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July 01, 2006

Choosing a Dog Groomer

By: Jamie Klinger-Krebs

Where do you turn when your four-legged friend is in need of a good bath and a new haircut? In a city like Milwaukee thereís scores of groomers just waiting for your business, but how do you know which one is best for you and your beloved canine? Though thereís no simple answer to this question, your best option is to ask around and get a referral from a trusted friend or co-worker. Your second best option is to review the many groomers surrounding this article. They are eager to answer any of your questions.

When beginning your search for a groomer, make sure you know the type of service youíre looking for since grooming goes well beyond your pet receiving just a hair cut alone. Services can also include bathing, combing, brushing, clipping nails, cutting or shaving mats, cleaning ears and controlling external parasites. Though you may think youíre capable of doing many of these things on your own, professional groomers can safely and humanely handle tricky procedures that your pet may not allow you to accomplish. Keeping a clean coat can not only keep you happy, but itís also a good way to keep your pet healthy and happy as well.

When searching for a groomer itís important to note that not all groomers and salons are alike, so knowing what type of service youíll require will help narrow your search to the salon you may select. Every pet salon can be uniquely different Ė some may want to keep your pet all day, while others may finish your pet within an hour, and some groomers may be mobile and come to your door. Price can also a determining factor in choosing a groomer, so be sure to ask questions when you call.

Along with asking what types of services a groomer may provide and for what cost, also be sure to ask what training and certifications the stylist has, as well as what types of products may be used on the pet. Itís also perfectly reasonable to ask for a tour of the facilities. While youíre there, observe how groomers interact with pets, do they appear knowledgeable and caring? Do they handle pets gently? Is the facility well lit? Does it look and smell clean? Are pets monitored regularly to keep from overheating during blow-drying? Does the groomer keep complete records of each visit?

When you decide on a groomer, share information about your pet with the stylists such as age, veterinarian, health history and any special needs. Also talk to the stylist about what you have in mind for you petís grooming. A ďtrimĒ to you may mean something different to the stylist. Specific instructions and even a photo can be helpful in determining the specifics of a first grooming. When taking your pet to a groomer for the first time, try to be present during the entire session. Itís also important to be honest with your groomer if your pet has special needs and may require frequent potty breaks, has trouble standing for long periods of time or may have behavioral issues such as anxiety or biting. Most groomers are willing to work with special needs pets and knowing ahead of time can help them schedule accordingly. If you have an older pet or a pet with medical issues, you may wish to use a groomer located within a veterinary clinic.

Cost of grooming can also be a determining factor when choosing where to take your pet. Costs can vary depending on the size of your pet and the services you require, but average fees can run between $35-to-$40 for a brushing, shampoo and cut. For the convenience of at-home grooming, the fee may be higher for mobile grooming services who come directly to your home.

Once youíve made some calls, toured a facility or two and asked all the questions you feel comfortable asking, relying on your intuition is the best way to choose the groomer thatís right for your pet. Also take note of how your pet interacts with the groomer; chances are if he or she feels comfortable and sees that you also feel comfortable, then your choice was most likely the correct one.

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