Becoming a Dog Groomer: The Nitty Gritty

Spending a couple of hours playing with a canine friend each day can prove to be quite rewarding. Many people love the idea of being around dogs all day, and more and more are starting to think that maybe a career in dog care would be a good opportunity.

A job as a dog groomer would be a good choice for someone that is interested in being around dogs. Of course, one doesn’t just groom into a grooming salon and perform a full shampoo complete with clipped nails. It takes time to work with these squirmy little guys. That’s where learning comes in. There are schools and programs for pet and dog grooming. There are education centers all over the United States that advertise a complete program in which you can graduate within six months. One can expect to pay about the same amount as any normal beauty school where you would learn to cut and wash the hair of human clients.

Unfortunately not all aspiring pet groomers can afford school. In that case, the way that most groomers break into the business is to work their way up at a large chain pet supply store as a bather or assistant. Being lower on the work chain usually means long hours and little recognition, but at least there’s pay and at least there’s free education.

What comes next is usually instruction! Most grooming shop owners have had to work their way up in the business, or have either worked their way out of veterinarian clinics or have spent hundreds of hours with many types of dogs. Many will caution that a pet grooming business is not for new entrepreneurs or the faint of heart. Just starting a new business in and of itself is a very difficult process. Add into that working with difficult animals and sometimes even more difficult owners and it could be a recipe for disaster.

Experts suggest that a newbie to the field should team up with someone already in the animal or grooming industry in order to relieve some of the stress involved.

If beauty students learning to style hair of the human kind think they have it tough, they should try grooming a Maltese or Yorkshire terrier! There seems to be as many cuts as there are dogs and the American Kennel Club will often set the cut which will likely rule the salon standard. Yet with what seems to be such an influx of “designer dogs” out there, perhaps their owners will allow for a little more leeway and creativity in the cut. Before explaining the cuts, let’s get to the basics.

Dogs should be brushed by their owners everywhere from a week to a month based on the length of the hair. The shorter the hair then the longer time between brushing. Longer haired dogs are more prone to matting and so they should be brushed at least every other day.

Monthly nail trimming and pad care is a must, and this is where a pedicure tool comes in handy. When the pup takes a trip to the doggie spa he will enjoy a nice pedicure after his bath. Experts agree that bath time for a dog should be once a month, although most owners would agree that they would be lucky to get their dog bathed that often. Still, once a week isn’t harmful either.

Cleaning of the ears and anal glands are important as well. This should be done with certain solutions by either a veterinarian or the pet groomer that is trained to do so. This is a more delicate task that students learn in grooming school. The inner ears of dogs are very sensitive, and it’s important to do this carefully.

As far as haircuts, dogs such as the Shih Tzu or Maltese will need their hair cut every two to four weeks because their locks grow on a continual basis. One of the favorite cuts by pet owners in the United States is The Continental. This adorable cut is popular on poodles and shows off the pup’s legs by leaving pom-poms around the feet and tail.

Believe it or not there is a cut coined “The Lion” which is popular for both dogs and cats. Used mostly with Pomeranians, the groomer shaves the back bottom of the dog very short leaving the tip of the tail as a pom-pom, leaving the from half of the dog with long fur and short legs, and then creating pom-poms on the feet. Due to the specific style and preference of cut for such dogs, it is suggested that these babes be brought to the Groomer. And this is where the busy shops and repeat customers come in!

Some breeds should not have their hair cut. One example is the Siberian husky. This breed’s hair has two layers; an under-layer and over-layer. The under-layer is soft; the over-layer is more wire-like. These two layers help to keep the dog cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Of course short haired dogs such as the black lab and boxer won’t need haircuts. If you can’t pinch an inch of hair, than they don’t need it cut!

So as it seems, there is a lot to learn when it comes to man and woman’s best friend. Still, getting to know our canine friends better could lead to more rewarding days while making new friends along the way!