Dream of a career in professional grooming? QC Pet Studies graduate, April Costigan, is here to show you what a day in the life of a dog groomer looks like! This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect!
Breaking Down a Day in the Life of a Dog Groomer
The life of a dog groomer is very glamorous. It involves non-stop hobnobbing with famous people and money just falling out of our sequined bags. Also, the flash of the “puparazzi” cameras going off in our face is constant.
No, I’m just kidding! 😝
While it may not be that exciting, a day in the life of a dog groomer is still pretty adventurous – and definitely rewarding! I own my own business and have my own studio. As a result, I get to manage my own time. There’s a lot of work involved, though.
So, if you’re interested in knowing what it’s truly like to be a professional dog groomer, then let me tell you how a typical day goes for me!
The Start of My Day as a Dog Groomer
First Thing’s First…
Each morning, I check my schedule so I can prepare myself for what I’ll be doing that day. On an average day, I groom 5 dogs and work a 10-hour day. Some days, I’ll only groom 3 really big, hairy dogs, since those take longer. Other days, I can groom 6 really small dogs, so long as they don’t have complicated coats or requested cuts.
In the life of a dog groomer, it’s important to always prepare yourself for what’s to come. My grooming day begins at 7:00 a.m. Since I own my own studio, I arrange my schedule so that when one dog is arriving, the last one is departing. My day usually ends at 5:00 p.m. – and no, I do not take a lunch break. (Although that’s mostly just due to personal preference.)
Getting My Grooming Space Ready
Once I know what’s on my schedule for the day, I’ll prepare my grooming space. First, I lay out all the tools I’ll be needing; making sure I have plenty of shampoo prepared. I buy the big, concentrated gallon jugs and dilute the shampoo with water for the proper mixture.
Next, I get fresh water bowls ready and put my own dogs in a separate pen that’s just for them. They always like to be in the same area that I’m in, which keeps them happy and quiet.
Finally, I turn on some nice music. I tend to pick something that entertains me, but does not aggravate the dogs. Music adds a level of relaxation for me, which transfers to the dogs I work on. It’s really very pleasant!
My First Client of the Day
I greet my first client at 7:00 a.m. If they are a new client, I have them sign a grooming contract. This grants me permission to groom their dog. Next, they fill out an additional form which gives me their name, address, and phone number. Moreover, this same form provides me with information about their dog, such as the contact details for their veterinarian (in case of an emergency).
Afterwards, we have a brief conversation about how they would like their dog groomed. Then the client departs and their dog stays with me. I always begin with a nice “before” picture of the dog and text it to my client. This is because I like for them to have a visual of their dog before he/she is groomed.
Starting with The Prep Work
We then get started with all the prep work first. For example. some of this work will include:
- Trimming the dog’s toenails
- Cleaning their ears
- Trimming the hair out of the footpads
- Completing a sanitary trim
- Thoroughly brushing the dog out in order to remove any mats or debris stuck in the coat
After this, we head for the tub. I like to send a second photo to my client of their dog before or after the bath. Personally, I think it’s helpful to keep the client updated on where we’re currently at in the grooming process.
I like to make it extra cute, too. So, I sometimes wrap the dog in a towel and make her look extra snuggly. My clients love these types of photos. After all, who can resist those great, big eyes and soggy little face?!
Once bath-time is over, it’s time to blow dry the dog by hand. Personally, I NEVER cage dry a dog. Instead, I take the time to ensure that all the curl is blown out of curly coats. Plus, I ensure all the extra hair is blown out of shedding coats.
Admittedly, this process can be quite messy! So, while I do this, I have my vacuum cleaner nearby. This way, I can quickly suck up extra hair that just keeps circulating around in the air during the blow drying process.
I like a clean shop, so I sometimes need to vacuum 8 times per day! While this may sound a bit tedious, it’s still critical. Maintaining a clean space is essential to staying healthy and being more efficient in my work.
The Styling Stage
Once dry, I start working on styling the dog’s coat. Importantly, I make sure to keep a close eye on the time. Each of my grooming packages have a set amount of time assigned to them. Thus, I must complete all my tasks in a timely manner. In my experience, I’ve found that most grooms take approximately 2 hours to complete.
After I’ve finished, I take a couple more photos. The first one is an “after” photo of the dog on the grooming table, in a similar position as the original “before” shot. This is so my client can see the drastic difference in how their dog looks after grooming, compared to how they looked at the start.
The second photo I take is a “glamor shot”. I do this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, many of my clients post their dog’s grooming experience on Facebook or other social media sites. I feel that if I provide them with a really cute photo, they’re more likely to use the one I took, instead of one that may not be as cute. Having my clients share my photos online, and reference my business and me, is free advertising!
Secondly, I like to have photos that I can use on my own website. I find that if I ask my clients if I can use their dog’s photo in an advertising campaign, many of them are so excited that they readily agree. It’s just good marketing. I mean, look at Hazel in the shot below. Can you believe how stinkin’ cute she is?!
I text these last two photos together, with a quick note that tells my client that their dog is ready. Rarely do I have a client that picks up a dog late. So, as one dog is departing, my next dog arrives.
Once the first client has paid their bill and picked up their dog, the next client has dropped their dog off. As soon as that client has filled out any necessary paperwork and has also departed, I’m ready to work on my next dog.
Moving Onto the Next Dog Groom
Before I actually start, I do take my own dogs out for a quick potty break. Of course, my client’s dog is welcome to come, too. Once everyone is back inside, I make sure to quickly clean my equipment. This way, my scissors, clipper blades, combs, and table are all sanitized and ready for the next groom. This only takes about 3-5 minutes, so be sure to take that time to clean your equipment between appointments!
I go through the above process about 5 times throughout my day, in order to accommodate my 5 dogs. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t take a lunch break. That said, when I let my dogs out for potty breaks, I do have a quick snack. After all, it’s important that I don’t get too hungry during the day!
At the End of My Day as a Dog Groomer…
…it’s time to do my administrative work. I’m running a legitimate, licensed business. As such, it’s critical that I always keep accurate books. I go to my office and enter new clients into my bookkeeping software. I’ll also create invoices for the clients of the day and record how they paid for their service (i.e. credit card, e-transfer, cash, check, etc.).
Next, I prepare any cash for deposit via an ATM machine. I make a bulk deposit once a week. All other forms of payment can be completed electronically. Moreover, once a month, I reconcile my checking account with the statement from the bank.
Near the end of my day, I’ll also make supply purchases online and record those purchases in my books as well. I pay my quarterly taxes for both State and Federal income taxes, and I try to stay on top of supply inventory needs for my studio.
And There You Have It: A Typical Day in the Life of a Dog Groomer!
That’s it – this is what a day in the life of a dog groomer looks like for me! 🙂
I won’t lie, i’s a lot of hard work. Sometimes, my back is aching by the end of my shift. My knees hurt from kneeling on the floor, in order to get the best angle for trimming little doggie necks. Usually, I have hair in my eyes.
However, I love EVERY minute of it! It’s my dream job, and I’m very happy that I get to have a career doing something I’m so passionate about. I love my doggy clients (and their humans are pretty awesome, too).
I hope YOU enjoy dog grooming as much as I do. After all, if you don’t, you’re not doing it right! 😉