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April Costigan

5 Reasons Why Professional Training Will Boost Your Dog Groomer Salary

Dog groomer salary article, July 2 2021, Feature Image

Looking for ways to boost your dog groomer salary? If you haven’t done so already, this is your sign to get professional certification training!

Why will a proper grooming education better your business and help you increase your income? QC Pet Studies graduate and industry expert, April Costigan, is here to tell you! Read on to discover 5 critical reasons why you absolutely MUST get professionally certified!

Dog groomer salary article, July 02 2021, April Costigan headshot

Why I Became a Professional Dog Groomer

When I first contemplated learning more about grooming dogs professionally, I was working in an animal shelter. Each week, we took in a large number of stray dogs. Additionally, we also took in transferred dogs from other shelters, as well as relinquished dogs from families that could no longer care for them.

Many of these dogs arrived in the worst possible conditions! They’d have matted coats, or were just plain filthy. I quickly learned how to clean them up and make them more comfortable. Eventually, I began to wonder if I could perform these services professionally. But before I made any concrete decisions, I first wanted to know what a dog groomer salary actually looks like…

Researching The Dog Groomer Salary

I did a little online research, specific to my area. During this research, I discovered that there was a wide range of hourly rates – from minimum wage for bathers, to $17/hour for dog groomers working for large pet supply outlets.

Finding a specific dollar amount for a dog groomer salary proved rather difficult, as many locations were vague in their job descriptions. I then discovered that – at least in my area – the salary offered at boutique shops was based on how many dogs a groomer could complete in a day. That’s when I decided that if I wanted to pursue this career path (and I really did), I’d have to come up with a plan that would offer a sustainable income for me.

I wanted to know how I could do quality work and get paid a quality dog groomer salary. The answer was to obtain a legitimate grooming certification!

Cocker Spaniel getting groomed on grooming table

5 Reasons a Professional Certification will Boost Your Dog Groomer Salary

You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need a certification?”

Well, I can give you FIVE excellent reasons why taking the time to learn how to properly groom a dog will allow you to be paid a much higher rate!

1. Trust

When you obtain a professional certification, you’ll be able to earn and retain new client business based on your advanced skill-set. For example, in QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course, you’ll discover SO much more about dog grooming that you already do. In less than a year, you’ll know everything you need in order to work at a professional standard… and have an internationally-recognized certification to add to your resume, too!

As a graduate of this course myself, I can tell you that it’s a truly outstanding training program. QC Pet Studies will prepare you to become a top-quality, reliable, and trustworthy groomer. After all, that’s the number one thing your clients will want from you: to know that you’re taking excellent care of their beloved dog.

Moreover, they’ll be able to trust that you’ll produce the look they actually want for their dog. Dog parents WILL pay a little higher rate for this level of confidence!

2. Dependability

With a certification under your belt, your clients will depend on you to groom their dog completely and efficiently. Furthermore, they’ll schedule their dog’s regular appointments in advance. As a result, happy clients will fill up your grooming calendar and make good use of your time. Satisfied repeat customers are key to increasing the dog groomer salary!

Dog groomer salary in-post image for article, groomer and owner tending to puppy getting groomed at salon

3. Referrals

When you have happy clients, they talk about you and your qualifications – including your reputable certification. In turn, when you produce awesome results and make their dog stand out at the dog park, that’s free advertising! Dog owners love to talk about their dogs.

By the same extension, when they have a groomer that they love, they’ll likely refer you to their friends and family. Speaking from experience, I get 40% of my new business from referrals alone. And of course, more bookings means a better dog groomer salary!

4. Certification Seal

When you graduate from QC Pet Studies, they’ll provide you with a physical copy of your internationally-recognized certification. But that’s not all! You’ll also get an electronic image of QC’s International Dog Grooming Professional seal, too. You can then showcase this certification seal on all your printed media, as well as your business website.

Nothing gives me more pride that to have this seal on my marketing materials!  It’s proof that I know what I’m doing, even if a person has never seen my work before. This little seal is a BIG deal and allows me to charge more for my work.  That equates to a larger dog groomer salary!

QC Pet Studies International Dog Grooming Professional IDGP certification seal

5. Advice and Recommendations

As a professional dog groomer, I am a resource for my clients. I’m regularly asked what can be done about itchy skin, dry coats, chapped noses or paws, and tear stains. These are just a few topics of information I like to be ready to answer questions about.

QC Pet Studies prepares you to become the “go-to” person when questions pop up about how to properly care for a dog’s coat. Your expertise will allow you to educate your clients the brushes they should be using at home, how often their dog should be brushed, how tear stains can be eliminated, etc.

Just keep in mind that I never give medical advice. As dog groomers, we’re qualified to do many things – but that’s not one of them. That being said, if I find that a dog has an ear infection, an injury to their paw, or a lump that wasn’t present the last time I groomed them, I immediately take a photo and send it to the owner. My clients appreciate that I’m always on the lookout for odd things they may not have noticed.

I adore these dogs, too. So, if I suggest that a visit to the vet may be in order, my clients know that it’s because I’m a caring and compassionate person. You see, it comes back to trust. My clients trust that I am working at the front-line of their dog’s health. People appreciate that and often give me tips for letting them know that something needs to be addressed.

While you can’t always rely on this as part of your dog groomer salary, it’s definitely a nice added perk to keep in mind!

Your Dog Groomer Salary: Conclusion

I could easily come up with five more reasons why professional training will boost your dog groomer salary, but I think I’ve made my point. If you want to be able to charge more for your work, then you must do really GREAT work.

The convenience of QC Pet Studies’ online training will catapult your dog grooming career! It’ll give you all the skills and information you need to get moving in the right direction. If you have a passion for dog grooming, then you can use that same drive to obtain professional training. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did it!

