Why does it take so long to get my dog groomed?

Its 9 a.m. and Savannah’s Mom dropped off her Cocker Spaniel at the groomer. After discussing the haircut, Savannah’s mom wants to know what time her pet will be ready. The groomer says between 1 and 2 p.m.

Savannah’s mom’s mouth dropped open, “What? Why will it take so long?”

This is a classic misunderstanding between the groomer and the pet owner. The time it takes to actually wash, dry, trim nails, groom the pet and everything else that needs to be done while Savannah is at the salon, leaves owners upset and groomers stressed.  So let’s break it down:

A minute-by-minute look from drop off to pick up for Savannah

9 a.m.           Drop off and discussion of haircut (5 minutes)

9:05 a.m.     Start ‘the basics’ – stuff that groomers get done prior to the bath: nails, pads, sanitary trim, ears and pre-clip (15 minutes)

9:30 a.m.     New client arrives.  Put Savannah in a safe place to talk to new arrival.  New client fills out paperwork and discusses their pet’s behavior and haircut needs (25 minutes)

9:55 a.m.     10 o’clock appointment arrives early check in (10 minutes)

10:05 a.m.   Two walk-in nail trims arrive (20 minutes)

10:25 a.m.    Pre-work new clients dog (25 minutes)

10:50 a.m.    Start to wash Savannah. Found fleas need to soak for 10 minutes (15 minutes total)

11:05 a.m.     A client with two dogs arrived check-in takes 10 minutes but then client wanted to discuss a dog they found and groomer is trying to help this client find this pet a new home.  (15 minutes)

11:30 a.m.     Blow dry Savannah (30 minutes she has a thick Cocker Spaniel coat!  Whew!)

12 p.m.          Answer phone and return 6 voicemail’s (30 minutes)

12:30 p.m.    Lunch

1 p.m.            Begin to finish Savannah but a dog had an accident in the crate.  Groomer stops, puts Savannah in a safe place and cleans out kennel and washes pet off (15 minutes)

1:15 p.m.       A new person walks into the shop to learn more about your services and get a tour (20 minutes)

1:35 p.m.      Put Savannah back on table to finish groom call Mom at 2:10 to let her know she is done

This is a realistic time frame for any groomer. For the sake of mass confusion (and to keep this blog short), I failed to mention the little steps the groomer makes throughout this time to work on other dogs.  A nail trim here, a bath there, refill the water bowl and take everyone out for potty breaks was left out.  I give major credit to groomers – they are the masters of multi-tasking!

In some instances, a client that had a later appointment then Savannah will call up and say they failed to mention they had a doctors appointment and needed the pet done in 1 hour so they can get there in time.  The accommodating groomer will then put that dog in front of Savannah, pushing her time back even further.

“Why do you do appointments this way? Why can’t you just do one dog start to finish and take the next appointment when it is done?”

That is an excellent question and on paper, that strategy looks great!  However, each breed and individual pet takes various times that are unknown to the groomer beforehand.  The factors to consider are:

  • pet’s personality
  • coat condition
  • flea situation
  • age-related disabilities
  • availability of tubs and dryers (for shops that have multiple employees)
  • also factor in if a client is late or does not show up to their appointment.

In this scenario, a groomer may only be able to do three or four dogs in a day. To put it bluntly, a groomer would make no money. They would need to charge each client $150 for the two hour time slot allotted to them and of course, who would pay that?  Not likely!

There is no answer that will make everyone happy.  Groomers try their best to get everyone done in a timely matter, but when working with live animals, there are too many variables that can prevent this from happening.  To get a pet done in an unrealistic time frame, not only causes stress on the dog, but also to the groomer.  In addition, this is when accidents and mistakes happen.  Patience and an understanding of how this service based business is run, is needed.

However, there are times when a groomer really isn’t working in the best interest of the pet and the owner.  In these circumstances, a discussion needs to take place between the two parties to see what the problem is.  No pet should be at a shop for 8+ hours, unless the groomer said it was necessary at drop off.  (For example an extremely old pet may need frequent and lengthy breaks or a dog that is severely matted may need more time).  The health and well-being of every pet should be the first priority to all people involved.

Oh yeah, and we love to make them look adorable too!