Being skilled with clippers and scissors is nice, but nothing is more important than a caring attitude. A groomer who likes dogs and knows how to relate to them is going to put your pet at ease and make the whole grooming experience more enjoyable, or at least less stressful. Visit potential groomers, and notice how they interact with dogs. Do they seem to enjoy the company of canines? Or do they see grooming as just a job, and the pets around them as "work projects?"
A good groomer should be very willing to let you visit her facility. Check it for cleanliness. Are there piles of hair all over the floor? Are sinks, tubs and counters neat? Are clippers and other tools stored in designated areas when not in use. How is the staff behaving around pets? Are any animals being left in open areas unsupervised? Does the groomer require that all canine customers have vaccinations? If so, which kinds of vaccinations? If the answers you get to any of these questions don't satisfy you, find another groomer.
Groomers should also be willing to give you the names of customers, especially ones who have pets the same size, breed or temperament as your dog. Ask these customers about their experience. Many groomers also belong to professional associations. If yours does, get the name of the association and visit its website to learn about the professional standards it has established for members.
Depending on the breed, some dogs will have to wait several hours at the groomer for their coats to dry. Check out where a groomer will make your dog wait. Is it spacious enough for a dog of your pet's size? Is it secure? Since your dog will be wet, is there a draft? Does the area get too hot in the summer?
You should be leery of a groomer who seems too eager to "squeeze in" your pet between two other dogs. A groomer who does this may be more interested in "turning out" the maximum number of pets than doing a good job.
There is an art, as well as a science, to pet grooming. Every groomer will bring her own distinctive style to process of clipping, brushing and prettying up your four-footed pride and joy. Some groomers will stick very closely to the "standard" breed cut, while others might be more prone to add a dramatic flair to their work. Make sure that a groomer's style is compatible with the look that you have in mind for your pet.
As a pet owner, you will want to be part of the grooming process. A groomer should be willing to work with you, answering questions and addressing your concerns. For example, if you're uncomfortable exposing your dog certain chemicals in shampoos or dips, your groomer should be willing to work with a natural alternative.