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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What is included in a dog grooming?

Dog grooming is so much more than giving your dog a bath. Dog grooming is a broad term that covers all aspects of canine cleanliness and hygiene. The services included in dog grooming will vary based on your needs and what you choose to pay. Unless they are rolling in cowpies or playing in mud puddles, most dogs are okay getting a shampoo bath only as needed. You’ll know when they need it if they smell bad or are bringing dirt into the house. Some dogs, like shepherds and shih tzus, have thick coats that can get matted and tangled without regular care. Pro dog groomers can deftly blow dry a dog’s hair after a bath so that it is shiny and smooth. Dog grooming can include brushing that detangles dog hair and also thins the undercoat to minimize shedding.

Dog grooming also includes hygiene services such as toothbrushing and ear cleaning. Clean teeth are important to the health of your dog, and the pros have the patience and proper technique to get it done. Regular dog grooming can stave off tear stains, those reddish stains below your dog’s eyes. Anal gland expression is something not many people want to do on their own, even if they love their dog. A dog groomer can safely and efficiently release any blocked anal gland fluid. Other dog grooming services include nail trimming and clipping. Nationally, dog grooming prices range from $60 to $80. Most dog groomers offer discounts to customers who purchase monthly packages or bundle multiple grooming services at one time.

What does a dog walker do?

We all know our dogs love going on long, adventure-filled walks, but jobs and family and commuting can make it difficult to give them the leash time they deserve. You can hire a professional dog walker to make sure your furry friend gets adequate exercise and outdoor time each day. A professional dog walker may be an individual contractor or work for a dedicated dog-walking company. In either case, you want to make sure the pro has the appropriate insurance in case of an emergency. Some people opt to give the dog walker a key to their house; others to have them pick up the dog from the yard. Dog walking can happen as often as multiple times per day, or just a few times a month as needed. Here are some questions to ask when you are interviewing a new dog walker:  

  • Will you or someone else be walking my dog?
  • Do you have a backup plan if you can’t make it for a scheduled walk?
  • Will you walk my dog by itself, or do you walk several dogs at once?
  • What are your different walk routes?
  • When will you pick up and drop off?
  • How will we communicate?
  • Do I have to commit to a schedule or are you flexible?
  • What’s your cancellation policy?
  • What’s your response plan if my dog gets injured or becomes sick?
  • How and how often do I pay you?
  • Do you offer package pricing if I buy multiple dog walks up front?

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a dog trainer during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Utilize as many digital means as necessary when setting up appointments or consultations with dog trainers near you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the best way to begin is by conducting a search for dog trainers online. Compare services side by side, and ask each dog trainer you contact if it’s possible to schedule a consultation or appointment completely virtually. During this time, you should also discuss strategies for completing training and payments through digital means.

What is a dog groomer?

A dog groomer is a service professional who provides dog grooming and basic hygiene care for your dog. Dog groomers are typically animal lovers who are competent and comfortable working with a wide range of dog breeds and temperaments. Dog groomers are knowledgeable about the care needs for different kinds of dog coats. A poodle will have different haircut needs than a shih tzu, for example, so it pays to have a trained pro provide the proper cut. Good dog groomers know how to safely clean your dog’s teeth, bathe your dog, and cut their nails without going too short. They understand how to trim the hair from around your dog’s face, express anal glands, and clean your dog’s ears. Many people who choose dog grooming as a profession also pursue other dog services such as attending veterinary school, running a doggy day care center, working as a professional dog walker, and more.

Are there ways to be safe if I hire a dog trainer when social distancing?

Current CDC guidelines state, “Do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household.” It also explains that more studies are needed to understand if and how animals could be affected by the virus that causes COVID-19 and how this might affect human health.

If you’re uncomfortable with hiring a dog trainer right now, you can reach out to dog trainers in your area to see if they will let you book an appointment in the future when social distancing guidelines are lifted. Or, ask if they offer virtual or remote services.

If you do decide to hire a pro to train your dog in person, limit any physical contact with the trainer. Stay 6 feet apart, sanitize items and surfaces, and use digital payments instead of cash or a check.   

What vaccines do dogs need to be groomed?

