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So you want to become a dog groomer???

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 01:10 PM

Yes, we are very lucky to work with man/woman's best friend on a daily basis. It's absolutely true, some are sooo cuddly and cute and look adorable with their new haircuts and a little jaunty bow to set the style off. Yes, the majority of the time we as groomers look incredibly happy and content with our work so I can understand why it would look like a great choice for a career change. To be totally honest for the most part it is, but, there are a few things that I think you should know before you go ahead and quit the secure 9-5 job you currently have for a life as a dog groomer. 

Dog grooming is not the holy grail of jobs. It is not something that you can 'just do' without the proper training and knowledge. Yes, once you have achieved a certain status in the industry you can make a nice living from it but, as with any profession, that takes years, not a 10 day online course that gives you any number of redundant letters after your name. In my book, letters mean nothing if you haven't had to train for a significant time and work bloomin hard to achieve them. Also, the exams should be challenging and possible to fail, where's the achievement in getting a qualification that everyone passes with a high score, that, to me, seems more like a membership club. When I started my business, I worked an office job, I was touring in a show and I worked dog grooming on my days off. I did that for at least two years to try and get my client base together. It doesn't just happen!!! Anyway, I digress. The point is, yes there are many online courses that will give you their own qualification in dog grooming and yes they will give you letters after your name but practical experience they won't give. After these courses you may well be armed with knowledge and that's brilliant but where does that leave you if you don't know how to hold a pair of scissors, let's face it, the dog you are about to cut is not made out of pillow foam. It's gonna move. 

Ok, you work in TV and its thankless or you work in the city and you need to find yourself again, these are just a couple of things I hear all the time from people that have a dog that has to get groomed, come in to the salon and see that actually, they might like this dog grooming malarkey. What these unsuspecting people see is 3 groomers chatting away to each other with 3 perfect angels standing to attention on the tables getting their hair cut without a slight twitch. 5 minutes earlier when we were cutting fido the Westies nails or when monty did a big poo on the table or when little Tilly was doing alligator rolls whilst we were clipping her front legs, all hell was breaking loose. One was setting the other off barking, the dryers were going, the phone was ringing and whilst all that is going on you have to stay incredibly calm and in charge of the situation and somehow control it and bring it back to a workable condition. That might mean a time out for Fido, some peanut butter on the H frame for Monty and some great handling and calming skills for Tilly. Everyone wants their dog to have a positive experience at the groomers and for the most part they do, but there are times when things aren't a bed of roses. 

Dogs have teeth. Yes, because we have been trained we know what to look out for and yes we have the skills to spot bad behaviour before it happens, but sometimes you will get a dog that bites. Now, did your co workers at the bank occasionally sink their teeth in to your skin whilst you were just carrying out your work....No they didn't. Well let me tell you, this is a reality in dog grooming. For a good amount of time this animal with jaws designed to bite through bone is being prodded and poked by you. You have to remain in control even when the chips are down and the dog is starting to get frightened. You have to remember that you are the one in control, there is no one else to turn to, you are in charge of the animal in your care. You can't pop it in your 'in tray' to finish after your skinny latte and club sandwich by the fountain. This is the reality here and now... You have a very frightened dog on the table and you are in charge of its welfare. Can you handle it? 

Many new groomers that come to me to work show their fear of aggressive dogs. It is my job as a business owner to try and get them to harness that fear and keep control of the situation. Groomers cannot run away from scary situations. They have to control them. Sometimes it's a bit like playing that kids game kurplunk or buckaroo. You just never know when it's gonna hit the fan. When it does a good groomer weighs up the safety element in their mind in a split second. They find the safest way to diffuse a situation and put the dogs welfare and happiness first. Sometimes that can mean abandoning the groom, calling the owner and suggesting a vet visit but the majority of the time it can be safely controlled by good calm handling and most of all patience. 

Patience is the absolute name of the game when it comes to dog grooming, it is the no1 thing that all of my groomers must possess above anything else. 

What do you need when a customer won't leave because they are worried that their dog will be unhappy in the salon? - Patience

What do you need when fido won't let you trim the left side of his face? - Patience 

What do you need when a customer says "Im gonna cut his hair at home, after all, how hard can it be?" - Patience 

What about when you have just washed Molly and she pees all over her legs on the table - Patience

Or when the owner comes back after 15 mins and says is 'she done yet?' -Patience

If you are an impatient person, dog grooming is most definitely not for you. It's the one skill you cannot do without. 

Things to consider when thinking of grooming for a career change

1. You will be on your feet for most of the day
2. you probably won't get an actual lunch break
3. You will have to deal with Kujo as well as Fido
4. You will have to work weekends
5. You will probably always smell of dog
6. You may get back problems or RSI
7. You may get bitten

I am not meaning for this to be a negative look at my wonderful profession, it's more of a reality check. For the most part it is a wonderful fulfilling and rewarding career that is full of passionate individuals that love animals and are greatly concerned with welfare and handling. It isn't a regulated industry and I wanted to post this to highlight that as much as it is fun and rewarding, it does have its daily challenges just like any other career. 

Whatever you do in life it is sooo important to enjoy it. I have always done exactly what I love and my motto is.....I'D RATHER HAVE A LIFETIME OF OH WELL'S THAN ONE OF WHAT IF'S. 

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