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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.

dog haircuts article april costigan mar 05 2021 in-post image april headshot

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!

QC’s Dog Grooming Course: What I Learned in Unit A

Thinking of enrolling in QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Grooming Course? Camille Torkornoo, a current student, is here to break down what’s taught in Unit A! Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

Dog grooming course student, Camille Torkornoo

QC’s Dog Grooming Course: Unit A in a Nutshell

I learned a lot of important information from Unit A of my Dog Grooming Course. One of my favorite features included in this program is the feedback I get from my tutor, Lisa Day. I find it very helpful in my learning because a real industry expert is helping me see what I’ve done well, as well as what I can improve upon.

Unit A thoroughly covers what it means to be a dog groomer. You learn about canine anatomy and terminology, along with canine skincare and esthetics. QC also makes sure to teach you the risks that come with the profession and which precautions can be taken to prevent injuries. All of this information is essential!

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in Unit A Was…

…the Personal Health and Safety section! Dog grooming is a physically demanding job. As such, it has the potential to be dangerous as well. By taking the advised precautions outlined in Unit A, dog groomers can create a safer working environment. In turn, this will help reduce the risk of serious injuries.

Common Dog Grooming Risks

Naturally, some of the risks involved with grooming include bites and scratches. This is to be expected with any job involving animals. But dog groomers also risk developing long-term health issues, too.

For instance, groomers must constantly lift dogs and use loud equipment. These things, when combined with the constant repetitive motions involved when grooming dogs, can lead to physical bodily damage.

Groomers also need to watch out for carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, joint damage, and even hearing loss. The constant inhalation of dander, hair, chemicals, and bacteria can lead to respiratory damage. The consequences of this can range from a chronic cough, to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the world of dog grooming, general respiratory damage developed on the job is known as “Groomer’s Lung.”

This is why it’s extremely important to take a proper dog grooming course. Professional training will make you aware of these potential risks and teach you how to avoid them (to the best of your ability).

Preventative Measures Taught in Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course

Unit A provides the following tips to help prevent and/or lower the risk of contracting the above issues…

Preventing Hearing Loss / Damage

Groomers can wear earplugs or noise cancelling/reducing headphones. These will help prevent hearing loss or damage caused by the constant use of loud dryers.

Preventing Harmful Inhalation

Wearing a mask can help protect against the inhalation of dog hair, dander, ground nails, etc. As a result, masks can help lower the risk of contracting could “Groomer’s Lung.”

Preventing Eye Injuries

Using a form of eye protection can also be a wise precaution. It will help prevent debris from flying up into your eyes when clipping a dog, drying them, or grinding their nails.

Preventing Muscle / Joint Damage

Braces can be a smart investment for a dog groomer. For example, wrist braces and exercises can help reduce the risk of excess wrist strain caused by constant, repetitive clipping, brushing, de-matting, and scissoring on dogs. Back braces and exercises are also useful, too. As groomers, we constantly need to lift and bend while working with dogs. The last thing you want to do is blow out your back!

Other Health and Safety Tips

Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course also covers specific exercises for groomers to do. When done correctly and regularly, these exercises can aid in avoiding or decreasing muscle strain, pain, and injury.

The assignments in Unit A of my dog grooming course also added to my training. Specifically, they helped me gain a better understanding of ways to create a safe environment in different circumstances. The assignments gave hypothetical situations for me to navigate. I needed to provide a way to prevent injury and maintain safety in the proposed situations. It was a great learning experience!

Canine Anatomy

Canine anatomy is another critical topic your dog grooming course absolutely needs to teach you. In QC’s program, this is covered in Unit A. I found this particular lesson to be very important. The assignments helped me to become more familiar with the different parts of a dog. I also learned all about various types of conformation and physical attributes, coat types, coat features, and more!

Knowing canine anatomy and breed variations will take a groomer’s skill-set from good to great. This is because you’ll then understand how to properly create a look that highlights a dog’s breed-specific features. As a result, you’ll be capable of creating the breed’s profile look.

QC’s Dog Grooming Course will teach you how to create a balanced look on different types of dogs, as well as properly work on dogs with structural faults and/or physical restrictions.

side profile of German Shepherd dog

Skincare and Esthetics

In the Skincare and Esthetics portion of Unit A, I was taught about the anatomy of a dog’s hair and skin. I also learned about the different layers and cells, and their purposes. Proper skincare is important! As a groomer, you need to know how to maintain a healthy coat and the dog’s skin in general.

