- What is dog grooming?
- Finding the Perfect Professional Groomer Near You
- What to do (and not to do) at your first grooming appointment
- What to do:
- What NOT to do:
- Grooming at Home
Is Fluffly looking a little flat? Is Fido smelling less than fresh? Then you and your furry friend are in need of a dog groomer! But you may be asking, “how do I find the best dog groomers near me?” Read along and find tips not only on keeping Spot spotless at home but also on how to find a good groomer near you!
What is dog grooming?
If you’re new to dog ownership or haven’t yet found the need for grooming you may be wondering, what exactly is dog grooming? Why is it important? Does my dog need grooming?
When many people think of dog grooming, they think of perfectly primped Poodles, hair bows and all. And while this is part of dog grooming, dog grooming is also a needed hygienic practice, necessary for all dogs. While your dog may not need his hair coiffed like a show winning Bichon Frise, odds are he would benefit from other grooming practices such as de-shedding, soothing baths, nail trims, and ear cleanings. For example, all but the most active dogs need nail trims from time to time. And regular ear cleanings and anal gland expressions can prevent infections and discomfort from the beginning. Though not all dogs require all grooming services, below is a list of some services offered by most dog groomers:
- Bathes, both fragranced and medicated
- Nail trims/nail grinding
- Ear Cleaning
- Anal gland expression
- Teeth cleaning
- Ear plucking
- Sanitary trims
- Full hair cuts
Finding the Perfect Professional Groomer Near You
For those that would rather a professional handle their dog’s grooming needs, most towns have multiple groomers available to service their pets. But you may be wondering, “How do I find a dog groomer near me? What should I look for in a groomer? How much will dog grooming cost me?” Below we will delve further into these questions and more and explore your options when it comes to professional grooming.
What is a dog groomer?
Simply put, a dog groomer is someone who earns a living caring for the hygiene and appearance of dogs. This can span the range of simple bathes to elaborate grooms for competition and anywhere in between.
How do I find a good groomer?
With so many grooming options out there, how do you find the right groomer for you and your dog? Unfortunately, grooming is not a well-regulated industry in the USA, and anyone can call themselves a groomer. Luckily, with a little work, it is not hard to find a quality groomer near you.
One of the best ways to find a good groomer is to ask your friends and family. Certain breeds, like Poodles and Shih Tzus, need regular grooming, so owners of such breeds most likely know a groomer or two. Another option is to contact nearby reputable dog breeders who have usually have contacts with local groomers and know who to contact and who not to. Another option is to ask your veterinarian. Many times, vet offices offer in house grooming as well.
Because certification is not required in the USA, most groomers are not certified. Though not necessary, certification shows that a groomer has gone above and beyond and invested time and money in their training. If certification is important to you, check the National Dog Groomer Association of America’s listings for a certified groomer near you.
Once you have narrowed down your grooming choices talk with your prospective groomer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Examples of questions would be:
- How long have you been grooming?
- How many dogs do you groom in a day?
- Are you certified in canine CPR?
- How long does it take you to groom a dog?
- Are dogs kenneled or cageless?
- Can I see photos of your work?
- May I tour your facility?
- What is your grooming philosophy?
- Do you require vaccinations?
- Are you experienced with my breed of dog?
- Are you comfortable grooming elderly dogs? Special needs dogs?
This list is not exhaustive but should provide you with a starting point for finding the right groomer for you.
What types of dog groomers are out there?
Dog groomers can be broken down into a few types depending on where they work. Different types of groomers can meet different types of needs. Depending on your needs and the needs of your pet, a certain style of grooming may be better for you.
Most dog groomers are brick and mortar groomers, meaning they operate from a shop. Clients drop their dogs off at the grooming shop and return for their pets at a predetermined time. This style of the shop is the most popular and most towns will offer a groomer of this type.
In recent years the number of mobile groomers has been growing. Mobile groomers usually operate out of a converted van or bus and offer the same services as a standard grooming shop except they come to your house. Mobile groomers almost always work on one dog at a time, meaning your dog is groomed from start to finish, whereas in brick and mortar shops they are usually one of many dogs being groomed on a schedule that day. Mobile grooming is convenient for those that do not want their dogs kenneled and those with difficult to work around schedules. However, this convenience comes at a price: expect to pay 15-20% at a mobile groomer. Begin your search for mobile groomers near me online. Most of these services are offered out of larger cities but many mobile groomers are willing to travel for a price.
