Ask any professional dog groomer and they’ll tell you that training and practice are keys to a successful career.  They’ll also probably tell you that throughout their career they’ve encountered situations they weren’t trained or prepared for. If you’re considering a career as a dog groomer, you’re probably considering a dog grooming course to get started on the right foot.  It’s a good call! There’s a ton to learn and it’s not something you want to dive blindly into.

But not all dog grooming courses are created equal. Sure, all courses will teach you how to handle your tools and the different cuts based on a dog’s breed, fur type, etc. In reality, here is so much more that a dog grooming course SHOULD teach you. Unfortunately many schools don’t bother teaching beyond the very basics, setting you up for a troublesome shock once you start your career.

Here’s a short list of what you SHOULD learn in your dog grooming course on top of the basic grooming skills. Keep these in mind while you shop around for the right course for you!

dog sitting outside

First Aid

Why It’s Important:

Safety for both the groomer and the dog should be the first priority of any training program.  While many programs will teach you very basic “health and safety” (which at best revolves around how to avoid bites, etc.), most training programs will barely touch on the in-depth First Aid techniques necessary to prepare you for emergencies should they occur.

What to look for:

A lot of schools will tell you that “of course we teach health and safety!” but dig a little deeper and you’ll learn they don’t really teach proper First Aid and Response. So, even if a school tells you they teach safety (and they all will), sift through their curriculum and be sure you’ll at least learn the following:

  • Building a First Aid Kit
  • Assessing a dog’s health
  • Checking a dog’s vital signs
  • Responding to emergency situations
  • Wound care
  • Rescue breathing techniques
  • Performing CPR
  • Responding to heart attacks, seizures, choking, burns, and other emergency situations

Why Many Don’t Teach It:

Quite frankly, the majority do not teach it because it’s expensive and time consuming! There is a lot to learn, adding to the length of your course, and it costs schools a significant amount of money to develop and maintain the content.

A lot of schools who don’t teach you First Aid will argue that it’s not your place as a groomer to perform CPR on your clients. They’ll tell you that if something happens, your job is to send the dog off to the vet. But just think about how you’d feel if you were grooming a senior dog who suffers a seizure while on your table because you didn’t recognize the telltale signs in the first place! Not teaching you how to properly respond to a situation like that is a disservice to you and to your future furry clients.  So if you do end up in a program that doesn’t teach First Aid, please enroll in a separate First Aid course for the sake of your future clients!

injured dog first aid

Animal Behavior

Why It’s Important:

The truth is, grooming is stressful for dogs! A dog under stress can be unpredictable and dangerous to someone unable to read the situation. Dogs are complex creatures but they aren’t very mysterious. A dog is always communicating with you. If you’re trained to understand their body language and calming signals, you can avoid dangerous situations before they escalate and someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, many grooming schools don’t consider animal behavior training to be a vital component of your education. This means that they’re training a class of groomers who will be unable to handle difficult dogs and avoid hurting themselves or the pooch.

What to Look For:

Some schools will “teach” you dog behavior by simply telling you to avoid difficult grooming cases. That’s fine in theory, but the reality is sometimes the calmest, sweetest dog can become a dangerous animal when stressed. Similar to First Aid training, every school will claim to teach you about behavior, but won’t actually teach you anything useful. So dig into it yourself, and make sure you’ll learn about…

  • Common dog behaviors & body language
  • Responding to anxiety and aggression
  • How dogs learn
  • How to meet and interact with a new dog
  • Strategies for working with stressed dogs
  • Interpreting a dog’s temperament
  • Predicting and preventing reactive or aggressive behavior
  • Using management tools like muzzles and e-collars
  • Conducting a needs analysis

Why Many Don’t Teach It:

Two possibilities. First, maybe the school genuinely doesn’t think a groomer needs to know about animal behavior. Or, they believe that you should  figure it out on your own. This is a reckless attitude, but it’s possible. Second, and more likely, is that animal behavior is a very controversial topic. People are very passionate when it comes to behavior topics including how dogs learn, how one should react to aggression, etc. So instead of teaching it, schools skip the topic to avoid upsetting anyone. Once again, the graduated groomer is set up for an unfavorable outcome and lack the skills they need to succeed!

happy dog

The Business Side of Grooming

Why It’s Important:

A lot of groomers enter the industry in hopes of becoming business owners. Owning a grooming business requires you to be more than just a good groomer; you also have to be a good business professional. You’ll have to have a business plan, set up a shop, create a pricing structure, get insurance, market your services… and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be nice to get help doing all this while you’re in school, instead of just being thrown to the wolves once you have learned the basic grooming skills?

Even if aren’t looking to become an entrepreneur and instead want to be hired by an established salon once you graduate, basic business training can be a huge asset to yourself and your employer! Business training will also help polish up your professional skills like resume writing and rocking that interview!

What to Look For:

You’ll want a course that teaches you how to start, run, and expand your dog grooming business! If a course claims to teach business skills, be sure the curriculum includes at least…

  • Creating your business plan
  • Regulations and licensing requirements
  • Naming and registering your business
  • Handling your finances
  • Branding and marketing
  • Setting your prices
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Managing client information
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Networking and knowledge sharing

Why Many Don’t Teach It:

Starting to see a pattern here? A lot of courses won’t teach you anything beyond basic grooming skills. They’ll argue that the only important thing a course can do is to teach you how to groom. Whether that’s enough for you to become successful and confident in your profession is up to you!

There’s no question, dog grooming is a wonderful career that can offer a lifetime of success. Just make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure at the start of your career by choosing a grooming course that cuts corners!

Yes, QC’s Online Dog Grooming Course teaches you all of these extremely important elements and much more! For more info, read the full course outline here and sign up today!

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