I could answer this question quite easily, because as a professional dog groomer, this is not the first time I've been asked whether dog grooming schools are worth it or not. In short, yes, going to a dog grooming school is really worth the trouble and the expense, especially if you plan on doing this professionally or even if you're simply trying to be very proactive with your pet's grooming needs.
But are dog grooming schools a necessary endeavor? Now that's a different discussion altogether that would require a more detailed response and we will definitely explore it in the future. I will touch upon it at the end of this article, however.
I have gone to a dog grooming school myself, and in this particular article I'll use my my experience and knowledge on professional dog grooming to explain why going to one of the pet grooming schools is worth it from my perspective, and from a general point of view.
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My experience and thoughts on dog grooming schools and why they're worth it.
During my own time in a dog grooming school, I learned a lot about proper pet grooming needs and practices which really helped me in the long run.
I took a dog grooming course during high school at a local college, for a special program. This program, which was called the dual credit program, allowed those who signed up to take courses in pet grooming, domestic animal sciences, policing, art, and theater drama for high school credits, which also counted as college credits.
I chose to take dog grooming and domestic animal sciences, because I love animals and because these credits count for real, legitimate certification. Therefore, if I applied for a position as a certified dog groomer, I'm completely qualified because of my certifications.
However, at the time, I did not have my dog, Anastasia. I went into the program during my senior year of high school in the second semester and I was 18-years-old at the time, and I absolutely loved it. The courses took place on a college campus, and were legitimate college courses.
These dog grooming courses helped me learn about dogs, pets and animals in general; it was much more than I could ever learn myself from online sources or books. We groomed both dogs and cats during this pet grooming course, and the skills I have learned helped me with clipping my cat's and my dog's nails at home. I had never done it before because I was always scared I'd clip too far and hit the quick, but after taking the pet grooming course, I felt confident.
When you go through courses in a dog grooming school, you get to work with so many different pet grooming products, and learn special techniques you otherwise would never know.
For example, we had a show poodle come into our dog grooming school one day (I'm talking a million dollar dog), so we – aspiring pet groomers – were all shaking. Normally, students would never be able to touch show dogs with their pet grooming clippers, but the poodle's owner was willing to let us have a go at her, because we were the best group of students that came through, apparently.
If you've ever seen a show poodle, then you'll know how precise everything has to be. From the balls of fur on their feet, to the top notch on the top of their head, they have to be one hundred thousand percent perfect. Otherwise, you could be looking at a lawsuit for messing up a show dog.
We learned how to work with a professional dog clipper blade to clip a perfect circle on the top of the poodle's head. To be honest, our professor let us practice on dogs with long hair that came through for their pet grooming needs, but only if they were to be shaved down, so we could get rid of the evidence quickly and completely.
For each breed of dog, we learned what the general style of grooming they would need. For example, Shih Tzus are typically shaved down during the summer months to help them keep cool, with everything shaved except for their ears and their tails. These are referred to as standard cuts.
In my opinion, when you go to dog grooming schools, you learn how to do so many fun, interesting things in these course that they never seem boring. It is definitely worth all the time and money – if there is an entrance fee, that is (some are free) – to learn timeless skills.
In the end, all of the skills I learned during my time in a dog grooming course really came through for me. My dog is always looking and feeling her best because of what I've learned, so if you have a dog or a cat, I highly suggest that you take a course in pet grooming.
Other perspectives on whether dog grooming schools are worth it or not
My opinion is probably one in a million, so I did some research to see how other professional pet groomers feel about going to a dog grooming school and whether or not pet grooming schools in general are worth the time and money.
One of the things I first noticed when I did some research on the subject is that, apparently, a lot of dog grooming schools do not teach you how to handle difficult or agitated dogs, which is not necessarily true.
I've spoken to multiple pet groomers in both Canada and the United States who were taught how to deal with dogs who would not behave well, and that includes any type of aggressive behavior on the canine's part.
