Our Dog Grooming Process & FAQs (2023)

Everything you need to know when your pet visits our salon

By Ashley Beltz, Certified PetSmart Groomer

For the health and safety of our associates and customers, we've made several changes to deliver the best possible care and most convenient service while adhering to CDC guidelines.

Here's what's changed:

PetSmart Grooming: From Drop-Off to Pickup

Our grooming appointments can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on your dog’s size, coat type and the services you choose.


1. Hands-On Pet Assessment: 5-10 Minutes

One of our safety-certified salon associates will do an assessment of your pet’s skin, coat, ears, nails and teeth, so they can properly address their unique needs. While our stylists do take note of any behavioral or health concerns, this is a great time to let us know of any additional concerns, preferences or individual requirements.

2. Brushing & Clipping (pre-bath steps): 10-30 minutes

Your Pet Stylist will start by brushing, combing and clipping your pet to remove any excess hair or tangles before they get their bath. They will also trim the pet’s nails and clean their ears.

3. Relaxing Bath: 10-30 minutes

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PetSmart’s relaxing bath system makes tub time a pampering experience. Your salon expert will start by washing your pet with the shampoo/conditioner you agreed on at check-in. All the shampoos and conditioners we use are pH-balanced specifically for pets and provide gentle cleansing without drying your pet’s skin.

4. Custom Drying: 30 minutes+

The drying process begins with a gentle towel drying on your pet’s face, ears and tail. Our dryers are not heated and have adjustable speeds. Different breeds have different needs and each pet is carefully dried using the best method for safety and comfort.

5. Tailored Haircut & Finishing Touches: 30 minutes+

Completing your pet’s haircut after they have been washed and blow-dried allows your stylist to ensure there are no additional tangles and provides the best-looking haircut. If your pet only received a bath or de-shedding service, this time will be used to complete their brush-out, touch-up their nails, wipe out their ears & complete all the finishing touches to get them ready for pickup.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to bring?

  • Proof of rabies vaccination in paper form is required prior to salon services. All vaccinations must be administered at least 48 hours prior to checking in. (Puppies & kittens between 8 & 15 weeks of age may receive salon services without vaccinations. Some state & local laws may require additional vaccinations be current. Please ask a salon associate at the time of booking to ensure your pet is ready for their pampering session!)
  • Your dog’s leash and collar or harness (attached) or cat’s/small dog carrier.
  • If you prefer a certain style or cut, please bring a photo to share with us if you have one. Our stylists are trained to provide your pet with whatever trim you desire.

Why does my pet go in a kennel at the salon?

The kennel is a great place for the pet to relax safely in-between steps of the grooming process. This allows each pet to have a quiet space when they are not being worked on by the bather or stylist. Each pet is kept in their own kennel with a bowl of water. In most salons, we are able to put pets that live together in kennels that face each other, so they can see their sibling or friend.

Will my pet have food and water?

All pets in the salon will have access to fresh water, throughout their visit. Our staff does not provide food to pets.

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Are your associates knowledgeable about my pet’s breed?

Each certified graduate of our Grooming Academy goes through over 800 hours of training, including hands-on experience with a wide variety of breeds. During training, our stylists are educated on breed-specific needs and trims. (Stylists who have been trained outside of our Grooming Academy undergo a thorough evaluation of their technical skills to ensure they are 100% up to PetSmart grooming standards.) All of our staff are fully trained and equipped to make your pet look and feel their very best while adapting to your personal preference.

How do you handle older pets?

For older pets who may have mobility challenges or get tired easily, we offer an express service that reduces time in the salon. Ask your stylist for details.

What if my pet doesn’t like getting groomed?

(Video) Dog Grooming Steps-How to Groom a Dog from Start to Finish (give your dog a haircut)

Our salon associates are trained to provide positive reinforcement throughout the grooming process and we always focus on their comfort and well-being. Our safety-certified stylists can work slowly for pets who are not as keen to being groomed and may stop grooming if the safety of the pet or associate becomes a risk. Always let your salon associate know when booking an appointment if your pet has special requirements so that we can customize to create the most positive experience.

book a salon appointment >

go to the main Grooming page >


What are the 7 steps of grooming a dog? ›

  1. Clip If Necessary. Tired of flying fur? ...
  2. Get the Right Tools. Ask your vet which tools you'll need to properly groom your cat or dog. ...
  3. Brush Gently and Regularly. ...
  4. Give Him a Bath. ...
  5. Trim Those Nails. ...
  6. Don't Forget the Ears. ...
  7. Brush His Teeth. ...
  8. Clip If Necessary.
Mar 31, 2014

What is the process of grooming a dog? ›

The Grooming Process... Four Steps
  1. Roughing In. This is the first stage. ...
  2. Bathing. Once your dog is roughed in, he or she will go right into the bath. ...
  3. Drying Time. Most that find the forced dryer frightening enjoy or ignore our cage dryer. ...
  4. The Finish. After your pup is dry, the last stage of grooming dogs is the finish.
Jan 12, 2020

What is the most important thing to remember when grooming a dog? ›

Always be very attentive and pay attention to the dog's behavior even while you are focusing on the grooming. Stop grooming as soon as you notice any sign that might indicate fear or anxiety. Never be forceful even when, or especially when the dog growls.