Volunteer getting kiss from dog at animal shelter

Bonus: Food for Thought

I still work part-time for the animal shelter, but its not because I have to. Rather, it’s because I want to. After all, even homeless dogs want to look and feel good. If you want to gain more experience and add to your portfolio, I highly suggest volunteering at a dog shelter. Offer your grooming services to the homeless dogs. No, there’s no money in it – but it’s very rewarding work!

The dogs you groom will be so grateful to you for spending quality time with them; doting on them, caring for them as individuals, and making them feel important. Many of them have not been loved for a long time, or have lost the ones that did love them. A lot of these dogs are heartbroken, scared, or just plain confused.

I know you are a compassionate person. You wouldn’t want to be a dog groomer if you weren’t! So, while you improve things for yourself, help a dog that needs you, too. You can make a world of difference for them!

Boost your dog groomer salary in as little as 9-12 months by getting trained and certified with QC Pet Studies!

How to Master the Teddy Bear Cut

Teddy Bear Cut article, June 11 2021, Feature Image

If you want to be a successful dog groomer, you’re going to need to know the Teddy Bear Cut. But if you’re new to this haircut style, don’t worry! QC Pet Studies alumnus, April Costigan, is here to break down everything you need to know to get started!

Teddy Bear Cut article, June 11 2021, April Costigan headshot

Introduction to The Teddy Bear Cut

The Teddy Bear Cut is one of the cutest cuts – as well as one of the most requested. It features a rounded face, with a short clip to the body and legs, and rounded feet. Depending on the density of the coat, longer hair may be left on the legs if the coat is thin. This will help give the cut a more balanced look. Sometimes, especially on older dogs, the coat is thinner on the body and thicker on the legs. Thus, it may be necessary to compensate for these differences.

QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Grooming certification course features this cut in their “Pet Cuts” booklet. Here, you get very thorough instructions on how to achieve a pristine Teddy Bear Cut. I personally refer to this booklet from time to time – specifically, when I have questions while working on a dog that has coat challenges, such as the ones mentioned above.

Achieving The Teddy Bear Cut

Prep Work

To achieve the perfect Teddy Bear Cut, make sure you have completed all of the prep work first. This includes:

  • Trimming the dog’s nails;
  • Trimming the paw pads;
  • Performing a complete sanitary cut;
  • Cleaning the ears;
  • Bathing the dog
  • And drying them afterwards.

When drying, make sure to blow out as much curl as possible (if you ‘re working with a curly coat). This is an important step in order to attain the look you want, which is an even coat length on the dog. Then choose a comb that’ll give you the length of coat your client prefers.

Pomeranian on grooming table before hair cut

Clipping the Coat

Once the dog is completely dry, you can begin clipping the coat. Start at the base of the skull and run your clippers down the topline, to the tail. Next, clip the hips and beneath the tail. I like to clip both rear legs on the outside and the inside, before clipping the sides of the body. Personally, I feel this gives me a better opportunity to ensure an even length all over. It’s my personal preference.

Once the dog’s hips and legs are complete, I then move to the sides. Once that’s completed, I proceed to the neck, shoulders, front legs, and chest. Complete the body and legs by giving the dog nice, rounded feet. You can do this using your rounded shears.

Don’t forget to fluff the fur between the toes! This way, you can trim off any really long hairs and blend them into the tops of the rounded feet. After this, use your metal comb to fluff the fur all over the body and legs. During this part of the process, you can also trim off any stray or uneven areas using your blending shears. I like to use my rounded shears and my blending shears to blend the sides into the underside of the body. I’ve found that this gives the dog a nice, rounded shape.

Want to see a visual breakdown of each of the above steps? QC Pet Studies‘ self-paced training outlines and demonstrates the entire process in their instructional video, as well as in their reference booklet!

Teddy Bear Cut, pomeranian with rounded face haircut

Creating The Teddy Bear Face

Once you’ve blended and shaped the body, legs, and feet, it’s time to complete the Teddy Bear face! The face should be rounded and full when looking at it from the front. This includes the top of the head, sides of the cheeks, and the hair on the chin (a.k.a. the “beard”).  When combined together, all of these elements give the appearance of the soft, rounded Teddy Bear Cut.

To reveal expressive eyes, first comb the hair on the top of the head forward. Using your straight scissors, rest them on the bridge of the dog’s nose. Then, with your scissors angled straight up, make the cut level with the stop. Trim the hairs on the top of the nose, close to the eyes. This will remove any hairs that could obstruct the dog’s vision and detract from the desired expressive look.

Fun fact: trimming out tear-stained hairs will also brighten the eyes! So, trim back any long or scraggly hair that may appear on the outside of the eyes. If these are left, it gives the dog a sad, droopy expression… and that’s not what we’re looking for!

I like to use my rounded scissors to shape the cheeks and jaw. Next, I blend the jawline into the base of the ears. Using my blending shears, I make a smooth transition from the head into the neck. Fluff the hair periodically on the head and face to ensure you can trim off any scraggly hairs that disrupt the rounded look. Remember: you’re trying to achieve a rounded, symmetrical shape!

Trimming the top of the muzzle should be done with curved scissors and blended into the beard. Finally, blend the back of the neck by tilting the dog’s head forward and using your rounded scissors (or your blending shears) to create a slight arch that blends into the body.

Watch Me Create a Teddy Bear Cut!

I’ve filmed a video of me completing a Teddy Bear Cut on Riley, a dog of one of my regular clients. I do apologize for the quality – this was my first time at videoing an entire groom. However, I hope you find it helpful all the same!

