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Discussion Starter #1
I have two boys you can see in my signature pic: one a toy poodle and one a miniature poodle mix. I took Cupid (poodle mix) to a nearby groomer a month or so after I got him. They just did a trim up, and I thought they did a good job. I didn't get the best vibes from the place, though. And when I picked him up, they asked if he had been groomed before because he was very skittish and uncertain about everything. He's a rescue, so I don't know his history. They suggested that I bring him back every month so he would get used to the process.

However, the next month, I took him to be boarded while I was away on vacation, and I decided to have him groomed there. I told them what the previous groomer had said about his skittishness so they would be prepared, and they called with the news that he had been shy but he had done well. I took him there to be groomed again, and he seemed to do fine.

Then I discovered that the boarding place doesn't do the extras, like nails, anal glands, ear cleaning. So after I got Clayton (toy poodle), I decided to give the first place another try. I took them both there on Friday--Clayton for a full groom and Cupid for a trim up. I like both boys' faces, but Clay's hair is very, very short, even after they showed me several options and I picked one that would be more than half an inch. I still didn't have great vibes about the place, so I won't be going back.

The thing is, I'd love to keep going to the boarding groomer, but they don't do the extras, and it's a bit far (half an hour away). So I need to find a new groomer. What's the best way to do it? I'd especially like to find someone who is skilled with shy dogs. I don't really know anyone I can ask . . . my friends with dogs don't need grooming.

Any tips for finding the right groomer?
 

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I think my first question would be - what exactly are you looking for in a groomer?
You stated that you didn't get "good vibes" which, believe me, I can understand I am also very in tune with vibes, but I'm not sure exactly what may have turned you off and that may be helpful to know.

Are you looking for someone who's specialty is handling your dog who may be a little shy? Are you looking for convenience? Are you looking for someone cheap? Are you looking for super high quality technical grooming skills? Are you looking for somewhere that doesn't keep your dogs long? ....

There are many questions I would need to look into and then I may be able to gently suggest some options to check out. So many people with so many different ideas of which qualities that they consider make a "good groomer"

I referred one lady to a groomer in my area because it was holiday season and I was too booked up to take her in the last minute.
I told her that I really liked this groomer because I had worked with her before and I thought she was very kind and gentle with the dogs, and I really trusted her handling. The lady didn't even acknowledge what I said and responded with,

"But is she good at scissoring?"

So, what do you consider to be a good fit for you and your dogs?
 

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Great answer Groovy. Knowing that would help alot. When you decide what you are looking for in a groomer, then you can make a list of questions to ask that facility. Keep in mind that its going to be hard to find a groomer/salon that has excellent customer service, fast turnaround times, low prices, perfect haircuts, and a short distance from you, all at the same place. Just like with any other service, its usually hard to find it all in one place, though I do believe it can be found. Many GREAT groomers (as in quality of haircuts) are not the most "personable" people, and that does not mean they won't treat your dog very well, but lets face it...animal people relate to animals many times, because they have a hard time relating to people..LOL So give many of us groomers a break if we seem a bit "wierd"..;) It took me a VERY long time to feel comfortable talking with clients. Also keep in mind that many groomers will not tell clients that their dogs are scared, naughty, etc..anything but perfect. Many groomers believe that owners don't want to hear that, but only want to hear how perfect their pets are..So just because a groomer says they were great does not necessarily mean that is the case. You can check out the web too. There are many sites like Yahoolocal, and merchantcircle where people can write reviews on places. And ask your local vet, go to your local pet store, and ask people in there with their pets where they take them, and how they like it, etc. You may have to try a few places in order to find the perfect place for you and your dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Good questions. Here's what I want:

  • Good at handling fearful dogs
  • Personal touch: willing to work with a newbie dog owner to understand what I want and willing to work with dog to make the experience a more comfortable one, even if it takes more time
Price and location would also be considered, but they would be secondary issues. Time spent is not an issue at all. The longer they are at the groomer, the more I can get done around the house. :)

For clarity's sake, I will call the recent grooming place RG and the boarding groomer BG. The personal touch is probably the biggest reason why I won't go back to RG. The atmosphere seemed like one big assembly line. Does that make sense? I mean, I know that anything like grooming, hair salons, etc. may have an assembly-line feel to it. But a little personal touch can make all the difference.

I can definitely understand that some people wouldn't want to hear that their dog was anything but perfect. The RG seemed annoyed after the trim-up when she asked whether Cupid had been groomed before. When I explained what little I knew about Cupid's history, they seemed to have a "whatever" kind of attitude. Kind of like, "it's done, so see ya." I left with a not-so-great feeling about it. So this was basically the second chance . . . I'm not going to try again.

I do hope that the BG was honest with me, and I think she was. She called me right after the grooming to tell me how it went, because I called that morning to let them know what the RG had said about him being skittish. When she called, she said he was shy but that he'd done fine. The last time I had him groomed at the BG, she told me that Cupid had done OK but had some mats on his legs and seemed like he just didn't want to have any of it. So I do believe she was being honest.

I'm not surprised that Cue would be a challenge. Since hearing about the mat problem, I've been brushing and combing his hair five or six days a week, and he tolerates it at best. So skill with skittish dogs is high on my priority list.

One more thing: I've noticed that Clayton has been biting at his tail and chewing on his paws a bit today. Would this be related to the grooming?
 

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You can ask your vet if they know of anyone. I know my vet has someone right there who does grooming and she is great. I wouldnt have known except I asked if they knew of anyone. However, surely they have heard of someone.
 

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Have you considered asking a local breeder? They may do grooming on the side and if not- they can usually recommend someone.
 

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Maybe there's an online resource - like Angie's List or something like that? If there were such a thing, would you use it? Would you post a review of your groomer?
 
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