What the job involves
As a dog groomer you will have the knowledge to carry out basic health checks, identify parasites and signs of infection, bath, dry and style all dogs to ‘breed standard’ or customer specification.
You will discuss with the owner the dog’s history such as its temperament, health, medical history and age. You will then discuss what grooming the dog requires; this could range from a bath and tidy up, to a full clip or hand strip and can include nail clipping and cleaning ears.
There are standard breed requirements which you work to, particularly if you are preparing dogs prior to a show, however some owners will prefer their dogs groomed to more of a pet style; this is all part of the variety of the job.
You will also advise owners on grooming requirements and coat care of their dogs in between grooms.
You will need to be able to confidently handle a variety of dogs and have a genuine passion for their care and welfare.
You should have great attention to detail and be able to cope with the physical demands of the job. Many dog groomers work alone, often having their own business so the motivation to succeed in the profession is vital.
Some dog groomers work in grooming parlours, others choose to work from home or from a mobile set up. Therefore hours may vary to suite; from full-time (9am-5pm) to part-time and evening/weekend work.
Most of the day will be spent on your feet, lifting dogs up and off of tables and into baths so you will need to be able to cope with the physical demands of the job.
Qualifications and training
The British Dog Grooming Association recognises the City & Guilds accredited dog grooming courses as a professional standard required by all dog groomers.
This qualification is aimed at those entering the dog grooming industry for the first time with no formal training or experience. This is a great course, covering all the basics such as handling and restraint, bathing and drying dogs, maintaining equipment and basic trimming.
Upon gaining this qualification you will be confident in handling and grooming a range of dogs of differing breeds, temperaments and ages. You be able to identify signs of normal and abnormal behaviour to minimise stress, and know how to undertake health checks and adjust grooming regimes accordingly. You will also gain an understanding of relevant animal welfare legislation and safe working practices, as well as learn how to manage the administrative and financial aspects of a busy dog grooming salon.
What qualifications do I need to start training as a dog groomer?
There are not usually any formal academic qualifications required to start the Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants programme.
Getting into the profession
You must be a minimum of 16 years of age.
A practical knowledge of dogs and experience of handling them will be an advantage when applying for a college course.
There are several places to look for job vacancies as a dog grooming assistant, including:
- Local newspapers
- The College of Animal Welfare Online Jobs Board
Salary and benefits
Salaries are varied. Many dog groomers work for themselves, earning potential will dependent on your hours, demand in your local area your overheads – but many people like the idea from working from home and fitting your job around your lifestyle.
There are opportunities to progress to a senior stylist or salon manager. You may also wish to set up your own business, perhaps in combinations with an existing business such as a veterinary practice or kennels/cattery.
Another opportunity would be working in academia; training others to achieve their dog grooming qualifications.
You can further develop your skills by attending dog grooming workshops, demonstrations and events such as Dog Grooming Congress.