I remember it like it was yesterday. Pulling up to the grooming shop and my toy Poodle, Gigi, shaking in fear. As I reached for the car door handle, Gigi wiggled and squirmed out of my arms. It was her attempt to run away from what was about to happen. We left the car and I carried her into the grooming shop. With my arms wrapped around her little body, I felt her heart beating right out of her chest. The groomer greeted me with a smile and I handed her my messy pooch. A few hours later, it was back to the grooming shop to pick up a freshly trimmed and gorgeous Gigi. Her tail wagged a mile a minute and the excitement to leave was written all over her face.
This exact scenario played out once a month for about six months. I’m ashamed it took me that long to realize Gigi’s actions weren’t just a result of separation anxiety. I finally knew it was time to leave my former groomer when Gigi came home with burns and cuts all over her face and paws. The groomer had also cut the skin around her anus, making simple things like walking and going #2 a real challenge for my little girl. Seeing Gigi like that made my heart sink. I finally realized she was being mistreated and I never took her to that shop again.
Warning Signs It’s Time To Change Dog Groomers
1) Extreme Fear
It’s normal for dogs to get a little nervous when they first arrive at their grooming shop. After all, the loud hairdryers and buzzing clippers aren’t things that dogs look forward to. But extreme fear like my Gigi’s should serve as a red flag. So when you arrive at your grooming shop, watch your dog closely. Does she cry or attempt to run away? Does her heart begin pounding? Is there a general look of fear on her face? Don’t ignore these signs!
2) Burns and Cuts
It’s understandable if your dog’s skin gets nicked every once in a while. Maybe they wiggled their body at a bad time. Accidents happen. But if skin burns and cuts are a regular occurrence then it’s time to look for grooming services elsewhere. A day at the grooming salon shouldn’t mean a day of pain. Ever!
3) Not Listening To Your Instructions
Have you ever instructed your groomer to do one thing and they did the complete opposite? Is this a habit? If so, it’s time to go! You should have an open line of communication with your groomer and trust that he/she is going to listen to your instructions.
4) A General Bad Vibe
When you drop your dog off at the grooming shop, you should feel 100% comfortable and know your fur baby is in good hands. If you find yourself second-guessing your dog’s safety or just get the feeling that things are not right then it’s time to find another groomer.
Tips To Choose A Reputable & Trusted Dog Groomer
1) Ask Around
Start with your neighbors, friends, and local family members. Ask who they use and if they like their groomer. Chances are, if their dogs are treated well and come home looking spiffy then yours will too!
Your veterinarian is also a great resource. Since many reputable grooming facilities require vaccination papers from your vet, your doggy doctor should have a list of trusted groomers.
You can also take your search online. Post a question on NextDoor or check review sites.
2) Check For Certifications
While I’ve been to some amazing groomers who aren’t certified, this is one thing you may want to check for. Many reputable groomers hold a grooming certification, which means they have passed both written and practical exams by an accredited grooming school.
3) Take A Tour Of The Shop
Before your pup’s first grooming appointment at a new shop, schedule a tour so you can meet the groomer and scope out the environment. A few things to look for:
- Does the place look clean?
- Do the dogs look happy?
- Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
- Is the staff handling their canine customers gently?
- Are dogs waiting in crates or has the groomer set up space for them to run free?
- Does the shop use kennel dryers? If so, are they set on a timer, and is someone constantly monitoring the dogs to ensure they aren’t getting overheated?
- Do the groomers work in a closed-off/private room or are their grooming tables set up in a publically visible space? Ideally, the groomers will work in an open area or space lined with windows which allows puppy parents to watch the entire grooming process. Transparency is key!
Another tip: Bring your dog along for the tour to help get him/her acclimated.
4) Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask your potential groomer questions! Some to consider:
- How long has the grooming facility been in operation?
- Does the groomer attend grooming trade shows and seminars to keep up with the newest products, trends, and handling procedures?
- Is the groomer certified?
- Does the grooming shop have a license to operate in the state?
- Is the groomer familiar with your dog’s breed and specific needs?
- Does the groomer require proof of vaccinations from your vet?
- Does the groomer keep past grooming and medical records?
- What products does the groomer use?
- Does the groomer have a plan in case of a medical emergency?
- How much does the groomer charge?
5) Watch The Dogs Who Are Leaving
Do the dogs leaving your potential shop look happy? Are they wagging their tails and giving off an overall content vibe? Also, are you happy with their haircuts?
These are all things to consider when searching for a great groomer!