By taking a dog grooming course, you’ll discover the most common skin issues and conditions in dogs – from fleas to mange. I was grateful to learn about this in Unit A of QC’s program. As a groomer, the dog’s wellbeing always has to be your very first priority.

You must understand how a dog’s skin and coat work, as well as how to maintain it. That way, your clients’ dogs will leave in top condition and look great!

Dog Groomer vs. Veterinarian

All that being said, it’s crucial to remember that you’re a groomer. You’re not a veterinarian. As such, it’s important to stay in your lane. Never try to provide owners with a diagnosis, even if you think you know what the problem is.

Yes, as a groomer, you’ll deal with a dog’s coat and skin more than their vet will. But vets have extensive medical training – the kind of training you won’t find in any dog grooming course. If you do suspect that your client’s dog has some sort of medical issue, raise your concerns with the owner and recommend that they seek out their veterinarian’s professional opinion.

Sometimes, it’ll be the client who unknowingly blurs the line between your job description and a vet’s. They might ask you to do or recommend something that falls outside of your qualifications. This is why it’s important to always be clear that you are not a vet and can’t provide a diagnosis. All you can do is raise your concerns with them. After that, it’s the client’s responsibility to seek further medical advice from a trained expert.

If a dog comes into your shop with a suspected condition that could be potentially contagious, Unit A will provide you the knowledge to deal with it safely and accordingly.

Want to learn more about distinguishing your role as a groomer from that of a vet? Keep reading here!

dog grooming course unit a article camille torkornoo last in-post image

Overall, I learned a LOT of invaluable information from Unit A of QC’s Dog Grooming Course. If your dream job is to work with dogs every day, perhaps grooming is the perfect career path for you. And if it is, there’s no grooming school I recommend more than QC Pet Studies.

Earn your professional certification in less than one year by enrolling in QC’s Dog Grooming Course today!

4 Awesome Dog Grooming Package Ideas

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Trying to come up with competitive dog grooming package ideas for your business? QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, is here with 4 great ideas to get you started! Casey works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. She is an alumnus of QC’s Dog Grooming and First Aid for Groomers courses.

One important part of being a professional dog groomer is knowing how to appropriately charge a client for certain services. The thing is, when it comes to pricing, there’s no real ‘one size fits all’ answer. There are so many ways that you – as the groomer – can choose to charge customers for your services. You can offer a la carte services, package certain services together, etc.

That being said, I do have a few cool dog grooming package ideas that I’m going to share with you today. I’ll first share how my own salon sets and groups grooming rates. Then I’ll let you in on a few ideas that I think would be exciting to use (and haven’t seen others do yet).

Let’s jump into it!

dog having ear hair trimmed

4 Dog Grooming Package Ideas to Get You Inspired

Idea #1 – Charge by Breed

In the salon I’m working at now, we charge by the breed. This means that if someone were to bring in a Shih Tzu, the prices we’d quote them would be based on that specific breed. A client who brings in, say, a Border Collie would be presented with different rates.

When we charge by breed, the main dog grooming package we offer includes a:

  • Bath;
  • Blow out;
  • Brush out;
  • Haircut or trim (if need be);
  • Nail trim
  • And an ear cleaning.

However, on top of this package, we also offer what we call “add-ons”. For example, let’s say a client wants their dog to have everything mentioned above. But they ALSO want their dog to have a teeth brushing, blueberry facial, ear plucking, nail painting, etc. All of these additional services would be an extra cost added on top of the original price.

Here’s the thing about charging by breed: while we do have a certain price range for certain breeds, that doesn’t mean that every dog of that particular breed will fall under the same price. For instance, two German Shepherds could come to us in completely different shape. The German Shepherd in need of a lot more work won’t cost the same as the German Shepherd who comes to us in next-to-pristine condition.

We also take into consideration the fur type, size, and temperament of the dog. If a Border Collie were to come in, the starting price would be, say, $72.00. That’d be the standard, base fee we’d be starting from for that particular breed. But what if that Border Collie is bigger than a normal Border Collie? What if its fur is thick and has some matting?

