Golden Retriever Sitting

When you walk into a dog grooming spa for the first time, check out the credentials of the groomers, including certificates from programs or institutions they may have attended. If these are not visible, ask the manager about the training and experience of the staff, in particular, the groomer who will be washing, cutting and brushing your dog.

Next, you should check out the spa from top to bottom to make sure it is clean, neat, orderly and free of odors – a place you would feel good leaving your pet. If you want to take it a step further, you could wear white shoes or socks, and if there are fleas, you will see them jump around your ankles. At that point, you should head for the door.

Anita Samadian, Dogtopia’s Regional Developer for Eastern Canada, said, “Groomers need to know more than simply how to wash, trim and style a dog’s coat. A qualified groomer will have knowledge and experience in safety procedures, health and hygiene practices, dog anatomy, dog handling techniques and first aid.”

It is your right, and obligation as a loving and responsible pet owner to ask if the grooming spa requires all dogs to be up to date with their vaccinations, including shots for rabies and kennel cough. You should inquire about how the grooming spa manages fearful or aggressive dogs, or other behavioural issues. You should also ask the spa manager if your dog will be hand dried. If dogs are cage dried this could be dangerous for a variety of reasons.

Groomers prefer that owners leave their beloved pooches at the grooming spa in their capable hands, rather than stay and watch, which can make a dog more anxious if they sense their owner in close proximity.

The grooming process typically includes a bath, haircut, brushing and styling. Some groomers pluck ear hair or externally express anal glands, unless they are impacted. In this instance, this should be left only to your vet.

While some dogs are more sensitive and do not like being brushed or groomed, and will never be happy with any groomer, others don’t mind, or may actually enjoy it. Your dog’s predisposition will be very obvious. You may have to drag your dog with all your might into the grooming spa, or they may bolt to the front door with unbridled excitement. For dogs that enjoy being groomed, it can be a social experience that provides a lot of attention and affection.

“If you have any trepidation about how your dog is being handled at a grooming spa, listen to your instincts and find a spa that will allow you to stay and watch, or hire a groomer who makes your dog and you both feel completely trusting and at ease,” said Dogtopia’s Samadian.