When Choosing the Right Pet Groomer

β€œS/he moved to another location”, β€œ..sold their business..”, β€œβ€¦dissatisfied with service.”, etc. Whatever the reason - taking certain actions to find the best groomer for you, is important. Below are 11 tips in finding the right pet groomer for you:


1) Be Honest - Your previous petstylist knew all your pet’s quirks, but it’s really important to take the time and remember all the behavioral, medical, and/or preferences your next groomer should know. If your pet is horrible with his/er nails, doesn’t like their face touched, is diabetic (must show proof) or geriatric, etc, let your groomer know because it’s great for us to prepare for different things like different positive reinforcement methods, different restraints, entirely different grooming techniques or just making sure they are priority so they can be more comfortable and at home.

2) Do not be impulsive! – Being impulsive can diminish the experience, and/or create once positive associations into negative ones. Plan in advance and take your time to call around for potential groomers in your area to see who you like best. Have your list of questions ready!


3) Know how often your pet will need to visit the salon – Even though diet plays a huge role in maintaining optimal skin and fur/hair health, it’s good to know what your pet needs for skin/fur/hair maintenance and the creative trim you had in mind. Ideally you want to know what fur maintenance your pet will need before you adopt/purchase but if you can’t or you don’t know the likelihood of certain things, like fur growth/texture because of mixed gene history, or you might have adopted rescued puppy - you can generally expect 3-4-6-8 week schedules to maintain proper coat and skin health for most breeds, so prepare for that and get price ranges. The longer you wait out usually the shorter the hair is kept. The more frequent visits - longer hairstyles are usually maintained.

Β·     Pets with continuously growing hair like Shih Tzu and Poodles/mixes with longer hairstyles typically require 3-5 week visits. You can always push it out a week longer if you diligently brush/comb your dog at home, otherwise your pup might come back with a shorter style than you would like because of matting. When hair is kept short, like a kennel or β€œsummer trim” you can wait up to 8 weeks depending on your their sanitary area (link for maintenance grooming). He/she may need maintenance grooming at 6 weeks then a full grooming a month after, so poop/pee sessions are cleaner for you and your home. Scheduling in advance is highly recommended so you create a healthy habit to expose your pet to his environment consistently. 

Β·     Smooth and double-coated breeds like most bully breeds and German Shepherds do not need as frequent professional grooming services unless nail trimming is needed. On the behavioral standpoint it’s arguable because, it would be great for any dog to visit and be in contact with drastically different spaces than their usual environments so it isn’t such a shock and won’t react out of fear in case you β€œNEEEED” to take them to the groomer. However, if you are diligent at home with ear cleaning, brushing, and nail trimming practices at home, then you should be fine with not having as many grooming services.


4) Good Sources: Important to seek out positively reviewed and knowledgeable pet professionals and/or ask for a good references – of course. If you need good recommendations, call your local pet professionals like DVMs, veterinary technicians/assistant, and dog trainers who they’d recommend!


5) Close in proximity – If it’s hard to get to your groomer or pet professional, you and your pet will dread the process. You groomer should be convenient. Having tasks that are convenient to do, helps to create healthy habits and associations for you and your pet.


6) Groomer Requirements: Some states require licensure/certification and some require apprenticeship - Other great certifications are great to have below:

Fear free and S.A.F.E.T.Y. in the Salon Certifications are both important and great for your groomer to have under her/is belt. You can also ask if s/he has gained any CE credits or attended seminars within the past year, and if so, what were they. You want to be sure, your groomer is always staying up to date in improving you and your pet’s salon experience.


7) The Style - You can present via email/text message a clear picture of your desired trim, so you and your groomer understand FULLY the style and direction you want to go. Your groomer will tell you if the style you like is reachable given your pet’s muscle/bone placement, and hair texture and thickness. Don’t be shy, please ask, we love the possibility of being extra creative!


8) Process – Know what the grooming process is for your pet with that groomer. Grooming process should not be extremely different form groomer to groomer, but some differences can and cannot be to your liking. Will your dog be worked on from start to finish solely?, Is there a specific order system or rotations?, First-come first-serve basis?, At what time do you require the use of muzzles or extra restraints?, How long will your pet be in the crate?, Is there a holding area? are great questions to ask. 


9) Owner Pet Exam – Know the current physical state your pet is in before taking them to their new groomer. Anything new like minor bruises, cuts, bright pink skin etc, after grooming could be a sign of irritations to a salon product, or your pet may have been a little excited on the table and was accidentally nicked, etc. If so, please don’t hesitate to ask your groomer of your pet’s experience and work with both your groomer and at home with your pet so that it’s better next time. If you see your pet showing signs of discomfort, and self-infliction to any skin related irritation, just pop that e-collar on and schedule that veterinary appointment. Mistakes happen, we work with sharp objects all the time, so be sure you are prepared!


10) Walk Through – Scheduling a walk through of the salon is essential so that you are confident your groomer takes pride in keeping all pets in their care healthy and happy whilst there. Look for a mess free, clean, and relatively calm and at ease environment. If possible take a look at the holding spaces, i.e. play spaces and holding crate spaces. 



11) A la carte services/add-on items and services: Get excited about additional services and compare those to different locations so you can get the best bang for your buck! If your groomer allows monitored playtime, I would definitely put that on the top of your list, as socialization is very important to a balanced dog!

Hope these tips gave you some confidence in choosing the right groomer fuuur you!

Tail Wags,

The Pad