House call groomers operate similarly to mobile groomers, however, they use your tub or sink to bathe the dog and set up their grooming table in your home or garage. House call groomers are excellent for dogs that will not do well in a shop environment and for those whose schedules make drop-off and pick-up times difficult. This type of groomer is somewhat difficult to find and they often charge a premium for their services.
What is included in dog grooming?
When booking grooming services for your dog always ask what services your particular groomer has available. Some typical services are:
- Scented shampoo and conditioner
- Medicated shampoo for skin conditions
- Ear plucking
- Ear cleaning
- Teeth brushing
- Full hair cut
- “Face and Feet” touch up hair cut
- Nail trim
- Nail grinding
- Brushing and combing
- Anal gland expression
How much does dog grooming cost?
The cost of dog grooming varies from groomer to groomer, town to town, and is also dependent on your individual dog, after all, it is less labor-intensive to bath a Chihuahua than a Great Dane! Generally, expect to pay between $40-$100 for a grooming appointment. Most groomers include nails, and ear cleaning in their price though some may charge extra for things such as anal gland expression, the use of medicated shampoo, and teeth brushing. Be sure to enquire with your selected groomer what all services are included in their grooming fee. Many groomers will often charge an additional fee for brushing and de-matting if doing so becomes extra time intensive or if an animal’s behavior complicates the grooming process. Again, simply ask your groomer their pricing system and what services you can expect to receive. Being well informed helps lessen sticker shock and allows you to prepare financially for the cost of regular grooming.
Many people look at the cost of grooming and decide against professional grooming. But remember behind the price tag is not only the services provided (bath, drying, haircut, nails, etc.) but the years of training and the personal care of your animal.
Preparing for your first visit to the groomer
You and Fido can rest easy upon your first trip to the groomer with a little prep work on your behalf. The best thing you can do for your dog is to socialize them to the grooming environment as early in life as possible. Dogs that receive regular grooming simply view the experience as a normal, non-stressful part of life. If your dog is older and inexperienced with the process you can still give him an advantage by preparing him at home. Regular brushing, combing, bathing, and nail trims will make it so that his first trip to the groomer is a breeze
What to do (and not to do) at your first grooming appointment
Going to the groomer should not be stressful for you or your pet and following these simple guidelines will help make the experience positive and painless for you and Fluffy.
What to do:
1. Be there on time
All groomers, whether they operate from a shop or a mobile unit, depend on their schedule. When juggling multiple dogs over the course of the day, knowing when their doggy clients arrive and leave is essential for not only helping the day run smoothly but for ensuring your doggy gets the time and pampering they need!
2. Let your dog do his business outside before going in
Dogs have accidents, it’s a fact of life. But taking your pup outside to do his business before he goes inside the groomers is best for everyone involved. Most housebroken dogs don’t like to make a mess inside, so depriving your doggy of a pre-grooming potty break can create stress if he has an accident inside. And though groomers are no strangers to cleaning a stinky kennel, time spent cleaning poop is time spent away from giving your dog his spa day.
3. Keep your leash at the shop
Though this policy varies from shop to shop, many groomers prefer if you leave your dog’s leash with them. That way your pup is ready to go when you pick up and there’s no need to awkwardly try to corral your unleashed dog back into the car at the end of the day!
4. Communicate with your groomer
When it comes to your doggy’s haircut, what you think is a little off the top, and what your groomer chooses may be very different things! Try to communicate your desires to your groomer as best as possible. Bring photos and be as descriptive as you can. Remember hair grows back and working with a new groomer is a bit like a work in progress, you both communicate back and forth until you find the look for Fido that you had in mind!
Also be sure to communicate with your groomer any and all health and behavioral issues your dog may have. If your dog is in poor health or has any injuries, your groomer needs to know in order to care for your pup appropriately. Likewise, let them know of any behavioral quirks your dog may possess. Whether Fluffy is a bit aggressive, reactive, or anxious your groomer will greatly appreciate your open communication. Better communication means a better experience for you, your dog, and your groomer.
