Finding pawfect groomer for your pooch


Rohini Sankar
Selecting a groomer requires a lot of care, patience and home work. After all, you are going to leave your best friend in their capable hands to be cleaned, groomed and made to look presentable and healthy. Here’s how to find the right groomer for your pooch.
Choosing a groomer for your pet needs a lot of thought – you want someone who is kind, knowledgeable, trustworthy and easy to communicate with, besides having the skill to make your pet look gorgeous. Regular brushing, combing and running your hands through your dog coat build a close bond between you and your pet. It also keeps you informed about the condition of his fur, skin, teeth, nails and ears. In fact, it is not uncommon to discover lumps, infections, and other problems during a thorough grooming routine of your pet. Since grooming is much more than just bathing and brushing your dog’s hair, you need a professionally trained groomer to groom your pet once a month or more frequently depending on the breed.
Does your best friend need a professional?
The grooming experience involves bathing, combing, brushing, cutting or shaving mats (the knotted hair in your pet’s coat), cleaning the ears, clipping nails, anal sac expression, teeth cleaning and also controlling external parasites with professional products that may not be readily available at home. It is not just a bath. Major benefits of using a professional groomer include:
An experienced eye for detail: Experienced groomers are trained to spot potential health issues before they become problematic. This could be anything from as minor as fleas to as worrisome as a lump which could be a tumour that may have otherwise gone undetected.
Expert removal of matted fur: Matted fur is a big problem both in short-coat as well as long-coat breeds. This should be kept in check for your dog’s comfort, and regular brushing helps remove any matted fur which can cause discomfort and lead to scratching and soreness. There are always problem prone mat areas such as under the legs or behind the ears or near the tail. These are very difficult to notice as well as remove, and the professional groomer is trained to remove them with the least discomfort and disfigurement to your loved pet.
Enhanced coat appearance: A professional groomer has access to hi-tech grooming tools and products, resulting in a sleeker professional-looking appearance for your dog.
Tailored cuts: Professional groomers have been trained as well as have the experience in grooming a variety of different breeds; so they will be able to cut according to the specific breed standard, as opposed to doing one uniform cut for all dogs.
Social interaction: One of the greatest benefits with visits to a professional for your best furry friend is the chance to meet other dogs. Regular visits to the groomer are a great opportunity for your canine companion to interact with other dogs and learn valuable socialisation skills. A dog who knows how to mix in a group is a great pal to have.
Once you have decided that your best friend needs a professional groomer, here are few simple steps to follow.
Find a groomer: Ask other pet parents to recommend a pet groomer to whom they take their best friends. You can also ask your veterinarian, boarding kennel, dog trainer and pet supply store whether they would recommend someone. After narrowing your search, call the groomer to ask about services, costs and hours of operation. Check for reviews about the salon online in websites, Facebook and pet-related forums. Visit the grooming facility personally before booking an appointment. It’s important to visit any salon in which you are interested, says an internationally recognized stylist, “Drop by the shop, without your dog, during normal business hours. You should not need an appointment to do this. A quality grooming shop will be happy to have you watch the groomers in action.”
Understand what grooming will cost: If you like what you see, now is the time to discuss the salon’s services and fees in detail. Do not expect to be quoted a firm price until your pet is seen by the groomer. Without seeing the pet, the groomer will be giving a quote based upon a typical specimen in good condition. Things like tangled hair, fleas, or uncooperative behaviour may lead to extra charges. Grooming costs will depend on where you live, the size of your dog, temperament of the dog, condition of the dog, if the dog has a lot of mats or fleas or skin conditions. It will depend on whether the service requested for is a basic grooming package or show grooming.
Ease your pet’s fears: It’s important for your pet to tolerate being groomed, regardless of how often you take her to a professional. To train your pet, groom her briefly when you’re both relaxed and in a familiar place. For example, begin by gently massaging her coat each morning as you feed her. Gradually introduce a brush or comb. Teach your best friend to show his paws everyday for inspection, play with his ears and clean his ears often. Get used to the noise of the hair dryer and the vacuum cleaner. The number one reason why pets fear being groomed is the because of the sound of the hair dryer. Increase the grooming time and work on different areas. Reward your pet for cooperating; use positive reinforcement such as ‘good dog’ to encourage your pet. The more comfortable your pet feels with home grooming, the better she’ll tolerate professional grooming. (This is also true for strangers: The more comfortable your pet is around strangers, the easier it will be for her to relax at the groomer.)
