Choosing a new groomer or finding the right groomer for your precious pet can be a task that leaves owners feeling as if there are no choices—and they often feel like the grooming salons are probably all alike, so they just choose one close to their home or work location. There are some important milestones that you should be certain that groomers have passed before trusting your pet to a groomer’s care.
Choosing a groomer is similar to choosing a hair stylist—with one important distinction—your pet is being left in the groomer’s care and cannot communicate the type of treatment he or she is receiving. As well, you not only want to be pleased with the look of the dog’s haircut, you also want to know that the coat, skin, and health needs are being attended to and the pet is being well-treated while in the groomer’s care.
Visit the salon: It is very important for you to see the entire salon and watch the staff and groomers in action with the animals. Drop by the shop during normal business hours—and do so unannounced. Things to look for on your visit are as follows:
- How are the dogs being handled? Are the groomers focused on the animals in their care or are they discussing last night’s television shows? Are they being handled gently and with confidence?
- Condition and cleanliness of the shop: Is it clean? Cluttered? Are the tables sturdy? Is your dog left unattended while restrained at the grooming station? Is there a play area or are the dogs confined to small cages when they are not being groomed? Do the dogs and the people seem relaxed and happy to be there?
- Check out the equipment! Are the dogs being dried in cages or are they hand-dried? I can’t imagine getting out of the shower and then being put, wet, into a cage! If cage drying is used, be aware that the air circulation from the dryers should be at room temperature, particularly with small dogs. Heated air can cause dogs to be at risk for heat prostration.
- Check health policies and standardized procedures. Check into the salon’s health requirements. A quality salon will ask for proof of vaccinations and immunizations. If a groomer fails to ask for this information, your dog will be at risk of bringing home contagions and disease.
If you like what you see, it’s time to discuss the salon’s services, guidelines, policies, and fees, in detail. Do not expect a firm quote on your dog’s grooming (unless the dog attended the visit with you) but even without seeing the dog the groomer should be able to provide you with a rough idea of standard prices of grooming for dogs in good condition. Things like heavily matted or tangled hair, fleas, or uncooperative behavior and lack of socialization can affect the price of grooming and may lead to additional charges.
Your Pet’s First Visit: When you bring your dog to a new groomer, be prepared to be very specific about your goals and expectations. Sometimes a story tells it all—we had a client who once asked us why her Bichon didn’t look like our Bichons after grooming. Well, we groom our Bichons once a week—their hair is wiry, they don’t have a clue what it means to go outside and stay out of the dirt, and we’re empty-nesters (the dogs have become our kids). Her regular schedule for grooming was every eight to twelve weeks—which is not going to create a polished looking dog coat with a precision trim. So, it’s important to be specific, and it’s important to be reasonable.
Picking Up Your Dog After Your First Grooming: This is another opportunity for feedback and information gathering. Inquire about how your pet responded to the grooming and the environment. Don’t be offended if you hear that Little Buffy was less than angelic—particularly if grooming is a new experience to your pet. Some dogs are also very protective of certain areas of their body and if your pet is ultra-sensitive about brushing, etc. you may want to consider a style that is easy to maintain.
If you like the results or feel that you’re “on the way” to a good relationship, schedule your next visit before leaving. For one thing, good groomers are booked in advance; for another, a groomer will typically keep better notes and records if they realize you are going to be a regular client. And finally, planning your grooming schedule in advance keeps your pet on track and the coat and skin in healthy condition.
Capturing your dog on film can be a challenging process—but it can also be rewarding when you get images that show quality without the expense of hiring a professional photographer. We’ve put together some tips to help you get the best photographs of your dog and have fun in the process.
- Consider Digital: If you are still using a “film” camera, consider changing to digital. These cameras can now be purchased for less than $200 and you will recoup your costs in a short period of time. With pet photos, it is often quantity of images that allow you to find that perfect photo of quality.
- Zoom In: Have a zoom lens capable camera so you can get in close! You aren’t after a picture of the living room, you’re after a picture of Buffy!
- Lighting: If you can photograph your pet using ambient light (room light), you will eliminate red eye right off the bat! If you’ve gone digital, it is fairly easy to remove red eye once you’ve downloaded the images on your computer, so if you need to use the flash, fire away!
- Have a Helper: This is really a two person job unless the pet is sleeping. One person to calm and position the dog, the other to take the photos.
- Groom ‘em and glam ‘em! The best time to take photos of your dog is on the day they’ve been groomed. We take photos of dogs at the salon as time allows and will be happy to send them to you via email if you are a member of our Preferred Round Table Pet Program. Just ask and we’ll make the time!
- Up Close and Personal: Come in close—you don’t want the room or the yard, you want the dog.
- Keep it simple! Some of our best photos of our pets are when they’re all curled up and asleep.
- Get down! Pet photos look best when you are at eye level with the dog (the same is true when photographing children).
- Capture their personality. If you can show the pet’s personality or tell a story (how about including a favorite toy in the photo) it truly adds to the effect and power of the photo.