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Pet Care » Grooming Your Dog

Choosing a Qualified Dog Grooming Professional

How best to find a beautician for your bow-wow

If you own a dog that occasionally needs grooming, whether it's Pandora the show poodle or Bennie the beagle who likes to chase big skunks, you'll want your dog's barber or beautician to be a qualified coiffeur. How qualified do they need to be, you ask? Qualified enough that your poodle comes home looking like a poodle and not a cocker spaniel - some show judges are fussy about little details like that - and qualified enough that they don't rely on an oatmeal shampoo to remove skunk odors.

Such comments aren't meant as insults aimed at the pet grooming community - the problem is that just about anyone can buy a pair of dog clippers, make business cards on their home computer, put an ad in the local newspaper, and call themselves a dog groomer. Very little federal regulations exist for such an occupation and certification isn't a standard requirement.

How then do you find a dog groomer that meets your definition of "qualified?" As is the case with almost all dog-related research, start by asking for recommendations from your veterinarian, fellow pet owners - particularly those who have the same grooming needs as your dog, animals shelters and/or rescue groups, local breeders, etc. If there's a dog show in town, you could attend and ask the owners of the dog breeds you're interested in for their suggestions.

You can talk via telephone with any groomers that you're considering dealing with, but it's better to go the extra mile and actually meet with the groomer. You might even want to take your dog along for this trial run. Don't just drop in unexpectedly; be courteous and make an appointment.

While there, ask to exam their work area, whether it's one room in their private residence or an entire shop devoted to their business. Look for cleanliness, safe accommodations for your dog while being groomed as well as before and after, and the presence of groomer-specific tools of the trade, not human shampoos, kid's nail clippers, and a rope-restraining noose tied to the leg of a very wobbly grooming table.

Discuss their dog-grooming education and training background and inquire if they currently belong to any pet-grooming associations. Describe your potential grooming needs and ask for specific references to determine if they can meet such requirements.

Ask if they have any certain requirements for your dog to meet - size or age limitations, vaccinations to have prior to their first appointment, etc. If your dog has specific grooming products that they need, inquire if you can bring in your own supplies for them to use.

If you meet with the groomer, check their references, and get a good feeling that this person is capable of meeting your dog's grooming needs, even if they're not "certified" or a member of a dog-grooming organization, then schedule an appointment when needed for your furry friend. Certification doesn't always equate to being qualified and being uncertified doesn't necessarily equate to being unqualified. Make your decision based on what you hear, what you observe, and what you feel deep down in your gut. You'll know you've made a good choice when Pandora comes home looking like a blue ribbon winner and Bennie smells like a bed of roses.

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