Do groomers bathe or cut first? ›

It depends on the groomer, whether they bathe a dog before grooming or not. Some groomers will clip and thoroughly brush out a dog before giving a bath and washing them. The dog groomers use this approach as it will prevent damaging the grooming equipment and might bring a better finish.

What are the six tactics used in grooming? ›

Grooming steps include:
  • Identifying and targeting the victim. Any child or teen may be a potential victim. ...
  • Gaining trust and access. ...
  • Playing a role in the child's life. ...
  • Isolating the child. ...
  • Creating secrecy around the relationship. ...
  • Initiating sexual contact. ...
  • Controlling the relationship.

What should you not do when grooming a dog? ›

What not to do when grooming your pet
  1. Wash the insides of your dog's ears. ...
  2. Brush your pet's hair after a bath. ...
  3. Bath too often. ...
  4. Not using sharp enough clippers and rushing nail trimming.

How many times a month should a dog be groomed? ›

For grooming, we recommend bathing and grooming once a month. It's especially important for breeds with curly or wavy hair that their coats are routinely maintained so they won't have to be shaved bald. We recommend seeing a professional groomer at least once a month.

How long should a groomer take to groom a dog? ›

Our grooming appointments can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on your dog's size, coat type and the services you choose. One of our safety-certified salon associates will do an assessment of your pet's skin, coat, ears, nails and teeth, so they can properly address their unique needs.

What is the basic rule for good grooming? ›

As a general rule, keep your skin clean and dry. Not sweaty or sticky. Use good skin products to keep your skin refreshed. Some women choose not to get rid of their body hair.

What are the three most important grooming habits? ›

Here are 5 grooming habits that'll ensure you look good at work (and not like a slob instead).
  • Have A Signature Cologne.
  • Invest In Quality Hair Care Products.
  • Trim Your Facial Hair.
  • Exfoliate Twice A Week.
  • Don't Forget About Your Feet.
Oct 12, 2018

How many dogs should a groomer do a day? ›

In most salons, a team of people working together will be expected to do a minimum of eight dogs a day or more. When you're working within a team, everybody has a specialty.

Should I tip my dog groomer every time? ›

When people ask Sholar if they should tip a dog groomer her response is, "Do you tip your hairdresser? They're just doing your head. But a groomer has to do the entire body on a dog, sometimes while the dog squirms or tries to bite." So yes, you should definitely show groomers how much you appreciate them with a tip.

Is it proper etiquette to tip a dog groomer? ›

In general, you should tip your groomer 15 to 20 percent of the service total. Appreciation tips are a token of gratitude and are whatever you can afford. Your groomer will sometimes throw in extra services at no charge, such as adding conditioner, brushing teeth or grinding nails.

Are you supposed to tip dog groomers? ›

A tip of 15% of the total bill before taxes signals a job well done. A tip of 20% is common for excellent service. For a subpar job, 10% is enough to let astute professionals know they have to up their game.

What are the 5 stages of grooming? ›

The stages of grooming
  • Targeting. The offenders target children by creating false profiles on the internet, often by pretending to be a child within the same age group and initiating contact online. ...
  • Gaining access. ...
  • Trust Development. ...
  • Desensitisation to sexual content and touch. ...
  • Maintaining Control.
Apr 6, 2022

What are the most important grooming habits? ›

Learn the correct number of times to wash your face in a day – twice a day — and only twice a day. Ear hair needs to be attended to. Trim your nose hair every week. Trim your toes nails every week in the summer / every other week in the winter.

How do groomers keep dogs still? ›

Groomers use non-slip surfaces. To help dogs stand still and steady, groomers invest in special non-slip padding for appropriate surfaces such as grooming tables or bathtubs. It helps prevent fatigue which makes for a calm dog.

What should a full dog groom include? ›

What is included in dog grooming? A standard full dog groom, includes a basic health check, nail cutting, sanitary area, ear cleaning where appropriate, hair cut, styled by the groomer, spray of dog cologne.

What is the easiest dog to groom? ›

7 Dog Breeds With Minimal Grooming Needs
  • Beagle.
  • Boxer.
  • Doberman Pinscher.
  • Great Dane.
  • Weimaraner.
  • Vizsla.
  • Italian Greyhound.
May 31, 2017

What is a 7 blade in dog grooming? ›

Blades differ in both size and material, with each blade given a number indicating the length of cut. Larger numbers trim hair shorter than lower numbers, with a #7 blade leaving about 1/8” of length. #7 blades are great for an all-over summer cut on the body of the animal, especially on mixed and wire coated breeds.

What is a 5 blade in dog grooming? ›

A short haircut should be done with a #5 blade or shorter. In grooming equipment, blade numbers go backwards from what you would expect. That is, the smaller the number, the longer the hair will be, and the bigger the number, the shorter the hair will be.


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