Tips for Pet Parents’ First Trip to the Groomer
Many new pet parents face anxiety when it comes to their pet’s first trip to the groomer. You might have heard some bad stories about pets being traumatized after a bad visit or have seen viral pictures of groomings gone wrong. However, with the proper preparation, both you and your pet can have a positive experience. And while dog grooming is most common, it turns out that cats can benefit from regular grooming, too.
Let’s start with the dogs and then go to cats. Both have their own experiences, grooming goals, and possibly even have their separate salons.
Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Groomer for the First Time
When should you take your puppy for their first trip to the groomer?
Many people might tell you to wait until your puppy is one year old since they retain their silky-smooth puppy coat until then. However, if you wait this long, your puppy might have anxiety at a new experience that is entirely out of their routine. Plus, the groomer might have a 65-85 pound dog that is terrified!
Instead, many groomers recommend a first-time trip to the groomer at about 16 weeks, then they’ve completed their shots. The reason to wait until this point is that not only will your puppy be protected from an environment other dogs have been in, but other dogs and groomers at the salon will also be protected.
In the meantime, get your puppy used to some grooming habits with some DIY dog grooming. Start with a light brushing. Move onto looking at their feet and nails, stroking their ears, and more. Groomers also recommend a gentle bath. Remember that almost everything in your puppy’s life is new right now. If they are getting a bath by a trusted and loving pet owner, it must be ok! Some pet parents go as far as trying to blow dry their puppy. However, keep in mind that people blow dryers are different than the ones used at the groomer. If you want to get your puppy familiar with the blow dryer, use it at a distance of five feet or more.
How to can I find a good groomer for my puppy’s first trip?
This is where networking and referrals pay off. Independent reviews on rating sites, recommendations from other pet parents, and numerous same groomer recommendations on social media are fantastic. Look for recommendations where the people mention return visits, their dog loves it there, or the dog isn’t anxious when they come back.
One of the pet parents interviewed for this piece said they asked another parent after seeing them with their dog while at a restaurant. Not surprisingly, the asked pet parent said it was as tricky as finding the right hairdresser! But the parent pet was thrilled in sharing their experiences with groomers in the local area.
What can I expect at my puppy’s first trip to the groomers?
Explain that this is your puppy’s first experience with going to the groomers. This will help the groomer know how to approach with professional tools such as the harness, blow dryer, and nail trimmer. Groomers are trained and experienced in handling puppies of all levels of age and anxiety. Trust us when we say they are looking to be your long-term choice in groomers and want your puppy to be as happy and as well groomed as possible.
We spoke to one groomer, Frani Conger, who owns a pet spa in Erin, TN. Here is what she said about how she starts first grooming sessions.
“My introductory groom begins with 10 minutes of play with my newbie, so they get a little energy out plus learn that I’m not trying to hurt them. They are introduced to the table and requipment. The very first thing I do is shave out their pads and trim their nails. I also file them. The nail clippers and dremel can be scary at first, but usually at this point they are still distracted by the “newness” that we can get it done, and they aren’t scared.”
Conger explains the whole process will include the standard sanitary cut, bath/condition/dry, blow-dry, cutting, trimming around the ears to prevent ear infections, and the finish.
“I save faces and heads for last. They are getting tired by then and are less wiggly. I trim to desired shape and length. Finish off with a final fluff and a bow or bandana and some smell goods if desired.”
Remember that communication with your groomer is vital, just like with your hairdresser. A groomer will go with the industry and salon standard groom and the standard breed style. If you don’t want an entire session or are looking for a specific cut, make sure to tell the groomer. They want to be sure to please both the pet and the pet parent! And don’t be surprised if the grooming session takes longer than you thought it would. The groomer is taking care of many parts of your puppy’s body, and your puppy will probably need a little rest or a potty break in between. When you go to pick up your puppy, be sure to ask follow-up questions such as, “How often should I groom my dog?” or “should I make the next grooming appointment now?”
Tips for Taking Your Kitten to the Groomer for the First Time
When should you take your kitten for their first trip to the groomer?
Many cat pet parents may be surprised at the thought of taking their kitten to the groomer. After all, doesn’t a cat bathe itself all day? But cats can still have ear problems, skin issues, mats, smells, and other matters best left to a professional. And while outdoor cats and long-hair cats may need more grooming than others, a great grooming can benefit all cats.
We spoke to a couple of cat owners who take their cats to the groomers. Here were their reasons:
- He’s not a bather. I’ve never seen him do it.
- I don’t like to cut her nail or clean her ears myself.
- We get her a shorter cut every summer. It keeps her cool and helps us check for ticks.
- He’s too fat and can’t clean himself.
When asked if pet parents should start bathing their cats themselves, Conger replied,
“I’d leave it to the groomer. Cats are a much different ballgame than dogs. They have more weapons of mass destruction in their arsenal. Bathing at home can be both dangerous and traumatizing for both animal and owner.”
A time frame, around four months after the first round of shots are done is a great time to start your cat on their grooming visits.
How can I find a good groomer for my kitten’s first trip?
Finding a groomer for a kitten may be more challenging than finding a dog groomer. Kittens may get scared with the noise at a dog groomer or by just being near the dogs. You can look around for groomers that attend solely to cats, aptly called a cattery. Or, you can ask a groomer their practices for grooming cats, such as a particular time or special rooms.
Again, independent ratings and returning customers are key here. Try to get more than just one opinion. Some cats are naturally “chill,” and their pet parent might recommend a groomer that does not work for a more anxious cat.
What can I expect at my kitten’s first trip to the groomers?
Many times the first trip to the groomer is about getting your kitten acclimated and taking care of the essentials. Mama’s not around anymore, so now your kitten is responsible for their own sanitary and ear cleaning. These are some of the areas that will be checked and cleaned if needed. The groomer will also trim nails and do a complete brush out. Not all groomers will bath kittens on a first trip, but it is important to ask what is expected on the first trip and the procedure for bathing. Most catteries are experienced at bathing even the most water-frightened kittens. It’s all in the training.
How much to tip a groomer?
While the cost of grooming visits varies, the universal tipping practice of 15-20% of the total bill is still appropriate. Of course, tipping is optional and–just like when you visit a restaurant or when you go for your own haircuts–consider the service provided. If you have a groomer who went above and beyond to make your pet comfortable, you can acknowledge that with a tip.
Getting the proper grooming for your puppy and kitten can be an important part of looking after their health and well-being. Be sure to check out our other tips on dog health and cat health. Another part of being a responsible pet parent is getting the right pet insurance for life-long care. Spot Pet Insurance is an excellent resource for pet parents looking for the right pet insurance.