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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm considering groomers to take our newly rescued doggy to, and wanted to tap into the opinions of everyone here first - particularly about corporate grooming chains like Petco & Petsmart!

So, what are your perceptions of corporate grooming chains? I'm genuinely curious about how people feel about these. They're at the top of my list for various reasons, but want to hear what you all think about them.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Big old nope here. My groomer owns her own business, so I'm supporting a local small business when I take my animals there. I also know exactly who'll be grooming them, and what her experience and approach is, so it's not some random kid that just got hired last week and happened to have a shift that day. (I know you can request specific groomers at chains, but I also know that they'll just substitute whomever if the scheduled person is out.) There's also less volume and traffic, which is calmer for the dogs, and presents fewer opportunities for disease transmission. And she doesn't charge any more than the chains do, anyway. So, lots of reasons to go to her rather than to a chain store. I can't think of any way a chain store would be superior, really.
 

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My dog is a poodle mix so he gets a full groom every 6-8 weeks depending on the weather (stretching longer sometimes in winter if I can stand his hair being long). He is 4 years old so he has had a lot of grooming done. I used to take him to Petsmart. The people at the Petsmart in my town really aren't all that bad. I got to know the head groomers personally as well as most of the other staff. My dog was always nervous going in, but I never had to drag him or anything, and often when I came back to pick him up he was the only dog left and they would have him loose (confined still by 2 doors) and playing fetch or tug with him.

However, I wasn't always satisfied with his actual haircut and there were times it took 5-6 hours for him to be finished (a 15lb dog and I never let his hair get matted/out of control). I found the two groomers who always did the "best" and would book appointments with only them but sometimes would end up with a different groomer. If you have a short haired dog, that probably doesn't matter, but if you have a long haired dog who needs a really grooming and cut and want a consistent style, it matters. One time they totally got rid of his top knot after I asked for it to be a little shorter than last time and he looked like a literal RAT lmao. Luckily I'm good natured about it.

I now will only go to a locally owned salon. It took me a while to find one I felt comfortable with, hence my long stint with Petsmart, but now I would never go back. The price is the same if not cheaper and they actually listen to what I have to say and give me the cut I want every time. They also have little rooms/pens for the dogs to wait in when they are done or before they start versus being crated in a back room somewhere. The whole place is open and they encourage people to swing by whenever to chat or book appointments. The place is way quieter than a chain store, totally different (calmer) atmosphere.

Chain groomers offer more convenience in some cases because you can book online and often get an appointment right away, same day, even within a few hours. They also run specials more often than the smaller businesses. I can understand that. But I think we owe it to our dogs to not just go to the most convenient groomer and instead go to the one with a better, safer environment and much more overall dog knowledge. I wish I had researched groomers BEFORE getting my dog - I should have - but I wasn't expecting a long haired dog, never mind a poodle mix. Sorry, Oli, for the man handling and bad hair days.
 

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Just like at a small, locally owned and operated grooming salon, you will find a mix of good, bad, and indifferent groomers in the chain stores.

If you are particular about a style (like a particular Poodle clip) or want creative grooming, including coloring or custom clips, and/or have a dog on the shy or nervous end of the spectrum, then a small, local salon would probably be your best bet.

If you are more of the "cut it all short and give him a bath" type person with a relatively bomb-proof dog, then the convenience of a large chain might be a better fit.

Another option is to buy the equipment and learn to do it yourself. You'll need the basics of brushes, combs and nail grinder anyway, just to maintain your dog's coat and nails between professional groomings.
 

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I personally take my new puppy to a small private groomer. I know places like Petsmart get a bad rap. My mom's little malti/poo went to Petsmart grooming for several years before she moved. We always asked for the same girl as she was particularly good with him as he could be difficult. So if you go the Petsmart route and find someone who does a job you are pleased with, then I would always make an appointment with that person. I don't know if stores are set up exactly the same throughout the country. But I was at my local Petsmart in NJ a few days ago. I walked past the grooming area that has a full glass window so every pet being groomed can be observed. There were also a few customers sitting inside in some chairs close to where all the dogs were being groomed.
 

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I have always clipped my own dogs and still do my little ones but when I got a Standard Poodle, there was no way I could get her up onto my grooming table so had to look around for a groomer. There is only one person doing big dogs and she is about a 3/4 hour drive away, then have to make the trip again to pick her up, that is if you can get an appointment. Luckily Bonnie, my other big dog (a Golden Doodle) will get up on a chair and then onto the grooming table so I can still do her myself. Guess I will just have to train the Poodle to do the same.
 

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I never saw myself as "the type" to take my dog to a groomer and that was the dealbreaker with poodles--love them, never thought I would even consider one for my own dog.

