Taking your dog to a groomer is a great way to keep him looking and feeling his best. But while every groomer is different, there’s a few general guidelines that will help your appointment go more smoothly. Here’s a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
Show up on time
Latecomers push all the other appointments back, and this could potentially lead to overcrowding, added stress and inconvenience for other customers. Plus you may miss your allotted tub time in a busy shop, causing your dog to wait in a kennel for an opening.
Walk your dog until she eliminates BEFORE the appointment
Letting your dog out in the yard may not be enough to encourage her to go, so walk her to be sure. It is stressful for a dog when she has to go to the bathroom during grooming, and if she does, it takes a lot of time to properly clean up and sterilize.
Keep your dog on leash at the shop
Most grooming shops have a series of gates, doors and barricades to prevent your dog from escaping, but if you unhook your dog in the lobby, you are making it easy for him to leave if someone opens the front door. Plus, a leash makes for a smoother hand-off to the groomer.
Communicate clearly with the groomer about your dog’s temperament or health issues
If your dog doesn’t like certain aspects of being groomed, or he has sensitivities around an area on his body, describe exactly how he behaves to the groomer. Groomers MUST know about health conditions such as heart murmurs, epilepsy, neurologic disorders, injuries, arthritis, recent surgeries, dental disease and any other concerns that may affect a dog’ s behaviour.
Follow your groomer’s advice for appointment intervals
Your groomer gauges time between appointments based on the length of the trim, coat type, breed, your ability to maintain your dog’s coat, and the home environment (farm dogs vs. apartment dogs). Sensitive dogs may need more regular grooming schedules so they can build a trusting relationship with the groomer. Regular grooming also helps maintain proper nail length (overgrown nails can lead to health issues).
Tip your groomer for a job well done
Grooming is physically – and sometimes emotionally – demanding, and requires specialized (and expensive!) equipment. Most groomers are paid on commission so if you think yours does a fantastic job caring for your companion, make sure you add a gratuity to say “thank you”.
Assume you can leave your dog past the requested pickup time
Some grooming shops offer one-on-one appointments, while others keep dogs all day. Please respect your groomer’s request to pick up your dog at the agreed on time so she can keep to her schedule. If you don’t, you may end up paying an extra fee.
Show up earlier than the requested time
If your groomer gives you a time or tells you to wait for a call to pick up your dog, DO NOT show up early. Your dog may sense your presence and get overexcited, which prevents the groomer from finishing the job, or even worse, cause her to unintentionally injure your now wiggling dog.
Use vague instruction details
The grooming industry is full of cute catch phrases like “Puppy Cut”, “Teddy Bear Trim”, or “short, but not shaved” that mean completely different things to every groomer. Avoid using these terms to ensure accurate communication. Instead use actual lengths – ½” or half off. If you loved the way your dog was groomed previously, take a photo and bring it in.
Ask your groomer for veterinary advice
Groomers are trained professionals, but it is not their job to give out veterinary health advice to their clients. If you have a concern, talk to your licensed veterinarian.
Have unrealistic expectations for your dog or groomer
Every dog has limitations. Some don’t tolerate brushing or blow drying, and others find it difficult to stand for a long time. Listen to your groomer, as she will be most familiar with your dog’s abilities and will adapt your expectations for a haircut or service. “Humanity before vanity” is important when working with animals.
Bring unnecessary items with you for a short appointment
The only thing your dog needs at the appointment is a collar and leash (preferably not an extendable one). If you want to put an extra harness or jacket on your dog, put it on yourself when you pick her up.
Bring your dog to the groomer if he’s under the weather
Grooming can be physically demanding for your dog, so if you suspect he’s feeling unwell, reschedule the appointment for another day.
Becki Selby owns a busy grooming salon in Peterborough, Ontario and serves as a sales consultant for an all natural pet health company. She has worked with animals since 2000 in a variety of capacities, including veterinary assistant, pet food retailer, and pet store manager. Becki has been involved with conformation dog shows and has worked with dog trainers. Her passion is advocating for animal health and welfare.