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From the Experts

How to Master the Teddy Bear Cut

Teddy Bear Cut article, June 11 2021, Feature Image

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

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

Introduction to The Teddy Bear Cut

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

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

Achieving The Teddy Bear Cut

Prep Work

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

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

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

Pomeranian on grooming table before hair cut

Clipping the Coat

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

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

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

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

Teddy Bear Cut, pomeranian with rounded face haircut

Creating The Teddy Bear Face

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Me Create a Teddy Bear Cut!

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

Enroll with QC Pet Studies

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

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

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

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

10 Dog Grooming Interview Questions and How to Answer Them!

Dog grooming interview questions article Feature Image

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

From Graduate to Professional Groomer

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

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

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

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

10 Dog Grooming Interview Questions to Anticipate

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

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

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

Question 2: “Are you comfortable grooming cats?”

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

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

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

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

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

Cat getting groomed at salon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groomer hugging dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Groomer drying big dog at salon after bath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up-close of dog grooming scissors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pug getting shaved down by groomer at salon

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

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

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

The 3 Dog Haircut Styles My Clients Request Most

Dog haircut styles article, Apr 9 2021, Feature Image, Corgi getting haircut at groomers

What are some of the most common dog haircut styles you’ll be expected to know? QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, reveals the Top 3 cuts her clients request the most! 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.

Today, I’m going to share with you the 3 dog haircut styles that my clients here in Regina, Saskatchewan, request most from me. It’s important to keep in mind that popular dog haircuts can vary from location to location. However, what this article can do is show you a few of the styles your potential clients might request and how to give them what they want.

The following list is in no particular order. It’s also worth mentioning that while these 3 cuts are requested the most often, they do not make up the majority of my time while working in the salon.

With that in mind, let’s jump into it and take a look at puppy cuts, summer cuts, and breed-standard cuts!

Dog haircut styles article, first in-post image

The 3 Most Requested Dog Haircut Styles

1. The Puppy Cut

There’s no single industry standard that defines a “puppy cut“. In general grooming terms, this dog haircut style is basically when the hair is trimmed to the same, even length all over the body. What people consider to be a puppy cut can vary based on location, breed knowledge, and personal preference.

In my own experience, a “puppy cut” in my salon is literally when clients bring their puppies in for their first groom – and want them to look like a puppy for as long as possible.

Dog Haircut Styles: Puppy Cuts for Golden Doodles

Typically, when clients request this particular cut, I use an E guard comb all over the dog’s body. I tend to do this cut a lot on Golden Doodle pups. I have a lot of clients with that breed and they always love their dogs’ coats. For this reason, they want to keep them for as long as possible.

As groomers, we know how much maintenance it takes to keep a Golden Doodle’s coat mat-free. So, I start by walking the client through what I’m going to be doing during the appointment. Next, I explain the at-home maintenance that will be required on their part between grooms. After that, I advise them to come back in about 4-6 weeks, depending on how much they brush at home and take care of the fresh groom.

We’re the subject-matter experts, so it’s important to make sure ours clients are properly educated whenever possible. This is why I also show my clients the types of brushes they can use and how to use them correctly. I go into this level of depth because a lot of clients (especially ones with new puppies) don’t yet understand the amount of work needed to keep their dogs’ coats healthy and maintained.

Creating the Puppy Cut

To achieve this dog haircut style, you’ll first need to bathe and dry the pup. Depending on the dog, you might also need to use conditioner or detangling spray. The trick with a puppy cut is to get the dog super dry first. There should not be a wet spot anywhere on them!

Remember: a lot of dogs don’t like the high velocity dryer. So, you might need to bank a bit more time for this step. Once drying is complete, do a thorough job of brushing them. Next, begin shaving them with your e-comb. Regular brushing throughout the grooming process is key when it comes to achieving a puppy cut. Brushing helps make everything look neater and allows you to see if there are spots you’ve missed. This way, you can go over it again.

After you’ve finished shaving the dog, the next important step is to scissor the legs. I achieve this with curved scissors and a regular comb. First, comb out all the legs. Secondly, scissor off any excess hair. The head and face areas are where clients might ask you to get more specific. For example, they could want their pooch to have a beard, shorter-looking ears, etc.

This is just one reason why it’s important to have a consultation prior to the groom. Be specific with your questions so you can have a good understand of what your client wants. Ultimately, people mostly just want their dogs to look cute. But they also want it done in a certain way.

When it comes to the face and head, I tend to use thinners. I clean out the pup’s eye area and then make the head round, while keeping it proportionate to the body. Afterwards, I clean up the chin (if my client does not want a beard) and the top of the head.

2. The Summer Cut

When it comes to dog haircut styles, the “summer cut” is probably the most common one I do. Simply put, this kind of cut involves trimming the hair shorter to the body (about 1-2 inches long, on average). This way, the dog will be cooler during the hot summer months.

