How To Choose The Right Groomer For Your Dog

For many dog owners, finding the perfect groomer is like finding the right hairdresser. However, how do you know who qualifies as a good groomer?

Did you know there are NO regulations for grooming in ANY of the 50 states?  This is a shocking fact!  How can one be trusted to groom your beloved family members and not have anything to prove they know what they are doing or that they have your pets best interest in mind.

In this day and age where anyone and everyone can call themselves a groomer,  we’ve formulated a guide to help you when researching the right groomer for your canine baby.

How To Choose The Right Groomer For Your Dog

What does it take to become a dog groomer?

Doesn’t it seem like grooming dogs would be an easy thing to do? A snip here, a snip there.

Now, imagine having to keep a dog still, while using sharp tools, all the while knowing what hair cut is breed standard for that particular dog… Whew, that seems like a lot to take in!

There’s an art to being a groomer and if your groomer hasn’t gone to school and learned the necessary skills required for this career, you may end up with a shaved dog or better yet your Golden Retriever could come home with a Poodle cut!

There are currently only three organizations in the United States that certify pet groomers for competency and skill:

Groomers may be members of these organizations, or they may be certified members.

If they are certified, this means that they have undergone rigorous voluntary testing, both written and practical, in order to earn their certifications. The highest level of certification available is the Master Groomer certification.

Registered members must adhere to a code of conduct and ethics.  The groomer is choosing to “license” themselves even though it is currently not necessary to be licensed in the United States.

These organizations offer accreditation in four of the seven Groups of dogs.

  • Sporting
  • Non-sporting
  • Short-legged and long-legged Terriers, as well as a
  • Master groomer exam.

To become certified you need to present a dog that is breed standard, and then groom that dog to breed standard during your practicum, as well as pass a written exam for that particular group.

To become a master certified groomer, you must complete all four certifications for the above-mentioned groups and then pass a written exam.

Exams are only offered a few times a year and space is limited and competitive.

While a groomer might be a perfectly fine groomer without membership in a grooming organization, membership assures that they are at least in contact with a group providing information about and access to continuing education, workshops, and certification opportunities.

Is it okay to ask your groomer about their credentials and certifications?

Yes, we encourage you to ask the groomer you are interested in hiring questions about their experience.  Here are just a few we questions suggest asking no matter what.

  • Where did they go to school?
  • How long have they been grooming?
  • Do they have any certifications or memberships to grooming organizations?
  • Do they specialize in any breeds?
  • Do you have experience grooming my dog’s breed?

What to look for in a grooming facility.

It’s important that a grooming facility be professional, inviting when you enter the premises, bright, calm, not too noisy, and most importantly… CLEAN!

We don’t mean things on the shelves and counter looking tidy, we mean when you walk into the door you’re not blasted with chemical smells, pungent aromas of dirty dogs or worse, urine and feces.

This is a place you want your pet to feel happy about coming to on a regular basis and as their dog mommy, you want to feel comfortable leaving them alone there for a few hours at a time.

Here are just a few things we suggest looking at when touring grooming salons.

  • Whether or not our dog will be placed in a safe pet condo or cage system during their stay and not shared with other dogs.
  • If they will be taken out for a potty if they need to go.
  • The length of time your dog will need to be in a crate or cage while at the salon.
  •  What kind of drying system do they use (Traditional, Stand, Cage, or High Velocity) and will your dog be left alone in it for any period of time?

Here are a few questions we suggest asking about your potential groomers facility:

  1. Do you allow inspections of your facility?
  2. Can I watch my dog being groomed for the first time?
  3. Can you give me a tour of the premises?
  4. How long do you keep the pets for grooming?
  5. Where do you keep them and are they always in view of someone?

Don’t be afraid to ask your groomer these questions, or any other questions you may have. If they seem reluctant to answer your reasonable questions, keep looking!

Look for a groomer in the same way you would look for any other professional as there will be good ones and some not so good ones.

What services do groomers offer?

Most grooming facilities offer similar services.  Here’s a list of the common options.  Ask your potential groomer what they offer and what they would do for your dog.  If you like what you hear, then you may have just found your new groomer!

  • Skin-Appropriate Shampoo
  • Coat-Specific Conditioner
  • Ear Cleaning
  • Teeth Brushing
  • Nail Clipping and/or buffing
  • Paw Pad Trim if applicable
  • Sanitary Trim if applicable
  • Face Trim
  • De-Matting
  • Breed Standard Haircut
  • Flea & Tick removal

What’s the difference between a dog spa and mobile groomer?

A dog spa, another name for a dog groomer, is a brick and mortar where dogs are brought to be groomed.

A mobile groomer is self-contained in a custom van that arrives at your door to take care of your pet’s grooming needs.  Mobile pet grooming is preferred by most of today’s busy pet owners.

The convenience for you and the exclusive attention for your pet make it desirable to use a mobile dog grooming service.

Mobile grooming trucks come furnished with electricity for the dryer, table, clippers, A/C, vacuum, lights and more.  A hot water heater ensures the perfect bath temperature and a therapeutic bathing system helps clean your pets.

In the end, whether you’re in the market for a brick and mortar or mobile spa we suggest doing your due diligence when researching the groomer you’d like to have work on your pets!




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