How To Become A Dog Groomer – The Ultimate Guide

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Do you want to work with dogs all day long? Do you love brushing them and styling their coats? If so, you might be the next best dog groomer ever. Read on to discover what you need to kick off a dog grooming business.

If you love dogs and you love being creative and on top of that, you know how to handle all living beings, working as a dog groomer might be for you.

The dog grooming industry is on the rise and it comes as no surprise that so many people decide to put their skills in the service of our fluffy friends.

If you are a dog lover already and if being around clean dogs makes you happy, you should think about dog grooming as your future career.

Are you already interested in the dog grooming business?
Do you already know that the dog grooming business is what you want to do?

If so, keep on reading because you should know that dog grooming is more than just brushing a dog.

It is a lot of brushing, to be honest, but becoming a dog groomer is also a lot about the organization, time investment, money management, and discipline.

Read on to discover what you need to become not only a dog groomer but the best dog groomer ever.

What Does A Dog Groomer Do?

Simply said, a dog groomer is responsible for cleaning dogs.

Dog groomers participate in different tasks that enable clients’ dogs to look their best.

Here are the most common tasks that every dog groomer works on daily basis:

  • Communicates with customers on how they want their dog to be groomed
  • Communicates with dog owners any skin infection or skin-related issues that they may notice
  • Clean dog’s ears
  • Keeps dog’s nails short
  • Always does best to shape the fur on client’s request
  • Give baths and always uses shampoo designed for dogs
  • Dry the dogs – every good groomer knows that dogs have to be carefully and thoroughly dry to avoid that after bath dog odor
  • Brush dog’s fur
  • Style the coat
  • If needed, cleans the glands

Not every dog enjoys being handled, so your day may include comforting dogs as well.

Many dogs are not used to being groomed, so patience and a baby voice for dogs, next to a nice treat are what should lead to a successful grooming session.

If you lose your temper easily, being a dog groomer isn’t your profession. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try something new, but instead, you should focus on something that suits your temper better.

If you know that being a dog groomer is for you, and you have enough patience for dogs of different sizes and temperaments, keep on reading because the next section speaks on how to become a dog groomer.

How To Become A Dog Groomer

Would you leave your dog with someone who doesn’t have some kind of expertise? Probably not. This is why dog groomer training matters.

Just like hairstylists, dog groomers must have license for dog grooming.

Dog grooming is an art and to achieve certain levels of it, you need certain training.

Here are the most common options when it comes to dog groomer training.

1. Dog Grooming School

If you love traditional learning approaches, dog grooming school should be your first option.

Not sure where to find one? Start with the The National Dog Groomers Association of America, as they are recognized institution with a long history and well-designed workshops that come with a certificate at the end of the course.

It’s common for workshops to have major sections:

  • Orientation
  • Breed demonstrations
  • Stripping
  • Thinning
  • Carding (this technique refers to dealing with different dog hair)
  • Patterns (this method in fact presents line placements on specific breeds)

How do you get a certificate through a dog grooming school? Once the course is complete you will get a test.

You will get a chance to show your skills on a live dog and get certified if you show a certain level of expertise.

2. Take An Online Course

Is learning online something that you are comfortable with? If so, you should definitely think about taking an online course on dog grooming.

Just make sure that they offer space for certification. Even if they do, it will be useful to take an offline test and get that extra boost/confirmation of your grooming skills.

Anything that you learn online, should be tested offline. Online courses tend to be pricey, so make sure that you choose a really good one.

How to choose the right course? Make sure that they offer full coverage on dog grooming, such as:

  • Full overview of dog anatomy
  • How to maintain dog’s hair
  • How to maintain dog’s skin
  • Basics on dog behavior and temperament
  • Practical and tested advices

3. Think About Getting On-the-job Training

Learning while doing is one of the best ways to gain some great skills. By learning this way you are actually perfecting your skills as you go.

Important: If you have to choose between two different schools, where one offers on-the-job training and the other not, you should always go for the one that offers expertise. Always opt for on-the-job training.

Another option is to get on-the-job training as an assistant to someone for a lower salary or as a volunteer.

Be careful with this option, because you want to build self-esteem to charge later on for your work.

Once you get your certificate and build up enough skills try finding your first job, just to gain more experience.

Try local shops as your first step. As an extra effort, you can groom your own animal if you have some, or offer your skills and time to your friends and family.

Friends and family are usually there to support our efforts, and most commonly for free.

Plus, they are often the biggest critique crowd, so hearing their feedback on your skills will help you develop professionally.

Pro tip: Never be afraid to hear a feedback. Look at it as a gift. Someone is giving you their honest opinion on you (on how you can improve), and you should listen carefully.

To sum up – for you to become the best dog groomer ever, you need three steps:

  • Gain a relevant education
  • Grow practical experience
  • Get a certificate

Dog Groomer Working Environment

People are used for dog groomers to work at dog saloons or mobile grooming stations. However, dog groomers are busy helping dogs in different areas, including veterinary facilities, pet owner’s homes, shelters, kennels, and even pet stores.

