What to Look for in a Pet Groomer?

Much like maintaining your car, looking after your pet is something you should do year round. Proper care and grooming are essential and will make for a happy pet and a happy owner. I am often asked what someone should look for in a pet groomer. Here is my list, published in the fall/winter edition of the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society newsletter (

  1. Passion & Caring: Select a groomer that has an obvious passion for animals and care of animals. Does the groomer take time to listen to you, understand your unique needs and do they take care of your pet? Are they interested in building a long-term relationship with you and your pet?
  2. Experience: It’s important to select a groomer that has lots of experience, qualifications and experience with canines and felines along with evidence of professional training and continuing education/training.
  3. Testimonials & References: An excellent groomer should be able to provide lots of references from very satisfied clients and these testimonials should include ones for numerous breeds, including yours.
  4. Friendly, Relaxed Environment: A top groomer/boarder should provide a safe, clean and healthy environment for your pet. Your pet will spend hours and sometimes days at this location, so make sure it’s where you would feel comfortable leaving your pet. For example, a pet specific first aid kit should be present to deal with unexpected accidents (e.g., like clipping a nail too close).
  5. Flexibility: You want your groomer to be flexible to your needs and, of course, your pets. The groomer should offer pick up & delivery and offer to do specific jobs in your home, should you request that.
  6. An Open Door: Your groomer should be more than happy to allow you to be present and even assist in the grooming process, should you request it. Think about it. Until your pet and you feel comfortable, you’ll be sending your pet to a strange place. For the first grooming or two, you might want to watch and/or help to ease your pet’s worries and yours.
  7. Veterinarian Relationships: Your groomer should have a well established relationship with a local veterinarian.
  8. Boarding Numbers: For boarders who offer non-kennel boarding, it’s important to determine how many dogs will be boarded at the same time. In addition, you should also ask the groomer/boarder what specific types of breeds they do not like to board together.
  9. Daily Routine: Your groomer should be able to describe how your pet will be treated while they are boarded. Where will they sleep? Will they be crated? For how long? Will they be walked and spoiled? Essentially, you want your pet to feel like they are at home. It will make them happy and they will enjoy coming to the groomer/boarder.
  10. Member of Ontario and/or Canadian Grooming Associations: Your groomer should be a good member in standing of professional grooming associations. It shows their commitment to their chosen profession and a willingness to stay abreast of new ideas and approaches.

That’s my list of what to look for in a groomer/boarder. It also happens to be the code of ethics I use in operating Tip to Tail Grooming & Boarding. Tip to Tail is about the Pet and the Client first, not about trying to create a production-like environment. The pets that spend time with us feel like they are at home because, essentially, they are.

Good luck!

Kelly-Elaine Hunt-Doherty
Owner, Tip to Tail Grooming & Boarding

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