12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer | learndirect

12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer

Posted on 07/01/2021
12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer

Dog grooming is an important area of the pet sector as it is an essential part of canine care. Lots of dog breeds need groomers to keep them living healthily and happily. Removing mattes, checking for parasites and identifying health issues all fall within the dog grooming realm.

What’s more, it’s also a genuinely enjoyable profession to be in. You get to spend all day with adorable dogs.

Often groomers are their own boss, so you can set your hours and work on your terms. Being in control of your earning whilst doing something you love factors into why groomers are such a satisfied workforce.

However, there is often a misconception as to what the role entails. Many people get into the career not realising the full extent of the knowledge and skills required. Read on to learn what else you should consider before starting your new career as a dog groomer.

Understand what Dogs were Bred for

Dog grooming serves a purpose beyond appealing aesthetics. Certain breeds require specific cuts and grooming practices. Understanding why different breeds were introduced will help you identify the most appropriate cut.

For example, a poodle’s puffs are much more than just a fashion statement and actually served a purpose. Poodles were originally bred as a water retrievers. The outer layer of fur would get heavy when wet so it would be shorn so they could easily stay afloat. Puffs would be left around vital organs and joints to keep them warm.

Researching your clients’ dogs ensures you’re able to deliver the best result. Qualifications will cover many common breeds but there are hundreds out there, so it pays to be prepared and continue learning.

You need to know about Canine Anatomy and Health

LD | 12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer | You need to know about canine anatomy and health

The grooming you’ll provide for dogs will probably be more in-depth than you’d do on yourself. You’ll have to clean ears, clip nails and brush through any mattes before bathing. Then you’ll need to choose the appropriate shampoo and conditioner for the dog you’re working with.

All the while you’ll be checking for any parasites or health conditions. Being a dog groomer is more than just styling. You’re an educated professional that needs to be able to analyse and identify any issues.

Once bathing is complete you’ll still have to blow-dry, cut and style before returning the pampered pooch to their owner. After all this, you’ll need to make sure everything is clean and tidy ready for your next client.

You’ll Learn as you gain Experience

Qualifications give you the knowledge and confidence to apply for jobs. And can even help you learn the essential skills needed to start your own business.

However, just because you’ve completed your qualification doesn’t mean you’ll stop learning. You will continue to grow as a professional dog groomer long after you get qualified. Each client is different, so you’ll continually be adapting and improving as you gain experience. Perfecting your techniques as you learn how to provide the best service to your customers.

Grooming Equipment can get Expensive

Technique and understanding are important, but so is having the right equipment. Good quality tools help you deliver better results.

You don’t need to purchase the most high-end luxury brands, but you’ll need to be prepared to invest in yourself. Clippers, shampoos and conditioners, shears and brushes all add up so make sure you can afford all the essentials.

Human hairstyling is Easier

Human hairstyling is easier than dog grooming.

Firstly, people just sit still which makes it easier to get the job done. Secondly, they understand exactly what you’re saying when you speak to them.

Dogs, unfortunately, cannot communicate their feelings as easily. So you need to be able to tell what it is they’re feeling through their behaviour.

And thirdly, you don’t have to lift people into or out of the bath.   

Dogs respond to how you Feel

LD | 12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer | Dogs respond to how you Feel

Dogs can feel how you’re feeling. So if you’re tense or stressed that will affect the dogs' mood and behaviours. You need to stay calm during grooming sessions to ensure each dog reflects that energy to you.

By staying calm you’re making the overall experience more enjoyable and maintaining yours and the dogs' safety. If a dog gets nervous it might nip at you or become restless making your job a lot harder.

Recognising different Coats and their Requirements

There are short coats, long coats, double coats and everything in between. Dogs fur is there to protect their skin and regulate their temperature.

Each fur type requires a specific grooming style. Understanding the differences in coats and their care needs is essential knowledge for dog groomers.

Different fur types require different tools too. Buying a range of products means you’ll be a well-rounded groomer who can provide for many breeds.

Not all Dogs will be on their Best Behaviour

Although many dogs will be trained excellently and make stellar clients that won’t always be the case. Some dogs will be poorly trained or hyperactive making it more difficult to get the job done. If this is the case it’s worth speaking to the owner and discussing ways to improve the experience for next time.

Suggestions such as taking the dog for a long walk so they’re less agitated during grooming is common advice. Or having yourself or another groomer go to the clients home to provide the service. This will help nervous dogs who don’t like being in a new environment feel more at ease.

Accidents Happen

Especially when you’re starting out. It’s important to understand that things go wrong. You might accidentally clip a dog or get water in their ears which causes an infection. Getting qualified in first aid can help in these scenarios.

It also pays to be honest with clients and call them up right away. Acting responsibly and professionally even offering to take their pet to the vet if need be.

The best way to avoid this is to be careful and take your time. Especially if you're new to dog grooming.  

It’s Ok to Say No

LD | 12 things I wish I knew before I became a Dog Groomer | It's Ok to say No

As the professional, it’s your call whether a client’s request is too outlandish and puts their dog at risk. This can be anything from dye jobs to shaving furs that can’t be shaved. The health and safety of the animal is always the number one priority.

Your job in this situation is to educate the client and explain why that isn’t a good idea. Offering alternative services that are in the best interest of the dog.

Working with Adorable Pups is Rewarding

There’s something almost therapeutic about spending the day with dogs of all shapes and sizes. They all have different quirks and personalities that’ll be sure to keep you entertained.

Not to mention the sense of accomplishment and reward you’ll feel after transforming a client’s pet. You’re doing a service that people appreciate and often is essential to the health and happiness of their dogs.

Don’t be so Hard on Yourself

Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself when you’re first starting out. Striving to improve yourself and your abilities are important. We all need goals to aim for so that we continue to progress.

However, don’t try and aim for perfection. It’s impossible. Being perfect isn’t a tangible goal and will hinder you in the long run by affecting your morale. It’s ok to make mistakes, try new things and ask for help. No one knows everything and being amazing at everything straight away isn’t likely, it takes time.

So enjoy the journey and cut yourself some slack whilst you’re learning.


If you’re interested in becoming a qualified dog groomer, we can help.

learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online learning providers. With flexible payment options to help you spread the cost and dedicated tutors to support you.

Online courses allow you to engage with your learning at a pace and place that suits you. So you don’t have to worry about rearranging your current schedule.

Get in touch with one of our advisors today to learn more or browse our dog grooming courses below.

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