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How to Start a Dog Grooming Business. A Guide To Get You Going

Starting a Dog Grooming Business Guide - hero image

Do You Adore Dogs and Dream of Starting Up A Dog Grooming Business?

Following your dreams can be hugely rewarding, but it can also become a nightmare if you don’t prepare properly. Indeed, it takes a special combination of talent, empathy, and determination to succeed in this pup-ular vocation. The groomers that survive in a tough market  as those that enter into business well-informed about what to expect.

It’s therefore with big butt wiggles and wags that Doggy Dream Team are delighted to have industry expert, Natasha Barnes-Hutchison, chat to us about what to expect when starting up a dog grooming business. Natasha gives us an invaluable insight into what to expect, from someone who has “Been there, done that” and is thriving.

Natasha’s Story: Receptionist to Dog Grooming Salon Owner

Natasha started her working life as a vets’ receptionist and with a talent for organization soon became practice manager to the five branch group. Her interest in dog grooming arose from being a self-confessed “demanding client” at the groomers, wanting only the best for her own fur-family.

She learnt to clip her own cocker spaniels, and then friends started asking her to groom their pets. Word spread of Natasha’s uncanny ability to calm anxious dogs, and soon she had more grooming requests than she could cope with. The seed of an idea was sown: Why not starting my own dog grooming business, working to exceptional standards of customer care?

Natasha left veterinary practice, to go it alone. Business is booming. Spoilt Rotten started in a purpose built cabin in a back garden, and now Natasha has two successful High Street grooming parlours with plans for more. The parlours work to the simple principles of excellence in grooming skills, and above all, treating the dogs with the love and respect you show your own pets.

dog groomer qualifications

Have you Got What it Takes To become a Dog Groomer?

Woofs to Natasha for sharing these insights into what it takes.

1.     Physical Stamina: From back ache (lifting large dogs), wrist ache (from clippers), and sore legs (standing all day), dog grooming requires physical fitness

2.     Emotional Strength: Working solo is a lonely business. Yes, you have the dogs for company, but there’s no substitute for a quick vent to a colleague or high-fiving a success.

3.     Animal Empathy:  When an anxious dog tries to bite, what is your reaction? If a small part of you feels frustrated with the dog, then put down the scissors and walk away now…this isn’t the job for you.

What Dog Grooming Qualifications do you Need?

Natasha made us sit with surprise when she said there’s no legal requirement to have qualifications when starting up as a dog groomer.  Now this may give a boost to your plans, but it’s also food for thought.

Why do you want to groom dogs?

Again, if the answer is to make a quick buck, then unplug the clippers and walk away now.

If the answer is to do a satisfying job and benefit the dogs in your care, then you’ll want to get expert training.

Natasha enrolled with prestigious City & Guilds, and is Level 3 Certificate qualified, and one exam away from a Level 3 Diploma. But she’s also a Certified Salon Professional, a trained dog first aider, and has Level 3 management qualifications.

See where we’re heading with this? You get out what you put in. If you’re serious about dog grooming, then take it seriously and commit. Avoid the train ‘em quick online courses and register with a reputable organization, such as City & Guilds.

Suggested Learning Resources

The more you understand about dogs; including anatomy, behaviour and psychology, first aid, and grooming styles,  the better this enables you to do a professionally satisfying job for your doggie clients. It also provide a unique selling point (USP) when you identify an area of business overlooked by your competitors.

But best of all, reading up topics, as recommended by City & Guilds, gets you a step ahead when you enrol on a demanding course and satisfies your thirst for knowledge. For your benefit we have collected these recommended reading guides below. Start reading now and get a step ahead.

The Tools of the Trade

You’re straining at the lead to get starting a dog grooming business. You’re going to need some basic equipment, such as:

  • A dog grooming table
  • Clippers
  • Bathing sink
  • Dryer / blast dryer
  • Brushes
  • Combs
  • Nail clippers
  • Consumables such as shampoo, conditioners, and detangling sprays

Natasha still has her very first pair of clippers, Oster brand. They were an expensive investment at the time ten years ago, but still going strong now and have more than earnt their keep. She looks on £200 for a pair of top notch clippers as money well spent. [See Best Dog Clippers UK for a range of price point options.]

Another essential to save that aching back, is a grooming table. Prices for a basic table start around £50, which is OK to get you started. But when the serious trade comes in, you’ll want to upgrade to a hydraulic table for big dogs, which can cost around £500. [See Dog Grooming Tables Comparison for more information.]

You’ll also need a range of nail clippers, plus scissors. Again, purchasing the best you can afford is wise, as quality products hold a sharp blade for longer.

Mobile Dog Groomer or Salon Premises?

Whether you’re thinking of starting a mobile dog grooming business, working from home, or setting up in the High Street, there are pros and cons.

Mobile Dog Grooming Unit

This can offer a valuable starter opportunity, but isn’t without financial investment in a specially equipped van. Another factor to consider is whether, as a dog, you’d enjoy being bathed, clipped, and dried inside an echoey tin box…Food for thought.

Salon Premises

You’d get walk-by business and be able to establish a distinct brand. The downside comes in the form of rent, rates, electricity, business tax…it’s enough to make you pull your hair out.

Top Tips for Success

It’s nearly time for Natasha to walk her five dogs, but before she goes, here are her top tips for dog-grooming business success:

1.     Work in a Salon before Setting Up: Ideally, spend at least 30 days grooming dogs before you decide it’s the career for you. Nothing beats pawsonal experience for making things clear.

2.     Identify your Strengths and Use Them: Natasha is an actual dog whisperer, with the supernatural ability to get aggressive dogs to give their paw for a pedicure. She utilizes this to work with dogs banned by other groomers. What is your unique USP?

3.     Be Prepared to Graft: Dog grooming is hard work. Period.

Starting Up a Dog Grooming Business

Empathy with dogs. Excellent grooming skills. Physical stamina and mental endurance.

Do you have what it take to become a successful dog groomer?

Let us know your thoughts and experiences, in the comments below.

Woofs and wags,

The Doggy Dream Team

dog groomer setup

Natasha’s Bio

Natasha holds a City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in dog grooming, and is currently working for her Diploma. She is also a Certified Salon Professional (CSP) under the IPG (International Professional Groomers Inc) and working towards her ICMG (International Certified Master Groomer) of which there are currently only 40 UK holders.

Against stiff competition from global companies, Spoilt Rotten was in the top three finalists of 2017 Local Business Awards, and the future looks bright both for Natasha and the dogs in her care.

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