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5 Truths About Being a Dog Groomer, Told by a Dog Groomer
Working with dogs every day can be an absolute dream for some animal lovers.
But working as a dog groomer isn’t for everyone. It’s a demanding and sometimes emotionally taxing role. You need a strong passion for animals to work through some of those longer, more challenging days.
Meet Meagan Lidbetter
Meagan Lidbetter adores dogs, and after finding herself in a dog grooming role, she couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else. Before dog grooming, Meagan worked as a veterinary nurse. However, after needing a change, she realised her experience as an animal carer made her uniquely qualified for a pet grooming role.
Now, Meagan owns her own dog grooming business in Australia, Pamper Paws. After years of experience, Meagan shares with us some of the key considerations anyone thinking of moving into dog grooming should know.
You have to be physically fit and mentally resilient
In a dream world, professional dog groomers would only have to play with their furry friends all day long. In reality, this career path is physically demanding and requires a good level of fitness and resilience.
“I get a lot of younger workers that don’t expect how physically demanding the job actually is,” Meagan says. “It’s actually a really difficult job. There’s a lot of manual labour involved.”
Dog groomers’ work will span across a whole range of hands-on tasks, including:
- Bathing and washing dogs
- De-matting, cutting and drying dogs’ coats
- Styling dog coats with shears
- Using nail clippers to treat nails
- Cleaning teeth using appropriate equipment
- Caring for and playing with the dogs
As a dog groomer, you’ll perform all of these grooming services on pets of varying dog breeds, sizes, coat types and temperaments – some more difficult than others. Your days will be full of using your muscles to lift, move, brush, and play with your clients. You’ll also have to sterilise and clean the grooming salon, grooming equipment, and tools.
Soft skills are essential to business success
The other side of a dog groomer‘s role is dealing with people – the pet owners. As a dog groomer, you will work closely with a broad range of personality types (both the dog and its owner). From nervous first-timers to your regular customers and everyone in between, you will be their point of contact while their pup is in your hands.
“It’s a job where you need to get to know the people as well,” Meagan explains. “So it does take a toll on your mental health as well as the physical, but the rewards outweigh all of that.”
You likely have many of the soft skills required of a dog groomer already, either from past work or life experience. However, even if you don’t, these skills can be learnt and strengthened over time through training and experience.
Some valuable soft and customer service skills that dog groomers can use to thrive in their careers include:
- Effective oral communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Time management
“Within the entire industry, grooming is probably the most positive side of it because you’re seeing dogs that you’re forming a relationship with,”
It can be emotional
Some days will be harder than others as a dog groomer, and you may experience the emotional toll of losing a client or having to care for a clearly neglected pup.
“When our clients get older, and you see their health decline — especially when they come in for their last groom to say goodbye. That’s a real challenge,” Meagan admits, explaining that sometimes, you’ll feel like you’re part-owner to your regular clients. So, when they naturally grow older and pass, you might take on some of that grief.
However, it can be even more challenging when you’re faced with caring for a dog that’s come from questionable circumstances.
“You do get the odd neglected dog, and your heart just breaks when they come in,” Meagan says. “They’re probably the toughest ones to see.”
For these tough days and clients, your emotional resilience and ability to maintain professionalism become very important. Although well-founded, your frustrations or sadness won’t help you move forward through your day. It also won’t educate potentially unaware owners of their mistakes. Rather, your ability to communicate through them will. This is why strong, soft skills are so valuable in this career.
Passion and creativity will get you far
Dog grooming isn’t always a walk in the park (pun intended), but your passion for animals, coupled with a creative flair, will help you thrive in this unique and fulfilling industry.
Most importantly, your love for animals – especially dogs – needs to be your ultimate motivator.
“You get there, and you get wet. You go home smelling like a wet dog every single day. You get licked on the face and all that sort of fun stuff,” Meagan laughs. “You’re not going to enjoy it if you don’t like animals. Number one, you’ve got to love dogs.”
What some may not realise, however, is the opportunity to be creative in a grooming career.
“It is a creative skill, thinking up those cute little looks for dogs,” Meagan explains. “You’re really putting emphasis on their personality. It really shines through in the different styles.”
“You’re not going to enjoy it if you don’t like animals. Number one, you’ve got to love dogs.”
"It's the positive side of working with animals"
“Within the entire industry, grooming is probably the most positive side of it because you’re seeing dogs that you’re forming a relationship with,” Meagan passionately explains.
Dog groomers rarely have to deal with the messier sides of animal care, such as treating sick or injured animals or problematic animal behaviour. Most dogs who seek your services will be the loveable, friendly pups you’re used to seeing on the street.
Meagan explains that in the time you have with the dog, you can form a fulfilling bond with them. “You really see that personality come out of the dog in those two hours you’re working with them,” Meagan elaborates.
If you’re passionate about working with animals and – above all else – adore dogs, becoming a pet groomer may be the animal care career you’ve been looking for.
There are multiple career opportunities available for qualified pet groomers, including positions at:
- Animal shelters
- Mobile dog grooming businesses
- Pet stores
- Grooming salons
Many of these roles also provide both full-time and part-time work opportunities for those who require flexibility.
There are also plenty of diverse training courses and certification programs in animal studies and animal care. These courses will help you develop your technical and customer service skills so you can move into the industry with confidence. You may even decide to open your own business!
Are you ready to learn more? Discover and compare your training opportunities in this exciting industry with training.com.au!
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