They are cute, cuddly, always happy to see you, promise you their undying devotion and love and never question you…just a few of the famous lines that dog lovers will use to describe man’s best friend. Many have even threatened to throw in the towel for their 9 to 5 day jobs to spend all day working with pooches and, for those canine devotees, dog grooming is clearly the answer.
We’d definitely encourage a career as a dog groomer if you’re a friend to animals, but there some dog grooming tips that you might like to know beforehand. We’ve compiled a list of confessions and dog grooming tips from working groomers, with a few things that you probably didn’t know about this profession. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
1. They bite!
Whilst you can tell people off, handling dogs will be a lot more difficult. Of course you may encounter some dogs who will sit patiently while you work your magic, others may appear to have one aim and that is to hinder your progress! To make it worse, if you persist with washing or clipping their nails, your temperamental clients may even turn around and bite you.
2. You need to be creative
To be a dog groomer you need bags of creativity. Ever seen dogs creatively styled to look like Yoda, Sesame Street characters, polar bears or even camels? Creative dog competitions are a great way to get your name out there and of course there’s always the promise of prize money. If you’re hoping to open your own doggie salon business, then a unique name is also essential to gain customers – think the tongue in cheek, ‘Doggy Style’, or ‘Happy Paws’ for a feel-good vibe or go posh with ‘K9 Couture’!
3. You won’t have speed straightaway
Although you might have already acquired the necessary dog grooming skills after completing a dog grooming course, what you won’t have is speed. This only comes with repetition and experience, meaning you’ll manage to groom two dogs a day to start with. The financial rewards will be limited as a result, but you can expect that to steadily increase as you gain more experience.
4. It’s one of the world’s dirtiest jobs
Think you’ve read all the important dog grooming tips? You haven’t if you didn’t know that dog grooming is one of the word’s dirtiest jobs! It’s not all fun and cute cuddly poodles and huggable Alaskan Huskies. You will be dealing with dirt, dander, urine, faeces, vomit, fleas, ticks, mange, mites, maggots, blood and pus. This is not a job for the weak-stomached.
5. It’s not all about playing with puppies
You’re wrong if you think you’ll spend your days playing with pretty dogs. A dog groomer’s job is hard work. You will have to shape dogs’ coats, shampoo and dry them, give a final trim, check for sore lumps, clip nails and even clean anal glands - all part of your basic dog grooming skills. Working hours are usually 35 hours a week, Monday until Saturday with one day off. However, there’s also the possibility of longer working hours if your workplace or business offers other services.
6. You need work experience
There are many dog lovers who have dabbled with the idea of being a dog groomer. Dog grooming is a very hands-on job. Get a job as an assistant dog groomer, train with a groomer or gain a City & Guilds qualification. Gaining work experience at the groomers even if you still have not completed your dog grooming course will increase your chances of being offered a full time role after you’ve gained your qualification.
7. Expect fussy clients
Dog owners can be hard to please. They will reprimand you for stressing out their dogs during the grooming process, ask why their dog was not given treats when the ‘other groomer in a different salon did before’, refuse to pay because their Shih Tzu now looks like a poodle or bug you for freebies. Here’s some dog grooming tips -you must understand that these pooches are their babies, and it’s only natural that you’re dealing with overprotective dog owners.
8. Lots of business opportunities
From dog hotels offering dog-friendly accommodation and grooming services to countryside dog ranches with acres of land for them to run around in before a well earned bath, taking a course in dog grooming will open up doors of opportunities for you in terms of where you might work. Many dog groomers earn lucrative salaries after establishing a regular list of loyal clients and through word-of-mouth advertising.
9. You will hurt
Long hours washing, cleaning, prepping and grooming dogs will result in body aches, especially if you’ve got to wrestle with the furry paws and still be patient. You will develop calluses on your hands and fingers, end up with painful hair splinters with the risk of infection, and look and smell less human as you’ll be covered with dog hairs.
10. You get a great sense of achievement
At the end of the day, it is all worth it when your tail-wagging friends look at you adoringly or pay you with lots of sloppy kisses. To top it off, happy pet owners who rave about your work and thank you endlessly for making their furry kids look good, make it all the more satisfying and rewarding.
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.