Chances are, you love your pup no matter what they look like. That said, even the cutest canines could use a little cleaning up — and even pampering — from time to time. While you could test your luck by surprising Fido with a wash basin and a pair of clippers in the garage, we highly recommend leaving dog grooming to the professionals. But how do you know who is qualified to give your fur baby a shave and a haircut? (Or a nail trim and a dye job?) We’ll break down how to find the “paw”fect dog groomer to guarantee your pup will walk away from the pet salon looking their best.
Take a Tour
There’s no substitute for seeing a pet salon firsthand, so tour the facility before booking an appointment. Some things you’ll want to scope out: where are pets housed when they’re not being groomed? Is there proper ventilation? Do the workstations look clean? Are the grooming tables and tubs in good condition? Is there a window through which you can watch your dog being groomed? Is there a first-aid kit in sight?
You may also want to inquire if the salon owner participates in the American Kennel Club’s S.A.F.E. Grooming program, which requires groomers to commit to a Safety Oath. Or, ask if they are a member of a professional association like the National Dog Groomers Association of America or International Professional Groomers.
Interview Your Potential Dog Groomer
You probably wouldn’t sit down in any hairstylist’s chair without at least a brief conversation about their skills, experience, and personal aesthetic, right? Well, then you shouldn’t ship your fluffer off to some mystery dog groomer in the nearest strip mall, either. Make sure you take the time to find out what kinds of training and professional gigs your dog-groomer-to-be has had. Ask what dog breeds the groomer usually works with. Find out if the groomer only does haircuts or if they do nail trimming, ear cleaning, and flea and tick applications as well. You’ll also want to inquire about the kinds of products the groomer uses and if they are for sale at the salon.
One more key thing to look for is a dog groomer who cares about continuing education. As Khris Berry, co-founder of See Spot Grooming & Daycare, told the American Kennel Club, “Many professional groomers are investing their own time and money to attend enrichment programs on a voluntary basis—this is typically the sign of a professional who is looking to improve their skills and their clients’ experience.”
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing a dog groomer, you should trust your gut. If something smells fishy (literally or figuratively) when you’re checking out a dog groomer or a pet salon, don’t hesitate to seek out another venue or ask for referrals from fellow pet parents.