Choosing a Vet, Dog Walker, and Groomer for Your Puppy - dummies

Choosing a Vet, Dog Walker, and Groomer for Your Puppy

By Sarah Hodgson

You should surround yourself with a happy clan of outside helpers for your puppy, such as your veterinarian, a dog walker, and a dog groomer. Be sure to keep their numbers close at hand because you’ll lean on these people more than you think!

Your veterinarian

Think of your dog’s veterinarian as being on par with your own doctor or your child’s pediatrician. Medical knowledge is essential, but a good bedside manner is also important. Speak with the receptionists and bring your pup in for a cheerful social call before your initial visit. Talk to the doctor like she’s a neighbor. Do you feel comfortable sharing all your canine concerns with her?

Puppies often swallow things that look edible before considering whether they actually are. So at your first veterinary visit, ask the doctor if she has a recommended method for inducing vomiting. You should also find out the poison-control hotline number and always keep it by your phone in case of an emergency. As well, seek out a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in your area. Keep the hospital’s number by your phone. Accidents can happen during off hours, so have a plan.

Dog walkers

Whether your life demands consistent hours away from the home or circumstance steps in to temporarily rearrange your schedule, knowing a dog walker can make the difference between a happy puppy and a stressed-out one.

Ask around and interview a couple of dog walkers before you actually need one. Planning ahead makes crisis situations that much easier. When interviewing dog walkers, remember that reputation counts, as does your puppy’s reaction, so be sure to ask for references and allow your puppy to interview the candidate. Tail wagging and kisses are equivalent to double thumbs up!

Dog groomers

Dog groomers have a tough job. Many dogs backpedal before they even reach the door. Many growl when approached, and a few may even need to be muzzled. Grooming is often a thankless job. You can greatly shape your puppy’s opinion of the groomer by exercising your puppy before bringing him in, keeping him combed between visits (to keep painful knots at bay), and introducing him to the groomer’s handling techniques from early puppyhood.

When deciding on a groomer, visit each facility ahead of time and ask to see where the dogs are stationed while they’re waiting their turn or drying. What vibes do you get from each place? Do the dogs already there seem happy or stressed? Is it clean and almost odor free? Would you want to get a haircut here if you were a dog?

Watch the groomer’s handling techniques. Is she empathetic — does she speak gently or harshly to your dog? Though a groomer may need to be firm with your dog to keep him still during the process, she shouldn’t be cruel or abusive.

Also, be sure to ask the manager ahead of time what the pay structure is and find out the recommended drop-off and pick-up schedules. Also inquire about what she does when a dog needs to, or does, eliminate in the holding area. Don’t accept anything less than “We remove the dog and clean immediately.”