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Finding the Right Groomer

1.Ask around
Photo credit: Chris Lester / Flickr

When it comes time to groom your pet, you may find that the task is better left to professionals. Maybe Rover has gotten too big for you to wrestle into the tub, or you know Fluffy’s long coat will never look the same after you get near it with a pair of scissors.

Taking your pet to a professional groomer is a great idea in theory, since they should be much more qualified to tend to your furry pal’s beauty needs than you are. However, that may not always be the case. Peggy Harris, certification coordinator for the National Dog Groomers Association of America, told WebMD that, because there are currently no government regulations regarding pet grooming, anyone can pick up a pair of clippers and claim to be a qualified groomer.

So, before you take your beloved pet to the beauty shop, make sure you’re taking it somewhere safe and trustworthy. If you’re not sure how to tell the duds from the pros, follow these steps to help you find the perfect pet groomer.

Ask around

Like any business, word of mouth goes a long way. Ask friends, family, neighbors, or your veterinarian, if they have any groomer recommendations. They’ll be more than glad to share their knowledge with you, especially if they had a bad experience.

However, according to PetMD, some veterinarian offices have a policy that prevents them from referring clients to any particular groomer. That’s okay. Instead, you could ask your vet, if he or she has ever had to treat injuries that resulted from a certain groomer, such as cuts or abrasions. Or, you could ask if any other clients have complained about a groomer.

Look for Certifications

Even though professional groomers aren’t required to get certifications, the more reliable ones probably will anyway. Harris went on to tell WebMD that people who are really interested in making a career out of pet grooming have probably taken steps to become certified, having gone to grooming school, completed an internship, or sought membership at an organization like hers.

When asked what someone should look for when entering a grooming shop, Harris replied, “Credentials. A master groomer, the certification program I supervise for the NDGA, means the groomer’s skills have been evaluated against a national standard. There are written and practical tests. A master groomer knows safety procedures, health and hygiene practices in the shop, how to handle pesticides, the anatomy of the dog, proper dog handling techniques, first aid. It’s so much more than just how to do a certain trim or cut.”

Interview the Groomer

When you settle on a groomer, PetMD recommends asking them a few questions before you agree to use their services. Don’t put them through the ringer, necessarily, but do ask them about their credentials (if they have any), how long they’ve been grooming, if they’re a member of a grooming organization, if they have experience with your pet’s breed, etc. Get a good feel for the groomer and go with your gut.

Make Sure the Groomer Interviews You

Along the same lines, take note of whether or not the groomer asks you questions. According to the College of Veterinarian Medicine at the University of Tennessee, the grooming process should begin with a consultation in which the groomer asks you all about your pet’s medical history, temperament, and styling objectives. This indicates that the groomer is genuinely concerned about providing the best possible care for your pet.

Take Note of Your Surroundings

Finally, take a look around the facility. The ASPCA suggests making sure the shop is clean and that the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Also, observe how they handle the animals. Are they gentle and kind? Harris also suggested making sure there are no fleas in the facility. To do this, wear white shoes and socks. If there are fleas, they’ll probably jump up around your ankles.

When it comes to choosing a professional groomer, be picky. It’s not all about a pretty hair cut. You want your pet’s grooming experience to be as stress-free and as safe as possible, and only a credible groomer will be able to provide that.

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