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How to become a dog groomer

How to Become a Dog Groomer

When I was 19 I became a bather at a dog grooming salon in one of those big chain stores that sells pet supplies.

Before I knew it I had went through the store’s dog grooming training program, and found myself grooming dogs in front of gawking customers.

It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t really know what I was doing, and that the purpose of my “training” was to make a me a “groomer” as fast as possible, so the store could book more grooms every day and stuff more dollars into its pockets every week.

It would be a couple of years before I received the proper training and truly became a real dog groomer.

In the end I had learned some very valuable lessons, but I had also wasted a lot of time. I want to make sure you avoid making the same mistakes I made.

There are a few simple, but VERY important pieces of information you need before you jump into the world of pet grooming.

That’s why I decided to share my experience with people just like you, people who are thinking about becoming a dog groomer.

Dog grooming can be a great career, as I discuss throughout this site.

If you become a good pet groomer, you will:

Always have a job

Be able to make good money

Never be stuck in one place

Notice I said good groomer. It’s important you realize that just because you become a dog groomer, it doesn’t mean you are a good dog groomer.

That’s one of the main reasons why there are so many misconceptions about how much money you can make in this career.

To put it simply, good groomers can and do make good money; bad groomers don’t.

It’s very important that you begin your career as a pet groomer the right way if you want to have a successful, financially rewarding career. So, what is the right way?

Many people ask me how to become a dog groomer every week, and the first thing I notice is most of them think that just because they have dogs, that means they would be a good dog groomer.

It’s one thing to have some dogs at home that you play with and take care of, but there’s much more to working as a professional dog groomer.

Working as a dog groomer isn’t the hardest job in the world, but it also isn’t the easiest. However, in my opinion it’s one of the best jobs. For me personally, there isn’t anything else I’d ever want to do.

I get to work when I want, make good money, and the best part: I help keep pets healthy and happy.

So, how can you become a good groomer and enjoy these awesome benefits that I (and many other groomers) enjoy every day?

There are four different ways you can train to become a groomer:

Independent Dog Grooming School

Independent grooming schools are training facilities that are not affiliated with any of the large pet stores.

These schools are usually owned and operated by one or two experienced grooming instructors, although some of the larger schools can have multiple instructors.

Many people seem to think that attending one of these schools is the only way to become a groomer, but this is not the case.

The cost of dog grooming schools usually range from around $5,000 to $10,000. It’s important to remember that some schools don’t provide equipment, so you might have to spend even more money to buy the equipment you will need.

Before you decide to attend a grooming school, you need to understand that the training offered by a dog grooming school is only there to introduce you to this career.

"I recently finished grooming school. I paid $8,000 for the school! I wish I’d have found your site before I went!"

- Lorie D.

No school is going to take an individual with zero grooming experience and turn him or her into an expert groomer in a few months; it simply doesn’t work that way. However, building a solid foundation is very important, and a good grooming school can do that.

In my opinion, attending a grooming school is NOT the first option you should consider.

There are good schools out there that offer great training, but you need to know how to separate the good schools from the bad.

You can’t just choose the first grooming school you come across. There are some very important aspects you have to consider before you give your money to one.

If you don’t know how to choose a grooming school, not only will you waste your money, but you will also waste your time.

Pet Store Grooming Academy

As I mentioned earlier, I was trained in a chain store academy and my training was no good. But even though I didn’t have a great experience as far as my training is concerned, I still think chain store salons and the training academies they offer can sometimes be a valuable asset to a would-be groomer.

These training academies are usually taught by one or two grooming instructors who either work for the corporation that owns the chain store, or who actually work in the chain store salon. Many times, the instructor will also be the manager of the salon where the training takes place.

Although I’m not a big fan of the chain store salons or their grooming academies, I still recommend that you use them to begin your training in some cases, but ONLY if you have to.

The main problem is that these pet salons are owned by giant corporations, and if there’s a type of business that truly only cares about money, it’s usually one of these giant companies. Often, the only thing that matters is the bottom line, so they rush the training and no one really cares whether the dogs are properly groomed, as long as the salon is making money.

The biggest advantage offered by these salons is that they allow you to work in the career before investing any time or money into becoming an actual groomer. Most people begin as a bather before training to become a groomer.

However, just like the independent grooming schools, you can’t just choose the first pet store academy you look into.

Although the training you will receive at many of these academies is “free,” it won’t matter if the training you receive is worthless.


There are many different dog grooming books and videos available, and the companies that sell them will tell you these books and videos can teach you how to become a pet groomer.

I’ve been asked many times by would-be groomers what I think about learning to groom pets using only books or videos, and my answer is the same every time:

I think it’s nearly impossible for anyone to use self-teaching methods to become a good pet groomer.

It’s one thing to watch a video or look at pictures and read grooming instructions in a book, it’s something else entirely to take a dog and actually perform the groom.

Although I’ve met a few professionals who began their careers as self-taught groomers, they needed more traditional training before they became successful.

I recommend that you stay away from the idea that you can teach yourself how to become a groomer if you plan to become a professional. There are too many details and techniques that require hands-on instruction.

Become an Apprentice

If you could pick any one of these ways to train to be a groomer, learning through an apprenticeship is the best choice. In fact, there was a time when this was the only way to learn.

Most groomers in the old days learned by apprenticing with experienced groomers. There were no books, videos, or corporate pet store academies. As with most skills, if you wanted to learn you had to find someone to teach you.

If you become an apprentice, you will probably work in the groomer’s salon for little or no pay while you are being trained. Some groomers will start you out doing easier tasks, like checking in customers and cleaning the salon, before making you a pet bather.

Other experienced groomers will allow you to pay for the training like an independent grooming school.

In this day and time, finding a highly trained groomer and becoming his or her apprentice is not always easy, but it’s still your best option. There are many really good groomers out there, but you can’t just choose the first independent groomer you find.

There are many important things you need to look for when you’re considering becoming an apprentice under an experienced groomer.

But what about online dog grooming courses?

Online training courses fall into the “Self-Teaching” category. Once again, to become a good pet groomer, you need hands-on training. There’s no way around it.

As with other self-teaching methods, online pet grooming courses cannot offer this crucial ingredient, and that’s why I would recommend you stay far away from them. In my opinion, most dog grooming classes are a waste of time and money.

I talk more about dog grooming courses in this post.

Many people have used The Pet Groomer to begin their careers!

"I want to send you this message and let you know how much your book has helped me! I have been at a salon in Atlanta for over 4 months and I’m having a blast! I get to work with some really cool people, plus the money is great!

To anyone thinking about getting into this and becoming a dog groomer, you HAVE to read The Pet Groomer. Don’t go to a grooming school, don’t look for any other books, just read it."

- Cynthia N.

Be sure to read my guide, The Top Five Careers in Pet Grooming, right now!

Top Five Careers in Pet Grooming

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