Finding the right dog grooming team for your pup can be just as hard as finding your favorite hairdresser. Pet grooming services are all different and, just like with your own hair, it may take a few visits to get the dog haircut you want for your pup.
You should aim to schedule dog grooming services every 4-6 weeks, although this may change based on your individual dog’s needs, says Tracey Ditto, groomer and host of DIY Puppy Grooming Classes at Dogtopia in Waco, Texas. “If you have a Bichon or Shih Tzu that you like to keep long and fluffy, they may need to see a groomer more often to avoid becoming matted,” she says. “On the other hand, shorter-haired dogs may only need to see the groomer on occasion for a cleanup and nail trim.”
Tips for Choosing a Dog Grooming Service
It’s important for dog owners to find the right pet grooming services for them. “The biggest things I recommend when looking for at a new grooming shop are cleanliness and good attitudes,” says Ditto. A clean dog grooming salon and cheerful, calm pet groomers are invaluable assets in a pet grooming facility.
Find a Patient Groomer
“Make sure your potential groomer is willing to take time to talk to you about your dog and make you feel comfortable about leaving him (or her) with them,” says Ditto. The best pet groomers will also be able to stay calm under fire. “Grooming can be a stressful job, but a good, experienced groomer will know how to handle busy situations while remaining calm.” You want your dog’s grooming session to feel like a trip to a dog spa, not a source of stress and anxiety.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Look for a pet groomer who is open and upfront about everything that will happen during the dog grooming session. “Don’t be afraid to ask about price and how long you can expect the groom to take,” says Ditto. “Better to be informed so you can plan ahead and avoid any surprises.” Whether you choose a pet grooming facility or a mobile dog grooming business, it is important to communicate your expectations and desires with your new potential groomer.
Address Behavior Concerns Up Front
Open communication works both ways. Dog owners need to be upfront and honest about any special requests or behavior issues before you book the appointment, suggests Ditto. That way the dog groomer can block off enough time and you can avoid any inconvenient surprises. “If you have a pet that is very nervous or difficult when it comes to pet grooming services, make sure to ask the groomer if they have experience working with other dogs who have similar issues, and what methods they use to handle those situations,” she says. It is of no benefit to you, your dog or the groomer to put your pet in a situation that nobody is comfortable with; it is supposed to be a dog spa day after all.
Be Specific about Dog Haircuts
Just like when you visit the salon or barber, it’s best to be as clear as possible when asking for particular dog haircuts. Don’t hesitate to bring in pictures if you have a certain vision. If you’re very particular or you want something more than a basic cut, Ditto suggests looking for a more experienced groomer who’s done similar work before.
Planning for Your First Visit
As you get ready for your first visit to a new dog grooming shop, Ditto suggests planning ahead. Try to arrive a little earlier than your appointment so you can talk to the dog groomers about the services you need and the style you want, as well as provide them with any necessary vaccination history.
“Once you have dropped off your dog, you may want to hang around to make sure they are alright—but it is best not to linger,” says Ditto. If you stay more than a few minutes, it can add stress to your dog, especially if she can see you but can’t get to you. This may also make her less willing to pay attention to the groomer. Instead of staying the whole time, leave a phone number where you can be reached in case something comes up, suggests Ditto.
Finally, plan ahead and know which services you want. The particular dog grooming services offered by each groomer will vary, but basic services offered by most animal grooming facilities include:
- A dog wash or bath
- Nail trimming and filing
- Ear cleaning
- Hair brushing
- Hair trimming
“Your dog may not need a hair trim every visit, but the other services are an important part of keeping your dog well-groomed and healthy,” says Ditto. “These should be performed or checked at each visit.”
Many pet grooming locations will also offer additional services, sometimes as part of the overall dog grooming session or with an additional charge. These may include:
- Teeth brushing
- De-shedding treatments
- Dematting treatments
- Gland expressing
If you’re looking to go above and beyond with your animal grooming, consider looking for either a dog spa or a mobile dog grooming service.
A mobile groomer usually offers the same services as a traditional grooming shop, but they’re able to travel to different locations such as your house or office, says Ditto. They will usually either have a vehicle that’s set up as a mobile dog grooming station or have the ability to set up an area inside your home or office. Note that some mobile dog grooming services may be limited when it comes to extra-large dogs, says Ditto.
“A dog spa is usually a place that offers specialty services such as mud baths or doggy massages,” explains Ditto. But the services offered at one dog spa may be completely different than at another, so be sure to ask what the exact options are.