Enroll with QC Pet Studies

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course will prepare you to master the Teddy Bear Cut by introducing you to each element via written instruction. You’ll also have access to an excellent video tutorial by QC tutor, Lisa Day.

As a student, you’ll have this access to all video tutorials FOREVER! As a result, you can refer back to your training materials anytime you need them. Plus, when you first enroll, you receive a physical copy of your course materials, too. I found it awesome to have these at my fingertips for quick access!

Working with dogs and making them beautiful is a fun and exciting career. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Good luck to you!

Learn to master the Teddy Bear Cut (as well as a wide variety of other popular dog haircuts) by enrolling with QC Pet Studies today!

10 Dog Grooming Interview Questions and How to Answer Them!

Dog grooming interview questions article Feature Image

What sort of dog grooming interview questions might you get asked when looking for employment? QC Pet Studies graduate, April Costigan, is here to reveal commonly asked questions… and how to answer them! To learn more about April, check out her Graduate Feature here.

From Graduate to Professional Groomer

Congratulations! You’ve completed the QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Course and are now ready to begin your new, exciting career as a dog groomer. Your next challenge will be to look for employment. Thus, you’re likely preparing yourself for all the possible dog grooming questions you’ll be asked during your interview.

This article is intended to help you understand what to expect during the interview process. I’ll let you in on the common questions employers will ask – and what’s more, how you should answer them! After all, it’s important to make a good impression during your interview. So, allow me to help you!

Here are 10 dog grooming interview questions that you may encounter. Have a friend ask you the questions, and do your best to answer them thoughtfully and completely.

Dog grooming interview questions article in-post image 1, groomer clipping hair around dog's ear

10 Dog Grooming Interview Questions to Anticipate

Question 1: “What are your qualifications working with and/or grooming dogs?”

This interview question gives you the PERFECT opportunity to tell the interviewer that you’ve completed the comprehensive Dog Grooming Course offered by QC Pet Studies. Feel free to share your experiences with the dogs you worked on while completing your assignments!

Just remember to keep your answer brief but thorough. You may be inclined to answer this question with, “I’ve had dogs all my life and I just love them.” However, try to avoid saying this in your interview. There are millions of dog owners who have had dogs their whole life, but that doesn’t make them qualified to groom them.

Question 2: “Are you comfortable grooming cats?”

I’ll admit, this is a tricky question to be included in a set of dog grooming interview questions. As you know, QC Pet Studies’ curriculum does not include cat grooming lessons. However, many dog grooming establishments DO include grooming for cats. As such, it’s a viable business segment.

Personally, I do not groom cats. Don’t get me wrong – I like them and I have one. But for my own business, I do not offer grooming services for cats. So for an interview question like this, my answer would be “no”. This doesn’t mean this has to be the answer for you, though!

Ask yourself if you want to be able to say yes to this question. Just be careful committing to something you’ve never done before. Grooming cats is very different from grooming dogs, and you must know what you’re doing in order to do a good job.

Importantly, don’t make it seem like you have prior experience if you actually don’t. Because if you say yes to this question during an interview and then get the job, you could find yourself suddenly asked to groom a cat when you don’t know what you’re doing. Moreover, you could wind up solely grooming cats – and not dogs, like you were hoping.

So, think about this carefully and prepare your answer so it aligns with your career goals. If you do want to groom cats, ask the interviewer if there would be a training opportunity for you within the organization. Just because you don’t know how to do it now, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Expressing your interest in learning will help you to make a good impression!

Cat getting groomed at salon

Question 3: “Have you taken a First Aid Course for dogs?”

Well, aren’t you in luck? This is a dog grooming interview question you can answer with a heartfelt, “YES!”

QC Pet Studies offers an excellent First Aid program that you get 100% FREE once you’ve enrolled in the Dog Grooming Course. Thanks to this training, you’ll be able to answer a wide variety of questions related to this topic with confidence! The interviewer might ask you to give specific examples of the kind of aid you can provide during an emergency. So, be sure to review your First Aid for Groomers lesson guide to refresh your skills prior to your interview!

Question 4: “Do you have a favorite type of dog you’d like to work with?”

In terms of dog grooming interview questions, this is one that may come up as part of the pre-interview chit chat. The employer could be asking this because they’re interested in learning more about you personally. Kind of like how they might ask what you like to do in your spare time, etc.

Personally, I love grooming small dogs (e.g. Poodles, Maltese, Yorkies, Terriers, etc.). The trimming and shaping details when working with smaller breeds are like an artform to me. I love it! However, there are some days when I also enjoy deshedding a really large, hairy dog. I find it peaceful and Zen-like.

When I see I have a big dog on my schedule, I am almost giddy at the thought of just being one with the dog. Large dogs tend to love being brushed. Furthermore, if they’re a natural breed that doesn’t require a lot of trimming, the groom will mostly consist of standard prep work, followed by brushing, bathing, and drying. This doesn’t require a lot of brain power, so I can just focus my attention on making the grooming session fun for the dog. It also helps that I get lots of sloppy dog kisses during these sessions!

So, how should YOU answer this dog grooming interview question? Just be honest! Tell them what you really enjoy. They might respond by telling you their own favorite breed. Before you know it, you’ll have established a rapport with your interviewer. Sharing a common interest is key to a good interview!

Groomer hugging dog

Question 5: “Can you read dog body language? Can you identify anxiety, agitation, or calming behaviors?”

Being able to read a dog’s body language is a significant skill that all groomers must develop. This is not something that you can learn in a day, but it is something that can be acquired over time. QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course offers two powerful lessons on this topic: Dog Temperaments and Dog Behavior.

