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From Retail Manager to Dog Groomer: An Inside Look into the Animal Care Industry
The Animal Care industry has become extremely popular and in demand in the past 10 years, due to both population growth and dog ownership growth.
There are approximately 24 million pets owned by Australians, with Australians having the highest rate of pet ownership in the world. That equates to lots of jobs for animal lovers.
With 4.1 million of those animals being dogs and only around 4,000 dog groomers, it’s no wonder there’s a national shortage of senior-level dog groomers.
Macarla Muscat spent eight years working in retail before a life changing accident forced her to pursue a new career. An opportunity arose for Carla to purchase a dog grooming business and having had prior experience in dog training and horse grooming, it seemed too perfect to turn down.
Big Paws, Little Paws has been Carla’s baby for the past eight years and has become her full-time career. She now also competes in dog grooming competitions, where she puts her incredible pamper skills to the ultimate test.
What is ‘Dog Grooming’?
Dog Grooming is the process of maintaining, cleaning and cutting a dog’s hair to both enhance their appearance and for general care of the dog.
The usual responsibilities of a dog groomer include:
- Washing dogs with special shampoo and conditioner
- Blow drying dogs
- Trimming the dog’s coat and undercoat so it is tidy
- Nail trimming
- Spraying them with dog-specific cologne
- General pooch styling
Dog Grooming is quickly becoming a popular industry due to the flexibility, opportunity to work with dogs and the good hours involved as well as the ability to be portable.
You can undertake a number of different dog grooming courses here; it is also recommended that you get some industry training with a professional first as well.
I work 12 hour days… but the reward is there because I have amazing clients and amazing dogs.
Discover more about the role of a dog groomer
Find out why our career survey respondents rated this career 4/5 for overall job satisfaction.
Dog groomer salary in Australia
Median yearly salary for a dog groomer
The average salary is projected to increase by 19% by 2027.
Carla and ‘Big Paws, Little Paws’ Dog Grooming
Carla loved her job, but an unfortunate motorbike accident left her in a wheelchair and unable to work. Upon returning to work, her employer believed it was too risky for her to continue working and therefore, forced her to resign.
Before beginning her career in dog grooming services and starting up Big Paws, Little Paws, Carla undertook a dog grooming course to learn how to properly control and groom different dog breeds.
She originally had reservations about beginning her new career.
Firstly she was nervous about her medical condition and she was also unsure of the different breed styles and their coat types. The course helped her gain more confidence and knowledge about the processes and styles that are required for pet grooming.
Carla believes it’s very important to undertake a course as there’s so much that can go wrong in the dog grooming process.
Unfortunately, it’s not a regulated industry, so even if you don’t have a grooming qualification you can still pursue it as a business. This can cause a lot of damage to people’s pets and can leave them traumatised, which is why Carla recommends everyone undertake a course.
At Big Paws, Little Paws, Carla’s day consists of around 10 appointments per day. As her grooming practice is quite fancy and consists of more than just a chop with clippers, she takes a little longer than usual and puts in a lot more care as she’s considered a professional dog groomer.
She has an open salon policy meaning she allows the dogs to roam free while they wait for their appointment, rather than being locked in a cage all day. This also means the dogs are able to get a good amount of socialisation and play time with other dogs as well.
Carla’s aim for the future is to hopefully compete more in dog grooming competitions and eventually travel overseas to compete internationally.
“Yes, I fell into this accidentally – but it was life-changing for me.”
The role of a dog groomer
Dog grooming doesn’t involve playing with dogs all day. It’s a highly technical role which takes focus, attention to detail, and precision.
The start of the grooming process is one of the most important stages. You need to assess the dog on your grooming table. There’s no one-size-fits-all for grooming — each dog will need different care, different tools, and present different challenges. Your technical knowledge and experience will help you decide on the best technique for their breed and condition.
Some of the routine tasks in dog grooming include:
- Brushing out coat
- Washing and drying the coat
- Cutting the coat and removing matting if necessary
- Cutting the dog’s nails
- Cleaning ears
- Giving tick and worming treatments
You’ll also need a calm disposition in this role. Some dogs can be skittish or even aggressive, but will likely respond well if you’re calm. You’ll also need skills in taming and calming these kinds of dogs.
A calm disposition comes in handy when talking to owners as well. It’s not uncommon to see cases of neglect as a dog groomer. But it’s crucial that you approach these situations with a calm, kind attitude so you can educate those owners on how to care for their dogs at home (or at least convince them to book in regular grooming appointments). You may also need to inform people if their dogs are overweight or underweight, or have conversations about general dog health.
Perks of being a dog groomer
Low barriers to starting your career
Dog grooming training and qualifications are really accessible. They’re usually quite short, low cost (especially compared to a university degree), and there are heaps of them around.
You'll make a genuine difference
Proper grooming makes a big difference to a dog’s quality of life. Without proper grooming, dogs can become matted; this causes bruising, circulatory problems, restricted movement and pain. Being in a position to help dogs stay happy and healthy is incredibly rewarding.
There's lot of demand for your expertise
4.1 million pet dogs in Australia equals a lot of work for dog groomers. People are increasingly recognising the value of professional grooming, and are happy to spend the money to give their fur babies the best quality care. You’ll have plenty of clients — and if you run your own dog grooming business, that means plenty of profits.
No two days are the same
Each dog comes with its own personality, challenges and delights. The work you do will vary daily, so you’ll never be bored in this role. There are also many ways to upskill and broaden your services as a dog groomer, so once you’ve mastered a skill you can begin learning the next.
Although Carla already had prior experience, she made sure to undertake a Dog Grooming course before pursuing it as a full-time career. There are many Animal Care courses available whether that be in Animal Training, Zoology, Wildlife Conservation, Vet Assistant and even Animal Behaviour. A career with animals is only a click away!
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“No matter what, dogs are always amazing and will love you unconditionally”
Explore the animal world with Learning Online, and equip yourself with the best professional skills to harness your passion and become an animal care expert!
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