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Casey Bechard

My Dog Grooming Career: 3 Common Salon Hazards

dog grooming career woman giving poodle a haircut
QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. Today, she draws on her own dog grooming career experience to reveal 3 of the most common hazards you’ll face in a salon – and how to navigate them properly!

As most of you know (or will come to know), a dog grooming career isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, obstacles are thrown your way and you have to be smart about how you deal with them. Before you start grooming in a professional setting, it’s important that you first have the knowledge necessary to spot and avoid hazards. This way, you can keep yourself, your client’s dog, and others in your salon safe.

In this blog, I discuss a few of the most common hazards you may come across in a dog grooming salon. These hazards may be relevant to dogs or people – but all the same, they’re critical to know as you begin your dog grooming career!

3 Common Salon Hazards You’ll Encounter Throughout Your Dog Grooming Career

1 – Rising Tables and Elevated Tubs

Rising tables and elevated tubs are two of the most common things used in our salon. You might be thinking: Why are they a hazard? Well, if not used properly for the type of dog you are grooming, it can put you and the dog in a potentially dangerous situation.

Rising Tables

We use rising tables for two primary purposes. Firstly, we groom our clients’ dogs on them. However, we also use rising tables to dry dogs, too. This piece of equipment is not so much an issue when grooming the dogs, but it can be when we dry them.

If the dog doesn’t like the high velocity dryer, they’ll often try to get away from it. This means they’re now attempting to get OFF the table. The problem is, rising tables have a loop that goes around the dog’s neck and is meant to keep them in place.

I’m sure you can see where the huge hazard lies: the dog can tip the table, fly off the edge, and accidentally hang themselves or break their neck.

This is where proper training makes all the difference in your dog grooming career. You need to know how to read your client’s dog. This way, you’ll be able to best determine whether you should dry them on the table or on the floor. This can prevent a potentially disastrous situation!

If it’s a big dog and/or you’re in doubt about which option to choose, I usually start drying them on the ground and see how they do. I’ll then try to move them up to the table if I see that they’re okay.

Elevated Tubs

When it comes to elevated tubs, the simple path is for your client’s dog to get in and out using the steps connected directly to the tub. But with some dogs, that’s not always the case. Some like to leap out of the tub at a moment’s notice. This could be a hazard because they’re wet, thereby causing water to fly everywhere.

You might be trying to gently help them out of the tub, but sometimes they’ll catch you off guard and want to do it their way. In other scenarios, your client’s dog may actually require help, for one reason or another (i.e. they’re scared of the water, they have limited mobility, etc.). If you feel you can’t safely remove them from the tub on your own, never hesitate to ask for help from your colleagues.

2 – Kennel Dryers

I’m not sure if a lot of salons use kennel dryers, but we use them at our salon when dogs are still damp. Throughout my dog grooming career, I’ve heard good and bad things about kennel dryers. That being said, we’ve never had an issue ourselves.

But it’s important to remember that you always need to monitor the dog while kennel dryers are being used on them. They could overheat, which is never good. Additionally, if the dryer is blowing on one area of their body for too long, the dog can easily get burned.

With equipment such as this, it’s always important to keep a watchful eye on the situation.

I’m not saying you have to sit by the kennel 24/7 just so you can watch them. Rather, it’s simply a matter of peeping in on them if you’re walking by or have a break. Even if I didn’t groom the dog myself, I’ll look out for them either way.

Pro Tip: Extra caution must be taken for certain breeds, such as with pugs, frenchies, etc. Some dog breeds come with irregular breathing patterns and/or health issues, and a kennel dryer can make them worse. I don’t usually put those breeds in a kennel with the dryer if I don’t have to.

3 – Wet Floors

Okay, this one might seem like a silly hazard to be wary of in the work place, but it’s up there on my list for a reason!

