I’m no Elle Woods so I don’t carry them in designer handbags, but my three Pomeranians do visit the grooming salon pretty often. Their fluffy double coats are glorious for all photography and cuddling purposes, but truthfully, they’re also a nightmare to maintain.
Ideally, pomeranians should be fully groomed and trimmed once every three weeks or so, but as with everything pet-related in Singapore, that sh!t’s expensive. So far, most dog salons charge $60 to $80. Multiply that by three, and we’re looking at $180 to $240 per month.
As such, I try as much as possible to practice good at-home grooming habits (like brushing their fur daily and wiping their paws after walks), so I can send them once every four to six weeks instead. So far, that’s a good cadence for my fur-mily.
Aside from cost, one thing I noticed about sending three dogs for grooming is the increased time it takes. One dog would take about an hour or so. For three dogs, it takes about three to four hours. During this time, most conventional dog grooming salons will keep their furry clients in cages.
… Yikes. My pups have never been in cages, and they cry when they’re put in their playpens, which are pretty dang spacious if I say so myself. How would they ‘survive’ hours cooped up in a cage?
That’s when I discovered cage-free dog grooming salons.
As such, I turned to the internet for ideas. I am in a local pomeranian Facebook group, and I remembered that the owners there often share helpful grooming salon recommendations, so I looked there and discovered that there are actually many cage-free grooming salons in Singapore like Sopra Ginza, Wholesome Paws and Grooming Gallery, just to name a few.
Marketed with buzzwords like ‘humane’, ‘ethical’ and the likes, many of these salons cite the benefits of allowing your furkid(s) to freely roam and play with the other dogs. I loved the idea, but my first thought was, “That doesn’t sound very safe…”
Wait, isn’t free roaming quite risky?
Call me a helicopter paw-rent, but I’m the kind who believes in leashing your dog in public, even in dog cafes. (In Singapore, it’s actually illegal not to, but that’s another can of worms we’ll keep for next time.)
This is especially because my three dogs are all under 4kg, which means bigger dogs don’t necessarily need to be aggressive to injure them. Even if you say your dog plays well, they just need to get a little too excited and my little pipsqueaks could pop a joint or something.
Naturally, I was skeptical, and had many questions about this cage-free concept. As it turns out, every salon does it a little differently. So after a little reading and asking around, here are some tips for picking a cage-free dog grooming salon.
Cage-free dog grooming salons with playpens and separate rooms are safer.
If the grooming salon is truly boundary-free and the dogs all roam and interact freely with each other, I wouldn’t risk it. Just imagine five to 10 ‘stranger’ dogs meeting for the first time – chances are, it would be chaotic.
I found that not many salons do this though. Instead, they opt for glass partitions, playpens and/or rooms to separate dogs. This is safer, but I would suggest calling them up to check how they decide to separate the dogs and to go ahead only if you feel comfortable with it.
It’s better to have a non-groomer staff to supervise the dogs.
Say the grooming salon separates the dogs based on size, and your furkid is put in the toy dog group. What then?
Well, that’s relatively safer, but we all know small dogs with big personalities. If you can, pick a salon that has enough staff so that at least one person can be 100% focused on supervising the playtime. This could be the admin staff, or another groomer who’s taking a break.
If the salon says the groomer will supervise, I would avoid the salon. Not only is it almost impossible for them to effectively watch over the dogs, having dogs run about at their feet while giving another dog a fur cut on the table sounds like an accident waiting to happen.
After trying a new cage-free salon, monitor your dog’s behaviour.
If you’ve found one you get good vibes from, go ahead and try it. However, after the first session, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to your furkid. Did they have a good time or are they a little anxious? This will give you a good indication of whether or not your dog felt safe, and if it was a pleasant experience. Also, be sure to always check for injuries in case your dog got hurt after grooming, while waiting for you to pick them up.
Conclusion: I wouldn’t risk it, but it’s worth a try if your dog has cage-phobia.
My dogs have been in crates (e.g. in the car, or when visiting the vet), so although they don’t love it, they tolerate it. As such, personally, I am more inclined to continue with conventional grooming salons. I’ve seen how poorly behaved some dogs are at dog parks and cafes (sorry fam), and I just do not want to risk it.
However, if you aren’t as lucky and your dog is terrified of being confined, then cage-free grooming salons are a viable option to consider. Just make sure you call the salon up and have a candid chat with the staff to better understand how they manage their dogs and ask about the safety guidelines they have in place.
If your dog is not sociable AND is also terrified of cages, then make sure you find a dog grooming salon with enough space for one-dog enclosures.
Want to see more of Nala, Pumbaa and Muu? Follow @mis3furs on instagram! If you have a good cage-free dog grooming salon to recommend, let us know in the comments!