Sometimes, clients will come in and say, “I want my dog short everywhere!” In this case, the summer cut is my go-to!

Dog Haircut Styles: Creating the Summer Cut

Once the dog is dry, bring it to your table and brush them out really well. This is especially important if they have a curly coat on their body, legs, head, and neck. Once that’s done, you can achieve this cut using a 2 guard comb on your blade. This way, even though the hair will be short, it’ll still leave enough to protect the dog’s skin from the sun.

When the clipper work is done, you can begin shaving the armpits and sanitary areas. Don’t forget about the hair between their eyes. For this spot, you can use a hand-held clipper for safety and close precision. Once toy tend to the paw pads and nail areas, you can then start scissoring the legs and shaping them up a bit.

Once the legs are finished, you’ll finally move onto the dog’s head. Scissoring work there will mostly consist of cleaning up any unwanted hairs that are falling in their eyes and mouth. Personally, I use my thinners for this part of the job. Sometimes, I’ll switch to my scissors if I need to trim up the ears or tail.

And just like that, presto – you’re finished with your summer cut!

3. Standard Breed Cuts

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Sometimes, clients want a cut that best represents their dog’s breed. Of all the dog haircut styles listed in this article, I deal with this one the least.

But when a client does request it, I almost always refer back to what I learned through my QC Pet Studies training. In Unit G of QC’s Dog Grooming Course, there’s an entire booklet devoted to interpreting and working with breed standards. This is what I look back on, as well as the instructional videos of tutors demonstrating the different cuts.

Most of the time, I do breed standard haircut styles for Golden Retrievers and Schnauzers. When working with Golden Retrievers, you’ll mostly be brushing out their coats and doing a little bit of trimming on their furnishing parts. Basically, you just want everything to look like it’s flowing together nicely.

For me, it also helps that Golden Retrievers are one of my FAVORITE breeds to groom! They are such sweet dogs. It’s like they know how beautiful they look afterwards. Watching them happily prance around after the appointment is always a highlight of my day.

Dog Haircut Styles: Standard Breed Cut for Schnauzers

For a Schnauzer, the standard breed style is your typical skirt, beard, and eyebrow cut. Fun fact: I actually had to work with this breed for one of my hands-on assignments in school. I vividly remember the dog… and the mark I got doing on my assignment.

To this day, I still groom that dog. But my mark, on the other hand, I try to forget. I’m just kidding – while it wasn’t very good, it did push me to become better. I really had to practice that cut because, for me, figuring out where to place the skirt was difficult. So, I practiced every chance I could on Schnauzers. I want to say that I’ve now got it down to a T. But hey, if the owners like it, that’s all that matters! 😉

To achieve the skirt, start by shaving the back of the dog. A #4 blade should do the trick. To know where the skirt starts, look to where the ribs are on the dog. Start shaving just below that area. I find that this is a prime spot to start my skirt. Just make sure to shave around the bum area, as well as a little lower on the chest.

To maintain the skirt, comb through it thoroughly and then trim it up with scissors. The most important part of the skirt is making sure it’s not matted at ALL. Once that’s finished, move onto the head and the ears. They should be the same length as the body hair. The one exception is the eyebrows and beard, which should be left long for the time being.

Next, clean up between the eyes with your thinners. Once this is done, you’ll be ready to tackle the Schnauzer’s face. First, brush the eyebrows forward and then grab your scissors. Put them on an angle, with the tip of the scissor pointing away from the dog. From there, you’ll trim the brows.

Remember: they shouldn’t be falling in the dog’s eyes. But they should still be a good length, so it looks like there are eyebrows. When you move onto the beard, start by combing through it. Hold the muzzle and trim it up a bit with scissors. Bam, you have a Schnauzer cut that’s true to the breed standard style!

I know this blog was a little lengthy, so I thank you for sticking around ’till the end. I loved writing this one! My goal for you now is to keep on practicing. Master each and every dog haircut style to the best of your ability. If I can do it, so can you!

Happy grooming! 🙂

Learn more about dog haircut styles and how to master them by enrolling with QC Pet Studies today!

Working in a Dog Grooming Salon: 3 Critical Safety Tips

dog grooming article, Apr 1 2021, Feature Image

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

Safety in the Workplace

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

QC Pet Studies’ Dog Grooming Course

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Technique

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

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

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

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

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

dog getting paws brushed by groomer in salon

2 – Preventing Bites

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

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

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

Story Time!

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

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

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

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

Preventing “Spike Bites” in My Dog Grooming Salon

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

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

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

3 – Fire Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves for ALL Beginners!

dog grooming must-haves blog article camille mar 12 2021 feature image

Want to start a career in dog grooming? QC Pet Studies student, Camille Torkornoo, is here to reveal 5 dog grooming must-haves to get you started! Camille’s business, Mount Zion Kennels, specializes in grooming and breeding standard Poodles. Learn more about Camille by reading her Student Feature!

dog grooming must-haves article camille mar 12 2021 headshot

In the world of dog grooming, there are A LOT of different tools used for different purposes. It can be challenging to know which tools you should invest in when starting out.