In your dog grooming career, you’ll often be working with water. You’ll regularly be bathing dogs, disinfecting surfaces and equipment, and mopping floors. These things can all make for a slippery mess, which can be a potential danger for you, your co-workers, customers, and even the dogs.

In my own dog grooming career, I’ve had times where I’ve slipped on wet floors. In fact, I’ve had to change my runners for that very reason. I’ve also heard stories about dogs hurting themselves by running on wet floors. Just hearing stories like that makes me want to be very careful about big, wet spots on the floors of my own salon.

I would hate for something to happen to one of our furry clients! After grooming bigger dogs especially, you’ll most likely find me sweeping up around the tub and table area; getting it ready and safe to use for the next person.

As you can see, there are plenty of potential hazards in a dog grooming salon – and I only covered 3 of them! You absolutely must be aware of them, and be capable of reading a situation before it becomes a problem.

Have safety check-lists and cleaning lists as well. Make sure everyone working is on the same page, so you’re not throwing anyone into a situation they have no idea how to handle. Above all else, make sure YOU’RE as prepared as possible by getting professional training at the start of your dog grooming career!

Be safe and happy grooming!

Start your dog grooming career in as little as 3-6 months by enrolling in QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course today!

My Top Tips for Increasing Your Dog Groomer Salary

professional groomer increasing her dog groomer salary through excellent customer service

QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. Today, she shares her top 2 tips for boosting your dog groomer salary.

It’s no joke when I tell you that you can make quite the dog groomer salary in this line of business! Admittedly, though, there are factors that can affect your level of success. Depending on location, the demand, local competition, etc. some groomers might make more than others.

Where you provide your services can play a part, too. For instance, your dog groomer salary might be a bit different for brand new groomers freshly entering the industry, compared to a seasoned expert. Similarly, you might see a different income when you operate out of your own home vs. in a salon.

All that to be said, I have some tips and tricks that may help you increase your dog groomer salary! While the following may seem like little, easy things, you’ll find that they’ll actually go a LONG way for your business…

dog groomery cutting dog's hair

1 – Get Your Name Out There!

You might think this is pretty straightforward. The problem is that most people don’t understand the level of work that actually goes into this marketing strategy.

If you’re thinking, ‘I just have to talk to some people, hand out a few business cards, and I’ll start racking in the clients‘ – then you’re already on the wrong track. I wish that’s all you had to do! But in reality, the process requires a lot more effort than that.

Now personally, I didn’t start my own salon, and I didn’t provide grooming services out of my home. Rather, I work alongside other people at an established grooming business. When I first started, I was lucky enough to have a mentor to guide me and lift me up. It also helped that they could put in a good word about me to clients.

But although all that was nice, I still wanted to do my share. I wanted to play an active role in growing my career, and increase my dog groomer salary myself. So, I started taking action! Here are a few things I did that I found to be extremely effective:

Promoted Myself on Social Media

These days, everyone lives online. It’s basically an unwritten rule that if you want to succeed in the modern world, you NEED to have some sort of online presence. The greater that presence can be, the better.

With that in mind, I made an Instagram account and followed everyone in my area who had a dog. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but you get the idea.) From there, I began posting photos from my grooming portfolio. Making use of social media is a fun – and constructive – way to get your name out there and show people what you can do.

If potential clients can’t see your past grooms for themselves, or see what you have to offer them, then you’re just another groomer trying to make it. There won’t be anything unique setting you apart from the crowd. If you want to stand out from the competition, then it’s important not to fall into this trap. Showcase your best work for everyone to see!

Make your account your own. Once it’s ready, get your friends and family to follow and like your posts for a while, until your channel reaches more people. With my current Instagram account, I’ll have people follow me and then the next day, I’ll see that they booked their dog in with me. SO COOL!

Focusing some of your efforts on your social media strategies will be a great way to grow your clientele, get more bookings, and increase that dog groomer salary of yours.