It’s important to make sure your dog is up to date on its vaccines before taking it to a groomer. Vaccinations keep your dog and the other dogs that use the establishment healthy. Viruses can linger long after a dog is gone, so an unvaccinated dog can infect a number of other dogs days or even months after their visit. Find out about your dog groomer’s vaccination policies, and think carefully about receiving services from a company that does not require vaccinations. Here are the main vaccinations that are generally required for dog grooming:

  • Parvovirus: Parvo is a nasty virus that can kill dogs within 48-72 hours of infection. The virus is incredibly persistent and, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, is resistant to heat, cold, humidity and drying. It’s spread by dog-to-dog contact or contact with contaminated feces, environments (food and water bowls, collars and leashes, etc.,) or people.
  • Adenovirus 2: Dogs receive this vaccination to protect against canine infectious hepatitis. The vaccination can also helps prevent canine cough.
  • Canine distemper virus: Distemper has no known cure and can cause serious pain, illness, and even death, although recovery is possible with medical intervention.  
  • Rabies: This disease attacks the central nervous system and — when untreated — will lead to death. The CDC recommends euthanizing an unvaccinated animal that has been exposed to rabies, although six-month isolation followed by vaccination is also permissible.
  • Para-influenza: Canine para-influenza leads to kennel cough and an unhappy dog

How much do you tip the dog groomer?

Do you have a dog that you get groomed regularly? If you do, you’ve probably wondered how much — or even if — you’re supposed to tip your dog groomer. Treat your dog groomer as you would your own hair stylist. A 15 percent to 20 percent tip is an appropriate amount to show your appreciation for a dog grooming job well done. If your dog didn’t get clean or their nails didn’t get properly clipped, then you certainly don’t have to tip. But if you’re satisfied with the service, consider the tip part of the standard dog grooming price, and just plan it into your dog care budget so you’ll have a happy groomer and a well-groomed dog. Here are a few examples of when you should tip extra:

  • Your dog bit the groomer! Not good. A big tip will help.
  • Your pooch barked like a wild beast or wrestled the groomer the entire time.
  • Your dog’s hair was extra gross and dirty — think dog poo or major mud matted in their hindquarters.
  • Your senior or disabled dog can’t stand on their own and needs extra care and support.

How much should you pay for a pet sitter?

Pet sitting provides your precious pet with in-home care. A pet-sitter can make a brief visit during the day to provide snacks, playtime or affection, or stay at your house for one or more nights to tend to your pet. Prices for pet-sitting will vary based on length of the visit. Nationally, pet sitting prices range from $20 to $30, although prices run higher for your sitter to stay the night. Prices will also be affected by where you live in the country. Here are some examples of average pet-sitting prices based on length of time and region:

  • 30-minute visit: $17 in a small Texas town.
  • 30-minute visit: $25 in Southern California.
    • 45-minute visit: $28.
    • 60-minute visit: $32.
  • Overnight stay (10 hours): $50 in Texas.
  • Overnight stay (10 hours): $85 in Southern California.
    • 12 hours: $100.
    • 24 hours: $200. This is a good option for a sick, elderly or brand-new pet that needs constant supervision.

How much does it cost to hire a house sitter?

House-sitting can be a lifesaver when you’re leaving town for any length of time. Whether you work remotely, you’re taking a much-needed vacation, or you just want to road-trip for a few days, it’s wise to have a pro keep an eye on your house and pets while you’re gone. Your home is more likely to stay safe and you won’t have to wrangle the kitty into a kennel to travel with you. The national average pet-sitting price ranges between $20 and $30. Pet-sitting and house-sitting costs will vary based on where you live in the country and regional labor rates. Another factor in cost is how long you want the house-sitter to stay. Some people prefer to have the house-sitter stay the night at their house, perhaps to care for an elderly pet or simply to keep a watchful eye on the home at all times. Overnight stays will cost more, ranging anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on services provided. For day visits, house-sitting and pet-sitting prices will increase incrementally the longer the visit and the more service you want performed. For example, a quick 10-minute visit to feed and walk the pet and bring in the mail could be $12.50, a 25-minute visit could be $18, a 40-minute visit $25, and a 50-minute visit $32. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.

How much does it cost for a mobile dog groomer?

Mobile dog groomers come to your home and bathe, trim, and groom your dog. Mobile grooming is often easier on your dog, as they don’t have to go to a strange place to get groomed, and it saves you the effort of transportation. Prices for mobile pet grooming services can vary. Nationally, the average for dog grooming prices is $60-$80, including both standard and mobile services. Mobile dog grooming prices may be higher if the company has a dedicated truck or van than if they do the grooming on your premises. Mobile dog grooming prices will also vary based on the services you need, the area you live in, and your dog’s temperament and breed. Here are some examples of average pet grooming prices:

  • Nail trim: $15-$25.
  • Ear cleaning: $20.
  • Anal gland expression: $25.
  • Bath: $25-$50, depending on dog size.
  • Haircut: $45.
    • All five of these services bundled: $110-$160, depending on dog size.
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