Maybe you’re interested in becoming a dog groomer, or maybe you just want to learn how to groom your own pet at home. Either way, here are my Top 5 dog grooming must-haves for ALL beginners!

5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves

1. Combs

The very first dog grooming must-have for ALL beginners are combs. Combs are one of the most essential tools for the job! They come in many different lengths and sizes. For this reason, it can feel a bit tricky deciding which one to get when starting your career.

If you’re new to dog grooming, I recommend a basic steel comb with fine-coarse teeth. This type of comb should do just fine when starting out. It can be used to find matted spots and comb them out. Plus, you can use it comb out the hair before cutting or scissoring it. I find this kind of comb give dogs a nice fluffy finish to their groom, when used correctly!

2. Slicker Brushes

Like with combs, there are many different kinds of brushes. When deciding which kind to get when starting out, a slicker brush is the way to go! Slicker brushes are definitely one of the top dog grooming must-haves! They can be used for fluffing and brushing out coats. Plus, they work like a charm for de-matting heavily tangled coats!

groomer brushing dog with slicker brush

3. Nail Care Tools

Dog grooming isn’t just limited to cutting and styling hair. Nail maintenance is also an essential part of it! You can’t trim a dog’s nails without the proper tools. So, you’ll need a good pair of basic nail clippers.

Medium-sized nail clippers work well for most dogs. But for really big breeds with thick nails, a large-sized pair would work better. You’ll also want to invest in a nail grinder. Nail grinders will smooth out the nails after they’ve been clipped. Not to mention, they’ll get you a bit closer to the quick without cutting it and making the dog bleed.

When it comes to nail maintenance, styptic powder is another essential dog grooming must-have. If you accidently clip a dog’s nail too far and expose the quick, you can put some styptic powder on it to make the bleeding stop.

4. Clippers

We can’t talk about dog grooming must-haves without mentioning a good pair of clippers! There are a few different kinds, but the best ones for a beginner would be a pair of 5-in-1 clippers.

These clippers have an adjustable blade. Another perk is that they don’t tend to get hot as quickly as detachable blade clippers do! Since they’re not very expensive, this staple tool is also affordable for any budget. They make the perfect addition to your dog grooming kit when just starting out!

5-in-1 clippers are perfect for trimming faces, feet, ears, and paw pads. You can even use them for light bodywork on pretty much any dog. They’re a lot quieter and don’t vibrate as much as detachable blade clippers do. I find this great, especially when working on sensitive dogs and puppies.

dog grooming shaving dog with clippers

5. Shears

The last dog grooming must-have for all beginners is a good set of shears! Shears are also known as grooming scissors. Scissor work will complete every groom you do – and you can’t accomplish that without a good set a grooming shears.

There are quite a few kinds of shears, coming in all different lengths and styles. It can prove to be a difficult choice when selecting a pair to start out with. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! Here are 3 types of shears I recommend for all brand-new dog groomers:

#1 – Straight Shears

You’ll want to start by investing in is a good pair straight shears. Straight shears are used for creating nice, straight lines on any breed of dog. They’re the standard pair of shears used for every groom!

#2 – Curved Shears

The second kind you’ll want to get is a good quality pair of curved shears. Curved shears are perfect for cutting rounded edges on topknots, legs, and tails. They are definitely a must-have, especially if you’re working with Poodles and/or Poodle mixes on a regular basis!

#3 – Thinning Shears

The last kind you’ll want to get are a pair of thinning shears. Thinning shears have toothed blades. As a result, they only take off a fraction of the hair when you cut it. Thinning shears create a smoother look and they’re great for blending hair.

If you mess up when using straight or curved shears, you can use you pair of thinning shears to blend and hide the faulty cut. Plus, they’re great for working on double coated breeds. These are truly are a dog grooming must-have!

dog grooming must-haves shears

Choosing Shears: Food for Thought

Here are some other things to take into consideration when getting your set of shears:

  • You don’t want them to be too short, but you don’t want them too long either.
  • A good length to start out with would be 6 or 7 inches.
  • You also don’t need the most expensive pair out there – but you do want to invest in some good quality ones.
  • Good quality shears should have a sharp edge that’ll stay sharp. This will allow you to provide nice, clean cuts to your grooms and create a great finished look.

Now That You Know The 5 Dog Grooming Must-Haves…

…go forth and take the industry by storm! You’ve got this! 🙂

Set your career up for success by getting professionally trained and certified in less than one year. Enroll with QC Pet Studies today!

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

dog grooming package ideas article feature image

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!

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

How to Groom a Poodle: A Crash Course

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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!