How To Choose a Dog Groomer for Your Golden Retriever

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You love your golden Max and want him to look and feel his best, but you need to find a groomer for him and don’t know where to start looking.

It’s crucial to do your research when deciding who to choose.

First, it’s important to choose a few, then check each out individually by asking certain questions and visiting their facilities.

Remember: dog groomers and salons may not be regulated at all, so it’s up to you to investigate them. 

Golden Retriever getting his ears trimmed and groomed.

Some states have licensing and certification requirements which mean that the groomer should meet certain standards. 

Certified groomers usually must pass written and practical exams given by accredited grooming schools.

However, some places self-certify their groomers. Be sure that the groomers meet high standards and that they haven’t had any complaints filed against them.

But it’s still incumbent on you to be sure that they meet those requirements and are right for you and your dog.

Grooming isn’t just to beautify your pup. It’s also to keep him healthy.

Grooming is important to keep your dog’s skin, coat, teeth, nails, and ears in peak condition.

After you’ve done your homework, it’s important to trust your instincts. If for some reason you’re not comfortable with a specific groomer, don’t use her.

Your dog’s life is literally in the groomer’s hands. So be choosy.

In this article I’ll give some tips on how to find the best groomer for your Golden Retriever.

How To Find Dog Groomer For Your Golden Retriever

If possible, I don’t recommend just opening the phone book or doing a random internet search to find a groomer.

It’s better to get some type of recommendation when beginning your search. 

Even though the groomer that someone recommends might not be best for grooming your particular dog, it provides a starting point in your search for the best groomer.

Ask Around

Ask family members, friends, and neighbors who they use to groom their dogs. 

Ask people you see who has a well-groomed dog. I’ve found that most people love talking about their dogs and being helpful to other dog parents. 

In fact, I got my first dog groomer by asking an owner I met walking her shih tzu who to use. 

I had a shih tzu at the time. I wound up using that groomer until I learned to groom my shih tzu Cuddles myself.

Also, ask your veterinarian who she recommends. Some vets may be reluctant to recommend a groomer but may inform you of groomers that their clients are happy with.

And ask about why they like the groomer. 

Is it how well she grooms their dog? Or price? Or location? Or the groomer’s credentials? You get the idea. 

If they have a golden retriever like you do, it’s even better because you know that the groomer has experience in grooming that breed.

Check Out Organizations

The National Dog Groomers of America Association is an independent agency that groomers can voluntarily join. It promotes professionalism, education, and setting professional grooming standards.

Their website has a groomer locator. Although groomers who join this organization may follow its standards, you still need to thoroughly check out the groomer by doing your own research because the agency doesn’t do regulatory checks on its members.

Many states have similar voluntary organizations you can check out. 

Groomers who are members of such organizations usually have to sign some code of conduct and certify that they meet certain standards.

But it’s a starting point if you don’t have any other recommendations.

How To Check Out a Specific Groomer

So you’ve chosen a couple of groomers to check out. There are many questions to ask the groomer and to tour their facilities and how well they’re run.

Ask the Groomer Questions

There are certain facts you’ll need to know before making your final decision. 

I recommend asking the following questions in addition to any follow-ups you have.

  • How long have you been grooming?
  • Did you go to a grooming school or apprentice for a professional groomer? Who? When? How long?
  • How much experience have you had grooming golden retrievers?
  • Are you a member of any professional organizations? Which ones?
  • Ask for any licensing or certification requirements required by your state. 
  • Ask how they deal with dogs–including difficult dogs. Do they use treats and kindness? Do they give the dogs a break in grooming if necessary because the dog is stressed?
  • What do you do if a dog’s matted?
  • Do they use drying cages? Is a dryer made for cage drying?
  • Do they or someone stay with the dog the entire time that he’s being groomed and dried?
  • Where are the dogs before and after they’re groomed? Are they in a cage? Or do they run around together?
  • Will my dog be alone at any time?
  • What is your plan if there’s an emergency? Do you or someone at the facility know canine CPR? Is there a veterinarian you use? How close is the vet?
  • Can I choose the same groomer each time my dog’s groomed?
  • Do you keep a record on each dog groomed?
  • How many dogs do you groom per day or at one time? How long do you take grooming each dog? (It should be as long as necessary–not rushed.)
  • How many staff members are available to help with grooming?
  • Is your facility insured?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Can you show any before and after photos of the dogs you’ve groomed?
  • How long will my dog be at the facility to be groomed?
  • Can I take a tour of the facility?
  • Can I watch a dog being groomed?
  • Can I watch while my dog’s being groomed?
  • Will you show me how to groom my dog between visits?
  • Have you ever had any complaints? Has any dog been injured while at the facility to be groomed?

