QC Pet Studies graduate Casey Bechard works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. 

You’ll encounter many challenges when starting your dog grooming career, I can guarantee you that. I’m not saying it’s not worth it in the long run, but you’ll have to push through those difficult days to get to the smooth sailing days.

No one really tells you how long it will take to groom a dog your first couple of weeks (or months). It’s all based on how you like to do your grooms. In this article, I want to outline the many grooming timeline traps that beginner dog groomers don’t always anticipate. Hopefully, it’ll help you time your appointments and give you an idea of where you need to practice more

Underestimating the timeline of the grooming process

When I first started grooming, it probably took me two hours to groom a little dog. I took my time because I wanted everything to be perfect! The slower you work on your first dogs, the better your techniques in the long run. It enables you to focus on what you need to practice on and master the skills you know you already got down pat.

I hope you never feel like you’re being rushed with your first couple grooms. Don’t compare your own pace to those of other experienced groomers. When you’re just learning, of course, it’s going to take a bit longer to complete a groom. Your mentor should help you out and be understanding about needing extra time to figure things out.

I’ve been working as a certified dog groomer for over a year now. And I don’t really have to think hard about each step anymore—I just do it. I have a routine, and I usually have a good idea of the haircut the owner wants for their dog when they explain it. So most of the time, I can fly through a groom.

Not scheduling enough time for each specific client

This is a huge one! Each individual dog will have different grooming needs. You need to schedule your day with consideration of the type of dog that’s coming in that day. Knowing how to schedule your day using this knowledge will help you pace your day, and you won’t feel rushed.

dog grooming a small dog

For example, consider two clients with a Shih Tzu pup and a golden retriever respectively. These two are very different dogs with different grooming needs. Not to mention, depending on the dog’s coat type, you’ll need different tools from your dog grooming kit. For me, I would give myself about an hour for the Shih Tzu and 1.5 hours for the golden. This also really depends on the dog’s temperament and how well it does with grooms—it could take longer than expected or be the easiest groom of your life.

When your grooming schedule is off or something is booked wrong, it can be stressful. Not having enough time to groom a dog to the best of your ability puts a damper on your day. When you’re just figuring it all out, it can be difficult. Especially if you’re booking a new client over the phone, and they don’t know their dog’s breed or how big their dog is. But it’s always better to give yourself more time than less!

Spending too much time on some tasks and not enough on others

There’s a three-part process to every groom—bathing, drying, and clipping. I think a lot of people underestimate how long it will take to dry a dog. I’ve seen many dog groomers make that mistake. I’ve even done it myself.

You believe a dog is completely dry when you go to clip its coat. But then you discover that the hair by the skin is still damp. It’s such a bummer because you need to dry the dog fully to make sure it looks its greatest. Many groomers rush through the drying process, but it’s important to give each part of the dog grooming process equal time and attention.

trimming legs of a dog by a professional dog groomer

Two tasks that many groomers think will take a while but don’t really are nail clipping and scissoring legs. When I first started grooming, there were times when these things would take me a while. But that was just due to being new to dog grooming in general. But once you’ve figured out the techniques and dog grooming equipment to use, these two tasks are some of the fastest.

It’s not that I’m rushing, but if the dog is cooperative, it should be a walk in the park.

How long should each dog grooming task take? (timeline)

Below, I’m going to share just how long each step in the dog grooming process should roughly take. Just remember, these are all approximate times based on how long it takes me. This doesn’t mean you have to clock-in at these times right away (or ever)!

  • Bathing:
    • small dog: 5-8 mins
    • large dog: 10-12 mins
  • Blow out (drying):
    • depending on the dog, 15-20 mins
  • Clipper work: 10-15 mins
  • De-shedding:
    • depending on the amount of hair coming off, 20-25 mins
  • Scissoring work: 10 mins
  • Nail clipping: 2-4 mins
  • Face/ head Clipping: 10-12 mins
  • Ear cleaning: 1 min
dog grooming course drying big dog

Everyone works at their own pace and time. I know your grooming salon may want you to work on their timeline and at their pace. But you can’t rush success! If you communicate with your employer or client that you might need additional time, I’m sure they would be happy to let you groom at your pace. Happy Grooming!

What other grooming timeline traps are there? Let us know in a comment!

Are you a new dog owner? Check out these 7 dog grooming tips that’ll save you money!

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