Shabby to Chic Choosing the Best Groomer for Your Dog, A Professional Groomer’s Perspective

by Elsebeth DeBiase,

Coastal Creations Pet Salon 

As a fellow dog lover and owner, I want the absolute best for my pups. Therefore, choosing the right professional groomer is more than just a haircut, it is as important as finding a trusted veterinarian or trainer. My top goals as a Certified Master Groomer include building trust with your dog, making it look attractive, and safeguarding the dog’s physical and emotional well-being. So how do you find a groomer with similar aspirations? Researching the groomer’s education, salon cleanliness, and accommodations for elderly or special needs dogs are excellent ways to help you determine the best groomer for your dog. 

A quick search of the professional groomer’s website may help inform you of the groomer’s training, certifications, and accomplishments. Why is education important? Groomers certifying with the National Dog Groomers Association of America, International Professional Groomers, or the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists are tested on specific guidelines regarding breed specific traits and grooming, proper equipment usage, sanitation, and animal handling. Groomers who have taken the initiative to become certified groomers or certified master groomers have a desire to continue learning and honing their craft. Being a member of one of these organizations means groomers adhere to a code of ethics and are expected to maintain a certain level of professionalism. Additionally, these organizations work with the Professional Pet Groomers & Stylists Alliance to develop safety and sanitation protocols that are incorporated into groomer education and training across the country. 

Grooming shops are often busy places, but they should always maintain a clean appearance. Be sure to inquire about the best time to tour the grooming and animal holding areas of a salon before committing to leaving your dog. At a minimum, grooming tables should be sanitized in between pets, and floors, tubs, and kennels should be cleaned and sanitized daily. Let your nose be the judge; it should not smell. Additionally, well maintained and properly sharpened grooming tools will help reduce the chances of grooming-related irritations and accidents. Remember to ask if the facility has liability insurance that covers pet-related grooming accidents. 

The key to a successful grooming experience is communication. Today, groomers see many dogs with anxiety, inexperience with grooming, health issues, and age-related behavioral changes. If this is your pup, try searching for a groomer that specializes in challenging dogs or dogs of advanced age. These groomers may have some additional training such as CPR & First Aid, Fear Free, or Low Stress Handling Certifications. “It’s a good idea to interview your groomer,” says fellow groomer Elissa Nally of Something toWag About in Trenton, Maine. “I recommend asking questions like, ‘Do you do one-on-one appointments?’ ‘Will you call me if my pet becomes too stressed?’ and ‘How will you handle my nervous dog?’ ” It’s also a good idea to ask the groomer what type of equipment the groomer has to help make your special needs pet more comfortable, like slip-resistant mats on grooming surfaces, a grooming table near a wall for pets with stability issues, and grooming hammocks for pets with leg pain or arthritis. 

Finally, let your intuition help you make the final decision choosing a groomer. It may take your pooch a few visits to warm up to a new groomer, but your pet should always leave clean, confident, and happy. 

Back to blog