Then we would factor in all of these things, as well as how much time it would take to groom this particular pup. In this case, I’d say that the price is now between $85.00 to $95.00.

This is just one idea of a dog grooming package that I personally know works and flows great for my team and me!

Idea #2 – Create Dog Grooming Packages that Catch a Client’s Attention

There are plenty of dog grooming package ideas that will be successful due to their ability to grab your clients’ attention. For example, you can bundle certain services together and give each bundle a fun, catchy name. I’ve always thought this would be a great idea!

For example, say you want one of your packages to be a full-service, luxurious experience. It would include whitening shampoo, conditioner, a blow out, a hair trim, a nail trim, ear cleaning, smell good spritz, and a bandana/bow. You could call this package “The Spa Treatment”!

You could offer this package for an all-inclusive, set rate. If a client wanted to omit a particular service from this package, you would eliminate it – but the price would stay the same. As far as what you would charge for a package like this, I believe it would all depend on your skills and qualifications at the time. Your location should also be considered, such as whether you work in a salon, from home, or at your client’s home.

Idea #3 – Create Issue-Specific Dog Grooming Packages

In terms of dog grooming package ideas, another option is to develop certain packages that deal with very specific things. For example, you have a package catered specifically towards dogs with sensitive skin. This package could be available for both small and big dogs, with a different price range per size.

In this sensitive skin package, you could provide:

  • Hypo shampoo;
  • A CO2 tablet to soothe the skin;
  • A blow out
  • A gentle brush out;
  • A trim or de-shed (if needed);
  • A nail trim;
  • Ear cleaning;
  • A Bow or bandana at the end.

Pro Tip: If a client were to choose this package, always remember to reassure them that you will be cautious and mindful when dealing with their pup’s sensitive skin. They will definitely appreciate this!

dog grooming package ideas shiba inu being brushed

Idea #4 – Offer Mini Dog Grooming Packages

Not all dog grooming package ideas need to be grand-scale. Some of the best bundles out there are the smaller, mini ones. These will serve you well when a client wants just a couple things done – without having to pay for the more traditional grooming services, too.

For instance, you could have ‘Walk-In Service’ mini packages, as well as mini packages reserved only for clients who book ahead. Here are some examples of services you can easily bundle together into a mini service package:

  • Nail trim, shave pads, and trim Grinch feet;
  • Teeth brushing, ear cleaning, and wrinkle clean (or just eye clean);
  • Sanitary butt, face, and feet clean up (you could call this one ‘The Full Maintenance Clean’!).

All these ideas exclude the actual full groom. As such, you could charge less than half of the regular grooming price. You can also tailor the prices accordingly, based on a variety of factors. If you tell your regular clients about these smaller, bundled services, they might be interested in coming in for them between full grooms!

From a business standpoint, these mini bundles give your client a wider variety of options to choose from. They will help get clients through your doors, create more opportunities for prospective customers to try out your services, and ultimately better your bottom line.

When it comes to dog grooming package ideas, the sky’s the limit! There are lots of fun ideas you could explore and try out. Just make it your own and use products that you believe in. With a bit of thought and creativity, your dog grooming business can offer something truly special and unique.

Happy grooming!

Did you know that QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course also offers a full unit of business training? Learn more about this exciting certification course here!

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!

QC Pet Studies article last in-post image

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

How to Groom a Poodle: A Crash Course

groom a poodle feature image

Want to learn how to groom a poodle? QC Pet Studies and poodle expert, Camille Torkornoo, is here to help! As an aspiring groomer, Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

Grooming a Poodle: Breeding Standards

A Poodle is one breed of dog that comes in three recognized sizes:

  1. Standard (16″ and over)
  2. Miniature (10″ to 15″)
  3. Toy (under 10″)
standard white poodle full body

Poodles are very active and intelligent dogs. When grooming a poodle, the way you make them look should reflect these incredible qualities!

To start, poodles should be squarely built and well-proportioned. Their eyes should be dark and oval shaped; set far enough apart and positioned to create an alert and intelligent expression. The ears are long and wide, and should be thickly feathered, hang close to the head, and set at (or slightly below) eye level.

A poodle’s skull should be moderately rounded, with a slight but deviate stop. Length from the occiput to the stop should be about the same as the length of the muzzle. The muzzle should be long, straight, and fine. It should also have a slight chiseling under the eyes.

