Here is a fundamental truth – if you have a dog, at some point during their lives you are going to visit a dog groomer. From getting their nails clipped to shampooing and trimming their fur; if you’re an owner of man’s best friend, it is expected that you’ll pay a dog groomer a visit.
Now, for some of you, the prospect of taking your dog to a groomer may sound novel. After all, jump back 20 to 30 years and dog groomers barely existed.
Yet that has all changed. Thanks to the demands of our working lives, many pet owners find it hard to trim, clip and pamper their dogs themselves. As such, many now seek more than a routine nail clipping and will go all out to make sure their dogs look fantastic.
What does this mean for you?
If you possess both a flair for styling and a love for dogs, then becoming a dog groomer could be the perfect job for you. In one compact package, you can play and care for an assortment of dogs, while at the same time testing your creativity.
However, before you jump on the bandwagon and quit your job; you must know all the facts, details, and qualifications you need to become a dog groomer.
What do dog groomers do?
Your average dog groomer is expected to do more than wash, brush, and trim dogs. Top dog groomers are also expected to teach dog owners how to keep their dog’s coats in good condition, as well as supply them with advice on grooming and diet. In addition, many dog groomers will offer nail-clipping services.
What personal qualities do you need?
Arguably anyone with the right training can become a dog groomer; however, if you want to succeed in this increasingly competitive field, you must possess the following:
- A love of animals – The majority of your day will be spent tending to and caring for dogs. If you don’t naturally care for or connect with animals; not only will they sense that you don’t like them, you will find your day incredibly lonely.
- Motivated – As we mentioned above, your days will be filled with minimal human interaction. As such, you need to stay motivated and not let temptation sway you to work slowly. After all, the more efficient you are, the more you will earn.
- Patience – Not all of your four-legged friends will want to cooperate. From trying to escape/avoid a wash to refusing to move/be picked up; you will need a lot of patience as no dog will behave or react the same. Instead, you need to have the patience to help calm nervous dogs so that they feel comfortable enough for you to touch and clean them.
- A calm and gentle persona – Dogs can sense if you’re scared, uncomfortable, or don’t like them. As a result, you must remain gentle and calm throughout their appointments so that they behave and recognise you as the Alpha of the situation.
- Strong communication skills – While most of your days will be spent trimming and styling dogs; you will need to communicate with their doggy parents. Part of this communication will involve ensuring that they have the right set of expectations when it comes to dog grooming and that they understand their contributions to their care between visits. As such, you will need to be effective at communicating and engaging with clients so that they will return for another visit.
- Great organisational skills – Depending on the breed of dog and what needs to be done, dog grooming can be profitable. However, for maximum returns, you need to be organised and ensure that you plan out each day carefully so you never risk running late on appointments or failing to optimise your time.
- Good management skills – If you plan to become a self-employed dog groomer, then you need the creativity and aptitude to run your own business and promote your own services. For instance, plan your marketing right and you will be able to build a strong base of repeat customers.
- Good physical strength and health – Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so you will need to be strong, fit, and healthy to ensure that you’re capable of lifting and supporting their weight when you are strapping them into a harness.
- Good photography skills – You can’t rely on word of mouth alone to build up your portfolio. You also need to harness social media and use photography to help showcase your skills and services. By supplying pet owners with regular visuals of your work, they will be more inclined to choose you over another local dog groomer (as they will have seen evidence of your talent).
- Good admin skills – This is particularly important if you plan to work for yourself, as you will need to manage your taxes, self-assessment forms, insurance, appointments, accounts, and business costs.
What qualifications do you need?
Technically no prior experience or qualifications are needed to become a dog groomer. However, if you want to increase your employability odds then we suggest you pursue any of the following routes, as the training they provide will put your clients instantly at ease:
- Apply for an apprenticeship – Working and training with a professional groomer will instantly give you the hands-on experience you need to get started once you are qualified. Quite often dog groomers will offer apprenticeships to keep you on once you are qualified, so many come with instant jobs. If this particular route interests you, then you can opt to work for a bigger business such as Pets at Home or you can choose to do an apprenticeship with an independent dog groomer who will allow you to shadow, train, and work directly with dogs.