Encouraged Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth is something you can successfully establish through your level of high customer service. The longer your customers know you as a groomer, and trust your quality of work, the likelier they’ll be to recommend you to others.

Because let’s be real: your clients will often become like family after a while. Customers who are happy with your services will typically return back to you every 6-8 weeks. When you treat them (and their dogs) right, they’ll grow to trust you. Often, they’ll want to work with only you.

When you achieve such a fantastic reputation as a groomer, your clients will be guaranteed talk about you to their friends and family. That’s just the way she goes! As a result, you’ll hopefully get more bookings out of it, from people who can become long-term clients as well!

Another thing you can do is offer incentive and/or referral programs. For example, you can provide brand new customers the opportunity to get 10% off their first groom if they book with you. As another example, you can reward existing clients with discounted services, gifts, or a free groom whenever their personal recommendation results in you booking a new client.

I really, really appreciate the clients who continue to come and see me – and only me – to groom their dogs. It makes you feel good inside! Plus, long-term clients mean long-term bookings. These are people who can guarantee you that you’ll continue to make a dog groomer salary for the foreseeable future.

Talked to EVERY Client

This one is especially important!

Whether the owner is dropping off or picking up their pooch, you want to make sure that you talk to them each and every time. More importantly, establish that contact when they come to pick up their dog. Some things you can discuss with them include:

  • Telling them how their dog did during the appointment
  • If you have any concerns, based on what occurred during the appointment
  • Health issues that you wish to bring to their attention
  • If you have any recommendations (i.e. upkeep) for the owner once they’re back home, etc.

I feel that communicating with the client is a fundamental part of the grooming process as a whole. By chatting with you, the owner can better decide if they vibe well with you and like the work you did on their dog. Sometimes, they’ll want to book their NEXT appointment with you right then and there!

Of course, that’s always great because then you’re guaranteed another groom from them – which means money for you.

2 – Add Extra Services to Your Business!

In our shop, how we charge for things might be a little different than others. The initial price is determined by the breed of the client’s dog. Then we build off of this base rate with ‘add-ons’, as chosen by the customer.

So, if a client wanted their dog to get their teeth brushed, or have a blueberry facial, those would be extra charges (or add-ons). By adding extra services to the appointment, it all adds up pretty quickly. For every appointment, my co-workers and I then get a commission for the total amount rendered.

This is an example of a smart, effective way to set your rates, package your services, and add extra services to your business. That being said, your rates should always be set in a way that’s realistic, and won’t alienate all of your customers. While you should always charge for your worth, it’s important to remember not to get greedy either – otherwise it can have a negative impact.

It’s important to be transparent about your prices, too. Don’t try to hide your rates, or sneak them up on clients. When first making these changes in your business, don’t be surprised if some customers aren’t sure how to feel about them. They may be hesitant at first, and may have questions.

Honesty is always the best policy! Answer all of their inquiries to the best of your ability – but don’t hesitate to also tell them the awesome benefits of your extra services, too! There are plenty of clients who will be happy to pay a few extra dollars to spoil their pup. For others, even if they don’t plan to purchase those services, the fact that you offer them in the first place can still look great on your part!

dog groomer holding dog's paw while shaving its stomach

Earning a reliable dog groomer salary is understandably important. But it’s also important to remember that it’s not the main priority. Instead, your job is about interacting with the clients and their dogs in a way that leaves a positive impression. It’s about putting in the effort to assure them they’re in good hands. It’s about keeping an open line of honest communication at all times.

Above all else, the #1 priority of your career should always be the health, safety, and satisfaction of your client’s dog!

That being said, I hope that I’ve been able to show you that there are many ways to make money in this industry and boost your dog groomer salary. So, take care, and as always, happy grooming!

One major way to increase your dog groomer salary is by earning a reputable certification! Start your training with QC Pet Studies today!

How the Pandemic Has Affected My Dog Grooming Career

QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. Today, she discusses how COVID-19 has affected her dog grooming career.