5. Follow the groomer’s advice
Your groomer works with dogs all day, and has often done so for many years. They are great repositories of knowledge on grooming and behavior. If your groomer offers advice for caring for your dog’s skin, coat, or behavior during grooming, listen up! Groomers will often instruct owners to brush and comb their dogs frequently, not to lessen their workload but to better enable them to give the dog the look the owner desires! Groomer’s often also have advice on how to socialize dogs to aspects of grooming such as nail trims, in order to make the experience more pleasant for the dog. Following these tips will help your dog enjoy their trips to the groomer that much more.
6. Feel free to tip
And I’m not just saying this as a groomer! If you’re happy with your dog’s groom, we love it when our customers show their appreciation whether it’s through tipping or just sharing their positive experience with others!
What NOT to do:
1. Be too early or too late
As mentioned above, a well-run groom shop depends on timing and scheduling. Arriving too early or too late can through off a whole day’s schedule. We understand that sometimes life happens, so please give your groomer a courtesy call if you cannot make your scheduled appointment time.
2. Give vague instructions
The better your instructions, the better the result, and the opposite is true too! If you can’t articulate or show the groomer what you want it will be impossible for them to deliver you your dream doggy look.
3. Ask your groomer for veterinary advice
Because groomers work so closely with dogs, they learn a great deal about canine health and behavior. But outside of coat health and behavior in the shop, most medical questions are best left to veterinarians! You don’t ask your vet to cut your dog’s hair, so don’t ask your groomer to diagnose your dog!
4. Have unrealistic expectations
Just like people’s hair, each individual dog has a different coat that looks and behaves differently. Though you may have a certain look in mind for your doggy, his hair may not agree! Talk with your groomer about what sort of styles will suit your dog and you’ll both be happy!
Grooming at Home
Whether you seek professional grooming services or not, some grooming procedures can be done at home. Not only will grooming at home keep your dog looking and feeling better longer, but doing so will increase your bond with your pet and maybe save you a few dollars.
If you choose to groom at home, remember to make the experience enjoyable for your dog, which will, in turn, make the experience enjoyable for you. As you and your pet learn together to take your time. Take breaks as needed and praise your dog at every step, reinforcing good behavior and redirecting less desirable behavior. Extra yummy treats and patience make the home grooming experience a positive one for dog and owner.
Bathing Your Dog at Home
Depending on your dog’s coat and skin, grooming at home may be simple or more involved. For all grooms, the bath is the heart and soul of a good groom. Whether you own a Bulldog or a Briard, getting your dog good and clean not only prepares his coat for grooming, it also helps remove dirt, debris, and dander that may be unsightly and uncomfortable.
In order to get a good clean, you need a good shampoo. Refrain from using human shampoo as some of the ingredients can be irritating to your dog’s skin. Select a mild dog shampoo and conditioner to begin with. Wash your dog, taking care to not get soap in his eyes, nose, mouth or ears. Water and soap in the ears can cause infection. To ensure a dry ear, you can gently pack your dog’s ear canal with cotton and clean with an alcohol-based ear cleaner to ensure all water in the ear is dried. While washing your dog, aim to get them squeaky-clean before finishing with your conditioner.
For short-coated dogs the drying process is generally easy; usually, a thorough drying with a towel is more than enough. If your dog has a thicker coat you can also use a hairdryer on the lowest setting, making sure to hold the dryer far enough away from the dog’s skin and avoiding the eyes, ears, nose, and rectum.
For longer or thicker coated dogs, towel dries using as many towels as necessary to get the dog as dry as possible. After towel drying then follows with either a hairdryer or you can dry your pet in their kennel. To do so simply put your towel-dried dog in their kennel with a towel or absorbent blanket and use a house fan on the lowest setting to dry the dog. Check your dog regularly to ensure they are comfortable and remove the dog when dry to be brushed and combed.
Brushing and Combing Your Dog at Home
The brushing and combing needs of your dog depend on their coat type and length. Below brushing and combing are broken down between short-coated, long-coated, and double-coated dogs.
