Fair Go’s top tips for choosing a dog groomer

Source: Fair Go

They’re our companions, our friends, our playmates, and in some cases, the loves of our lives.

They're our dogs, and some of us shower both love and money on them – because they're worth it.

So it's really surprising that when it comes to the grooming and pampering of our pooches, there's a glaring lack of compulsory qualifications and rules required.

It turns out anyone can start up their own dog grooming business without having any qualifications or experience.

Dog grooming is an unregulated industry, that internationally certified master groomer Angela Anderson says requires more skill than you might think.

"We're not just doing a haircut, we're doing sanitary and nails and all sorts of things.

"We have to get them on our side, we have to really make friends with them and get that partnership with them to get their cooperation," she says.

These are things that Angela says you can only know through proper training and experience.

“We've seen some horror stories'” she says.

"I've heard stories of people actually cutting through the tendon in the back of the leg."

Angela says it's also common for people who can't afford a dog groomer to buy a pair of clippers and start doing it themselves.

"Then a neighbour goes 'oh that's not bad, can you do mine', and then suddenly before you know it you've got a grooming business."

There are no specific animal welfare regulations for dog groomers, but they should be following the Animal Welfare Act.

They must also abide by the Code of Welfare for Dogs, and the Code of Welfare for the Temporary Housing of Companion Animals, which covers things like pet shops and shelters.

If people breach these codes, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), steps in.

“If it's a matter of your pet has come out with a bad haircut then no we probably can't help you much there,” says Alison Vaughan from the SPCA.

"But if you have had an experience where you are concerned about the welfare of you dog or other animals there, then we do encourage people to step forward and report that to the SPCA."

In terms of regulation, the Ministry for Primary Industries want the industry itself to take the lead in developing accreditation and quality assurance schemes.

This means self-regulation. The National Dog Groomers Association and the New Zealand Pet Groomers' Employers Association have their own codes of conduct that their members must abide by.

But they‘re also pushing for dog grooming to be recognised as a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) course.

A NZQA certificate in Animal Care and Handling was established in 1996 but was then discontinued in 2011.

In the meantime, there are other industry training organisations that offer dog grooming courses, like Angela's own academy, Angels Grooming Academy, in Tāmaki Makaurau.

"You can do a lot of mental harm to dogs as well as the physical, as well as holding the dogs leg at the wrong angle and popping out a knee or not being secured properly on a table," she says.

Alison advises there are things a dog owner can do to make sure their dog is comfortable on the grooming table.

"Make sure you're using treats. A great favourite of mine is peanut butter, so dog-safe peanut butter. It can be really helpful because it takes a long time for them to lick."

When you're looking for a dog groomer, it's best to do your research.

Angela says to ask your friends who they go to and see if they've had any good or bad experiences with them.

"Ask the groomer that you are choosing, if they've been trained, how long they've been working for."