Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that being your own boss is the best feeling in the world! There’s no one to answer to except yourself! Combine that with your passion for animals, especially our canine companions, and you’ve got a recipe for a wonderful and rewarding career!
Whatever your reasons are for starting a dog grooming career, there are a few universally-agreed upon components to success. Hang tight! We’re going to take you through the process step-by-step and get you on track to becoming a professional dog groomer!
Step 1: Find the time
First and foremost, you have to find the time to pursue the career! Dog grooming isn’t a walk in the park, so you’ll have to clock in hundreds of hours before you can call yourself a Master Groomer. If you are juggling a full-time job and/or a family and are thinking about starting a second career, you might need to be more careful with how you allocate your time, but it’s not impossible!
You have to prioritize your duties and figure out when you can section off a couple hours of no-distraction learning and practicing. When you finally become a full-fledged groomer, you’ll often find yourself working odd hours to accommodate dog owners, so you’ll have to get used to suddenly switching gears from whatever you’re doing to dog grooming.
If you find that your current working schedule is unstable but are seriously committed to starting your grooming training, you may want to consider taking an online dog grooming course! Online courses offer an unparalleled amount of flexibility while maintaining the same quality of education.
Step 2: Look for a course to take
You can’t just wake up one day and be a professional dog groomer without any training or prior knowledge. I doubt you’d be able to find a single client who would put any confidence in your abilities if you have no evidence of competency in the industry!
If you have zero experience in the dog grooming business, you’ll have to start with getting dog grooming training. Dog grooming isn’t a regulated industry so you technically don’t need a certification to work in the industry. Many would-be groomers often start out by apprenticing an established groomer or they voluntarily enrol themselves in dog grooming school.
But there’s no question that being a certified groomer will make your life a lot easier when trying to secure clients and build your brand. The great news is that good grooming courses will provide you with business training so that you can launch and manage your own grooming business yourself. Since that’s your ultimate goal, enrolling in a dog grooming course will give you all the tools you need to get ahead in the dog grooming industry!
Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice!
As with every other skill you’ve learned in your life, practice makes perfect. Even while you’re undergoing a course, you should take every opportunity you have to fine-tune your skills! Racking up hands-on experience is the number one way you’ll be able to master all the different techniques and figure out how to apply them properly. The grooming strategies needed for a poodle are completely different than the strategies you’ll need to employ on a dachshund!
The easiest way to gain experience is to practice on the dogs of your family, friends, and even colleagues! Make sure you’re not charging them exorbitant prices for your amateur services and that you’re clear about your level of experience. Trust us—your close family and friends are unlikely to turn down a free grooming for their beloved canine counterparts.
You can also try your local animal shelter. We know this doesn’t sound that glamorous, but it actually will provide you with extremely valuable experience. Again, be clear about your experience level as a dog groomer when speaking to a shelter or rescue, and that you would like to gain experience with their dogs as part of your training.
While you’ll likely receive positive answers, be prepared for them to say no. Each shelter and rescue is different, and their rules and regulations will vary. Nevertheless, it is absolutely worth a try, and this experience will boost your people skills!
Step 4: Network with everybody
Regardless of whether you’re at a dog show or an animal shelter, there are always going to be opportunities for you to network. If you’re interacting with dog owners in your current job, be sure to mention that you’re in the process of starting a dog grooming business, and provide them with your business card and website. Never underestimate the power of a connection made in person! A co-worker could be looking for a professional groomer, or have a friend or family member who is having a hard time finding a groomer in their area– you never know. You can also choose to attend networking events such as trade shows and pet conventions. Meeting as many people as you can is essential.
Another way to boost your dog grooming career is to team up with local businesses in your area. Animal-oriented businesses, such as Petco, employ groomers to work in their stores! Get to know business owners and find out if their clientele have ever shown interest in grooming services – this could lead to a recommendation or a partnership which could have a seriously positive effect on your career.
Step 5: Have patience and keep learning
Rome wasn’t built in a day—and you can’t expect a great career to be built any faster. You have to have patience as you build your skillset and client base. It can be frustrating to finish up your professional training and not immediately have a queue for your grooming services. Don’t fret, though! Just keep your head down and work hard. Your dedication and passion for the job will show through to doggie clients and owners alike, and we guarantee that there’s nothing that can help out your career more than word-of-mouth recommendations.
Finally, keep learning! Read up on clipping techniques and tips, stay up-to-date on new grooming trends, and enrol in supplementary courses to learn new tricks. Your career as a dog groomer will thrive if you refuse to become stagnant. Plus, your clients will be both impressed and much more likely to book your services again and again if they know that you’re at the top of your game.
Think you can only be a salon-owning groomer with your professional training? Think again! Check out this article on the 5 different career paths you can take as a certified dog groomer!
We’re myth-busting today!
You have options when starting your dog grooming business!
Casey Bechard of Off The Leash Pet Grooming is a QC Pet Studies graduate. Read all about her favorite breeds and pet haircuts as a certified groomer!