s fee schedule, and experience/willingness to work with your dog’s breed.
Other things you should keep an eye out for during your visits are safety procedures. If you don’t notice them on your own, then ask about them. There should be, for example, a vet on staff for emergencies (and hopefully rarely used), aggressive dogs should not freely roam about the facility, and cages should be closed and secured.
Following the procedures above should narrow your list of prospective dog groomers to about 2 or 3. The ultimate decision rests on how well a groomer works with your dog. And the only way to find out how that will do is to make an appointment for the dog. If the groomer responds to your concerns over the job and makes an effort to correct problems, that’s a groomer that you want to keep. If the groomer is forthright and informs you about incurred injuries, and then explains what she did to cure it, that’s a groomer that you want to keep (unless injuries become part of the grooming process). It isn’t easy to groom a dog, and accidents happen – even in the best facilities. So instead of looking for commonly made mistakes, observe your dog’s reaction to the groomer.
A negative reaction is a definite sign that the dog did not have a good experience with the groomer and that a different groomer is more appropriate.