Did you know anyone can rent a space and call themselves a groomer?  It’s important to do your homework in finding your dog’s groomer because, in most states, there are no certifications or licensing or apprenticeship requirements to work as a groomer or open a grooming shop.

After summer and around the holidays is a popular time for a visit to the groomer.  You will be leaving your precious pup in the hands of another — selection of your dog’s groomer should be done with at least as much care as choice of a barber or hair stylist.  You must be pleased with the results, and your dog must be treated with care in safe clean environment.

Traditionally, grooming is a skill that is passed on from senior groomers to apprentice groomers.  Most established groomers have learned, over time, from others, from Master Groomers, and through observation and continuing education.  An excellent way to find a professional groomer is through local and regional grooming organizations such as The National Dog Groomers Association, ISCC and IPG. They provide a list of members in your area.

Many veterinarians have incorporated grooming into their clinics, so you may start looking there.  Also, if your dog is accidentally nicked or injured, they will have the fastest access to medical care.  If your veterinarian is not associated with a groomer, he or she may have a list of recommended groomers.  Other sources of recommendations include friends who have dogs, breed rescues, boarding kennels, pet supply stores, shelters, and purebred breeders.

After getting some recommendations, stop by and check out the facility or call to make an appointment to talk with the head groomer or the groomer who specializes in your breed.  Keep in mind, you may not get the best impression by making a phone call to a grooming shop due to a groomer’s busy schedule.  The phone call may come at an inopportune time and the groomer may not have sufficient time to address all your questions.   He or she might be concentrating on groom a dog and not willing to leave them to answer the phone.

Grooming shops run by the clock. Many have morning drop-off times with late day pick-ups.  While others have a morning group that is picked up at noon and then an afternoon group that arrive at noon and leave late day.  That’s a lot of scheduling and cooperation for everyone to be on time.  In between drop offs dogs are accessed and groomed according to their coat requirements and special needs.  Since time is spent talking with clients about their dog at drop off and at pick up time, groomers are on a tight schedule.

The ideal groomer selection process would include making two pre-visits, one without your dog and one with.  Narrow your list of potential shops to two or three that are recommended and meet your requirements.  On the first visit do not bring your dog.  Just meet with the groomer and ask your questions.

Look for a shop that is:

  • well-lit
  • a groomer and assistants that handle dogs gently
  • old or arthritic dogs that are treated with special consideration
  • shampoos and other products that meet your needs

In your selection process don’t discard any first impressions, gut feelings or hunches you may have about the shop or personnel.

On your second visit bring your dog along, ask new questions as well as any previously asked.

Ensure by reexamination that any special needs your dog has will be accommodated at this facility.  The main purpose of this visit is to allow your dog to meet the groomer and to observe their interactions.  When you’re comfortable with your interview, choose the groomer and make the appointment.

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