Are you thinking about working as a professional pet groomer? A lot of people think it’s just about combing, bathing and clipping, but there’s actually quite a bit more to it than that. In fact, there are a lot of things that potential pet groomers only learn after they’ve been on the job for a while. So, with that in mind, we’ll clue you in before you decide to head down this career path. Some of these “secrets” are just for fun, but others can help you to decide whether you really want to be a professional pet groomer.
If you think grooming styles are just about fashion, you’re wrong! You know those fluffy pom-poms on a Poodle’s hips? They’re not just there to be pretty. Poodles (the Standards, not the Toys and Minis) were actually originally bred as hunting dogs, and the hair was left on the hips to keep the dog’s joints warm when he had to venture into cold water.
Most grooming standards actually have more to do with function than they do with fashion.
How much time do you spend in the bathtub? If you like to soak for a while with scented candles and a good book, maybe it’s quite a while. But how much time do you spend actually getting clean? Ten minutes, maybe.
A good professional pet groomer will actually spend about an hour bathing a dog. They begin by cleaning the ears, and if the dog has skin issues, the groomer might apply a mask designed to ease the discomfort. Then, the dog is bathed and conditioner is applied. Finally, the dog is blown dry, styled and fluffed. Argan oil might also be applied to lubricate the skin.
You don’t have to go to “dog grooming school” to work as a groomer, although certification will definitely give you a bit of credibility over someone who hasn’t taken a course to qualify them as a professional pet groomer. A good many people actually get into grooming simply through love of animals, and get the experience they need by working in a grooming parlor and learning from other groomers.
If you think you can just go down to the dollar store and get a pair of scissors, and then go online and find some used clippers, and you’ll be all set up, think again. Good grooming tools are going to set you back a bit. A really good set of clippers (which you need, because you don’t want to use substandard equipment that’s going to make an animal uncomfortable) will cost around $200, and you can expect to pay about $30 each for the blades, which usually have to be replaced about once a year. Really good shears can cost as much as $400, and you’ll need a backup pair in case one pair has to be sent out to be sharpened. Also, depending on the coats of the dogs you’re grooming, you might need several types of shears.
Financially, that is. Most of the time, a human haircut costs about a third again as much as a dog haircut, and takes about half the time. If you become a hairstylist for humans, you’ll make more money.
The flip side to this, though, is that dogs are often easier to deal with and don’t complain if the cut doesn’t suit them (although their owners might).
Animals will pick up on your emotions. If you’re having a crazy day, and feeling stressed out, your canine or feline client will know, and might become agitated. Many pet groomers find that taking a “time out” from time to time throughout the day helps them to calm down and focus, and then they’re able to do the best they can for the pets that come into the grooming parlor.
Dogs (and cats too) have a lot of different coat types – short, long, undercoated, curly, wiry, and so on. The coat is very important, since it works to protect the skin and also regulate the animal’s temperature. A professional pet groomer knows that each coat has to be handled differently – with different tools, different shampoos, and different oils.
Sometimes, an animal is going to be out of control. You might be dealing with a poorly trained dog, or a cat that simply hates being handled. If that happens, just do your best to get through it. Remember, you are a professional pet groomer, and you can handle this. Take deep breaths and soldier on.
If you think, though, that the animal you’re grooming is crazy enough that you’re going to end up injured, simply tell the client that you’re not equipped to handle their pet. If you can, refer them to a more experienced, stronger groomer, but never compromise your personal safety.
Oops! You got a little too close with the scissors or the nail trimmers. It happens – most often, with novice groomers. Even the most experienced groomer, though, can mess up when it comes to an overly exuberant pet. If it does happen, apologize to the owner, and if they’re really upset, offer a freebie. If the injury is serious, of course, you should pay for any veterinary treatment that might be needed.
You’ve probably seen all those dogs with weird dye jobs. Sometimes, that’s okay, but if someone asks you to do a rainbow job on a black dog, don’t – you’d have to bleach the hair first, and that could be really, really rough on the dog’s skin. As a professional pet groomer, you don’t ever want to do anything that would harm an animal.
Is there anything better than working with animals all day long? Probably not. You’ll get to meet all kinds of people who love animals just as much as you do. You’ll get to pamper animals, and please their humans.
You’ll take a smelly, dirty dog and send him home looking like a rock star, or a matted up, grungy old cat and send her back to her person looking like she could model for a pet food commercial. You’ll be able to take pictures of your work and post them in your shop so that new clients can see just how awesome you are!
If these fun facts sound like… well, FUN, then you might be just the right person to consider a career as a professional pet groomer!
Do you love animals? Love touching them and talking to them? Love talking to other people who appreciate animals? Then maybe you’re just the right person to become a professional pet groomer. If this sounds like the career you want, then you can learn your trade by working in a pet grooming salon, or enroll in pet grooming school. There’s no one “right” path, but for sure, pet grooming school would be a good start to a very rewarding career.