- Online courses – Due to the growing popularity of dog grooming, it is now possible to complete online dog grooming courses and become a qualified dog groomer. During these courses, you will complete the modules and all the theoretical knowledge you need from the comfort of your own home, before attending a series of training days where you’ll get to put this theoretical training into action. For more information on online dog grooming courses and what to expect, click here.
- College – Similar to online dog grooming courses, there is a range of diplomas you can complete in college which can help you to become a dog groomer. These dog grooming courses will offer you the chance to practice your skills and shadow dog grooming professionals.
What courses should you do?
It is better that you do Ofqual regulated courses; however, there is nothing wrong with non-regulated ones too (depending on what the course covers). For instance, most dog grooming diplomas aim to provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge; however, if you want a greater chance of succeeding you will need to do additional courses that focus on particular breeds of dog:
- Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming and Salon Management
- Dog Grooming course
- Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants
- Level 3 Certificate/Diploma for Dog Grooming Stylists
- Level 2 Animal Care and Level 3 Animal Behaviour
- Bookkeeping and Starting Your Own Business
- Level 3 in Business Management
Top Tips for becoming a Dog Groomer
If you’re serious about becoming a dog groomer, we suggest adopting the following plan:
- Get to know the industry – Not all jobs are what they appear to be, so before you embark on this career, make sure that you have a clear picture of what is expected. A fantastic way to achieve this is to apprentice in an established salon or to volunteer in a kennel. This will help you to see how a salon is run as well as help you to understand how different dog breeds behave. In turn, you will learn more about their nutritional needs and potential health problems.
- Consider the pros and cons – You can’t half-heartedly commit to the idea. You need to be 100% certain that you’ll be happy being around dogs all day as well as prepared to deal with the physical demands of the job. For instance, aside from having to lift dogs, you’ll be on your feet all day and will often have to deal with stressed/anxious/aggressive dogs, as well as demanding owners.
- Complete a professionally-accredited course – As we mentioned earlier, dog owners are more likely to take you seriously if you have a qualification, than if you don’t. As such, you should aim to complete specialist dog grooming courses that have been accredited by the Pet Industry Federation (PIF). You should also become a member of the British Dog Groomers’ Association. For more details on accredited online dog grooming courses click here.
- Choose a niche – With so many people vying to be dog groomers, you will need to find a way to make your business unique so it easily stands out amongst your competition. You can achieve this in several ways, for instance, you can specialise in grooming small dogs or long-haired dogs, or you could make a point of using eco-friendly products.
- Create a business plan and budget – If you plan to become self-employed you must write a detailed business plan that clearly shows how you plan to structure and market your business. You may also want to analyse your competitors and assess the landscape you’ll be working in.
- In addition, you will need to factor in costs to ensure you budget accordingly. For example, do you plan to run a mobile salon, lease a space, or work from home?
Get the right equipment – as a dog groomer you will need the following equipment:
- Dog grooming table
- Dematting comb
- Nail Clippers
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Flea shampoo
Consider your annual earnings
To start with you will earn around £13,000 a year; however as your experience grows and your portfolio builds, you could earn as much as £20,000 a year.
Average costs: £20-30 for each treatment. This can rise to £80 for treatments depending on particular breeds, the size of the dog, and the condition of their coat.
more often than not you will be working 38-40 hours a week, some of which will take place during the evenings or at the weekend (depending on your client’s needs).
If you’re still undecided on what you would like to do – but you know you want to work with animals – then you could try your hand at becoming any of the following:
- A dog walker – Aside from insurance, no prior experience or qualifications are needed for this. Instead, you will have to earn the trust of prospective clients, especially if they want you to collect their dogs from their homes whilst they are at work.
- Dog breeder – This is not as easy as it sounds, as you need to be Kennel Dog Registered and keep a detailed history of the dogs you breed and their health and parentage. Also, you will be expected to care for the puppies for the first 10 weeks of their lives, as well as vaccinate and insure them for the first month they are with their new owners.
- Cattery owner – Similar to a kennel, you will be in charge of caring for other people’s cats whilst they are working or on holiday.
- Pet groomer – This is certain to offer you more diversity as you will be in charge of grooming an assortment of different animals. That being said, you will need the training to deal with each animal type.
Becoming a dog groomer can be a highly rewarding yet demanding job. So if you fancy spending your days pampering dogs of all shapes and sizes, then why not consider completing a dog grooming course and becoming your own boss.
For more information, click here.