Groomer is hit and miss

25 Sep

I take our two dogs to a groomer who used to be very good. But now his business has grown, he’s hired some inexperienced help, and the dogs aren’t coming home as nice as they used to. They’ve had scabs on their bellies from the clippers, and the male had a nail cut too short and was limping for a day. This never happened when our regular groomer took care of them.  I’m ready to find another groomer over this, but what I really want is to have the dogs done the way he used to do them.  I just don’t know if I could tell him that. Should I? Or should I just find someone else? – V.

Dear V.,

It’s important to trust the people who work on your dogs. Not only do you have a right to mention the drop in quality to your groomer, but he very well may appreciate the feedback because it concerns the future of his business. Experienced groomers are expensive, so many shops hire inexperienced groomers as their demand grows. However, business soon begins to fall off as dissatisfied customers take their business elsewhere. The shop owner may never know that it’s because of the groomers he hired. Actually, if you like this groomer, you’d be doing him a favor by letting him know. He may be wondering.

Now, back to your dogs. You have several choices. The very best way to handle a complaint is to mention it when you pick up the dogs. Examine the dogs thoroughly at the groomer’s shop, and point out any unsatisfactory grooming or injuries that you find. As with most etiquette issues, sooner is better than later, and face-to-face is best. 

You could request that the shop owner be the only one to work on your dogs. If he still grooms, he should be accommdating.  If not, ask friends for referrals. The dog park is a great way to get referrals. Call a breed club to find out who their members like. Even if your dog is a mix, finding a groomer who does similar breeds could be your solution.

Be aware that finding another groomer may mean that you’ll pay more. Good groomers can and should charge more for the superior service they provide. This is probably why salon owners often go the cheaper route. But in my experience, dog owners don’t balk at price tags as much as they balk at badly done grooming jobs. Once you find a good groomer, expect annual increases to keep up with inflation. The price of everything goes up; rent, shampoos, insurance, equipment, utilities, etc. I know some dog owners who left a groomer because she raised her prices, and now they’re bouncing from groomer to groomer trying to find someone as good, too embarrassed to go back.

The main thing is, if you like this groomer and how he used to groom your dogs, you’d be doing both of you a favor by pointing out what’s driving a faithful customer away. And of course, do this face to face. It’s always better to have an difficult discussion with someone in a two-way format. Taking to him by phone would be a distant second choice, but do not tell him by email or leave a message with someone else.  We often tell ourselves that we “can’t face” someone with an awkward conversation, but to do otherwise is cowardly and less effective, so put on your big girl panties and face him. You’ll be glad you did.

Got a question about dog etiquette? Send it here.


Posted by on September 25, 2006 in Dog Etiquette


2 responses to “Groomer is hit and miss

  1. Grooming Equipment

    April 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Personally, if you like the way your initial groomer did the work, I’d have the conversation about how the work has suffered since his assistants took over, and that they’ve even hurt the dogs (even though unintentional). And that if he wanted me to keep going there, then he needs to do the work himself or I’m finding another groomer. Be polite, but don’t beat around the bush.


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