What Is The Best Way To Choose A Groomer?

By: Joel Allen

I get asked all the time, “Where can I find a good groomer?” I know a few that I will put the word out for depending on what the person asking the question is looking for when grooming their dog. Keep in mind that what I am about to say is my opinion.

If I were looking for a groomer, I would seek out someone that the community really speaks well of. I would also see if my dog likes or loves them. I know one that lets your dog watch cartoons while they wait to be groomed! When I was in the Army we had a saying, “Where there is smoke, there is fire!” Living by that credo has kept me from making the mistake of trusting the wrong people. Do I believe all rumors? No, but when it comes to our “babies,” if I hear that a groomer has a temper or something worse, I advise that we go elsewhere. Believe me when I say that any abuse or negligence done by someone trusted with our “babies” can have lasting negative effects. Some examples of this are: your dog suddenly goes from being loving and tolerant to refusing to trust people and biting someone; they decide not to walk properly on a leash; they become nervous around other people, or they become aggressive toward other dogs. These are some things I have witnessed.

Let me say this for the record, not all groomers are bad. I would say that we have a 98 percent rating of good groomers in the county. What I really want to get people to do is be cautious with whom they trust.

Now let’s prepare our dogs for grooming. The best advice is to start them out early as puppies. If they are already adults, be patient and work with them slowly until they become accustomed to what we are trying to teach them. A common thing we all want is well-groomed dog nails. As puppies they learn that this process is harmless, but as adults they can be very stressed because their toenails are sensitive. If their nails are clipped too close to the quick, it can be most painful thereby causing them not to want or allow anyone to touch their paws. Ever have to wrestle a large breed dog to get their “Freddie Kruger” nails trimmed? I have and boy, is it work!

Bathing is another big deal for our dogs. If they are raised to know that getting in the tub is a wonderfully fun event, they will always want to take a bath. But, if they have never had a bath or have had a negative experience associated with a bath, life is going to become difficult for everyone. I have watched America’s Funniest Videos when the dog hears the word “bath” and it quickly leave the room and tries to hide…LOL! Now, what I like to do when I am teaching mine that bathing is good for them is that I like to massage the shampoo into their bodies, rub their muscles, and talk to them. Sometimes the best medicine for this is the dog hearing your voice. When Alexander was alive, he loved baths. This Great Dane would deliberately go muddy himself up, track through the house, get in the tub, and wait for me to holler at him…LOL! I couldn’t stay mad at him. At least he wanted to be clean. Oh, but the huge muddy paw prints he left!

Another thing I do to get them ready is I mess with their ears and feet. Doing this on a regular basis teaches them that it is okay for someone to look at their feet and ears. It prepares them for the day a groomer will clean their ears and do their nails.

Every groomer I have met has their own style. When looking for that specific groomer, and finding them, they should be informed as to what is desired for your dog. Be specific and detailed because this is the part that is very important in ensuring what the outcome will be for your dog. Also, inform your groomer of any behaviors or issues that may impact the dog’s grooming session.

When dropping off your dog at the groomer’s, be on time. If running late, call and let your groomer know. When picking up your dog, try to apply the same rules. Listen to your groomer if they are trying to tell you something they found on your dog, too. We have another pearl of wisdom I use from the Army, “If you are not early, you are late!” Because I lived by that, I never had to wear a watch.

Lastly, when I say I have witnessed some things, I have seen where a groomer made people wait to trim their dog’s nails for up to 45 minutes. Now, I understand when a groomer is busy, but would it not be fair for them to tell the customer it is going to be a while? I have seen groomers be rough with a client’s dog. They were corrected for this but it does happen. Again, in parting I say this, not all groomers are bad. Just remember to listen to your dog and your gut. “Where there is smoke, there is fire!”
By: Joel Allen