These are two areas that should definitely be reviewed and practiced regularly. If you’re new to grooming and handling dogs, be sure to talk openly to your interviewer about your current skill-set. Mention that you’ve studied dog behavior and practice your ability to read body language. The employer will appreciate your candid response.

Question 6: “What would you do if you were grooming a dog that moves around a lot, doesn’t want their paws held, or hates being dried?”

This is one of those dog grooming interview questions that’s meant to test you. The employer wants to know if you are PATIENT. Thanks to your professional training, you’ve had a chance to work with a few dogs during your practicum exercises. As such, you know that not all dogs hold still while you groom them.

Some are very fidgety; moving the entire time you’re trimming them. This can complicate certain haircuts (such as the Teddy Bear Cut, for example) if the dog resists you trimming around their eyes or mouth. Similarly, some dogs hate the drying process. They bark, snap at the dryer, or try to get away from the noise that’s scaring them. Other dogs absolutely hate having their nails trimmed. They will not allow you to hold their paws. In some cases, they may even become mouthy in an attempt to get you to let them go.

Talk about your techniques to manage these types of dogs. All groomers develop their own way of managing these tricky canines. Just be sure to include patience in your response. Patience is essential when it comes to successful dog grooming.

Groomer drying big dog at salon after bath

Question 7: “How would you handle a demanding – or in some cases, lazy – pet parent?”

My friend (and fellow groomer) gave me this question – and it’s a perfect one to anticipate during any grooming interview process. Throughout your career, you’ll encounter a wide variety of dogs and dog temperaments. But this is also true for people, too.

There are just as many peculiar people out there as there are peculiar dogs. Some people have high expectations of the groom, but do not respect your time or effort in order to achieve their expectations. Others are lazy, won’t brush their dog at home, and will only bring them in once their fur has become a matted mess. Shockingly, they’ll expect you to brush out every single mat and magically save the desired, long coat – even though they do nothing at home to maintain it.

This can be a challenge when running a dog grooming business (or working for one). I recommend being very clear with the client on what you can accomplish during the allotted time. If needed, explain politely why something may not be possible. I find that if you handle the situation this way, the client will be more likely to accept a realistic result.

Moreover, you can educate clients on proper at-home care. Encourage them to work with you to care for their dog! This can help reduce the number of mats in the coat. If you do this consistently and kindly, your client just might start participating in maintaining the desired coat length/health.

Question 8: “What are your career goals as a dog groomer?”

Have you thought about this already? Do you have plans to open your own shop some day? Or do you want to groom in a large retail space where there are already lots of people and activity?

Have some fun with this dog grooming interview question! Let your imagination run free. This question is not meant to pin you down to one job forever. Rather, it’s meant to give the employer a feel for how dedicated you are to this field of work.

Up-close of dog grooming scissors

Question 9: “Do you own your own dog grooming equipment?”

It is my understanding that most shops will require you to own and maintain your own equipment. However, this might not be the case everywhere, as I imagine it can vary from place to place. Some salons may offer some temporary tools for you to use until you can obtain your own.

Luckily, the starter kit that you received with your QC Pet Studies course materials should be adequate to allow you to answer “yes” to this question.  Once you get hired, you can build on your tool kit as you discover additional equipment that you’d like to have.

Question 10: “Do you have a proper dog grooming license?”

The state of Colorado (where I live) requires that all groomers possess a PACFA License. This license allows a groomer to work at three separate grooming shops per license. For me, I need a PACFA License to own and operate my own business.

Keep in mind that the qualifications vary from city to city. Some places requires groomers to have a license, a license and a certification, or simply a reputable certification. Take the time to research the licensing requirements in your state, country, and municipality.

If you have one already, you are ready to be hired! If you need to obtain one, it could take a few weeks for the application to be processed – which may cause to miss out on a job opportunity.

Want to learn more about the differences between a dog grooming license vs. certification? Click here!

Pug getting shaved down by groomer at salon

I hope you’ve found this information helpful! Now you’ll be ready to rock any and all dog grooming interview questions that come your way!

Just remember to relax and believe in yourself. You have the proper training, you have the desire, and you have the will to be successful. I wish you good luck in your future interviews and hope that you find the perfect position for you!

Prepare for your dog grooming interview questions by first getting professionally trained and certified with QC Pet Studies! Click here to enroll today, and graduate in less than one year!

Working in a Dog Grooming Salon: 3 Critical Safety Tips

dog grooming article, Apr 1 2021, Feature Image

Dog grooming professional, April Costigan, is a graduate of QC Pet Studies. To learn more about April, check out her Graduate Feature here.

Safety in the Workplace

Safety in the workplace is always the highest priority for a successful operation. In the world of dog grooming, this is especially true. Working with a wide variety of dog breeds means working with a wide variety of personalities, temperaments, and behaviors.

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course

As part of QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course, there is an excellent section called, Personal Health and Safety. This section thoroughly discusses how to keep yourself healthy and safe while working as a groomer. Although I’ve already graduated and am now working in the professional world, I still keep this particular booklet handy for easy reference.

The Personal Health and Safety booklet includes vital information regarding safety in a grooming environment. It talks about the significance of personal safety equipment – including those medical-grade masks that we’ve all become accustomed to wearing, thanks to COVID-19.  Not only do these masks provide protection from airborne pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria; they’re key to keeping hair, dander, and dust out of your lungs.

QC’s tutorial further discusses clean air, toxic cleaning products, and even shampoos that contain toxins. (You know, the ones intended to kill fleas and ticks.) The Lesson Guide is one of my favorite course materials to reference from time to time, as it also gives advice and suggestions on how to protect your hearing and keep your body physically fit for grooming.

