Whenever I take in a new client, I like to ask a lot of behavioral and health information related questions. Why? Because, I’m trying to figure out what kind of dog I’m dealing with. Not every dog likes to be groomed! As a professional groomer, I want to do the best job possible with very little chance of injury to the dog or myself.

For example, dogs who bite or are very wiggly are far more likely to get nicked during the groom. I have to be extremely careful and very alert to what I’m doing and to how the dog is behaving. I have to take into account all of the little things a dog doesn’t like. I also have to be on the lookout for health concerns.

Health issues are a big deal for a groomer. Many dogs can be safely groomed, even if they have some health problems. However, groomers need to know beforehand if your dog has a bad back, herniated disk, seizures, diabetes, torn ACL, is blind or deaf, etc. Giving your groomer all the facts helps your dog get the best possible care while being groomed. On the other hand, groomers talking to clients about their dog’s behavior and health concerns is equally important. We can spot potential skin and ear infections or tell owners their dog was a bit lethargic or that he couldn’t stop peeing, even after multiple potty breaks. We can tell owners if a growth or fatty tumor seems to have grown in size since the last groom. These are reasons to go to a vet; some owners simply do not realize there might be a problem until it’s too late.

I have worked with dog owners who tell me their groomer never talks to them about their dog and how the groom went. How can an owner tell another groomer that their dog bites for nail trims or anal glands if previous groomers never told them? One instance comes to my mind. A Yorkie, whom I’d groomed several times, seemed to be peeing constantly in her crate. She just couldn’t control herself and this was not normal behavior for her. I told her mom and a few days later I got a call thanking me. Turns out the little girl had bladder stones!

So the takeaway of this blog is that communication goes both ways. Clients need to be upfront and transparent with their groomer and groomers need to do the same. Even if a client doesn’t want to hear that their dog wasn’t the best behaved, they need to know. If a groomer tells a client they have a less than perfect dog, as far as behavior goes, it’s not to make the client feel bad or to embarrass them. It’s simply to give them the facts and to suggest ways to work with their dog to try to ease some of anxieties and bad behaviors associated with grooming.

Consequently, my advice to all the pet owners is to make sure you ask your groomer how your dog did during its grooming appointment. Ask them to be honest with you, and if the groomer is not forthcoming with information, you may want to find a new groomer.