In an actual grooming salon, the dogs have a noose around their neck. Now, before you start going crazy over animal rights laws, let me say that this is a very safe practice. Dogs are constantly watched and monitored while they have the noose around their necks.
While fitting the noose on the dog, the professional dog groomer keeps their fingers between the neck and the plastic line just to ensure it's not too tight, but also not loose enough that the dog can slip out. Dog nooses are not generally used for cats, however; only the ones that are having an issue.
With that being said, as a pet groomer, I did face an issue one day with an overly aggressive Jack Russell Terrier.
As soon as this Fido was on my dog grooming table, I didn't even have time to put the noose on; he immediately tried to bite and jump at me. Once I finally got the noose on, which usually helps to calm the dogs down, he began rolling on the table. This can become an big issue, because at this point he could either wriggle out of the noose or get himself too caught up into it.
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When an aggressive or uncooperative dog, to an extent, comes into a pet grooming salon and cannot be calmed down, the owner is called to retrieve the dog. Even though this can be considered a con when it comes to dog grooming schools and courses, it's definitely not enough to sway a person not to see it as worth it.
Smaller dog grooming schools and courses are the best way to go.
On top of that, I saw a lot of talk about the larger (read: very commercialized) pet grooming schools not being worth the money or time, which I can see being a valid point.
In my dog grooming course, there were only about 15 other people. However, if you attend one of the larger dog grooming schools or courses, there can be up to 40 (if not more). This is an issue because everyone learns at a different pace, and pet grooming can be fast, depending on how many dogs or cats (or both) need to be done on that day.
The thing about dog grooming is that it's all hands on – surprise, surprise – and aspiring grooming students who are learning the proper cuts for each canine breed need to be watched. So, if you're going to go to a large pet grooming school, you may have issues with it. Smaller dog grooming schools and courses are the best way to go, in my opinion.
I also learned from my research on dog grooming schools as well as from my own experience and knowledge that a lot of professional pet groomers are more likely to hire candidates if they have a diploma from a reputable pet grooming school, or if they have a course under their belt, like I do.
This is a big deal, because having a dog grooming school listed on your resume can be of a huge advantage. Thankfully, these don't take much time, and getting some sort of training through a small school or a course would be more than enough for most.
If you really want a career in animal grooming, then going to a pet grooming school is 100% worth it.
I've also found that more and more people are taking an interest in pet grooming. Not because they want a career as a professional dog groomer (or not always), but because they'd rather save the money which they otherwise would've spent by taking their pets to professional dog grooming salons.
This applies to me and I'm sure many other dog parents who love grooming their pets. I actually do grooming out of my home on a regular basis, and you might have seen some of the articles I've written for Top Dog Tips on how I do this.
I have all the dog grooming tools that I need. I borrow my roommate's dog hair clippers when I need to do a cut, and I have a couple of clients who bring their dogs for me to groom on a monthly basis.
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Dog grooming schools are worth it, but not necessary
At the same time, however, you should always do your research into different pet grooming schools and courses to make sure it's the right fit. Look for the most reputable one, and always remember that the most expensive school or course may not be the best for you. The smaller the course, the more attention you will receive.
If you can, check if there are reviews available for that specific dog grooming school or course (Yelp is great for that!) Look at what professional pet groomers will teach you in the grooming course. If they teach you cuts based on different breeds, how to manage difficult dogs, washing and drying techniques, and how to master and dilute the shampoos per breed, then that's the grooming school or course you need to go with!
Grooming schools are definitely not necessary, but they're helpful. If you can't afford one, don't stress about and start practicing at home. There are plenty of resources on dog grooming online as well as on this website. But if you can afford even a quick dog grooming course, I would highly recommend it.
Remember that price isn't everything, especially when it comes to grooming your pooch. You may have to save for a while, but it will be completely worth it in the end. I'm so happy I took a course in animal grooming because it taught me many skills that I never thought I'd use, but am using now almost daily.
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