Management & Training

What To Look For In A Dog Groomer

What To Look For In A Dog Groomer

Golden Retrievers do not have to be professionally groomed. However, some people do choose to have them professionally groomed. Perhaps the owner doesn’t want to fuss with brushing their dog or trimming their Golden nails, perhaps they just like that professional finish. Whatever the reason there are some things that you should be aware of and look for when you are choosing a groomer.

Holistic Groomers?

Did you know that there are conventional groomers and holistic groomers? Most conventional groomers offer a bath and trim but don’t really do much else. On the other hand, a holistic groomer is going to bath and trim your dog but they will do it in the best way for your dog. Holistic groomers are also very aware of how stressed your dog is and they do all they can to reduce that stress. A holistic groomer will also tell you if your dog has any lumps, bumps, or skin irritations that you might want to have a holistic vet investigate.

Visit The Facility

Before you ever take your dog to be groomed, go to the groomer without your dog and request a tour. This is a great opportunity for you and the groomer to get to ask lots of questions. And a good groomer will have lots of questions. The groomer should ask questions about:

  • Your dog’s previous experience at the groomer, how he handled the grooming etc
  • How your dog behaves with other dogs
  • How your dog acts around new people
  • If your dog dislikes being on grooming tables
  • If your dog dislikes bath time
  • If your dog hates having his paws touched
  • If your dog has any areas on his body that he is sensitive about having touched
  • If your dog has any allergies: food or otherwise
  • Would your dog do best if you were there during his grooming session
  • Any health issues that may affect how he is groomed

These questions will help the groomer gauge the best way to go about grooming your Golden. He might do best with you there or getting groomed in a room by himself without a lot of other animals, people, or distractions.

Where will my dog be kept until it is his turn to be groomed?

This is an important question. Some facilities have a room that they just chuck the dogs into willy-nilly. Big dogs, small dogs, old dogs, puppies, all of them in one room, loose! That might be okay for some dogs but other dogs are less friendly and some dogs are scared of other dogs. This makes it a potentially very frightening and dangerous experience for your dog. Even if your dog loves to play with other dogs he will be in an excited state when he is groomed and that might make his grooming session dangerous or at least more of a struggle for the groomer.

Other facilities will have dogs in crates. Multiple layers of dogs in crates in one room. This too can be very stressful for a dog, especially if the dog has ever had the crate used as punishment or came from the shelter. Even if only one dog is in his crate and stressed that will affect all the dogs in the room, even if they are usually fine in crates.

What To Look For In A dog Groomer

If the grooming facility uses crates be sure to inspect them closely. Are they in good repair? Are their sharp edges that could injure your dog? You should also ask if the crate pads and towels are wash between each dog. Ask if the crates are sanitized between dogs. Inquire as to how many dogs are in the area at one time. It is easy for things to spread from one dog to another when there is poor sanitation and a jumble of dogs together.

If possible it is always best if your Golden will be groomed the instant you take it to the groomer and you pick him up the second he is done. Then you will not have to worry about the holding area whether cages or just one big room.

How Does The Groomer Handle Dogs?

You will want to take note of how the groomer behaves. Are they focused on the task at hand or distracted by every little thing? Are they chatty with their co-workers? Ideally, you want a groomer that will focus on your dog while grooming it and not be distracted. This will be the best way to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort while at the groomer.

Another thing to look at is the grooming table. The majority of groomers have a noose that they put around the dog’s neck while he is on the table. This is not ideal for obvious reasons. If the groomer gets distracted or the dog gets excited or tries to make an escape and steps off the table… Well, the noose jumps into action and the groomer will have to cut the dog free. If possible find a groomer who uses something other than a noose to hold dogs on the table.

You may want to take it a step further and ask them some situational handling questions. If my dog sees a squirrel out the window and gets excited, what would you do? If my dog is scared what would you do? If my dog is being harassed by another dog, what is your plan? If my dog is frightened and shaking how will you comfort him? Etc.


What Are The Ingredients In The Products Used?

Groomers will use shampoos, conditioners, rinses, and even doggie perfumes. This doesn’t seem so bad until you consider that most of these are loaded with chemicals that could harm your dog! Many of these chemicals disrupt the endocrine system, are cancer-causing, or may cause skin irritation. Check to see if the groomer uses natural and chemical-free products on the dogs being groomed. Look at the ingredients list, can you recognize and pronounce all the ingredients used? If not you can ask your groomer what the ingredient is and what it is used for. This is also a good test of the groomers knowledge.

This is an especially important step if your dog has issues with his liver or kidneys. These are the main detoxifying organs and if they are compromised your dog will have a harder time getting rid of these toxic chemicals. You might also be able to bring in your own shampoos and conditioners for the groomer to use if that makes you feel more comfortable.

How Will Your Dog Be Dried?

Most grooming facilities will put a dog in a crate and then set a large dryer close to the crate. These dryers a loud to the human ear, so imagine how loud and painful it is for your dog to listen too! It can be a very terrifying, often unsupervised, experience. The unsupervised part is not good either as some dogs have become dehydrated, gotten skin burns, or even died of heat exhaustion from being forgotten in front of the dryer.

It is much better to find a holistic groomer who will use a hand dryer to dry your Golden. This ensures constant supervision. It also makes skin burns and fear mush less likely because the groomer will be there and paying attention. It might be more time consuming, but ultimately it is better for your dog.

Will The Groomer Trim Your Dog In The Way That I Best For Your Dog?

Many grooming facilities will groom your dog however, you want. However, a holistic groomer will tell you if a certain hair cut will not be good for your pup. For instance, shaving your pet right to the skin is not a good plan in most cases. Shaving to the skin often makes the skin itchy. A dog will often itch until bleeding or lick until they cause a hot spot. A holistic groomer will let you know this and refuse to shave a dog.

Some groomers will also pluck hairs from a dog’s ears so that the ears look cleaner and nicer. However, the plucking causes irritation in the ear which often leads to an infection. That infection will often lead you to take your dog to the vet! Always ask if the groomer does ear plucking and if they do, request that they do not pluck your dog’s ears or find a groomer who does not pluck ears at all.

You should also talk nail trimming with the groomer. Cutting the nails properly is important. It is especially important that the nails not be trimmed too short. If the nails are trimmed too short this can lead to infection in the nails or, at the very least, a dog who hates having his paws touched.

Will The Groomer Express Anal Glands?

Some groomers will express the anal gland as a routine part of the grooming procedure. However, this is not something that you want them to do! The tissue surrounding the anal gland is very sensitive and the groomer’s efforts to express the gland could cause a problem. Even if your dog had not anal gland issues before.

The anal gland of a dog should be expressed naturally when he defecates. If this is not happening for some reason you should seek the help of a holistic vet, not a groomer. Remember it is the hardness of the poo that helps to express the anal gland. Feeding your dog a species-appropriate raw diet is a great way to firm up poo so that is will express the gland more efficiently.


Your Golden depends on you to make informed decisions on his behalf. Don’t let your groomer be one of the areas you don’t thoroughly investigate. Just taking your Golden to a random groomer could result in a vet visit or major fear issues. So, do your research, ask around, visit facilities, and keep your eyes open for all the things discussed above. Then you will be able to rest assured that your precious pup is in good hands and will come out of his grooming experience beautiful and healthy!