How To Prepare Your Dog For His First Groomer Visit

How To Prepare Your Dog For His First Groomer Visit

Time for your puppy's first time at the spa! Before he gets pampered, make sure he's ready for the big day with these sudsy tips.

Even if you have a short-coated dog, there comes a time in his life when you say: Pew! What stinks in here? OMG… it's the dog!" It's time to visit a professional groomer, so that your pup looks and feels his best. But a trip to the groomer is more than just a costly bath. It can also include nail clipping, a hair trim or shave, and skin exfoliation. And chances are your dog isn't used to this kind of five-star treatment. If you want your dog's visit to go as smoothly as possible, here's what you need to do before taking your dog to his first professional groomer visit.

Good Grooming Habits Start at Home

To prepare your dog for the big day, you should be practicing grooming at home. It doesn't have to be fancy—you'll need to brush and bathe your dog so he knows what to expect. This ensures that he won't be as nervous or ill-equipped when it's time for the real deal with a stranger. Don't think of the grooming routine as a chore. This is a great time to bond and give your dog a little one-on-one time. Start at the head and make sure to touch everywhere a dog groomer would. Once you're finished with your at-home grooming session, end with a yummy treat for a job well done.

Groomer Research

Chances are, if this is your pooch's first visit to a "fur stylist," you probably don't have her on speed dial. Ask around to find out if other pet parents you know can recommend a few to you. Before you make an appointment, drop by the doggy salon without your dog to check it out. Make sure that it's relatively clean and orderly, and that the person in charge is willing to take you on a tour and walk you through the process. Does your dog have special needs? If so, then ask the groom if she is equipped to handle it. You should always be upfront and honest—if your dog is fearful or aggressive, tell the dog groomer what to expect. That way, if she can’t handle your dog’s needs, you'll be able to confidently move on and find another who can. If you still need a little more prompting to come to a decision, ask for references. Any reputable dog groomer will have no issues giving you all the information you need.

Drop-off Protocol

A drop off should be just that. Drop him off and come back later. Don't draw it out for a long, whine-filled goodbye. A little pat on the head and a “See you soon!” will do just fine. If you're nervous and uptight, your dog will pick up on it. Remember that these dog groomers are professional and they love dogs, too. They know what they are doing. When it's time to pick up your pooch (it may take a few hours, depending on how busy or how well your dog handles the experience), offer plenty of praise and treats. You want your pup to connect a visit to the dog groomer as a positive experience. But if you are uncomfortable leaving your pup, ask if you can stay (bring a book!). On the plus side, you can watch to see how the pros do it and pick up some tips in the process.

Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.
Back to Blog