Dog Grooming – is it the career for you?

If you love all things canine, then the idea of becoming a dog groomer may have crossed your mind. Not only does it allow you to spend the day with mans’ best friend; dog grooming can open the door to you becoming your own boss.

Yet what exactly is involved in a dog grooming? And how can you be 100% certain that it is the right career for you?

Dog Grooming – the job description

Whilst you might think that dog grooming just involves shampooing, brushing, trimming and ensuring that their coat is in good health; there is a lot more to this role than meets the eye.

In fact, alongside having a natural affinity for animals, you also need to be good with people. You need to be patient, have strong communication skills and have the ability to engage and connect with clients, so when you provide them with advice – on dog hygiene or coat maintenance – the words you say stick.

On a day to day basis, dog groomers are involved in any of the following:

  • Client engagement – this can range from greeting clients to discussing their dog grooming options to supplying owners with advice on best hygiene practices, presentation, and at-home grooming techniques.
  • Hands-on grooming – this involves shampooing, drying and trimming fur; shaping dog coats (using stripping knives and electric clippers); checking for fleas, sore or other abnormalities; clipping nails; cleaning their eyes and making them look presentable.
  • Searching for irregularities in the dog – such as signs of illness, injuries, swelling, cuts, thrush, and parasites (ticks). Dog groomers will also check for changes in temperament, drops in activity levels, and any indicators of mistreatment or abuse.
  • Equipment and workspace tidying and sanitation.
  • They must also maintain their training and understanding of grooming standards, so they can adhere to the correct practices/styles for each dog breed.

It is important to bear in mind that not every dog is the same. In fact, there will be days where some are less cooperative than others, making it harder for you to do your job. It is in these instances where an ability to focus and remain calm will come in handy, as you’ll be able to firmly, yet gently offer compassion to any dogs that may be feeling nervous or agitated, so you can prevent any unforeseen/unwanted nipping.

What qualities do you need?

To succeed as a dog groomer you will need to have the following character traits:

  • Compassion, a calm demeanor and patience
  • Stamina – a large portion of the day will be spent on your feet and handling dogs
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • A friendly attitude
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of key grooming principles
  • Not afraid of getting dirty or occasionally being nipped

How do you know if it is the career for you?

Whilst you might be a natural with animals – dogs in particular – this doesn’t mean being a dog groomer is the right career path for you. Being a dog groomer can be dirty, challenging and repetitive, and has a greater focus on the owner than you might think.

That is why, before you consider enrolling in a course or finding an apprenticeship you should do the following:

  1. With your own dog or a friends dogs, have a go at grooming them. There are numerous guides online which can teach you how to do to properly, so why not give it a go and see how you feel. NOTE: we recommend doing it more than once so you can get a feel for what your day-to-day life may be like.
  2. Volunteer at an animal shelter – if you’ve never worked with animals, then volunteering in an animal shelter will allow you to interact with a variety of dog breeds from different backgrounds, as well as give them a bath/groom. In this environment, you will also be able to get a better sense of the potential challenges/rewards you may face as a dog groomer e.g. dealing with aggressive, large or sick dogs.
  3. Work as a grooming assistant – this can provide you with hands-on training and the chance to pick the brain of someone already working in this field. Places to look for work experience/practical training include grooming services, pet superstores/pet supply chains, and local groomers.

How do you become a dog groomer?

The good news is, no prior knowledge, experience or specific qualifications are required in order to become a professional dog groomer. However, having a history of working dogs or a qualification in animal care, can instantly help you to improve your prospects of finding work experience/getting an apprenticeship with a qualified groomer.

By working with an established dog groomer, not only will you receive hands-on, practical experience – that is supervised – under their tuition, you will also be given the opportunity to build up trust and a reputation with prospective clients.

Yet this is not the only way you can become a dog groomer. There are also a number of private training centers, colleges, and dog grooming courses online that can help raise your credentials:

  1. Pet Grooming Schools – whilst technically you don’t need a qualification or a license to become a dog groomer; formal training can provide you with the tools, the knowledge, and the resources to find employment and even start your own dog grooming business. Steps
  2. Dog grooming courses online – these are handy if there are no local dog grooming schools or businesses willing to take you on as an apprentice; as you can learn the theoretical knowledge of dog grooming from the comfort of your own home. Our only recommendation is enrolling in a dog grooming course that also provides practical training days alongside its home-based study materials. The best dog grooming courses online take on average 400-650 hours to complete (including practical training days) and are certified by nationally recognized educational bodies. In turn, their modules should cover everything from tool selection and usage, to safety procedures, clipping techniques and styling for different breeds.

Your options are endless, so whether you choose to learn via an apprenticeship, a grooming school or an online course; if you are serious about becoming a dog groomer then getting your foot in the door is easier than you think.

The fact that once trained you can work anywhere from a pet megastore to a local dog grooming business; means you can successfully learn the ins and outs of this niche  – including potential overhead costs/expenses – and use this knowledge to one day become your own boss.

So if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, why not consider taking on this challenging, yet rewarding career path today?

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