Are you considering the options involved on how to become a dog groomer? This particular career pathway is opening up for individuals to get involved in an exciting new business. It’s not as straightforward as breaking into other careers. Read through these tips to find the best place for you to get started as a pet groomer.
The Fundamentals on How to Become a Dog Groomer
Pampering dogs and treating them like a human is a trendy move these days. The pet grooming industry is swelling and the growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon. Since 1994, pet spending has grown over 290% from $17 billion to $66.75 billion. The pet service segment is sharing this growth making up $5.76 billion dollars being spent on pet spa luxury. This signals a transition from dogs being tied up outside—left to sleep in the dog house—to becoming the center of attention with their own stroller and matching tiara.
With more consumers jumping at the chance to spoil their pets comes more opportunities to help them do this. Any groomer will tell you if you love animals, then this is the profession for you! Working alongside adorable pups in your own space is an amazing experience. Every day stinky dogs get dropped off—groomers work their magic—and clients pick up a stunningly clean furball.
Breaking into this industry is difficult. Like any profession, you need to know the fundamentals before you can jump in and start giving dogs haircuts. There are basically two ways to become a dog groomer. The first is to get an apprenticeship with a successful dog groomer who is willing to help teach you the craft. You can do this by getting a job as a bather, then work your way up to groomer. Along the way, you can learn valuable hands-on information. The other pathway is to go through a certification or diploma course at an accredited school. Schools offer courses in everything you will need to know to become a dog groomer like animal behavior, styling techniques, and shop management.
Consider Your Health
Before diving into a career choice you need to do a self-evaluation of your own health. Dog grooming can be messy and laborious. Groomers must be able to clip & grinds nails, express anal glands, dodge dog bites, get soaking wet, and be able to lift heavy dogs from a tub to a grooming table. Without the right equipment, groomers are susceptible to infected bumps on their arms and hands from embedded dog particles. Groomers can also get pink eye a few times a year from dog hairs ingrained around the eyeballs. The reward for this sometimes messy work is working with animals and the tips you collect from satisfied clients.
If you have asthma, arthritis, or pet allergies this might seriously inhibit you from being able to work as a dog groomer. A capable groomer needs to have an adequate amount of strength and stamina to care for numerous dogs each day.
Find Professional Space
Whether considering working for a pet grooming salon, acquiring a mobile dog grooming truck, or working from home—you will have to secure a professional space to work.
Your space must be equipped with certain supplies you will need to start. You will also want to make sure you have the right equipment needed for grooming dogs en masse. Having these things will make your life as a groomer much easier and cleaner. Grooming equipment can be a little expensive so know what investments you will need to make. Private groomers spend around $500-$700 to maintain their equipment. $400 for shears. $200 for clippers, and blades run around $30 each.
Grooming Table W/ Grooming Arm
- Tub w/Shower Head Attachment
- Manual Scissors/Shears
- Electric Fur Clippers w/Blades
- Nail Clippers/Dremel
- Non-Heat Blow Dryer
- Pet Shampoo/Conditioner
- De-Matting Tools
- Pet Ramp
- Clipper Vacuum
If you are thinking about a brick-and-mortar salon you will need to find an advantageous location. A storefront with high visibility, lots of foot traffic, that is also next to other local small businesses is an ideal location.
Insurance & Permits
Depending on the legislation in your area, will determine what kind of insurance and permits you will need to operate as a dog groomer. Many groomers opt out of doggie day care services because of the insurance costs and obtaining a kennel license can be problematic. Owning a pet grooming salon is more streamline than owning a doggie day care but you will still need to do your homework.
Property damage insurance can run anywhere from $200 to $600 a month and is essential when caring for live animals. Liability insurance is also necessary. Even the most seasoned dog groomers risk the chance of accidentally injuring an animal. To protect yourself and your future clients, you should consider tailoring a commercial/general liability insurance package. This could be a lifesaver.
Research insurance packages thoroughly to get the best protection and least expensive deal.
To become a dog groomer you are not required to have any formal schooling. The industry is actually pretty unregulated—meaning you do not have to obtain a license to groom pets. However, those with zero experience will need to learn the basics to bolster their resume. Building up a client list will be next to impossible if you don’t know what you’re doing and you are risking injuring an animal without proper training.
Attending a professional grooming school teaches you skills like animal behavior & control, safety practices, breed coat characteristics, identifying skin conditions, parasite prevention, and bathing procedures. Getting a diploma or certification is helpful and legitimizes your grooming business.
You can also consider membership and certification from the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers or National Groomers Association. Like many unregulated industries, the grooming industry tends to police itself. Being a member of a few grooming organizations keeps you in the know within the industry.
Some Tips to Remember
Understand Individual Breeds’ Needs. As a dog groomer, you will need to know the traits of different breeds coat-textures and attributes. Grooming isn’t just about pulling off the look, trimming a dog’s fur needs to benefit their health too. For instance, the hunting and sporting dogs like Poodles have poms on their hips to keep joints warm in cold weather. Knowing that each dog’s haircut has a purpose can help you identify the best methods of grooming.
Stay Calm. Dogs are intuitive creatures and will pick up on your nervousness. If you are tense, a dog will mirror this behavior. This will make controlling the dog during a haircut much harder. Grooming takes precision to keep animals safe so you will need to learn techniques to stay calm and keep the pets you’re working with calm too. Some groomers bring their own dog into the room to sleep and relax. When your client’s dog sees another dog relaxing in that environment—they will settle down too.
You Will Have To Work With Aggressive Or Timid Dogs. Not every dog you work with is going to be a cakewalk. Some rescued dogs come from a difficult past and will bite or nip at you. Timid dogs are equally challenging. A dog that fights you tooth-and-nail through the entire process will force you to think abstractly to find methods to help them calm down. Sometimes it’s just having a loving touch. Senior dogs who are arthritic with limited mobility are also tough clients. As you gain experience you will get better at handling the more challenging haircuts.
Ridiculous Requests. Know that when you work with someone’s pets you might as well be working with their children. Some people can be very particular when it comes to their pets. They have every right to be and you will need to understand and carry out their wishes for their dog—no matter how ridiculous it might seem.
Owning Your Own Pet Franchise
Going into business alone is time-consuming and can be precarious even with a strong professional skill set. Think about owning a franchise. With the support of a franchisor who provides the resources and guidance for success you don’t have to make the investment alone. Splash and Dash is a franchise company that invests in their shop owners as much as shop owners invest in them—a partnership.
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