Ask for a price list and whether there are any extra charges for additional services such as ear cleaning, nail clipping, or teeth brushing.

And, before you leave your dog with a groomer, ask exactly what you’ll be charged. Of course, the groomer will probably have to evaluate your dog first.

Of course, ask to see any insurance policies, certifications, and licenses. 

Check Out Reviews and Ratings

Once you’ve found potential groomers, check out any references they provide.

Also check reviews on reliable sites like Google and Yelp.

If the groomer or salon are registered with the Better Business Bureau, see if they have any ratings or complaints.

But checking reviews, ratings, and complaints is in addition to the research you’ll need to do regarding each specific groomer you’re considering using.

Check Out the Salon

Ask for a tour of the salon before making a decision. 

It should be clean and without an excessive smell. 

Of course, during business hours, there may be some hair to clean up. But it should be from only the dog currently being groomed rather than mounds of hair.

The shop should be professional and well-organized. And the environment should be calm and welcoming, not frenzied. 

The staff should be friendly and welcome your questions. If they seem annoyed, go elsewhere. 

Of course, you may need to schedule an appointment to meet with the groomer, as she may be busy at the time you go. Or call to make an appointment to meet with the groomer before making your decision.

When you tour the salon, you’ll probably see some dogs being groomed on a grooming table with their heads through grooming loops. This is normal. 

But the groomer must ensure the dog’s safety and never leave him on the table unattended. 

Also find out about the products that they use such as shampoo, conditioner, or rinses. It’s best if they are more natural than chemical-laden ones. 

I used to bring my own products for my dog when she was groomed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Considerations Regarding Your Dog

Not every dog will do well in a busy salon. It can be too noisy, active, and stressful for your dog.

Consider whether your dog has any special behavioral or physical needs. 

So when choosing a groomer, you may want to choose a quiet, low- key salon with fewer groomers and clients.

Or you may choose a mobile groomer who has a specially-equipped van that comes to your house and grooms him in the van at your location.

Or you may decide that he needs to just be groomed at home.

Your Responsibilities 

Once you’ve chosen the groomer of your–and your dog’s–dreams, you have certain responsibilities so that the process goes smoothly.

You should be on time for appointments because good groomers are usually booked. 

Talk to your vet about keeping your dog on some type of flea and tick preventative so that he doesn’t go to the groomers infested with them.

Inform the groomer of any dietary restrictions your dog may have. 

You may also want to give the groomer some of his regular treats to make the grooming process positive and so that your pup won’t have any digestive upsets.

Have your dog go potty prior to his visit.

Don’t take your dog to the groomers if she’s in season.

Advise the groomer of any recent problems, such as hot spots or ear infections. (Of course, some things should be treated by your vet, not a groomer.)

Tell the groomer about your dog’s personality and temperament. Of course if your dog is aggressive or can’t be handled, he shouldn’t go to a groomer.

You may have to hire a behaviorist to successfully work with those issues first. 

Or you may have to take your dog where he could be sedated while being groomed. Some vets have groomers as part of their business and would be able to accommodate you. 

Try to keep up your dog’s grooming between appointments for your dog’s health and well-being as well as for the groomer to be able to groom him successfully.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to find the right groomer for your dog. But in order to do so, you’ll have to do some investigating. 

Check references and ratings, ask the groomer pertinent questions, and check out the shop itself and its staff. 

Then after you’ve done your homework, go with your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable with a certain groomer or place, don’t use them.

Have you ever had your dog professionally groomed? What was your experience like? Please leave your comments in the section below.

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Choosing A Groomer For Your Golden - Golden Retriever getting his ears trimmed and groomed.

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