As part of your dog grooming training, you’ll quickly discover that the work you do before any styling is just as important as the styling itself! Most dogs that walk into your shop won’t automatically be ready for a trim. They’ll need you to do some essential prep work first.

For instance, if a pup comes to you with matted fur, you won’t be able to safely cut or style their hair until those mats are first addressed and properly dealt with!

In Part One of our two-part series, we’ll start by looking at the types of prep work you’ll most commonly perform before any styling takes place. We’ll also examine why this work is so important, and how it can increase your chances of creating a successful grooming experience for your client AND their canine companions!

What is Prep Work?

In the world of grooming, dogs will rarely come to you 100% ready to hop on the table and immediately get a fabulous haircut. In reality, you’ll often need to perform certain tasks before any clipping or styling gets done.

Some dogs may have mats in their fur. Others may have dirty paws, or extremely long nails. At the start of every groom, it’s important for you to first assess the dog and see what needs to be taken care of before you break out the clippers.

Prep work actually makes up a large part of the grooming process!

Examples of Prep Work

The prep work required will vary from job to job. It really depends on the dog and their needs. Some examples of prep work you’ll frequently need to do include:

Note: Keep in mind that many dogs won’t require a fancy trim or style. Some will only ever come to you for prep work and small touch-ups. Certain breeds, such as German Shepherds and Dalmatians, will usually only require prep work services, due to their types of fur.

How Prep Work Benefits You:

Simply put, prep work makes styling your client’s dog a LOT easier. Why make things harder for yourself when you don’t have to?

For instance, all groomers aspire to work in an efficient and timely manner. Now, I know what you’re already thinking: but isn’t prep work time-consuming?

Yes, sometimes it can be, because you’ll need to add some extra steps here and there. But putting time and effort into preparing a dog for styling will help you avoid setbacks later on.

For example, you’ll commonly need to take the time to carefully brush and bathe a dog before you can begin their haircut. That being said, brushing and bathing a dog is standard practice during many dog grooming appointments. So, you’d typically need to do these things anyway!

The thing is, it would actually prove a lot more time-consuming to struggle to clip a dog with matted, dirty fur. You’d very quickly need to do some hefty backtracking to get the job done properly.

So, approach every groom by thinking two steps ahead. Prep work allows you to preemptively handle all the parts of the styling process that could pose problems later on, if left unattended. This way, you won’t lose time later on during the groom.

How Prep Work Benefits Your Client:

Naturally, your clients’ main priorities will be the health and safety of their furry family members. They’re coming to YOU because they trust you to take good care of their dogs. This trust comes from a combination of your reputable dog grooming training and qualifications and your performance.

You’ll need to prove to clients that you’ll treat their dogs with consideration and high-quality expertise!

Any groomer who knows their stuff will understand the necessity of prep work. The more you prep a client’s dog for styling, the better the final results will be. Not to mention, you’ll be better able to guarantee the dog’s overall well-being. These are key elements to being a successful groomer and maintaining a positive reputation with your clientele!

How Prep Work Benefits the Dog:

Most importantly, prep work benefits the dog more than anyone else.

To start, prep work gives you an opportunity to examine them. Doing so may bring to light a medical condition or affliction that has previously gone unnoticed. For example, as you assess the dog, you may notice skin lesions, lumps, etc. Prep work is an excellent way to spot potentially dangerous maladies, so that you can bring them to your client’s attention.

Prep work helps you to put the dog’s safety first in many other, less extreme, ways as well. Here are some of the most common examples of why prep work is essential to the overall grooming process:

  • Brushing: Lowers the risk of hurting the dog, if their hair has mats or tangles. Trying to clip matted fur can result in cuts, nicks, or clipper burn.
  • Bathing: A dog’s fur should always be clean before clipping it. Dirty fur can lead to irritated skin, infections, etc. Not to mention, dirty hair can clog your clippers, thereby making your job more difficult!
  • Trimming the pads: This will lower the chances of the dog slipping and injuring themselves on your grooming table. Plus, it helps reduce the amount of dirt they’ll track into their owner’s home from outside. It’s a win-win!
  • Nail clipping, grinding, and filing: If a dog’s nails are too long, they can prevent him from standing properly. This can potentially cause the dog to fall on the grooming table or cause infection or breakage—both of which can be very painful. In time, extremely long nails can even cause the dog to develop bone deterioration in the feet.
  • Cleaning the ears: It’s very common for dogs to develop infections and other health concerns in their ears. All dogs must regularly get their ears cleaned. In terms of prep work, “non-shedding” dog breeds have ear hair that absolutely MUST be removed before they get bathed. Otherwise, they risk collecting dirty, tangling, and blocking the ear canal.

Want to learn more about the importance of prep work? Stay tuned for Part Two, where we’ll delve more deeply into specific steps and safety measures that are required when preparing your client’s dog for styling!

Start your dog grooming training today and get your professional career started in as little as 3-6 months! Enroll today in QC’s internationally-leading online Dog Grooming Course!

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