My Top 3 Safety Tips When Working in a Dog Grooming Salon

The following are tips and tricks that I have established and utilize in my own shop…

1 – Technique

Most groomers develop their own style while working with dogs. They might adopt positive techniques that help benefit them, the dog, and their overall performance. For instance, I know one dog groomer who hums the entire time she grooms. She finds that it keeps her focused. Plus, she says it calms her dogs.

Personally, I cannot carry a tune to save my life. As such, I do not hum to my dogs. However, I do speak in a calm, low voice when the dog on my table seems anxious or nervous. This mostly happens when trimming nails or dealing with difficult mats. I am gentle but persistent when completing these tasks.

On the flip-side, there are also techniques that groomers can adopt that are not all that safe. At a large retail store, for example, I observed a groomer who would force an animal into submission in order to trim their nails. I found this alarming! In my opinion, that sort of technique isn’t necessary. In the dog grooming industry, there’s no room for a bully. Not to mention, this groomer will always run the risk of the dog reacting in self-defense and becoming aggressive.

Whenever I deal with a fussy dog who hates getting his nailed trimmed, I’ll employ patience. First, I’ll trim as many nails as the dog will allow before getting too upset. Then I’ll simply change to a different, more soothing task for the time being, such as brushing or ear cleaning. Once the dog has sufficiently settled down, I can trim a few more and return to the more soothing task whenever necessary.

Proper technique and etiquette may take longer, but it’ll always be worth it in the end. It’s also the path that will keep all parties involved the safest.

dog getting paws brushed by groomer in salon

2 – Preventing Bites

As a dog grooming expert, there will be times where your client’s dog will attempt to bite you. This just comes with the territory of working in this field. The risk is real, so you must be able to anticipate when a dog becomes so agitated that they may try to bite you.

In this kind of situation, muzzling the dog may be the only choice. The Groomer’s Toolkit lesson, taught by QC Pet Studies, does a great job in talking about a variety of tools you’ll be using in the workplace. Muzzles and E-collars are discussed on page 28. Keeping a First Aid kit on-hand is also a must! Personally, I’ve had to crack open the bandages on more than one occasion.

To drive this tip home, I’ll tell you a little story…

Story Time!

I once had a client named Spike. He was adopted from the shelter I work at, and he’s known for being a very nice dog. However, Spike had a traumatic history. As a result, he would turn into a biting dog whenever he became insecure.

He had bitten several people in his lifetime. In fact, I’ve seen this in action myself. He even gave me a very superficial bite when we first met. During his time at the shelter, we became good friends. Eventually, I was the only one who could successfully fit him for a muzzle when he needed medical care (which was often, as he had some medical issues).

When he finally left the shelter as a foster dog, he became a regular client of mine. Whenever he came to my home studio, I’d take some extra precautions to protect myself from what I fondly called, “Spike bites”.

April's homemade grooming glove for Spike
Spike wearing muzzle at dog groomer's
Spike after dog grooming appointment

Preventing “Spike Bites” in My Dog Grooming Salon

First, I purchased a muzzle that would fit him comfortably. I only used it when it was absolutely necessary, which was during nail trims. He actually loved to be groomed and was an easy dog to work with – once you got past the nail trim.

Secondly, I made myself my own bite-proof gloves. I bought a pair of scuba-diving gloves and cut the thumb and ring finger off. The fabric that wetsuits and scuba gloves are made of is very strong. So strong, in fact, that Spike could not penetrate it. And trust me, he tried more than once!

By cutting the thumb and ring finger off, I was able to easily use my scissors when trimming around Spike’s face. Sadly, sweet Spike has passed on, due to his medical issues. But I will always be grateful for the lessons he taught me about preventing bites. I still actually call my gloves, “Spike’s Gloves”, so I won’t ever forget him.

3 – Fire Safety

Every business, home, and maintained structure has fire prevention strategies.  It’s just part of our world. In a dog grooming salon, this is no different. Ensuring that you are prepared for a fire emergency is essential!

Of course, we all hope that we’ll never experience this sort of problem. But if you aren’t prepared for one and one actually occurs, it will have devastating results. There is a lot of electrical equipment in a dog grooming shop. Common examples are clippers, dryers, laundry equipment, vacuums, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and maybe even radios.

I safeguard my workspace by regularly checking cords, electrical outlets, and the equipment for any wear and tear or fire-causing mediums. Furthermore, there are no flammable liquids kept in my studio. For that added bit of extra precaution, I also keep TWO fire extinguishers available in my work areas. If you plan to do the same, just make sure that they’re easy to reach in the event of an emergency.

PRO TIP: Have a Planned Escape Route in Your Dog Grooming Salon!

In my dog grooming salon, I also have more than one planned escape route, as well as a system for getting my dogs to safety. Please note that having a fire extinguisher and knowing how to use it are two completely different things. To ensure that you’re truly ready, I suggest having a mock-fire emergency.

When I did this, I used a dog named Barney as my test dog. I had him in the tub. We then ran through a couple different scenarios involving a fire emergency. This way, I could make sure I knew how to get him out of the tub and run him to safety before attempting to use the fire extinguisher.

Dog next to fire extinguisher
April's floorplan for grooming salon

A wet, shampoo-soaked dog is a lot better than a deceased dog. I even pretended that I didn’t know how to use the extinguisher! This way a very great training exercise. In particular, this taught me how to keep calm and use every precious second to read the directions and follow them through. In a real emergency, it’s important to keep a cool head. Being able to do things carefully and quickly could be the very thing that saves your life.

There is no harm in practicing your plan and refining it when you find better ways to respond in an emergency. It’s my opinion that if I expect the unexpected, I’ll be better prepared to handle any emergency.

