If you see a pooch with a beard rivalling the proudest hipster, that dog probably goes to Stuart Simons’ salon, Groom Dog City in east London. Grooming is not just puppies, bubbles and beards, it’s a serious profession – but shockingly, unregulated. Stuart writes for Wunderdog why grooming is important and why he set up The Groomers Spotlight
Who doesn’t want what is best for their pets? We are a nation of animal lovers and most of us want to do what is right for out four-legged friends. We know that we have to feed them to keep them nourished; we know that we have to take them to a vet if we think they feel unwell or start to display unusual behaviour. We know to walk them to keep their minds active and to give them exercise. These things are all regularly highlighted in the media and, let’s be honest, we instinctively know it. What is mostly ignored, though, is the care of the skin and coat.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and within the skin we have hair follicles. Common sense should therefore point us, as pet owners, in the direction of someone who can look after this for us. A skin and coat specialist that can ensure health and wellbeing on the outside. Also known as a groomer.
For many years, pet grooming has been seen as a hobbyist profession. As an industry we tend to advertise ourselves with big cartoon bubbles and bright primary colours with pictures showing dogs having a great time in the bath tub. This absolutely has a place because it attracts clients and shows them that we are a friendly bunch who want what is best for you and your dog. Unfortunately, on the flip side, it doesn’t show us as skilled professionals that can alert you to health dangers for your dog, professionals that can help you avoid costly vet bills and teach you best practices so that your pets can have a happy and healthy life.
Pet grooming is an incredibly skilled profession. It carries many dangers not only for the groomer but also for the dog. Razor-sharp scissors and a wriggly puppy are not a marriage made in heaven. A skilled and experienced hand is essential to anyone paying for this service. Over the years I have lost count of the amount of times people have commented on the cost of their dogs hair cut – “My hair doesn’t cost that much,” and the like.
Well, there are many reasons why your dog’s hair cut is more expensive than yours. You don’t try to bite your hairdresser, you don't poo on the barber chair, or pee against the wall once your hair cut is finished. You keep your head still when asked. Your hairdresser doesn’t clip your private parts or shave your legs (at least not the ones I know). I could go on!
So, clearly it is an industry that requires great skill, therefore you may assume it is properly regulated, right? Wrong!
Pet grooming is completely unregulated, meaning that anyone can pick up a pair of razor-sharp scissors and open up a salon in your neighbourhood. In fact, it’s happening more and more every day. Pets are big business. Over the course of a dog’s life, it is recommended that he/she sees a groomer every six to 12 weeks. This money obviously adds up. Unfortunately, the fact that it is unregulated leaves it open to people looking to make a fast buck out of it.
In a very difficult world where our high street is becoming like a ghost down because of internet shopping, and redundancies are inevitable. People are turning to pet grooming as an alternative occupation. These people own a dog and perhaps have some success in grooming their own. They use their redundancy package to open a nicely equipped grooming salon that really stands out to the public. It encourages custom. The only thing that is missing is any form of training and the skill of the groomer. The leaves the dogs in danger of at the very least a bad haircut – and at the very worst serious injury or even death.
Transparency and training
I believe that the consumer has a right to be able to see very clearly and easily if their groomer is a qualified professional. I believe it is only fair that you know exactly who you are leaving your dog with, that they know the breed standards and are well versed in anatomy and health and safety. I believe that they should have a knowledge of body language in dogs and the signs of stress as well as the danger signals. I personally believe that pet grooming is far more than simply a haircut for your dog.
With all of this in mind, I decided to team up with one of the best pet grooming educators in the UK, Julie Harris, and together we developed The Groomers Spotlight.
The Groomers Spotlight is a website that directs owners to a qualified groomer in their area. Each groomer has a fully shareable profile and within the profile, pictures and info that allow the owner to decide at a glance if this groomer is the right one for their dog. Groomers with a Groomers Spotlight profile must have had full City and Guilds L3 Diploma training or industry recognised equivalent as a prerequisite for membership on the site.
Within the website, there is also many informative articles for dog owners, we really want to make it a ‘one-stop shop’ for pet owners in the UK.
If you are thinking of getting a dog either a rescue or a new purchase, please first of all have a think about the cost of grooming a dog over the course of its life. Does the coat fit in with your lifestyle? How much maintenance will it need? Does it moult? If you are unsure, why not log on The Groomers Spotlight and ask one of the many professionally qualified grooming members on there. I know they would all be more than happy to give you their advice.
Lastly, make sure that the groomers you are using for your dog’s hair cut is a qualified and experienced professional by using a member of The Groomers Spotlight.
Remember, you get what you pay for. If you don’t, you may well pay for what you get.