Remember: it should be strong without lippiness, and complemented by the chin, which should be defined, without snippiness.

A poodle should have small, oval-shaped feet with well-arched toes that are cushioned on thick, firm pads. The angulation of the hindquarters should balance that of the forequarters. The hock should be short to the heel, and perpendicular to the ground. The neck should be well-proportioned, strong, and long enough to permit the head to be carried high with dignity.

Finally, the topline of a poodle should be level from the withers to the base of the tail. Never sloping or roached! Their chest should be deep and moderately wide, with well-sprung ribs. Last but not least, the forelegs should be straight and parallel.

The Challenges of Grooming a Poodle

Poodles are known to be one of the most challenging breeds to groom. This is to their high-maintenance, curly coats. In order to maintain a poodle’s coat properly, they must be bathed, brushed, and trimmed constantly. There are many different ways to style a poodle. A few of the most common pet trims are the:

  • Kennel Clip
  • Bikini Clip
  • Modern Clip

The Tools You’ll Need

Grooming a poodle requires a lot of tools! Some of the tools you’ll need include:

  • Combs of different lengths;
  • A slicker brush;
  • Clippers and comb attachments;
  • Straight and curved shears;
  • And more!

How to Groom a Poodle: A Walkthrough

Before you groom a poodle, they must be clean and fluff-dried. This will help make sure that the hair is completely straight, allowing you to cut it evenly throughout the whole body.

The Face

When the poodle is ready to be groomed, start with the face. Take a #15 or #30 blade and begin by flipping the ear up. Start clipping against the grain at the base of the ear, all the way to the corner of the eye. Remember to keep a straight line! This will set the line between the topknot and the face.

Next, clip the rest of the cheek and to the throat. Begin shaving down the neck, from below the ear to the throat. Do this on both sides in order to create either a V or a U shape (depending on your client’s preference) in the middle of the throat.

Finish cleaning up the face by shaving from the corner of the eye and the stop down to the nose. Then you’ll go around the eyes (but NOT above), from the corner of the mouth to the nose, and then the chin. A longer blade may be used on the chin to give the illusion of having more underjaw.

groom a poodle female groomer trimming black poodle's coat

The Feet

After the face is done, I move onto the poodle’s feet. Use the clippers to clean the paw pads, as well as between the toes. After that, you’ll want to clean up the front of the foot. Set the line at the wrist and make sure it goes evenly around the entire foot. Carefully shave between the toes and webbing. Don’t forget to go over the hair around the base of the nails, too!

The Tail

When grooming a poodle’s tail, how you’ll approach the process will depend on the tail set and the length of the tail. Generally, though, I measure approx. 3 fingers up from the base in order to set the line.

Take your clippers and clip from where you want the line set, down to the base of the tail. Do this all the way around. After that, you’ll want to make a V shape at the base. I draw a diagonal line from the hip to the pin bone on both sides. Where those lines intersect is where I put the tip of the V. Cut out the outline of the V with the corners of your clippers. From there, you’ll finish up by cleaning what’s in-between!

The Top Knot

Once it’s time to shape the top knot, start by combing out the poodle’s hair to one side. Next, use straight shears to cut a straight line from the corner of the eye to the center of the top of the ear. You’ll then comb the hair out to the other side and do the same thing.

After that, comb the hair forward and use curved shears to trim it. Don’t trim beyond the tops of the eyes, but make sure you do trim enough so that they are visible. Once you’re done trimming both sides, as well the front, use curved shears to trump the edges. This will create a balanced and rounded topknot.

Now your poodle is ready to style in whatever trim you want!

white poodle with top knot

Want to learn more about grooming poodles? QC Pet Studies’ online Dog Grooming Course will teach you everything you need to know to become a true expert! Learn more here!

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!

How to Be a Dog Grooming Salon Manager

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 talks about her experience of becoming a dog groomer salon manager, and provides insight into the typical duties and requirements of this position!

It’s important to first make clear that this topic is heavily subjective. It can mean so many different things for different people! My personal experience as a dog grooming salon manager is exactly that: MY experience. What’s true for me may resonate with many others – but it also might not.

Something that all of us can probably agree on is that being a manager at a dog grooming salon can be great, but it also can be challenging. I’m here to share a little bit about what my roles are, and how I got this position at Off the Leash Inc.