Psst! Did you head? When you enroll in QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course, we’ll give you our First Aid for Groomers Course absolutely FREE!

The 2 Hardest Dog Haircuts (and How to Master Them)

Want to become a master groomer? Then you’ll need to know how to do these two challenging dog haircuts! Luckily, April Costigan is here to help. April is a graduate of QC Pet Studies, having completed both the Dog Grooming and First Aid for Groomers courses. To learn more about April, check out her Graduate Feature here.

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Now that I’ve started my own dog grooming business, I meet new people every day. Sometimes, I’m asked for my opinion on which kinds of dog haircuts are available. Clients will ask me, “What do YOU think would look good on a specific dog?”

Often, customers are coming to me with this inquiry because they themselves aren’t sure. For example, new dog owners might not know that their Cavapoo puppy – with their cute, fluffy coat – will grow out and become long, scraggly, and… well, not so cute.

As the professional, they’re relying on me tell them which dog haircuts are recommended. Moreover, it’s my responsibility to inform them how a good dog haircut needs to be maintained. This way, the pooch can retain that cuteness their owners fell in love with.

The 2 Hardest Dog Haircuts (In My Opinion)

There are a couple of dog haircuts that I’ve had to master because they’re requested often. In the beginning, I did find them to be tricky. But with practice, I have mastered them… and you can, too!

So, which two dog haircuts am I referring to?

The Teddy Bear Cut and the Shave, of course!

dog groomer cutting white dog's hair

1. The Teddy Bear Cut

Let’s talk about the Teddy Bear Cut first. In the “Pet Cuts” textbook found in Unit E, QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course does an excellent job of describing and breaking down this popular haircut.

In the ‘Full-Body Cuts’ section, the Teddy Bear Cut is discussed in detail. Here, you’ll learn what the standard is for this type of dog haircut, which is all illustrated through some really terrific photographs.

However, what the course doesn’t touch on is that a Teddy Bear Cut does not look the same on every dog. I had to learn that on my own, through real-world experience. The booklet also didn’t mention ear type and shape, or what to do with different kinds of ears in order to enhance this look.

That being said, the idea is the same for all Teddy Bear dog haircuts. This cut involves a full, round face, column-like legs, rounded feet, even coat length on the body, and a cleanly-scissored tail.

Keep in Mind…

coat type plays a huge role in how great the cut is going to look once you’re all done. Fluffy, wavy, or slightly curly coats look really cute. However, you must alter your expectations if you’re working with a dog that has a flat, silky coat.

They are still cute, yes. But with a flat, silky coat, I’ve experienced difficulty with this haircut. Particularly, in getting the dog’s head to look sweet and round. This is not necessarily because I cut the hair incorrectly. Rather, it’s because the dog held his ears funny. Thus, the top of the head looked like it had square angles. Alternately, it’s sometimes because the fine, flat hair just wants to lay flat. It’s stubborn and doesn’t want to hold the rounded look I’m trying to achieve.

Examples of Teddy Bear Dog Haircuts

Here are some examples of different ear types on three small dogs. When the hair is long, it can hold the ears down. You can see this in Kiwi’s Before Photo. It almost looks like she has very long ear leather. But once the hair is cut short, the ears bounce up. I think this looks very cute! My friend calls these bouncy ears “puppy ears”. This look gives Kiwi a more perky and inquisitive expression.

Kiwi before haircut
Kiwi after haircut

Let’s look at the next example. Here, both Reilly’s ear leather and ear hair is long. In this case, you can trim it to jaw length. This will give the dog’s face a more rounded, exaggerated look. In general it’s also a very cute look – although it is different.

Reilly before haircut
Reilly after haircut

In the last example, notice how Cheerio’s drop ears are lower on her head. They do not pop up like Kiwi’s did, even though the hair is cut short like Kiwi’s. Instead, Cheerio’s ears look more like sweet little ponytails. I could’ve placed bows on top of both ears to give her a little girl look. However, her owner likes a center bow.

Like the other Teddy Bear dog haircuts above, this look is very cute. Importantly, though, it’s unique to Cheerio.

Cheerio before haircut
Cheerio after haircut

Teddy Bear Dog Haircuts: Final Thoughts

It’s important that when choosing dog haircuts for clients, you take into consideration what their dog’s coat type is. You also need to factor in what kind of ears that dog has. Once you’ve identified both, you can master the Teddy Bear Cut and create a very cute look!

2. The Shave

The second dog haircut that I found difficult – but was able to master with time, patience, and experience – was the “Shave”. To be honest, I don’t really like this term. Here’s why: some of my clients have requested a shave, when what they really want is a short haircut that’s easy to maintain and lasts longer between grooming appointments.

For the purpose of this article, I’m talking about shaving a dog all the way down. I have a lot of experience with this particular dog haircut because I work in an animal shelter. We get lots of stray dogs in that are in terrible condition and the humane thing to do is to cut all of the matted, stinky, horrible hair off their bodies. This way, they can feel clean and comfortable again.

Keep in Mind…

While I love QC Pet Studies and all the wonderful lessons I’ve learned through their training, there’s more they could teach when it comes to the Shave. For instance, there are no instructional videos to illustrate this dog haircut, which would have been helpful. Moreover, the description offered in the booklets doesn’t really discuss the mechanics of completing a shave.

Page 18 of the “Pet Cuts” booklet is entitled, The Shave. But this section only discusses the misconceptions. It does not give actual instruction on how to shave a healthy dog. The course also doesn’t discuss how to complete a shave that would be necessary for a severely matted dog. Like me, you’ll likely need to learn these lessons on your own.

dog haircuts, the shave

Shaving a Matted Dog

It’s important to know that when dealing with a matted dog, you absolutely CANNOT complete the grooming prep requirements outlined in QC Pet Studies’ curriculum. Yes, you may be able to clean the dog’s ears, trim their toenails (if not hidden in mats), and complete a sanitary cut. But you will not be able to brush out a severely matted dog.

