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Dog Grooming FAQ: What to Look for in a Dog Groomer

WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about finding the right dog groomer.
By Sandy Eckstein
WebMD Pet Health Feature
Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S

If the thought of wrestling Fido into the tub one more time makes your arms ache and your head hurt, it might be time to find a good dog groomer. But finding the right groomer can be as hard as finding the right hairdresser. Sure, we want our dogs to look fluffed and fabulous. But we also want to be sure they’re safe.

That’s why we asked Peggy Harris, certification coordinator for the National Dog Groomers Association of America and a 35-year pet salon owner, what pet owners should look for when choosing a pet groomer.

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Q: Does any state license pet groomers?

A: No, but several states are writing bills that would require groomers to be licensed. Right now, though, people can just get a book, a pair of scissors, and a clipper and call themselves a pet groomer.

 

Q: What is the minimum amount of training a groomer should have before working on pets? Do most groomers also serve some type of internship?

A: Some people will start working on dogs with only a few hours of training. Other people, like people who go to a grooming school, can spend months in training. With no regulations, it’s really up to the person how much training he or she wants before starting to work on dogs.

Internships aren’t required. But most people who are really interested in getting into this business, who really want to make a career of it and not just have a job, usually do internships to get on-the-job training. And most conscientious groomers will start those people off as bathers. Many will bathe for a good year before they ever get their hands on clippers. They learn how to do all the fundamentals, the basic prep work, ear cleaning, nail clipping, proper bathing, and proper brushing. But there’s no set standard. That’s the problem.

 

Q: There are several professional grooming organizations out there, including yours. Do most groomers belong to at least one of them? Is that important?

A: Not all groomers belong to an organization. But I would look for one that does. That shows that they’re at least interested in getting the newsletters and keeping up with trends on styling, safety, health, and other issues.

The industry has evolved very quickly in the last 10 years. The people who don’t keep up are lost. They aren’t getting the benefit of all the advances that are discussed at shows and within professional organizations.

 

Q: What should I look for when I first enter a grooming shop?

A: 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.

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