A Little Background

I’ve been with Off the Leash Inc. for almost 3 years now. To me, that’s crazy, because time has just flown by! When I started at the shop, I was only its 2nd employee (not counting my boss). The shop was always steady, with grooming appointments coming and going. We also ran a little daycare program for pups, in the back of the building.

I started out in the doggy daycare. I loved playing with the dogs and hanging out. But I wanted to do MORE! I had goals of interacting with clients and helping with the actual grooming process. So I became a bather, and frequently helped my boss with bathing and prepping dogs.

My boss has been grooming for years. She showed me the ropes before I even considered getting my dog grooming certification.

By working more in the front-end of things, seeing clients, and interacting with their dogs, I got really familiar with many of our customers. They started trusting me more and more with their pets, and even started asking me to do their nails or bath them.

So when it came time to do my dog grooming certification and work with dogs for my video assignment submissions, I had plenty of options for different pups to use!

To be frank, there wasn’t really a specific moment where my boss, Kayla, sat me down and asked to be the manager. Over time, I’d gotten to know her really well. We have a lot of the same views and similar work ethics, so things just sort of fell into place.

We were starting to get new employees, and Kayla couldn’t always be at the shop. She realized that she trusted me enough to keep the place going when she wasn’t there. It was a mutual fit, for both parties.

I’m super fortunate to have this title, but I don’t see it as just ‘being the manager’. If the girls need anything, want to chat, ask something, or inquire about any type of situation, they always know they can come to me with anything. They don’t have to be nervous about talking to ‘the manager’.

Typical Duties

Being the manager of a grooming salon comes with responsibilities. To take you through a ‘typical day’ would be so hard because it is always different. Always! No 2 days are the same, and that’s what I love about it.

However, some of my standard managerial tasks include:

  • Talking to difficult/unhappy clients
  • Writing monthly emails for our clients
  • Approving time off/vacation requests and tracking sick leave
  • Constantly brainstorming ways to better the shop
  • Researching new products and grooming tools
  • Handling employee mishaps, conflict, etc.

Typically, these tasks are not always frequent, but they are recurring. With time and experience, you become more familiar (and better) at handling each challenge.

Dealing with Unhappy Clients

This responsibility in particular is a major part of being a salon manager. Always remember that you have to try and see the issue from their point of view. You’re the professional. To the best of your ability, you have to try and understand the client’s perspective, and then do what you can to make the situation better.

If, for instance, your client doesn’t like the grooming job you did, you can offer to fix it or give them a deal the next time they’re in. Even though they’re unhappy in the current moment, you’re still giving them incentive to continue doing business with you in the future.

Maybe their issue is with some other aspect of the salon, such as (in our case) the doggy daycare. Perhaps their dog got a scratch on them, which can be pretty common when dogs are playing together. In my personal experience, we would then offer to bath their dog for free, or something to that effect.

It all comes down to making the clients happy! That being said, clients also need to know that when it comes to animals, things sometimes just happen. Do what you can to appease the client, but also make sure that everyone stays realistic.

Social Marketing

Another important area that grooming salon managers need to focus on is the marketing practices we put in place for the shop. Marketing helps us get our name out there, bring in a larger clientele, and keep regular contact with our current customers.

One very common way of marketing your business is through social media.

For example, at Off the Leash Inc., we send out monthly emails to our clients. These emails consist of a bunch of things and various topics. They also change from month to month, to keep the news we’re providing current and fresh.

With these monthly emails, we aim to let clients know of any deals going on that month at the shop, if there’s a running promotion, new products for purchase, etc. We also let them know if there’s something special taking place that month in the world of dog care.

Last month, for instance, was dental awareness month. So we made sure to highlight that and the importance of taking care of a dog’s teeth!

Sometimes, we put a ‘Dog of the Month’ in our monthly email as well! We find this to be a fun little thing that the girls working in doggy daycare do for the pups and their owners!

As you can see, my duties and responsibilities as a dog grooming salon manager are endless. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have a blast at work and, hey, I’m surrounded by dogs all day! What could be better?

Do YOU want to work your way up to being a dog grooming salon manager, like Casey? Start by earning your dog grooming certification, and enroll in QC’s leading Dog Grooming Course today!