It would be cruel to even try, as doing so can potentially cause them a lot of pain. You also cannot bathe a severely matted dog before you shave it. It would be an exercise in futility. When it comes to a severely matted dog, you’ll need to shave them first.

I’m aware that this goes against the primary teachings of QC Pet Studies when it comes to completing all of your prep work first. But keep in mind that this recommendation works best under regular circumstances. Grooming a severely matted dog is an entirely different sort of process.

Executing “Shave” Dog Haircuts

Now that you know where you have to start, it’s time to know this: no matter how new and sharp your clipper blades are, they will NOT glide through a matted coat like butter. That’s just not going to happen. This will probably be one of the reasons why this particular dog haircut is going to challenge you.

If you’re dealing with a matted dog, their fur is going to be filthy. Parts of it will be closely matted to the skin. Because of this, the danger of injuring the dog is real. You won’t be able to quickly shave a dog with long, even strokes from the base of the skull to the base of the tail. Instead, it’s likely going to be a slow process.

Your strokes are going to be short. Your blades are going to get gummed up with hair and debris. You’ll have to clean and oil your blades frequently. Also, you’ll need to stop periodically so you can change blades. This will help prevent the dog from overheating or suffering a potential burn. You’ll also need to go over an area more than once in order to clip through big mats.

The Honest Truth

I won’t lie: shaving a dog all the way down – especially when they have matted fur – an exhausting process. This is especially true if you’re working on a large dog.

It’ll take time and patience. Your dog will get tired, and you’ll be challenged by their constant movement. After all, the dog won’t understand that their severe mats require time and patience. They won’t comprehend what you’re trying to accomplish. All they’ll know is that they’re extremely uncomfortable – especially as time passes on.

So, remember to give the dog frequent breaks and offer them water. This is a stressful event for a severely matted dog. It’s critical that you keep that in mind and approach the groom with kindness, patience, and understanding.

closeup of severely matted dog fur

After The Shave is Complete

Once you’ve gotten all of the ugly stuff off, you can complete the other prep items (if you weren’t able to complete them beforehand). Bathe and dry your client’s dog, and then take another look at the coat. Now will be the time to even out any spots that stick up or stand out.

Use your steel comb to fluff areas that need to be trimmed. Be sure to look at the dog from ALL angles! That way, you can trim off any long hairs that popped out during the bathing and drying process. Tricky areas to pay close attention to are the feet, armpits, groin area, and face. Take your time in these areas to ensure you obtain a nice, symmetrical look.

An Example of The Shave

Below is an example of a severely matted dog that came to me recently. Due to COVID-19, Dexter’s owner was unable to get him groomed. He also went 7 months without a bath. His owner eventually attempted to cut some of the mats off Dexter’s body. But they were unable to manage the legs, face, ears, and stomach.

Dexter weighs approximately 70 lbs. It took 4 hours to completely shave, bathe, and properly groom him. Dexter was tired and so was I. But in the end, our work together was worth it. Now he’s MUCH more comfortable now, thanks to me shaving him down to his “birthday suit”.

Dexter before haircut
Dexter after haircut

Food for Thought

In conclusion, QC Pet Studies‘ online schooling offers a lot of really terrific training and instruction. Through their guidance, you’ll learn all about a wide variety of different dog haircuts (among many other things). However, experience and exposure to different kinds of dogs – in different kinds of conditions – is how you will truly learn and perfect your skills.

Remember to always take your time, work carefully, and have some sort of grooming plan in mind. Your dogs and your clients will appreciate the attention to detail you give every pooch that comes to you for grooming!

Become a master of dog haircuts by enrolling in QC’s Dog Grooming Course today!

My Honest Review of QC Pet Studies

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April Costigan is a graduate of QC Pet Studies, having completed both the Dog Grooming and First Aid for Groomers courses. To learn more about April, check out her Graduate Feature here.

My Life Before Working With Dogs

The decision to enroll in QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course was one of the most challenging decisions I have ever made. At the time, I had a successful career in the corporate world and had been in this field for nearly 30 years. I had a nice salary, many friends at work, and enjoyed what I did.

However, I wasn’t always happy. Like many professionals, I experienced stressful periods where deadlines and work demands dominated my life. I realized that I didn’t enjoy my work as much as I wanted to. Even though I had the opportunity to work with many wonderful and talented people, I just didn’t feel as though I was satisfying my personal needs.

QC Pet Studies graduate, April Costigan

Making a Change

I knew that somehow, I needed to do something different. So, in my personal time, I began volunteering as a foster for a local animal shelter. I wound up doing this for 5 years and I absolutely loved it! There was so much to learn about dogs and what animal shelters really do for homeless animals. The more I learned, the more I wanted to continue learning.

I completed a basic dog training course that taught me about dog behavior, obedience, and how to read canine body language. This proved to be invaluable. This was when I made a bold career change and took a position at another animal shelter, so I could continue expanding my knowledge about animal rescue.

In my daily duties, I met many different kinds of dogs. I was challenged by all sorts of different temperaments. Pretty quickly, I observed that in addition to basic needs like food, water, and companionship, dogs also needed help in maintaining a healthy body. This absolutely includes their coat. Some dogs came in completely matted from head to toe due to neglect or living on the street as a stray.

Becoming a Groomer (with No Training)

I was tasked with trying to clean the dogs up in order to make them more comfortable. Clumsily, I attempted to brush them and give them baths. In some cases, I also attempted to cut the matted hair away from the dogs’ bodies, when required.

