How to become a dog groomer

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Do you love dogs? Are you looking for a career change? If so, why not learn how to become a dog groomer? You’ll be able to work with a bunch of furry friends all day and be tasked with helping them look and feel their best. Sounds pretty good, right?

There are currently around 4,000 pet groomers in Australia. And thanks to the #doggrooming hashtag on Instagram, people are getting a great glimpse into how adorable life in this profession can be.

Read on and learn how to become a pet groomer and see if this career option might be right for you!

What does a dog groomer do?

A dog groomer essentially creates a clean and attractive appearance for their furry client. Obviously, the dog’s safety is paramount as you trim, clip, and clean to help them look their best.

A dog groomer’s responsibilities include:

  • Working with the human client to understand how they want their dog groomed

  • Making a note of any skin problems 

  • Trimming the dog’s nails 

  • Cleaning the ears

  • Cutting and shaping the coat

  • Giving the dog a bath

  • Drying and brushing 

  • Styling to create the desired look

As a freelance dog groomer, your potential earning capacity has no ceiling. To help you decide how much to charge (and, by extension, what you could possibly make), you can check out this handy dog grooming price guide.

How do you become a dog groomer?

If you’re interested in learning how to become a dog groomer, you’ll want to consider the following options.

Option 1: Take an online dog grooming course

You can find a range of dog grooming courses online that will run you through the basics of grooming while linking them with career opportunities.

These courses can give you an overview of dog grooming-related topics like:

  • Dog anatomy

  • Hair and skin maintenance 

  • Dog behaviour and temperament

  • Various other practical advice in dog grooming

An online dog grooming course covers everything potential dog groomers need to know from a theory perspective, minus the hands-on dog grooming experience. You can also find lots of dog grooming tutorials on YouTube to get started.  

Option 2: Go to dog grooming school

Much like the above option, but in real life, you can get hands-on experience and theory all in one by signing up for a dog grooming school like the Australian Dog Grooming School.  

An in-person dog grooming course gives you the chance to practice your grooming skills on a variety of dog breeds, sizes, and temperaments. Once you graduate from dog grooming school, you’ll have certification to boost your employment opportunities.  

Option 3: Do an apprenticeship or on-the-job training

Reading about dog grooming is different from having an excited ball of fluff ready to play while you try to clip its fur. A level of hands-on training is a must for becoming a professional dog groomer.

Several aspects of the role will be difficult to perfect with a textbook, such as learning how to calm nervous dogs, bathe and dry little fluffs properly, and perform light trims while remaining calm yourself.

Try to reach out to established dog groomers and see if they would be willing to offer mentorships or apprenticeships. You can also hone your skills by offering free dog grooming sessions to your friends’ and family’s pets! 

Things all dog groomers must learn

Unfortunately, hanging out with cool dogs is only one small part of the dog grooming role. You’ll also need to be proficient in the following areas:

1. Dog breed information

Dog groomers need to learn about all dog anatomy and breeding history. Things like coat care and common haircut styles will vary per breed and must be understood to make sure you never leave a dog without its natural warmth and protection.

2. CPR and first aid

Pet first aid can be taught quite quickly thanks to the Australian Red Cross online course. As an aspiring groomer, you’ll need to learn how to check for vital signs and administer first aid to dogs. Why? An important part of dog grooming is understanding that not all dogs are properly cared for, and some may arrive in health distress.

3. Stripping, thinning, and carding

The removal of a dog’s undercoat is known as carding, and breeds such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Labs, and more will require this grooming process. Stripping and thinning are techniques that remove excess hair from breeds with two coats (undercoat and topcoat). 

4. Coat patterns

Each dog breed has a certain coat pattern that determines the best way to cut and style their coat. There are many dog grooming styles to get your head around as a dog groomer. This knowledge is essential in ensuring all dogs are healthy, happy, and well-protected from the elements.

female groomer working on pomeranian dog

Dog grooming tools and equipment

The following are some of the basic tools you’ll need to get started as a dog groomer:

  • A grooming table

  • A bathing tub 

  • Various brushes and combs

  • Scissors and hair clippers

  • Nail clippers

  • Drying implements (towels/hairdryer)

  • Pet-grade shampoos and conditioners 

  • Harnesses

  • Ribbons and bows

We’ve created a detailed guide to dog grooming tools, so you’ll know what to consider when getting these materials. 

Also read: Your Ultimate Guide to Dog Care – Everything you need to know about caring for a dog, from grooming to training 

Do you need a licence to groom dogs?

There are no licensing requirements to become a dog groomer in Australia, but a grooming facility may require formal qualifications. Licensing requirements will differ based on local regulations.

An important point to consider is how formal certification will make it much easier to establish yourself and find clientele. Not only does a dog grooming certificate teach you how to perform the role properly, but it shows your credibility. Certification also gives peace of mind to your clients (the human clients, the dogs aren’t as fussed).

How long does it take to become a dog groomer?

This can vary based on what kind of certification or apprenticeship you aim for, but we recommend allotting around 12-18 months before testing for certification. This should give you enough time to build enough experience to be confident in your grooming skills.

Ready to help the dogs of the world look their best?

If all of the above sounds like something you would love, then dog grooming may be the role for you! Dog lovers who have an eye for style and can handle clients that may be a little tricky will love the rewarding work of helping dogs look and feel their best.

Once you’re ready to become a dog groomer, you can find plenty of dog grooming and dog washing tasks on Airtasker. If you go down the path of becoming a professional groomer, put up your listings and start building your very own client base! Who doesn’t want to be their own boss after all?

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