What a time we are living in right now! I hope this blog posts finds everyone safe and healthy. I feel honored to be sharing my story of how the world today is affecting my dog grooming career.

I’ll start by sharing what it was like at the start of all this. Then I’ll touch on how I was feeling before going back to work, as well as how things are going now.

Closing the Shop

When COVID-19 really started making waves, my boss and I were hesitant about closing the shop. But it also unfortunately made sense. Once the world was declared to be in a pandemic and social distancing started happening, business really slowed down.

To put this into perspective, I was down to grooming maybe 3 dogs a day – and that was considered a good day!

Going through that was kind of scary. We were all thinking, “Is this it? What if we never get busy again? If we close, how many clients will I lose?

Things like that were constantly going through my head. But ultimately, I think people were just scared; scared to leave their house and scared of going to a public place. Getting their dogs groomed was probably the last thing on their minds, and I can totally get that.

So when we decided to close, we weren’t sure for how long or what that would look like. In total, we were closed for just over a month. When our city decided to reopen businesses, that’s when we decided it was time for us to resume our services as well.

At that point, I was getting messages from people asking if we were open, as well as clients requesting that I go to their place to groom their dogs. So, it felt like the right time to open our doors again. You would not believe the response we had when we decided to reopen again!

All of our clients are amazing; they wanted to book with us right away. We were booked for nearly 3 weeks in advance! To me, that’s mind-blowing. I think the pandemic caused many of our clients to really take notice of what we go through as groomers.

When they couldn’t turn to us, people were trying to groom their dogs themselves while at home. I think a lot of them didn’t actually know how hard it would be. In a way, it’s almost as if some people now have a greater appreciation for groomers.

It was also great that everyone was really understanding and cooperative when it came to the safety protocols we set in place for the shop. Things went very smoothly once we opened again.

My point is, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, folks!

Getting Back At It

It was so weird getting back to a working environment after being forced to take that time off. For starters, everything looked a little different than before. We now had less staff, everything was by appointment only, and our daycare services were remaining closed.

Don’t get me wrong – we were busy and work was good.

But one thing that bothered me (or rather, made me sad) was that some of our best clients wound up turning to other groomers while we’d been closed. While I absolutely get that their dogs needed the service, it was still a disappointing blow.

This was especially the case when I saw that a lot of them were going onto social media and raving about how great this other place was. Many claimed that they were set on a new groomer. That definitely hurt, and we were all pretty bummed about it. We care about our clients, after all, and grow bonds with them and their dogs!

But we just had to keep focused on the clients that were continuing to support us. Those are the ones that matter and need our focus. Plus, we got a lot of new clients as well, which is great!

Worried About the Dogs

This was another concern. Being closed for as long as we were, we were scared to see what shape some of the dogs coming to us would look like. Some of our worries were:

  • Would the dog be matted to the skin?
  • Would they have only a few mats, or would they be in surprisingly great condition?
  • Will it take me longer than an hour and 15 minutes to get the job done?
  • Will I be falling behind a lot?

I think not knowing what to except with every dog coming in was definitely the hardest part. Personally, I absolutely HATE falling behind in my working day. Achieving excellent results in a timely fashion is very important to most groomers.

That being said, that sort of thing was out of our control. We needed to be able to adapt – and together, as a team, we did! My fellow groomers and I were always helping each other out when we needed it. If we noticed someone falling behind on a groom, we’d ask if they needed a hand, or if they wanted their next dog bathed.

Little things like that go a long way! It’s so important to have good people to work with, especially during difficult times. You can’t always do everything yourself. Having an extra set of hands can really turn a bad situation around.

Did this whole pandemic bring its fair share of ups and its downs? Oh, for sure. It was scary not knowing what the future looked like, but getting back into the swing of things really helped with my confidence, too.

If nothing else, it served as a reminder of how the grooming community always steps up and supports one another. We all banded together to try and make things better. Because really, everyone was in the same boat. We were ALL along for the ride!

