What questions to ask a groomer?
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Thread: What questions to ask a groomer?

  1. #1
    Senior Member winniec777's Avatar
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    What questions to ask a groomer?

    My dog is difficult to groom so I need to be careful about where we take her. We'll likely be moving soon to a new area and will need to find a new groomer. I always tell the groomer about her quirks (hates water sprays, bites towels, snaps) before hand and make sure they're comfortable taking her on. What questions do I need to ask the groomer before leaving her with a new one? I ask if they have experience working with difficult dogs and what they do if a dog does x or y. Does anyone have a handy list of things to ask? Many thanks!

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    Senior Member Durbkat's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Other than asking if they have experience with difficult dogs and what they would do if the dog does this or that. Thats all I can think of. Just be sure to tell them what to expect or they may not groom her.


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    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Thats a great start with questions about whether they take on aggressive dogs or not. Explain how she is, and ask them first if they are willing to groom her. If so, then you can ask questions about their credentials. Just because your dog is difficult does not mean that you have to "take what you can get."

    How long have they been grooming?
    Do they attend continuing education seminars yearly/reg. basis?
    Are they experience with this breed? Photos of the haircuts?
    Are they willing to provide references?
    Are they willing to let you see the salon and bathing area? (to check for cleanliness, etc)
    Do they use heated dryers?

    Thats a good start list. I am sure others can add more. If you feel uncomfortable with any of their answers, then I would keep looking.

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    Senior Member winniec777's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Those are great questions -- thanks to you both! Another question -- what kind of response would be a red flag? Hitting or shouting is obvious -- I doubt any groomer would admit to that. What techniques do some groomers use with difficult dogs that I should watch out for? For example, if a groomer's first instinct was to throw a muzzle on my dog, I would be leary of that groomer (muzzles make her even more frenzied -- I would want the groomer to be firm and patient first, then try the muzzle if that wasn't working). Any other flags? Thanks.

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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Gosh, I'm beginning to sound like a broken record; but have you considered bathing her yourself at home with a tubless, waterless bath? The one I really like is BingoBath, some of the others are good for spot cleaning, but this stuff really works and its such a wonderful half hour with your dog.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Well, to be quite honest, you are probably going to have a hard time finding a groomer that isn't going to muzzle a dog that is difficult or aggressive. If we are bitten, it can put us out of work for extended periods of time, and many time, depending on where we are bitten, can need surgery to restore the use of the hand,arm, etc. That means we cannot make a living and provide for our families. Experienced and seasoned groomers know this, and asking a groomer not to use a muzzle on your dog that is difficult is probably going to get you sent out the door to another groomer who will tell you the same thing. You may find a newer, less experienced groomer willing to try without, but then you are sacrificing knowledge and experience. I would suggest you train her to wear a muzzle at home so that she does not get frenzied when one is on. I am sure they can help you with that on the training part of the forum. There is absolutely nothing wrong with muzzling a dog, and it does not hurt them. It would be of great benefit to you and your pup to learn to accept the muzzle. Ideally, of course, she would learn to accept grooming and continue to improve every time. I would recommend you have her groomed very often, to get her more accustomed to it, and when it is part of her regular routine, chances are she will get better and better. (with a good, calm and knowledgable groomer of course. A bad session can send her backwards in her learning)

    As far as the questions go, many of the responses are just going to be what you are looking for or not. If she were my dog, I would want a groomer with at LEAST 5 years experience grooming. There is just so much to learn, and I know I didn't really feel confident until I had been grooming about 5 years.

    Of course you want them to be attending continuing education seminars/trade shows at least once a year.

    You DON'T want heated cage dryers. Of any kind. There is no reason for them with todays high velocity dryers, and volume air fans. They are dangerous, old school, and IMO have no place in a grooming salon in todays world. The risk is not worth it. The dog doesn't look nice after cage drying.

    And of course, you want them to be able to provide references, and let you see the salon and bathing area.

    If the groomer has a "Groomer's Helper" that would be a big plus. They work well on difficult dogs, as they keep them from spinning on the table and keep their head away from the groomer. You want someone who is nice, yet firm for your dog, and someone who is willing to and can take the time to retrain her for the grooming process so that is does not have to be so stressful.

    I am not a fan of having a "helper" with difficult dogs. Its much easier to train the dog to relax and allow grooming than it is to "force" it by having someone hold them, restrain them, etc. When its the dog's idea, they learn much faster and calm down much easier. For instance, a dog that doesn't like nail trims. I will simply hold the paw (not trimming the nails) until the dog stops spinning,etc and holds still. Then I release the paw, do it again, until I have all the nails trimmed. I can't count how many clients brought their dogs in to me for nails and the dogs had been held down at the vets, etc and learned that trims were a horrible scary experience. Now I can trim all those dogs nails without any problems. THey stand up on the table or floor like seasoned champs. They know that I am going to hold their paw until they relax, and then its going to be over. No more struggling, fighting, screaming, flailing for nail trims and no more bad experiences. Your dog can be retrained to tolerate grooming better. She may never love it, but she can be taught to allow it and in the end it will be less stress for everyone including herself.

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    Senior Member Love's_Sophie's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Nicely put Graco...I don't think I can think of anything else to add after this one!!!

    Good luck finding a new groomer...

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    Senior Member winniec777's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Again, thank you all for you responses. Graco22 -- will you plse come and groom my dog??? Your approach sounds exactly like the one I would want her groomer to use!

    Lovin'dawgs: I do use a waterless shampoo on her and it does work well, especially after a trip to the beach. And I do dremel her nails every couple of weeks and wipe out her ears once a week. I do like her to get a good grooming from a professional about every 4-6 weeks, though, since they have a lot of knowledge I don't have and will take care of things I'm sure I don't even see. And she looks tons better than I can get her to look! So I'll keep working on her. She is getting better. Just takes work and the right groomer.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    No matter the breed, no one at home can get the same effect as a good groomer with a HV dryer. It just isn't possible. I take that back, maybe with a boxer or other VERY short haired dog. But still, on those dogs, we have tools that most pet owners don't have at home to help shed the dog out, grind nails, coat specific shampoos, coat sprays, etc. I agree that taking her to the groomer is a good idea, and she will get better when you find a good groomer and take her regularly. ALL dogs benefit from professional grooming IMO. I would LOVE to groom her for you if you are moving to Illinois.

  11. #10
    Senior Member winniec777's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Just a quick follow-up on Poca's progress...We had to go out of town on short notice and left her to stay overnight for 4 nights/5 days at the same place where she sometimes goes to doggie daycare. The staff are great and were willing to work with her all week getting her used to a muzzle and to different parts of the grooming process in the 4 days leading up to the big day. We picked her up on the 5th day and she looked great! They reported that she did just fine -- even let them clip her nails with little fuss. I suspect it may have something to do with the emergency grooming peanut butter I gave them in her overnight bag when we dropped her off! So she's getting used to it. I think the key has been to have people she really likes working with her. Makes developing a relationship with the groomer on the front end real important. Another lesson learned!

  12. #11
    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: What questions to ask a groomer?

    Thank you for the update on her! It sounds like you found a wonderful place, and they are taking the time needed to retrain her to accept grooming, and eventually take it to a fun/positive experience! I am so glad that you have found a nice place to continue a relationship with your pup.

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