Thinking Outside the Cage
There’s no denying that our pets become important members of our families, and we shower them with love, respect, and kindness. With the love that we feel for these cherished animals, it often follows that we are reluctant to place them in situations where their movements may be restricted. As an example, we may not wish to have our pets sit in crates while they await the attention of a professional groomer at a grooming salon.
Rest assured that professional groomers understand this sentiment. In light of this, many grooming salons are adopting policies that reflect “cage-free grooming.” Sarah Allen, a Grooming Instruction Program Manager for the Animal Behavior College, explains that cage-free grooming is pretty much what it sounds like: “[It] is where grooming services are provided for a pet without the use of cages.”
Types of Cage Free Sites
As a pet owner, what does that mean to you? Professional groomers can adopt several approaches to cage-free grooming. One approach, Allen says, allows dogs to roam free in the salon while they are waiting to be groomed or to be picked up by their owners.
“Another popular option for shops is the stall or suite setup,” Allen continues. “The stall setup usually consists of a series of eye bolts along a wall that the dogs can be tethered to. Most have dividers or partitions to separate the dogs; some also have doors. Suites also have doors or gathers on the front and have no top on them, but the dogs usually can roam the suite [while] not tethered.”
Some shops provide an outdoor space where the dogs can roam while not being groomed, and still others make appointments so that only one dog (or a family of dogs) is in the shop at one time.
No matter which cage-free methods a professional groomer employs, the benefits to both the dog and groomer often influence the decision. Some of the benefits, according to Allen, include less stress for the dog and quicker completion of grooming sessions (in instances where dogs are not double-booked). If a groomer opts to not double-book appointments, the noise in the shop may also be reduced.
Cage-free grooming may present potential risks, however. “[In] any environment [in which] dogs are in direct contact with each other or their urine/excrement, there is a change of disease/illness transfer,” Allen explains. “All pets should be vaccinated, and sanitation should happen as often as possible.”
Other issues that may arise in a cage-free grooming environment include:
- Potential injuries to pets through dog fights or accidental encounters with groomer
- Transfer of illness from animal-to-animal contact or exposure to animal waste
- Potential escape of pet from the shop if proper containment measures (containment walls, double door entry systems, tethers) are not in place
- Inability to properly supervise roaming pets
As with any professional entrusted to care for your pet, you can take steps to build a strong relationship with your dog’s groomer. When researching cage-free options, consider visiting the shop prior to booking an appointment to view the setup. Also, make sure to schedule time to ask the groomer about his or her shop policies. And trust your instincts—you know your pet best and are most qualified to decide which type of grooming situation best fits her needs.