Saturday, April 04, 2009

What to expect in a groomer

(Pooch looking cute)

I have had a few requests for this information lately so I thought I would share it here as well. Susan aka Catsmum over at Susan in Stitches suggested posting it here. Go check out her blog, you will find a pretty talented lady behind all those goats and yarn.
After nearly 29 years in this business, I have learned alot, not only about animals, but about other groomers as well. Some of them are not what they claim to be, others are absolutely wonderful. The grooming business is like any other business as far as the "business" end of it goes. We are in business to pay our bills and hopefully be able to buy things we want. Most of us are in the grooming business because we love animals and want to be around them. Some groomers however, are only in this business because you can make good money. Those are the ones to watch out for.
Grooming is not an easy job, it's dirty, it's hairy, it's very physical and it's dangerous at times. Being a groomer means at any given time, you can be bitten, scratched, pooped on, peed on, or puked on. You most likely will end up with a bad back, carpal tunnel, dry, cracked hands, arthritis, damaged nerves in your hands and most certainly, scars. BUT, those of us that absolutely love this job just deal with those things and chalk them up as part of the job. Those of us who can't see ourselves ever doing anything else will continue being bitten, pooped on, peed on, etc. because to us, it's worth it to see a freshly groomed dog, with a bandana and bows dancing around so proud of his/her new look. It's a wonderful feeling to see what you have accomplished when you look at the finished product. It's very rewarding!
(before and after pictures of a Toy Poodle)

Now, what should you look for and expect in a groomer and grooming salon:

1. Ask to see the facilities, beyond the lobby.
Look for cleanliness of the cages, floors and work areas. Of course there will be hair scattered about, but there shouldn’t be dirty kennels, tubs and floors. If they will not let you see the facility then leave promptly. Someone with nothing to hide would give you a tour of their shop/mobile unit.
2. Ask what their policies are on handling your pet.
Do they use muzzles and restraints safely ? How do they handle puppies, seniors, and nervous or difficult pets. Where do they keep the pets while they are waiting to be groomed? Ask questions that you are able to see the answers to, such as the kennels, the bathing area, dogs currently being groomed, products used and stored, sanitized, etc.
3. What are their credentials?
Talk with the groomers and ask where they have been trained. Ask them to provide you with some client references. Ask to see a photo book of their work. Don’t assume that all groomers are the same. You want to find someone who has experience, yet has a love for animals as well. Ask to see if they have any certificates from grooming seminars, schools, or classes that they have attended. Also find out if they belong to any grooming association either state or national.
4. Do they have style?
Find out if they have a specific breed that they specialize in. Are they familiar with the grooming needs of your breed. Are they interested in giving your pet a style and clip that is easy to maintain with your lifestyle. Not all dogs need to be shaved down. If their skills are limited to shave downs and they have no desire to create a stylish look for your pet, you may want to look else where.
5. Ask your friends, family or Vet to recommend a groomer.
Navigating the yellow pages for a groomer can be a daunting task. By asking people you know that have their pets groomed can save you a lot of time. However, don’t just take someone’s word for it. Follow the guidelines listed and it will help you find the groomer that will suit your needs, and make your pet look and feel great.

What does your groomer expect of you?
Your professional groomer expects you to be honest about your dog's temperament, health and previous grooming history. Your honesty will give the groomer a better understanding of how to handle your pet to the best of their ability. If you neglect to give truthful information it could be detrimental to your pet and the groomer.**
Be aware, if your dogs coat is matted it could cost you additional charges ranging from 15.00 to 40.00 per hour, depending on the groomer and the severity of the matted coat. Some groomers may not even do a de-matt, they may just shave your dog (due to the pain of de-matting) and ask you to maintain a much more diligent grooming schedule.
Your groomer will expect you to have your dog picked up from the salon within a reasonable time. Be considerate, and don’t leave your dog at the groomers all day long. Most groomers will give you a pick up time or call you when your pet is ready.
Tipping your groomer for a job well done is something you should do. The normal tipping scale is 15% of the total fee. If your groomer is an owner/operator you should still tip them for their hard work.

