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How to Become a Pet Groomer

A Guide for Entering the Growing Pet Pampering Field

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Photo courtesy of Creative Shotz

If you are considering becoming a pet groomer or adding such services to your existing business, now is a great time to do so. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Pet Grooming is a Booming Industry

Pampered pets are all the rage these days, as evidenced by the growing popularity of doggie day spas and pet groomer salons that offer services ranging from high-fashion haircuts to "peticures," massage and aromatherapy treatments, even facials and pet tattoos!

On the more practical side, many pets merely require simple bathing, hair trimming, nail clipping and other old-fashioned pet groomer services.

Either way, Americans spent $4.16 billion on pet services in 2012 alone, and that number is expected to increase in the coming years.

For those who wish to get on the pet groomer bandwagon by offering in-store pet grooming services, here are some basics.

Factors to Consider Before Becoming a Pet Groomer

First, a prospective pet groomer must really love animals, have a lot of patience and have a good rapport with pets, as well as people, for this endeavor. So start by doing some research on pet groomer career tips.

It's also important to evaluate the area market in terms of potential competition, your location and if you have enough funds for start up expenses because, initially, at least, this is an expensive undertaking.

Pet Groomers Require Sound Physical Health and Strength

As this is a very physical endeavor, demanding that you lift pets and engage in other tasks that require strength and stamina, you should determine if you are capable of this. Remember to take your other health factors into consideration. If you have asthma, arthritis or pet allergies, for example, this may not be the right undertaking for you.

Your Space

Does your establishment have the right amount of space to accommodate pet groomer services? You must also have the right kind of space, preferably tiled or other water-resistant flooring, proper plumbing, convenient access to bathing facilities and well-placed, safe electrical outlets, among other features. Cleanliness and safety are vitally important as well.

Training

Licensing and formal schooling are not required in order to become a pet groomer. In fact, many groomers rely on on-the-job training or apprenticeships to learn their skills. However, it's highly advisable to seek professional schooling and certification for greater knowledge and confidence, so that you can safely and effectively service your four-legged customers.

There are a number of online and correspondence courses, plus continuing education programs and vocational schools that offer comprehensive pet groomer training, which can lead to certification.
You can learn about this and more from my article How to Get Dog Groomer Cerification.

Training will Provide you with Valuable Skills and Knowledge About:

  • Animal behavior and control
  • Best safety practices
  • Characteristics of different breeds and types of pets
  • Recognizing health conditions that a pet's vet should be alerted to
  • How to recognize animal skin disorders
  • Specifics on parasites such as ticks and fleas
  • Bathing procedures
  • Brushing
  • Combing
  • Drying
  • Hair cutting
  • How to use and where to get the right grooming products and supplies

Note: Some states require that groomers obtain licenses to administer flea and tick treatments. A school or program administrator can tell you if you need this, and how to go about becoming licensed.

Business Licensing and Permits

While vocational licensing is not required at this time, your city or municipality may demand that you acquire certain business licenses and permits, even if a pet groomer is doing this out of their home. Check with the city, town or county government offices to learn what is required. Another good resource is the local chamber of commerce.

Insurance

Insurance is a must, as even the most competent, cautious, responsible pet groomer is not immune from accidentally injuring animals due to grooming mishaps, pets' possible allergic reactions to products and other potentially hazardous scenarios. General business and homeowners insurance do not cover these. So do your homework in regard to what type of small business insurance that's required.

The most common form is liability insurance tailored to this particular business. You may also want to consider adding commercial/general liability insurance. As this is a very specialized business, which presents the potential for accidents and injuries, it's important to obtain the right kind of insurance coverage.

For more details about this, please see my article Insurance Guide for Pet Businesses.

Pricing

At first, it can be a little tricky to determine a proper pricing strategy. You can start by checking out the competition, and evaluating your potential client base.

Supplies you'll need to Start

  • At least one grooming table with grooming arm
  • Tub with shower attachment
  • Manual scissors and shears
  • Electric hair clippers
  • Nail clippers
  • Dryers
  • Cages
  • Pet shampoos and conditioners
  • Brushes and combs
  • De-matting tools
  • Harnesses
  • Muzzles
  • Pet steps or ramp
  • Grooming cart
  • Shelves for storage
  • Clipper vacuum
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Other retail-enhancing supplies such as the Furminator

Other Types of Grooming Businesses to Consider

Another popular trend is mobile pet grooming, totally self-contained vans that travel to pets' homes enabling a pet groomer to perform services right outside the pet's door. Self-service dog washes, which provide facilities for people to bathe their pets themselves, also are gaining popularity.

Some car washes are even adding these, to expand their businesses. The latter may have a part-time groomer on staff, to provide services the owners can't perform themselves. So this may be a good option for those just starting out.

A Note about Types of Furry Customers

While pooches comprise the majority of patrons who seek pet grooming services, be prepared to cater to cats, as well. In addition, you may be asked to service such pets as rabbitsferrets, guinea pigs and other small exotic pets. For more about this, please see my article Pet Grooming for Small Animals.

More Tips

For a convenient roundup of related articles about pet grooming, please see Pet Groomers Guide.

To see a handy list of the top pet grooming trade shows, please refer to my article Pet Grooming Trade Shows Schedule at a Glance. For a list of general pet industry trade shows, you may refer to my article Pet Trade Shows Roundup.

For some helpful tips about how small groomer operations can get a paw up on the big box store competition, please see my article How Pet Groomers Can Compete with Big Box Stores.

For tips for how to avoid stress and burnout, which are prime occupational hazards for groomers, you may find my article helpful for coping and prevention advice.

Meanwhile, you can find info about dubious pet grooming procedures in my very popular article Unsafe Pet Grooming Products and Practices.

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