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1. Using tranquilizers.
This is illegal in many states but other groomers still use them. It may be that the groomer is afraid of aggressive dogs but it's more likely to be that the groomer is running a production line and has no time to calm nervous dogs.
I never recommend tranquilizers - no matter how mild - for small dogs. Ask your groomer if she or he does this.
2. Leaving dogs unattended.
You might be surprised at how many dogs are harmed and even killed at salons. The problem is many groomers use a grooming noose (not as bad as it sounds!) or collar to attach the dog to the grooming table.
If the groomer leaves the dog alone, it's easy for a dog to try to free himself and wind up choking or damaging his neck.
3. Taking shortcuts that violate breed standards.
It's more time consuming and requires more skill to scissor rather than clip dogs. However, if your breed standard or style requires a scissor cut, you should tell the groomer you want this.
If you don't speak up, they'll most likely use a clipper. And if you expect hand stripping, you better call ahead to make certain there's a groomer in the shop that even knows how to do that.
4. Not having facilities for dogs left all day.
This is only partly the groomers fault as many shops are not set up to provide day care for dogs, but owners use them that way. Some shops do not have sufficient cages, fresh water supplies, or staff to walk dogs.
If you want to drop your dog off on the way to work, visit the salon in advance and ask to be shown where the dog will be housed while he's waiting for you and what care he will given.
5. Using dog dryers improperly.
Many dogs every year are injured or killed by groomers not watching closely enough while the pet is in an enclosed dryer.
As a result of poor airflow and high temperatures, pets get overheated in enclosed cages. The heat simply builds up and the dog is overcome or in extreme cases the dog may be burned by the pans and the cages themselves as they get hotter and hotter.
I think enclosed dryers should be illegal but if your groomer is going to use one, ensure s/he watches the dog, uses a timer, avoids high heat and has another fan at the front of the cage to encourage proper airflow.
Also a groomer should not use a hand-held hot dryer on a dog drying in a stainless steel cage. There is not enough ventilation for the air to flow properly and the bottom of the stainless cages get hot quickly.
These dryers are best used with wire cages that have plastic bottoms or grates to keep the pet off the hot floor of the cage. The grooming room should be open and airy when using heated dryers to prevent the room from overheating.
All the fans in the U.S., however, are no substitute for watching the dog while he is being dried and the mechanical devices are in use!
Louise Louis is a long-time dog person and operates http://www.ToyBreeds.com
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