Client Love

Like I’ve said before, our clients are amazing! They never fail to make us feel appreciated. We were getting extra tips, donuts, coffees, and sorts all other treats. Why? Because we love what we do, and they see that in the quality of our work.

In reality, if you think you’re failing or not doing well enough as a groomer, your clients and co-workers all have your back. Throughout COVID-19, there’s been a lot of uncertainty and confusion. Many of us have wondered at least once, “What do I do now?”

But when people were messaging me when we weren’t even open, asking for advice? That really gave me hope. It made me realize that pandemic or no pandemic, people are still going to need to have their dogs groomed. It’s really as simple as that.

Since we’ve re-opened, we’ve been SO busy! It’s been over 2 months now, and we’re just starting to see it slow down, and turn back into what our normal summers have looked like in the past. It’s a welcoming reminder that as crazy as the world’s been this year, we will eventually go back to how things once were. This difficult time won’t last forever.

Above all else, my hope for you is that no matter how hard things get in your dog grooming career (or even just in the world itself), you”ll try to always look on the bright side of things. Believe me, holding onto hope is the very thing that will always get you through the dark days. ❤️

In Hindsight…

When I think back on these past several months, it was definitely the not knowing that scared me the most. But once we got back to work, and I saw just how awesome our clients were to us, all that worry was gone.

Yeah, there have been a few bumps in the road along the way. I’ve had a few tired days. Ultimately, though, when I see all those clients going home happy, their pup freshly groomed in their arms… That’s always enough to put a smile on my face!

Why not maximize your time at home right now by earning your certification and kick-starting your OWN dog grooming career? Enroll today in QC’s leading online Dog Grooming Course, and be ready to work in as little as 3-6 months!

Why First Aid Training is Essential in Dog Grooming Courses

QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. Today, she discusses the importance of First Aid training for groomers, and how it’s helped her as a grooming salon manager!

When it comes to grooming dogs, there is so much more you need to know then simply bathing, brushing, clipping, etc. It’s just as important that you properly understand the dog’s health, and that you know how to spot the signs that indicate they might be at risk.

There are a lot of things that could go wrong, especially when grooming certain types of dogs. Please know, I’m not writing this to scare anyone! Rather, the point I wish to make is that it’s always beneficial to have First Aid training as a certified groomer.

The single best way to acquire this knowledge is through your dog grooming courses! As a graduate of QC’s First Aid for Groomers Course, I’m going to share a little bit about what you’ll learn in this program. I’ll also touch on some of the things I took away from it, and have since applied in real-world situations, as part of my daily job in a grooming salon.

What I Learned from QC Pet Studies’ First Aid Course

As some of you may know, when you sign up for the QC’s Dog Grooming Course, you’re also provided with the First Aid for Groomers Course at no charge! Now, you’re probably thinking: how am I supposed to learn First Aid on a dog through an ONLINE course?

I mean, yeah, I thought the same thing. This is an understandable question to have. But the videos and course texts you receive demonstrate the theories, techniques, and practices in an incredibly thorough way. So long as you pay proper attention to your studies, there is no doubt that you will learn everything you need to know!

Above all else, what I took away from my First Aid training was that there are many things that can potentially go wrong. This is particularly the case when grooming certain dogs. However, the majority of these risks can be avoided, if you know how to read the dog’s behavior and body language.

If a dog is in distress of any kind, he’ll exhibit signs that indicate this. Trust me, once you know what to look out for, it won’t be hard to detect when something bad might be about to happen. This way, you can react accordingly and minimize the chance for there to be negative consequences.

For example: if a dog were to about to experience a seizure, and you had NO idea it was about to happen, the situation could easily become life-or-death for that dog. On the other hand, if you’ve taken dog grooming courses and First Aid training, you’ll be able to anticipate the situation and handle it in a way that keeps your furry client safe!

