I wish my dog could talk.
How many of you fellow pet parents have that thought now and again? I especially start thinking like that when I must hand my precious Cocker Spaniel off to the veterinarian or groomer. Deep inside, I trust them, but there is still that twinge of “crud, I can’t see what they are doing back there” running through my mind.
As a dog mom to two Cocker Spaniels, I have been to the groomer hundreds of time over the course of 20 years. As a result, I’ve learned a thing or two about groomers, what goes on behind the scenes, and essentially, the five things your dog wishes you knew about the pet groomer.
State agencies are responsible for requiring and/or regulating licensing for pet groomers. In the states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, a license is not required; however, in New York and Connecticut, a license is required. No specific educational requirements exist to become a pet groomer. Because this varies from state to state, check with your Secretary of State’s office to determine if licensing is required. They can also let you know if the school you are interested in attending is in good standing.
“Accreditation” and “state licensing” are two different animals. To achieve accreditation, a school usually has to have been licensed for two years and have met all requirements of the accrediting agency. Their physical plant would have to pass regulations as well. Accreditation allows schools to offer financial aid and various governmental programs available to veterans and those qualifying for occupational retraining and rehabilitation programs. Many also offer their own financial aid and loan programs.
Although pet groomers can choose to become certified through the National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc., it is not required for licensing. On-the-job training and apprenticeships tend to be the most common ways for pet groomers to learn and hone their craft. A person who graduates from an accredited grooming school differs from one that received state licensing. Accredited school means an accrediting agency qualified them and they have been licensed for at least two years. Experience matters and so do referrals, so I always ask for the referrals from clients before making any grooming appointments for my dog.
Having sat at a university hospital in a waiting room with a Yorkie mom whose dog suffered severe razor burn from a tool of the grooming trade, I have learned to ask the questions to which both I and my dog need answers.
Some of these questions include:
How long have you been dog grooming?
Will my dog always have the same groomer?
Can I talk to some of your previous clients?
Where did you receive your training?
What are the costs involved?
Are there any hidden fees?
Are your tools cleaned frequently?
Dogs can’t tell us what goes on behind closed doors, so be your pet’s advocate and find out up front to the best of your pet parenting ability.
Visit the prospective groomers you are considering for your pet, and visit without the dog so you can ask questions, focus on the task at hand and not cause your pooch any unnecessary stress. Notice the appearance of the facility, if it’s clean, how the groomers are talking to and handling the dogs, and ask any questions you might have. Call me attentive to detail, but I’ve done the same thing when researching a veterinarian for my dog.
Dogs will not accept grooming for the most part if they are not accustomed to touching, bathing, and the general process of grooming.
To help get your dog ready for his first grooming experience, ensure he’s accustomed to having his paws touched, to getting a bath and to allowing strangers to touch him. Never take an unruly dog to the groomer, as this just causes stress for the dog, the groomer, and ultimately, for you. I bathe and dry my dog in advance of grooming, but that is a personal choice.
Overall it’s important to trust your inner voice during the process of finding the groomer who will handle your dog, and if you are not happy about the premises and do not feel comfortable leaving your dog there, then by all means, don’t do it. Keep in mind that you can ask to wait out front while your dog is groomed, too. Most dogs will wait in a cage until their turn arrives, so if your pooch must do this, be sure he’s not afraid of a crate before that happens.
Finding a good groomer can take a bit of time and effort, but if you show up armed with questions and a plan, it’ll be well worth the effort. Now, off to brush my pooch.