We visited Canberra’s first premium dog grooming salon – HerCanberra

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The first thing you notice about WOOOF Grooming is its sleek tiled exterior—that and the dogs happily playing in the window.

As you enter the salon, located on The Lawns in Manuka, you’re greeted at reception before an expert groomer comes out to take your brief.

Teddy the Cavoodle was booked in for a Luxe Wash and Groom which included a warm, temperature-controlled bath and a double wash with a natural shampoo, followed by a hand dry, all-over clip and precision scissoring of the face, feet and legs for the perfect teddy bear look. The lovely team at WOOOF even offered to hand dry Teddy’s face with a Dyson Supersonic if he was stressed by the experience.

Bathed in pastels, everything at WOOOF looks and smells great, including the eco-friendly collars, breed-specific candles, toys plus colognes.

WOOOF’s shelves are stacked high with modern, practical accessories for the discerning dog, so it’s easy to shop up a storm while you wait. Or you can take yourself off for coffee or lunch at one of the many cafes on The Lawns or do your weekly grocery shop in Coles.

After the groom, puppies are put on show into the window to play freely—no waiting around in cages for hours on end at this experience-driven grooming salon. Needless to say, this window regularly attracts a crowd of adoring passers-by.

For WOOOF founders and dog-lovers David and Frederica Heacock and their two daughters Zoe and Evi, the idea of a premium dog tidying salon came naturally

“We did a lot of research about what was missing from the grooming experience and the feedback we received particular about the ‘big box’ grooming salons was they smell bad, they use cheap products, I have to wait all day for my dog to be groomed, and my dog hates it, ” says David. “What we’ve created is a really fresh, different plus premium service to elevate the quality of service, products and the customer experience. ”

WOOOF’s menu of washing and grooming services includes ‘Luxe Wash and Dry, ‘Tidy Up’, ‘Full Groom’ and ‘Breed Specific Groom’ options for those requiring a special style.

There’s also therapeutic signature spa treatments that help deep clean, de-shed and de-matt the coat and help get rid of knots. WOOOF’s spa products are the highest quality scrubs and therapy-grade essential oils that have been sourced from all over the world and crafted into products for optimum coat and skin health. The hydro bath with ozone-enriched bubbles of the health spa also helps ‘deliver a calming massage to relieve anxiety, tension and fatigue’—great for senior plus anxious dogs.

Sadly, humans cannot book in. We checked.

All dog owners know that the devil is in the detail when it comes to caring for your dogs and the Heacocks (who have two dogs themselves) are no exception. All products used at WOOOF are natural, pH balanced and vegan with no synthetic perfumes, chemicals or palm oils, meaning you can book your dog in weekly (as many of WOOOF’s regulars do) and never have to worry about their skin and coat—or the planet.

Owners of senior dogs, puppies and sensitive dogs can opt to have their face hand-dried for a quieter, less stimulating experience and anxious (or extra cheeky) dogs may book a free meet-and-greet to get them used to the beauty salon space, lower anxiety and chat about any special needs with the team.

WOOOF also has a generous Puppy Program that uses a four-step process to slowly and calmly introduce pups to grooming—including a staggered grooming schedule. A worthwhile investment to set your puppy up for a lifetime of happy grooming experiences.

Another fabulous community initiative is WOOOF offers free door-to-door transfers for the dogs of elderly customers living in nearby aged care homes who can no longer manage their dogs.

WOOOF’s tagline is fresh + healthy = happy and huggable, which is informed by the Heacock family’s strong belief that dogs (especially clean ones) are beneficial for people’s positive mental wellness.

“We’re really interested in how quality tidying can contribute to the ability associated with owners being able to hug and enjoy their dog more, ” says Frederica.   “The thinking behind our brand and tagline is that you’re more likely to cuddle up plus hug your dog if they’re clean and smell delicious”.

But we weren’t just going to take their word for it—oh no . Here at HerCanberra we like to try things for ourselves, and WOOOF was no exception. There was only one writer up for the job, HerCanberra Special Repawter Teddy who we knew could use his unique nous and perspective to give us an inside look. And, ahem, he needed a haircut.

Before.

Booking into WOOOF starts with a well thought-through website and online form that allows you to choose your services (Teddy opted a Full Groom), explain your dog’s health and behaviours in detail and anything WOOOF’s staff may need to be aware of, whether that’s sensitive paws, allergies or an aversion to other dogs. WOOOF then called me to guide in a time—a process with a lot going on behind the scenes.

“We always try and match dogs with groomers, ” explains David. “We take what owners tell us and find the best match in our team. It makes for a better experience for dogs and groomers. We’re very deliberate about how we approach this specialist service.

Another WOOOF difference is how long appointments take.

“We find that keeping dogs all day stresses them out, ” explains Evi. “That’s why we give owners a window in which they’ll be ready and then ring ahead when their dog is almost finished. This means canines spend a minimum amount of time with us and are more relaxed as a result. ”

Sure enough, an hour and a half after dropping Teddy off I got a call and was back from WOOOF, hoping to get a cute picture of Teddy waiting in the shop window. He bounced out of WOOOF like someone who, well, had just spent quality time being pampered. Groomer Shannon gave me the run-down on the groom and how he had reacted, as well as some advice on how to treat his sometimes-sensitive paws (thanks for the tips, Shannon! ).

After.

Naturally, many photos were taken on his arrival home (looking like a caramel cloud plus smelling just as good) and maybe even an Instagram Reel or two.

Teddy’s verdict? You’d be barking mad to go elsewhere.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: WOOOF Dog Grooming
Where: 1/19 Bougainville Street, The Lawns, Manuka (opposite Typica)
When: Weekdays: 8 am – 5. 30 pm, Saturdays: 9 am – 5 pm
Phone: 02 6169 6116
Website: wooof. com. au

Feature image: Pew Studio

Other images: Portia Sarris

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