In the 2 years that I’ve been grooming professionally, I have only ever seen 1 dog seize on the table. In that case, it took place when we were using the high velocity dryer. A lot of dogs will undergo high stress when this dryer is being used – so this is one step in the grooming process that you should be on HIGH alert for.

In my experience, I’ve also noticed that another potentially dangerous factor to be mindful about is accidentally cutting or scratching the dog with your tools. Similarly, you need to pay attention and make sure they don’t become overheated and/or dehydrated.

Your First Aid training (and dog grooming courses in general) will guide you through proper grooming techniques and etiquette. This way, you’ll lower your chances of accidentally injuring the dog, and will know what body language to look out for in the event that they experience distress.

Remember: once your client’s dog is in your care, everything that happens to him is YOUR responsibility! Knowing First Aid can really help in difficult situations.

Applying Your Training to a Real-World Environment

Whenever a dog first comes to see me, I will inspect him and gather as much information as I can. My goal is to figure out:

  • What his ‘normal’ disposition/behavior is
  • If he is in good health and in good condition

You’ll also need to know if he has any underlying conditions, health problems, or injuries. The best way to obtain this information is by asking the owner directly, before the appointment begins. If something happens to occur while grooming the dog, and he incurs an injury of any kind that wasn’t there before (e.g. a nick, a rash, etc.), ensure to let the owner know as soon as they arrive to pick up their pup.

If you come across anything worrisome or potentially problematic, let them know of this, too. Even if it’s not that big of a deal presently, it could be something that grows worse if left unattended.

At the end of the day, every single client wants to make sure that their dog is in good hands. Being thorough, mindful, and honest is a guaranteed way to let them know they are!

A lot of times, people go into dog grooming not really knowing what to actually expect. Your dog grooming courses and First Aid training will help prepare you. They’ll help you come to find that some dogs have bad skin and fur; others have infected ears or mouths. Every dog is different – I can’t stress this enough!

You will always use what you learn in a First Aid Course, even if you don’t know it. I’m always checking the dog’s gums to make sure they’re breathing well, or giving them water if they’re panting. If a dog seems super stressed out, I’ll pause the groom and give him a break. After a while, these little habits will become as second-nature to you as breathing.

We all want what’s best for the dogs we are handling! Not to mention that if this is truly your passion, you’ll forever be wanting to learn more when it comes to dog grooming – and even just dogs in general!

Personally, I love learning about dogs that have skin issues. I don’t know why this fascinates me, but if I see a dog with itchy or flaky skin, I always become overwhelmed with the desire to treat it with a good bath and moisturizing shampoo.

The fact that I can rely on the information I gathered from my dog grooming courses and First Aid training, and apply it to my career on a regular basis, is incredibly rewarding to me!

Other Valuable Information You’ll Learn

Another critical thing you’ll learn in your First Aid training is how to make an emergency plan. You’ll learn to gather and utilize important network contacts. Vets and animal poison control are two resources you absolutely MUST have on-hand at all times. Make sure you have this information in a safe spot, where everyone working there can access it with ease.

You’ll also become an expert at checking a dog’s vitals. This includes:

  • Checking to see if the gums are healthy
  • Making sure his capillary refills are normal
  • Keeping track of his respiratory rate
  • Ensuring he has a healthy pulse
  • Noting the size/state of his pupils
  • And much more!

These are all fantastic things to know! In an industry such as this one, it’s the little things – and the smallest efforts you make – that go a long way and leave a lasting impression on your clients.

It’s definitely worth it to learn about the health of dogs, and get the most out of your dog grooming courses. I hope that you continue learning things as time goes on, and never fail to be amazed at the new information always around every corner. I truly believe that there is ALWAYS something new to learn in this career!

Happy grooming! 😊

Ready to build off your dog grooming courses and earn your First Aid training? Enroll today in QC’s leading online First Aid for Groomers Course!