This was hard for me because we didn’t have a trained groomer on-site that I could learn from. I had to figure it out for myself along the way. This sparked a need in me to learn how to do things right. Doing things the wrong way can cause injury to a dog, and I had no interest in making these animals more miserable than they already were.

I only wanted to help them. So, I started my research!

dog at shelter reaching paw and touching person's hand

Looking into Dog Grooming Schools

I knew that I wanted to learn how to groom dogs properly. However, I was unable to attend a physical school because I worked full-time at the shelter and didn’t want to leave my job. In the past, I’d successfully completed several online courses while working in the business world. So, why not look into online grooming courses?

I was pleased to find that there were many online grooming schools to choose from. Some offered training via text and online testing only. These courses were less expensive, but I knew I would not gain the training I wanted through this type of learning.

It was important to me that I took a course that provided hands-on experience. I also needed an instructor who would offer me guidance along the way, so that I wouldn’t have to blindly “figure it out” for myself. Ideally, I also wanted to have access to course materials that I could refer back to whenever I wanted – and be provided with a physical copy of these materials, too.

There were a couple online dog grooming schools that I found to be very expensive. I really had to look into what they offered to see if their cost was warranted. In my opinion, it was not. The materials were only available online.  Yes, you could download and print them… but at what cost?

Discovering QC Pet Studies

QC Pet Studies was one of the schools that I went back to over and over again. As part of my research, I even built a matrix to compare all of the benefits of the online courses I was considering.

When it came to QC, I used their online chat to discuss questions I had with their Student Support Team. I chatted with someone on two separate occasions, and both times, the assistance I received was very helpful. Since QC Pet Studies offers more than one program, I spent quite a bit of time comparing the courses. I also compared their courses to the programs offered by other online schools.

After about a month of meticulous work, I decided that QC Pet Studies was the right fit for me.

Why I Enrolled with QC Pet Studies

QC Pet Studies offered EXACTLY what I was looking for! I was critical to me that the school I enrolled with offered everything I (personally) needed. Here’s a brief breakdown of how QC Pet Studies successfully met and surpassed my expectations…

Self-Paced Learning

This was essential to me! I needed to be able to move forward as fast as I wanted, or take the time to review something over again if I needed extra practice. QC’s flexible, self-paced training environment allowed me to work on my assignments on my own schedule.

Sometimes, that was in the evenings. Other times, in the early morning hours before I went to work. I also wanted to be able to choose the types of dogs I got to work with (which their assignments allowed me to do), and improve my skills on my own terms.

Physical Materials

QC Pet Studies provided me with a full spectrum of course workbooks, training manuals, and DVDs. In addition to having online access to these materials, I was also mailed a physical copy as well.

Video Tutorials

I learn best when I engage my senses. Being able to add visual components to the learning experience was incredibly beneficial and helped me understand the lessons even better.

Photos and Tool Descriptions

If you have no prior experience with dog grooming, it’s to be expected that you won’t know what each grooming tool is for or how to use it correctly. Luckily, as part of QC’s program, you’ll receive a tool chart, a blade chart, and detailed descriptions of all of the tools.

Dog Grooming Kit

I didn’t want to have to purchase tools on my own, as I felt there was too much room for error. Without the proper insight, I’d likely purchase the wrong items. There are a lot of grooming tools available from different manufacturers. There are a lot of tools that you don’t actually need immediately, as well as tools that only apply to certain kinds of dogs.

I was afraid of spending money on items that would not be put to use immediately. Luckily, a basic grooming kit was also included as part of my course materials – so I didn’t have to worry about buying or using the wrong items while completing my training!

Tutor Feedback

I needed personal feedback on my work. It was also important that this feedback be given to me throughout the course (not just at the very end), so I could know where I was excelling and where I needed to improve.

With QC Pet Studies, my tutor gave me extensive audio feedback after every Unit I completed. By uploading videos of my own work for my instructor to review, I was able to obtain valuable, tailored information that could help me grow stronger as a groomer.

Career Advice

QC Pet Studies gave me a ‘Getting Started’ document as part of my course. This document offered all sorts of useful resources, such as from technology requirements, health requirements, and additional tools I would need to be successful in my career.

Business Development

QC Pet Studies doesn’t just offer grooming training. They also offer a full Unit in their courses devoted to business training, too! This business unit aimed to help guide me into starting my own business – which I did. I now work out of my home on my days off… and I make pretty good money!

How QC Pet Studies Boosted My Career

I’ve since completed my certification training and have officially become an International Dog Grooming Professional (IDGP). Now I’m able to share my new skills with the dogs at the shelter, which has been extremely rewarding. I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to take a dog that was in very poor condition, and miraculously change both its appearance and its attitude just by completing a full, comprehensive groom.

Dogs sometimes come in snarling, cowering in a corner, and resistant of human contact. Thanks to my training, I can now transform them into dogs that love to be handled and welcome the sight of friendly people. I credit QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course for making this possible

You might not know this right now, but grooming a dog is a truly awesome bonding experience for everyone involved. The dog will remember you if you treat them kindly and gently. They’ll appreciate the work you do for them. Even if they don’t say it to you in words, they’ll say it with their body language.

No more snarling, no more low growling, and no more hiding in a corner. Instead, you’ll be greeted with relaxed, wagging tails. You’ll see bright, intelligent eyes, or receive a sweet little kiss on the cheek. That’s the thanks you get. To me, that’s worth every single penny spent on this course.

I guess you could say that in a nutshell, my honest review of this course is that it’s the best decision I ever made. Thank you, QC Pet Studies!

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Ready to start the career of your dreams? Enroll with QC Pet Studies today