House call grooming: now that you know it can be done, here comes the how. The most frequently asked questions on our grooming boards about house call grooming are what tables and dryers we use, and where we bathe a pet. I will cover these questions thoroughly, with lots of pictures and examples. I will also discuss setting up a grooming area, and how to work with clients to get the best space possible to groom in.
Let’s start with tables. Portability and weight are the most important considerations when choosing a table for house call, as is the size of pets you plan to groom. If you plan to do mostly small dogs a table like either of these may be your best choice.
The perks to these tables are how small and portable they are. Why mess with carrying a larger folding table when these have everything you need? The biggest con I see to this type of table is that they need to be placed on a flat surface at a height you may not have much control over. Even so, I will be purchasing one soon since most of my client dogs are less than 20lbs.
Next is the classic folding table. The pros to these tables are more surface area therefore larger dogs can fit on them easily, but they weight more than the counter top table above. They are still generally easy to move around, and fold down for easy storage. I use one of these daily for house call, a 36” x 24” x 32”. While this size is right on for my needs, I still find myself bending over far more than I’d like, which is where our next table comes in.
Enter the height adjustable table. These babies have all the perks of a folding table, and cons, but the added bonus of adjusting the height. The biggest problem I have with these tables is that it seems impossible to find one that can rise to more than 36”. While the 4” from 32 to 36 can make a huge difference for those of us with back problems (myself included) it seems like they could do better. I plan on purchasing one of these as well, but may hold out a while to see if manufactures can improve the maximum height.
All in all each of these types of tables is excellent for house calls and the choice largely depends on your personal preference and client needs.
With dryers, once again portability is important but more so is not blowing fuses in your clients’ home. This rules out the beloved K9 IIs and similar products because the amps required are often too much for the average household circuit breaker. So with that in mind, let’s look at several different options out there.
The hand held dryer is an excellent choice for house call since there are no concerns about blowing fuses. While they do take longer to get a pet completely dry, the price is also hard to beat. I have used one of these in the past, and while almost every dog accepted the low noise level just fine, the time it took to dry pets just wasn’t practical to me.
This is my workhorse, the QuikDraw from Air Force Metro. It has the same amount of power as many single motor high velocity dryers, is fairly quiet, low amp, and light weight. For small dogs this is my dryer of choice all day long, and at $89.95 I’ll happily buy another. The one drawback to this dryer is that it’s not quite powerful enough for my very coated dogs, like my many Shetland Sheepdogs. The next dryer we have solves this problem.
The Kool Pup Dryer by Chris Christensen has some serious power in a 9lb package. At only 6.5 amps most homes won’t have a problem, and it is reported to be extremely quiet. Once I have the $275 to purchase this bad boy, plus $75 for that nifty arm pictured above, it will be added to my arsenal.
Bathing in the Owner’s Home
Bathing for house call has its own unique challenges. I usually use the owner’s tub, laundry tub, or sink to bathe my dogs but once summer comes to Wisconsin I may take some outside. Bathing in an area not designed for grooming is difficult, no point sugar coating that, but with the right tools to help you it can be done fairly quickly and painlessly.
I honestly get excited when I see a bathtub that has a detachable shower head. Sad I know, but if you bath by hand like I do, it makes a world of difference. I do not bring along any type of hose attachment, simply because it is impossible to guarantee that it will fit every client’s plumbing. At this point in time I also don’t carry a recirc system because I want to keep my loads light, though I may be changing this soon. Bending over tubs is no fun for anyone. I do bring along a 5 gallon bucket that holds all my shampoo (in 16oz bottles), a cup for rinsing if needed, and my suction cup attachment to keep the dog in the tub.
Setting Up Your Grooming Area
Last but not least, let’s discuss setting up your grooming area in the client’s home. I usually let my clients show me where they’d like to me groom, and work with them from there. Don’t be offended if an owner offers you an area that will not work for grooming. Very few owners consider lighting, outlet availability and room to move when they suggest an area. What’s most on their mind is usually how to minimize mess. With a little flexibility and creativity you can come up with a solution that meets your needs and theirs.
As I mentioned, I have a 36” x 24” table, so ideally I need about a 5’ by 6’ area to groom. I have and can work with smaller, but looking at a space is usually the best way to judge. Lighting is very important, but I am more concerned with outlets. Since my dryer has a grounded plug (3 prongs) I need a grounded outlet. Most new homes that isn’t a problem for, but if you live in an area with a lot of older homes like I do, purchasing an adaptor is a good idea. Since I only plug in my clippers and dryer, I don’t need more than one outlet. If you have lots of electrical equipment, bring along a power strip.
One unusual problem I’ve faced several times is that the best place for me to groom ends up being a carpeted area. This is easily solved by purchasing a cheap canvas painter’s drop cloth at your local hardware store.
Remember to keep an open mind when selecting an area with your client. I have groomed in basements, living rooms, kitchens, offices, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. You can make almost any space work.
I hope you found this information helpful and have a general idea on what tools can be practically used for house calls. Be well and happy house calling!