Finding the dog right groomer

Originally published in the Rolesville Buzz
December 2012

Once you have a new pet, choosing the right grooming schedule and groomer for your dog can be just as difficult a decision.

Although there is a lot of grooming you can do yourself, finding the time or having the knowledge to do the more detailed cuts can be more challenging. There are a lot of professional groomers available to do the job for you.

However, finding the right groomer for your dog can be time consuming and stressful for you and your pet. You need to find someone who will listen to your needs and provide a cut you will like. Your groomer must treat you and your furry loved one with courtesy and care. You want someone who is kind to you and your pet, knowledgeable of your pet’s breed and the breed’s specific cuts, trustworthy, and someone that you can communicate with. And of course, they need the skill to make your pet look simply fabulous.

A good place to start is asking for recommendations. Ask your friends who have pets, your veterinarian, or at boarding kennels and pet supply stores. If you got your pet from a breeder or a shelter they may have recommendations for preferred groomers.

You can always use the Internet to locate groomers in your area.

Ask a groomer for references. Word of mouth is a pet groomer’s best reference, but before you make that first appointment, investigate some more. Visit some groomers to determine which one might be best for you and your pet.

The pet grooming profession does not require licensing. But most people who are really interested in getting into the grooming business usually work internships or attend a professional grooming school. Many will start out as bathers, learning the proper brushing and bathing techniques, nail clipping, ear cleaning and basic prep work. Ask a potential groomer for your pet about their experience and background.

Stop by and check out your potential groomer and the grooming studio. Is the studio clean? Does it smell? The shop should generally look neat, clean and professional. It should be a place where you’re comfortable leaving your pet.

Wear white shoes or socks when you go in. If fleas are there, they’ll jump around your ankles. There shouldn’t be fleas.

Animal grooming is typically known to be very demanding, but for the most groomers it is a labor of love.

Groomers must have many skills, ranging from basic knowledge of how to handle the animal to the proper use of all the grooming tools and clippers. They must be able to visualize the finished cut so that a properly executed trim may begin.

Each breed has a specific grooming standard, but a groomer must also take into consideration the animal’s activity level and make sure that the owner can regularly brush and maintain the coat. For those who can’t, the groomer should know to cut a shorter version of the breed s t a n d a r d , typically known as the “puppy cut.”

If your groomer is unfamiliar with your breed, they should have reference books to draw upon so they may properly style your dog according to your preference. If you have a mixed-breed, the “standard” is a piece of cake – your groomer should make Fluffy look adorable!

Also, if your pet is a puppy or an older animal, a conscientious groomer will make arrangements to get it in and out as quickly as possible. Typically a grooming does not require more than 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on your pet’s size and coat type.

If your pet is kept for an extended time you should be concerned about crate drying. If your pet is older or has issues with breathing, it should never be put into a crate to dry.

Freshly groomed dogs are typically placed into crates or cages equipped with a tube or hair dryer that blows air into the space to start the drying process while other dogs are being groomed.

Sometimes the blown air is hot and b e i n g in the crate is like being left in a car with the windows rolled up in the summer. This can cause the pet to overheat and possibly suffer heat stroke.

C r a t e drying is used by the vast majority of groomers. It is not unsafe when done properly, with safe temperatures and proper supervision of drying pets.

Keep in mind also that groomers are not miracle workers. If a dog’s coat is not properly maintained between grooms it will become matted and tangled, and require additional dematting and possibly shaving .

For the short-haired dog that needs little professional grooming, the owner should still consider professional bathing and nail trimming.

It’s good to begin grooming a dog around 4 months of age, with regular baths and grooming every four to six weeks afterward.