Finding a groomer is like looking for a great hairdresser and a great babysitter all in one package. You want to feel assured your pet is in good hands while you're not there, and know that they will come back with a good haircut.
Groomers can be found in storefronts, superstores, veterinarian offices, set up in their homes and in mobile vans. Really good groomers can be found in any of these settings. It is impossible to make any generalizations about good groomers based on location. So how do you narrow it down and make the right decision? Here are some things to look for and keep in mind while shopping around for a groomer that suits you and your furry friends needs.
Look for memberships such as Ontario Dog Groomers Association, certificates related to the trade the groomer may have. Some groomers might even have reference letters from previous employers or a picture gallery you could look through to see some of his or her work. Basically, you want to look for some kind of indication that your groomer is not working in total isolation and has some links to the profession as a whole.
While experience does not automatically assume mastery, nor lack of skills, it is true that the accumulation of experience makes a difference in what the groomer brings to the table. It takes a few years to build a sturdy foundation of experience in being confident in assessing animal behaviours, knowing how to groom specific breeds, and to attain standard and accumulating grooming skills in general.
A Good Groomer Knows their Limitations
Not every groomer has had the opportunity to master each breed specific trim. Some limitations have to do with a groomer's preference, as some groomers are less willing than others to deal with difficult dogs, matted coats or custom groom to your specifications. A good groomer will be honest and admit to his or her areas of less expertise.
Know What You Want
It is recommended that you get very clear on what you want from a grooming service. If convenience is paramount for you, then a superstore grooming department or the nearest groom shop could be what you want. Those groomers may not be the best choice, however, if you have a purebred dog that you want groomed to look like the pictures you have seen.
Similarly, if you want a rapid turn around time with your pet staying some place for the shortest amount of time, this is not always consistent with having a scissored or sculpted type of trim. If you want your terrier hand stripped, be sure to ask specifically if a groomer does that kind of work, and be willing to have your pet stay for a longer period of time. Know your lifestyle and what kind of scheduling works for you. Know what you need.
If you need flexibility in drop off and pickup times, some groomers may not be willing to accommodate you. Those groomers, however, can often give you an exact pickup time and stick to it. Other establishments will have more give and take in their scheduling.
Some groomers who are highly skilled at doing show style grooming may be less willing to accommodate specific owner requests that they perceive as compromising the breed standard.
If your pet is sensitive, high strung, or easily distracted by other animals, you might be best off finding a low volume service with a relaxed atmosphere.
With these things in mind, I hope to give you some confidence in searching for your new groomer. It is always good to ask questions. That enables the groomer to asses if your needs match their service. Don't be afraid to show up and check the place out, trust your intuition and look for that person or place that which you are comfortable.