How to Find a Dog Groomer

By Darcie Mumley

Leaving your beloved pet with a dog groomer can cause anxiety for many people. Because there are absolutely no professional requirements for dog dog groomergroomers, anyone with a pair of clippers and scissors can call themselves a pet groomer.  Trust us—you do not want just anyone working around your animal with sharp items.

Here are some inside tips to finding and keeping a good groomer.  Many dogs eventually spend a considerable amount of time—and your money—at the groomer, so you want to make sure you make a good decision.

If possible, find a dog groomer who is a certified master groomer or working toward his or her certificate from either the National Dog Groomer Association of America, International Professional Groomers, Inc. or the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. You can find some discussions on the superiority of one or the other certification program, but groomers who put the time and effort into getting certified—regardless of their chosen organization—are serious about their jobs and will have learned the basic safety precautions.

A certified dog groomer will also be aware of your dog’s breed’s haircut specifications, which is extremely important! There is nothing worse than taking your precious Belington terrier to a groomer only to have it walk out of there looking like a poodle.

Ask your groomer if there are certain breeds he or she prefers not to groom. (Many groomers do!) Some groomers do not excel at the tailored and coarse hair of the terriers, but like grooming the soft fluffy coat of a shih tzu. Dog groomers naturally enjoy working on haircuts that they excel at. Your dogs will not only get a nicer cut, but they will be more at ease when groomed by a groomer who likes them! If a groomer is not a fan of your breed then look elsewhere. Most groomers will be thankful for your decision.

There are misconceptions about kenneling a dog, instead of letting him run free around the shop. You might think that it is cruel to make your dog sit at a kennel, but you are paying for your dog to get groomed and groomers are too involved in their work to be keeping a close eye on the pack dynamic of loose dogs.  It is true that some dogs do not do well in a kennel, and a lot of grooming shops will make an exception for those dogs, but it is important that the groomer’s location isn’t a strictly no-kennel one—unless there are hired staff whose only job is to look after dogs.

Grooming shops are not doggy daycare, and you want your dog groomer giving his or her full attention to the dog on their table, and not the dogs around their feet. If some dogs are allowed to run fee and some are in a kennel, ask to have your dog kenneled. Grooming is stressful enough for animals, and your eight-pound Yorkiepoo does not need the added trauma of an overly playful Newfoundland in her face.

Unfortunately, even the most experienced and conscientious groomers sometimes knick a dog. This scenario is always an accident—remember that groomers pick this profession because they love animals.  If your animal has had multiple cuts or if you know of other animals that have been injured in a specific groomer’s care, then start looking for a new groomer. They may not be following proper safety precautions and might have received poor training.  Please keep in mind that pet groomers are working with very sharp objects around moving animals, so there is bound to be an occasional accident.

How to Find a Dog Groomer: Final Thoughts

Treat your dog groomer with respect and value his or her hard work. Grooming is an extremely challenging profession and groomers are often mistreated by customers.  This leads to incredibly high turnover within the industry. Remember, you will see your groomer more than your vet (hopefully), so tip them well and be respectful of their suggestions and hard work. This type of acknowledgment will ensure that you receive the best service possible, and your dog groomer may be more flexible about getting you on the schedule when your dog gets skunked. On a related note, you may want to look into pet skin care products as well.

Be on the lookout for next week’s post on finding a great cat groomer! Have you ever had a grooming issue? Tell us about it in a comment!