Then my teeny tiny chi mix puppy was getting stressed out by my attempts to clip her nails, all I could remember from growing up with dogs was "we just did it", and $10 made our problem go away. We decided to go with a local groomer instead of Petco because we can.

Petco has been helpful with free grooming tips and advice on what tools to use and sorting out health issues from personal preferences.

I don't take Laurel there right now for the same reasons I don't use other corporate chains, but if I ever need a groomer in the future and there aren't any other options, I'd follow NadiaK's advice before I'd walk away from a poodle or other "high maintenance" breed that was otherwise a good fit.

Money just isn't that important.
 

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My wife has taken our pup to Petsmart for bath, nails, ear cleaning. It's gotten worse each time. Just yesterday they had him for close to 2 hrs. They start and if the get a walk in, they drop everything to cater to them. Bullshit!! They won't be getting anymore of our money. Going to a local small business groomer for next time. We'll pay extra for good care and service.
 

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It's not the kind of business (corporate or private) but the PERSON who does the grooming, the type of dog, and the kind of styling it needs. (Like short haiedr or heavily matted). A big indication of success is whether the dog happily goes in for service, or freezes at the threshold! No dog should need to be drug into the shop. What the client sees through the (corporate) glass window is not all that happens behind the scenes. Bathing, brushing, and drying is usually in a side or back room. It's best for your dog to have a relationship with the same person each time. Doing so makes the same person accountable for whatever happens. And the owner is able to tell if the dog is being treated well throughout the grooming process. The owner must do their part for the dog to have the best experience, like removing mats on a long haired dog (at home, brushing should be a calming experience). You can't expect a groomer to undo 6 weeks of total neglect ending up with a perfectly styled outcome. Your dog needs to be comfortable with the "forced air" drying process. Some dogs hate their face being blown, and others are afraid of the noise. So it might need the use of an adjustable dryer. Interview the business and the people handling your dog. Get a referral from clients. In terms of your dog, start with a simple service (bath/brush/drying) to get the pet used to the process. Like being left for a period of time, in the hands of strangers, and in the presence of other dogs. And is being exposed to an unfamiliar (maybe uncomfortable) process. Ask if the groomer can give your dog a few (non messy) treats, and provide your own treats! My dog loved to visit the groomer because he got a goody at the end! It's best to work with the most flexible staff you can find. Who understand your dog's personality. Don't rush the grooming expectation. And DON'T shortchange them on payment. You want "your" dog to be their "favorite" client! Trust me, grooming a minimum of 10 dogs daily is grueling work! So you only want the people who love pets the most, to be working on yours.
 

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We have taken our dogs to the groomer at our vet's office, Tracey. She's been there for many years and we know and trust her, and the animals love her.

Isobel has not yet been groomed (she's only around 22 weeks and hasn't needed it yet) but she has met Tracey, we took her to the spa side of the clinic after her last puppy checkup. Tracey gave her lots of ear scratches and praise and seemed to set Izzy at ease.

I've heard too many horror stories about the chains, I just don't trust it. And I so feel much safer knowing medical care is immediately available on the off chance something goes wrong at the groomer.
 

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It's not the kind of business (corporate or private) but the PERSON who does the grooming, the type of dog, and the kind of styling it needs. (Like short haiedr or heavily matted). A big indication of success is whether the dog happily goes in for service, or freezes at the threshold! No dog should need to be drug into the shop. What the client sees through the (corporate) glass window is not all that happens behind the scenes. Bathing, brushing, and drying is usually in a side or back room. It's best for your dog to have a relationship with the same person each time. Doing so makes the same person accountable for whatever happens. And the owner is able to tell if the dog is being treated well throughout the grooming process. The owner must do their part for the dog to have the best experience, like removing mats on a long haired dog (at home, brushing should be a calming experience). You can't expect a groomer to undo 6 weeks of total neglect ending up with a perfectly styled outcome. Your dog needs to be comfortable with the "forced air" drying process. Some dogs hate their face being blown, and others are afraid of the noise. So it might need the use of an adjustable dryer. Interview the business and the people handling your dog. Get a referral from clients. In terms of your dog, start with a simple service (bath/brush/drying) to get the pet used to the process. Like being left for a period of time, in the hands of strangers, and in the presence of other dogs. And is being exposed to an unfamiliar (maybe uncomfortable) process. Ask if the groomer can give your dog a few (non messy) treats, and provide your own treats! My dog loved to visit the groomer because he got a goody at the end! It's best to work with the most flexible staff you can find. Who understand your dog's personality. Don't rush the grooming expectation. And DON'T shortchange them on payment. You want "your" dog to be their "favorite" client! Trust me, grooming a minimum of 10 dogs daily is grueling work! So you only want the people who love pets the most, to be working on yours.
^^^THIS^^^^^
I agree that it does not matter if it is corporate or private, you have to find the right groomer for you and your dog.
 
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