What you should expect from your groomer
Not all groomers are created equal. Never assume anything.
Ask for your pet to be provided with clean fresh water while they are in the salon, or mobile unit. If your pet is going to be in the salon for an extended period of time, ask what their policy is on walking your pet to let it relieve itself while it waits.
Grooming times vary from groomer to groomer and what they have scheduled. Ask how long it will take to groom your pet and ask for a pick up time.
Grooming fees vary between salon and mobile groomers. Ask how much your pet will cost to groom. Find out if there will be any other charges incurred prior to leaving your pet to be groomed. Let the groomer know that they have to ask permission to do additional services on your pet, such as flea dips, shave downs, etc. You shouldn’t have to pay for additional services that you didn’t agree to prior to leaving your pet.

Finally, you should be able to express what style of clip that you want your pet to receive. Let the groomer know your lifestyle and time constraints on keeping up with grooming at home. You should expect a clear and concise idea of what your pet will be groomed like.
You should expect to be able to speak with the groomer that will be working on your pet. You should expect to be treated with respect and your pet to be treated with dignity and compassion. Ask questions and be informed.

**If your dog is aggressive, or has been known to bite PLEASE be sure to let the groomer know! Getting bit is not fun, but it is nice to know ahead of time if the dog has bitten before. It won't matter to most groomers, we're used to it, remember. Forewarned is better than NOT warned.**
I can't tell you the number of times I have been bitten only to have the owner giggle and say "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about that". I think folks are afraid if they tell the groomer the dog bites, they won't groom the dog, that may be true with some groomers, but not all of us. A good groomer will not turn you away for telling them that, they will know what to expect and will be ready for it.

One last thing, one of my favorite sayings over the years has been "God does not groom dogs and I do not work miracles!". If your dog is extremely matted or has not been groomed in a long time, don't expect me to make it look like the dog you saw on the dog show. To have a dog clipped like that, it has to be groomed on average, every 4-6 weeks. If you don't take care of the brushing and care of the coat at home, don't expect me to "fix" it when you bring it to me. My main concern is your pet. I won't cause pain by de-matting a dog that hasn't been touched since last year, it is far better for the dog to be shaved down and start over. Then get on a regular grooming schedule.

(Miss Peggy Sue in her first clip)

Hope this helps some of you, if you have any other questions about grooming, you can email or leave a comment. Oh, and I'm sorry for not getting around to everyone's blogs, I'm hoping to get that done this weekend, those stained glass projects have been keeping me pretty busy.


Adrienne in Ohio said...

Angie, this is a great post full of useful information. Too bad I don't have a dog. :) It is amazing to se the before and afters though. Thanks for your visit today!

Suzuki said...

I don't get "groomed". Mum likes my scruffy like appearance :D
In summer she will clip me if needed but otherwise this fur blows free in the wind!
Big licks to you

Rudy said...

Wow what a post! My breeder is also a groomer and she works very hard too. She gets in all types and has been at it over 20 years. She's gotten to where she won't take a dog if it's too big for her to handle since it's just her working from home. She hurt herself trying to put a too-big dog on her table that's why... Mom came over one time to help her put her Deerhound up on her table just to do a little blow drying!

I'm just glad she knows how to groom us Bedlingtons, but of course she does -- she has Bedlingtons!


Allison (Dog Mom) said...

Great post, Angie! Full of information and very helpful. Thanks!

DCampy34 said...

Woodrow almost got groomed once - My ex's boxers always got groomed and it was a whole day spa event - massage, shampoo, etc. So for Christmas his mom got me a coupon for DaWoodster - Well brought I DaWoodster put him in his cage which only had a Magnetic lock!!! Wood spent the next 10-15 minutes showing us he could open the cage - didnt get out - well we were asked to leave - and told the coupon was non refundable.

Ransom said...

Wow! That was great information. My Spokeswoman is of the lazy variety, so she tends to gravitate towards dogs that don't require any grooming beyond a regular brushing down. She especially likes how my coat is pretty much self-cleaning...burrs, stick-tights, etc just slide off on their own... She also likes that (unlike my sister, Gabby, with the longer, fuller, softer, more gorgeous coat) I hardly shed at all. Like I said, she's a bit on the LAZY side!

JAN'S PLACE said...

great information, from the other side of the counter! I like the part:
"God does not groom dogs and I do not work miracles!" Randy Dog is the only one I have that has to be clipped. When he is clipped and groomed, you can tell he feels like a million!


catsmum said...

I'm so glad that you took my suggestion and posted all your good advice - specially after you'd taken the time and effort to write it all out for me.
Having followed your advice I MAY have found the right person for Bear.
Stopped a few people whose dogs appeared well looked after and asked - got the same answer most times - and it turns out that she lives less than 5 minutes away.
Will let you know how it turns out