Prepare for the first visit: For your pet’s first appointment with a new groomer, schedule your drop off for an hour when the groomer can spend time  with you discussing your pet’s needs, temperament, habits, any pre-existing health issues and your preferences.
Keep in mind that you and the groomer may have different perceptions of what certain styling words mean. For example, how short is short? It’s important to be specific; if possible, show the groomer photos of what you have in mind. For the health and safety of both your pet and the groomer, make sure your pet is up to date on veterinary treatments, including vaccines and deworming.
Tell the groomer about your pet’s needs
When making the appointment, share all essential information about your pet’s health and temperament. The groomer must know in advance whether your pet is geriatric or has a chronic health condition, or needs special handling. Also warn the groomer about any habits of your pet that could interfere with safe and successful grooming.
Keep goodbyes short and sweet
Finally, when you drop your pet off at the groomer, bid your pet ‘goodbye’ quickly and the emotional departures will increase your pet’s stress level. When you pick up your pet, both of you will enjoy that clean, mat-free coat that makes pets—and their people—more comfortable.
Picking him up from the salon
When you pick up your pet, inquire about how your pet responded. Don’t be offended if the groomer confides that your pet was less than angelic. Some pets can be difficult about some parts of the process, especially if they are not used to grooming. However, you need to know what problems arose. For example, if your pet is sensitive about brushing, you will want to consider a style that is easy to maintain. Or if you pet is phobic about his feet, you need to know that he may nip at someone trying to clip his nails.
Start a relationship
Once you’ve found a groomer that you like, it’s a good idea to set up a standing appointment at regular time intervals. This will keep your pet in tip-top condition, and you and your pet will become ‘preferred customers’ with the professional groomer of your choice. A good groomer will keep notes and add comments to the file each time your pet visits. With time and good communication you can develop a relationship with the groomer that will benefit your pet. If you like the results, schedule a second visit. A good groomer will keep notes and add comments to the file each time your pet visits. With time and good communication you can develop a relationship with the groomer that will benefit your pet.
Once you’ve found a groomer that you like, it’s a good idea to set up a standing  ppointment at regular time intervals. This will keep your pet in tip-top condition, and you and your pet will become ‘preferred customers’ with the professional groomer of your choice.
(Rohini Sankar has done Diploma in Canine Behavior Counselling, Therapy and Training from The Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors (ACABC), USA; she has more than nine years of professional experience as a canine behaviour counsellor, trainer and therapist.)
Following are some tips from Penstone Veterinary Group (UK) on accessing the salon.

  • Groomers and assistants: Observe how groomers and assistants handle the dogs. Do they handle the pets gently, confidently and interactively?
  • Check the surroundings: It’s important to check whether the salon’s surrounding is well lit and grooming tables are sturdily set. Also check whether the groomers and dogs look happy and relaxed or frazzled!
  • Appropriate equipments: Various salons do fluff dry the coats of pets manually by hand. Though compartment drying is acceptable, pet parents are advisable to check whether your pet is willing to relax in a gentle flow of room temperature air. In case of salons using heat dryers, be aware about some specific breeds like short-nosed and aged ones who are at risk to heat prostration or collapse.
  • Health checks: Different salons have different health policies. Most of the established salons allow only pets who are free from any disease or ailment. At quality salons, it’s essential for pet parents to show vaccination records of their pets.
  • Internal guidebooks: Leading grooming salons maintain ‘guidebooks’ that show the works and proficiency of the groomers. Varieties of styles and lengths that the groomers have done for their customers can be seen in these books.
  • Easy contact: It’s always a good idea to ask the groomers for client referrals. Get their contact numbers so that you can call them or enquire them anytime you require.