For short-coated dogs like the coats of Boxers, Labradors, and Beagles, brushing is all that is needed. For at-home grooming, owners should regularly brush out loose and dead coat, especially before and after a bath. To do so use a rubber curry, or short bristled slicker brush. If your dog is not used to brushing or has sensitive skin try using just the rubber curry or your hand to loosen dead hair.
Many shorter coated dogs also have a fine layer of undercoat that is best removed with a de-shedding tool like the Furminator which removes undercoat while leaving the topcoat. Finally, to finish your short-haired dog’s groom, you can spray on a coat conditioner like mink oil, use a dog cologne of choice, or simply leave the dog as is.
For longer coated dogs the brushing and combing process is a little more involved. Prior to bathing, longer coated dogs should be brushed and combed to remove dead coat (no point in washing coat that will fall out) and combed to make sure there are no knots. Combing is a crucial and often overlooked step, that when done properly and regularly greatly reduces matting and discomfort for your pet. In order to ensure that your dog is thoroughly brushed and combed, pick a point on your dog such as the shoulder and gently and carefully work your way through the whole dog, first brushing then combing, one side of the dog, and then the next. Careful attention should be paid to easily matted areas such as behind the ears, armpits, between the back legs, and anywhere where the dog’s collar or harness may rub. Follow this procedure before and after bathing for the best results.
Though all dogs are somewhat double coated, meaning they have a top layer of guard hairs and a bottom layer of insulating undercoat, some dogs have a great deal more undercoat often sheds profusely and tends to matt if not cared for. Breeds such as the German Shepherd, Husky, and Collie all sport this type of coat. While regular brushing with a slicker brush and combing with a quality comb will help tools such as an undercoat rake and dematting rake will make quick work of dense undercoat. These tools gently work deep into the coat to the skin layer to lift built up undercoat up and out.
Nail Trims Your Dog at Home
Even though nail trims are essential for almost all dogs at some point in their lives, nail trimming is easily one of the most daunting aspects of at-home grooming. Fear of quicking your dog, that is, knicking the blood vessel that travels through the dog’s nail, keeps most dog owners from attempting a doggy manicure at home. However, learning to properly cut and care for your dog’s nails is essential for a good at home groom. Though humans can live comfortably with longer nails, the same cannot be said for our four-legged friends. Overgrown nails can curl into the soft pads of the dog, creating painful and easily infected wounds. Long nails can also damage the bone structure of dog’s by forcing their tows to curl and roll. To prevent such issues, regular nail trims are essential!
There are many different models of nail trimmers on the market but the easiest and most used friendly for at-home grooming is a scissor-style trimmer as pictured below. Also, be sure to have styptic powder or corn starch on hand in case your dog is accidentally quicked in the process. No matter how careful one is in the trimming process, quick placement varies from nail to nail, and accidents happen. Quickly and carefully staunch the bleeding and apply your styptic or corn starch.
Before starting to cut your dog’s nails, begin by desensitizing him to the process. This is best started as early as possible. Grab a handful of your dog’s favorite treats and gently manipulate his paw in your hand, rewarding him for calmness. Do not make a game of playing with his paw as this will only encourage him to move around and resist nail trimming. When your dog is accustomed to you manipulating his paw with your hand move on to gently tapping his nail with the trimmer and rewarding him for compliance. Only when your dog is comfortable with this stage should you move on to trimming his nails.
When trimming your dog’s nails, employ the use of a friend or leash to gently restrain your dog. Small dogs can simply be held in another’s arms if available. If not, with your dog in the standing position, gently lift his paw up and back, exposing his paw pads and nails. Trim the nails carefully, angling your cut towards the top of the paw. Look for the outline of the soft “filling” of the nail that surrounds the quick, and stop when you see it. Cutting closely to the quick will signal the quick to begin receding back. Be careful when manipulating your dog’s leg to not move their limbs in any stressful or unnatural position.
If you find that you love grooming your own pets you might be interested in pursuing grooming as a career! If so, be sure to read “How to Become a Dog Groomer: Your Complete Guide” for tips, tricks, and advice on making dog grooming your new job!
Whether you choose to groom at home or employ the services of a professional groomer, getting your dog groomed is beneficial to Fido’s health and looks.