1. Odor: There should be a pleasant clean smell when you walk through the door. If it smells like wet dog, pet accidents or mold consider that a RED flag!
2. Safety: There should be a secure area for pets and individual cages; they should not have free roam of the shop because they could dart out the door or get in a scuffle with another dog! Cage-free means each pet has a cubicle where they are tied to the wall with dividers between pets. This is an outdated practice and isn’t safe if a pet gets loose; they have the ability to reach other pets. Stainless steel cages are bacteria free and extremely sturdy for safety.
3. Friendly and knowledgeable staff: Pet grooming doesn’t require a degree but one is available and several certifications can be obtained. Ask for their qualifications or awards to learn if they strive to learn new things and try to stay updated on new styling trends. Experience matters, how long have they been grooming? Not only do groomers need to be animal lovers, they should have people skills as well. They should listen to any ideas you may have for your desired style and talk with you to find the most suitable options for your pet.
4. Equipment: Your grooming shop should have tables that are hydraulic and should have a rubber mat to provide your pet traction. Hydraulic tables have the ability to lower to the ground to minimize jumping and injuries. A table that doesn’t move up or down means your pet must be lifted which can cause back problems. The bathtub should be stainless steel to minimize bacteria growth and should have a ramp for larger pets or those with health issues; this again means less jumping for your dog. Blow dryers are a large part of your pet’s haircut. Any dryers used should have cool and warm options as well as various speeds.
5. Sedation: NO groomer has a license to administer sedation to your pet. Any grooming salon that offers sedation for naughty or stressed pets should not be considered. ONLY a veterinarian has the ability to administer drugs and this option should only be discussed with them. Many veterinarians will recommend a grooming shop; ask yours if they have one!
6. Take a tour: Are you allowed behind the scenes? If not, what are they hiding from you? The grooming and bathing areas should be viewable and you should be encouraged to watch. An excellent groomer wants to make you and your pet comfortable and should never work behind closed doors. However certain pets get over excited when they see you which makes doing their haircuts extremely difficult. Many shops will have 2-way mirrors that allow you to see in but not let your pet see you.