Let me throw this out there: you're not the first dog owner to think about how to become a groomer after you've spent time with your pooch and realized what an amazing career choice this could be. And you're right, because professional pet groomers do get to spend many hours bonding with dogs, which can be a tough but rewarding gig.
The important thing is to understand that there's more to grooming pets than all the joys you experience when grooming your own dog at home. If you think that dog grooming is all about playing with dogs and brushing their fur, it's not entirely so (but it's a part of it!)
Pet owners who want to know how to become a dog groomer will need to understand that professional dog grooming can definitely be fun, but it’s also a very tough job. You can earn a good living by grooming dogs, especially since pet ownership continues to grow in numbers in America, but you'll need to start at the bottom.
Here on Top Dog Tips, we've got some good advice for potential groomers who want to make a career out of it. Open some of these articles in a separate tab so that you can read them later for more inspiration:
- Becoming a Professional Pet Groomer
- How Professional Pet Groomers Groom Dogs
- How to Start a Dog Grooming Business
- How to Write a Dog Grooming Business Plan
How to Become a Dog Groomer
How to become a dog groomer #1: Research
Being a professional dog groomer (or a pet groomer) can be extremely rewarding, but you will certainly have to work hard in order to reap those rewards. Getting the proper training can be a good start if you want to become a professional. However, whether grooming schools are essential or not is a different question, which Katherine, Top Dog Tips pro groomer columnist, has covered before.
Whether you go to a professional dog grooming school or not is trivial. What will matter is your skills with grooming tools, your grooming technique and your ability to calm down dogs and make them feel comfortable. That is if you want to become a respected professional in the dog grooming field and continue growing your business continuously.
Professional pet grooming practice is becoming more popular in the USA. However, even then it can be hard to find a professional training program to teach you all the necessary tricks of pet grooming. Fortunately, there are others ways to gain the right education, skill set and training.
Start by doing some research. Find out everything you can about the way pet grooming works, what this job entails and what you'll be expected to do on a daily basis. Grooming pets at home is different than doing this for other people as a professional in a pet grooming salon. Thankfully, internet is full of this information where you can even speak to other groomers and ask them all sorts of questions.
First, take a look at all the articles in our Dog Grooming section. And here are some dog grooming forums and communities for you to begin with:
How to become a dog groomer #2: Professionals
One of the most common ways to learn how to become a dog groomer and all the ropes of this career is to train under an experienced veteran pet groomer. Most dog groomers charge a fee for professional training services, unless you have a friend or family member that will do it free of charge.
The best way to start is, again, on the internet. Take a look at the above websites and ask as many questions as you can. Once you have you have your questions answered, you can also try reading some books on dog grooming. After that, it's time to put the theory into practice, so start looking for a place to work with other professional pet groomers.
Word of warning: it will cost you some money (usually). The rate will vary depending on the person’s experience, but this can be a great way to get the hands-on training you’ll need. Certain groomers offer programs that allow you to work off the debt you owe for the training by doing jobs around the facility that require less skill.
As you climb the ladder of how to become a groomer, and once you have some of the most basic skills, you can also get a job in a groomer’s shop starting at the bottom. Perhaps you can do some cleaning or running the cash register, and learn the skills you need as you work your way up. It's like becoming a bartender while doing barback's job.
The longer you work with the professional, the better relationship you can establish. As the professional groomer begins to trust you, they will give you more responsibility, especially if they know you are interested in learning how to become a groomer. You may start out by washing dogs, move up to clipping their nails and then learn the skills needed to give haircuts.
How to become a dog groomer #3: Online courses
Certified dog grooming training programs are available to most, but majority of them are online. Smaller facilities are beginning to add programs to their live curriculum, but there may not be one available in your area. Here's an example of an online dog grooming school and how much it may cost you.
Online training is always an option and will give you the information that you need to be successful, but remember that these kinds of courses will offer you very little hands on training. It's possible that you can learn everything simply by searching through the internet, talking on the forums and buying a couple of pet grooming books.
Not to speak poorly of online training programs, but you'll need to consider where the training will get you in the long run. If you graduate from an online training program and will still be required to train for months under the supervision of a professional groomer, is it really worth it? That's usually the case, because the only trustworthy training for a groomer is hands-on.
Perhaps you can check with local groomers and see if they will allow you to train with them while taking your online classes. That way you'll get the professional training you need and the hands on experience that will be required to land a job. If you believe online training is definitely not for you, or you simply don't want to spend money on it, then that's fair. Focus on other options.
How to become a dog groomer #4: Large stores
An alternative path for learning how to become a groomer and acquiring the training that you will need to become successful can come from large chain pet stores. Typically they will hire employees that don’t have experience and they will provide the training for you. It's an opportunity worth exploring, but it's competitive.
You will most likely start off with a simpler job like bathing or checking customers in and out. Then once you have proven yourself as a worthy employee they will pay for your training as a groomer. If you choose to take this route to obtain your training as a dog groomer, you will probably be required to sign a contract.
Before you begin any type of pet grooming training, you'll have to sign a contract that requires you to stay with the company for a number of years once your training is complete. If you quit before the contract is up you will be responsible for repaying the debt. You can't really blame companies for doing this, as many people would probably get the training for free and then leave for a more lucrative job in a private shop.
A few related articles on dog grooming that may be helpful to you:
- How to Calm Your Dog Before Grooming
- Pro Groomer’s Favorite Dog Grooming Products for Home Grooming
- Top 5 Best Professional Dog Clippers
How to become a dog groomer #5: Conclusion
Dog grooming requires lots of hard physical labor and you need the proper training to know what each individual animal’s needs are. For example, dogs with long coats need much different care than dogs with short coats, like we've talked about before. You'll need to be trained to notice when there is a medical issue with dogs, like a skin rash or allergy.
Dog groomers don't just wash dogs, cut their fur, clip their nails and send them home. You'll be lifting dogs, cleaning up after them, expressing anal glands and dealing with pets that are not very friendly. If you're thinking that you love dogs and that will make you a great groomer, better think longer about this before pursuing this career.
Many, many dog groomers absolutely love their job, and I'm sure you will too. But it's always a good idea to do some research before jumping into the field. If you don't want to spend any money on this yet, then search your local library for grooming books, and find trusted internet sources with information about the day to day tasks of a dog groomer. If possible, ask a local groomer if you can observe them for a few days to get a feel for the job.
It's obvious to all that you cannot go into the field of professional grooming without proper training and understanding what it takes to professionally groom a dog or a cat. Each avenue for becoming a professional pet groomer comes with its own individual pros and cons. You’ll have to decide which would be the best way for you to begin your dog grooming career.
Here are a few other good articles on how to become a dog groomer, and ideas on where to start:
- Getting Started in the Animal Care and Services Industry
- Dog Grooming Courses and Training
- Dog Grooming