Dog groomers have different tasks that they perform on a daily level.

All in all, their main duty is to maintain the dog’s physical appearance. This is why many animal hospitals and clinics employ dog groomers, including dog shows, and animal shelters.

This is why it’s important to note that dog groomers aren’t only responsible for young and healthy dogs, but they also deal with dogs that have some sort of illness, who can barely move, or who are in so poor shape that cutting their coat feels like mission impossible.

As for the working hours, dog groomers in a salon may easily work between 30 to 40 hours per week, with one day off in the week.

What about self-employed groomers? Self-employed groomers may even work more than 40 hours per week.

Of course, there is also an option of working as a part-time dog groomer.

It’s not uncommon for dog groomers to run their own business, or to run a mobile dog-grooming service.

It’s common for dog groomers to wear protective clothing and gloves. To work as a dog groomer, you mustn’t be allergic to any form of shampoo or animals.

Having great physic and continually working out is something to think about when choosing this career.

Dog groomers have to handle dogs of different sizes, from small dogs to large size dogs.

Dog Groomer Salary Expectancy

Dog groomers usually earn based on their expertise. The more experience and skills you have, the higher earnings you can expect.

Another big factor, next to expertise, that affects salary is location – do you own a salon, or do you have a mobile set-up.

Higher expenses will always affect the price and eventually your salary.

Geographical location is another factor that may determine the pay.

How much you can expect to earn per year as a dog groomer? According to Indeed you can expect salary range $14,000 to $87,000 per year.

How Do Dog Groomers Deal With Unwanted Situations?

Dog grooming is a serious job that requires time, patience, and a set of skills.

Like any other job, dog grooming can come with some unplanned situations.

Working with animals, no matter how well trained they might be, a simple moment of discomfort can lead to unplanned moments.

For example, brushing too harshly can provoke dog biting – this is why knowing a dog’s psychology is so important and understanding why dogs bites can save you many unpleasant situations.

Dealing with unwanted situations is something that dog groomers have to deal with – no matter how cautious you might be with dogs, an accident might happen.

This is why thinking about an insurance plan can be helpful in the long run.

Great Dog Groomers Understand Dogs

Knowing a dog’s psychology and history is what makes a groomer great. Grooming isn’t only about aesthetics – it’s about the dog’s purpose.

Understanding what was the dog’s original purpose and what they were bred for helps to shape that coat properly.

For example, Poodles were bred to be hunting dogs, and their famous pom-poms were actually created to keep their joints warm in cold water.

Yes, Poodles are amazing swimmers and water lovers.

Understanding a dog’s hair texture is the knowledge that will help you tremendously in up-scaling your grooming skills.

Every breed comes with a unique and specific hair texture and coat that was specially created to serve a specific purpose.

Some dogs have a harsh coat, while others may have mixed, or more smooth textures.

By knowing the difference you will be able to choose the right grooming tool and make not only brushing but entire grooming a positive and beneficial experience for dogs.

Caring the best way possible for a dog’s coat is important because they must regulate the dog’s body temperature and protect the dog’s skin from external factors.

What If You Accidentally Clip A Dog?

As mentioned above, accidents do happen.

Handling living beings means that you won’t have control over them continually. This is why it is not uncommon for dog groomers to accidentally clip a dog.

It would be best if you could avoid this happening ever, but if it happens it’s important to explain to a dog owner why it happened.

Talking with more experienced dog groomers can help you learn how to behave in this type of situation.

Bear in mind that there will always be dogs that are either poorly trained or badly behaved.

Always check with dog owners if there is anything to be extra careful about, if something triggers the dog, or if anything provokes discomfort in the dog.

Pro tip: It can only be helpful to take CPR and first aid classes. Also, if an accidental clipping occurs, make sure that you contact the owner so that veterinarian can provide needed care.

Have Boundaries

People will have various requests and you don’t have to say ‘yes’ to any of them.

If a request seems too awkward or as something that can be more harmful to a dog than beneficial, you have the right to say ‘no’.

If customers bring you any specific product that they would love for you to use on their Fido, feel free to refuse if it seems shady.

Responsible dog groomers do their best to use products that are specially designed for dogs. This is the only way to keep dogs safe.

Also, it is dog groomers’ responsibility to report if any dog is being neglected, or anyhow treated poorly.

The Bottom Line

Being a dog groomer is a wonderful job.

One gets to spend an entire day with dogs while helping them live a richer and healthier life.

Dog grooming is much more than merely brushing a dog.

Brushing is just a small part of dog grooming practice, but still an important part.

Do your best to help dogs not only look but feel their best.

Extra effort is something that dog owners can notice in a short time. They will appreciate it and always choose to bring your dog to you – this is how your business will become stronger.

You want to focus on not only building your skills but also on customer retention at the end of the day means revenue.