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How to become a dog groomer: a step-by-step guide

5-minute read

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

12 January 2021

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Thinking of starting a dog grooming business and you want to understand the training you need to get into the pet industry? We’ll help you on your canine career path.

Read on to learn more about becoming a dog groomer, including qualifications, skills, and how to start your own business.

A guide to professional dog grooming

The role of a dog groomer, or dog beautician, is to keep dogs’ coats in good condition. Dog groomers keep pets brushed, bathed, dried, and clipped. They also give owners advice on grooming, diet, and coat care.

Do I need dog grooming qualifications?

Dog groomer qualifications aren’t essential, but completing a course related to animal care and maintenance can help you stand out to potential clients and employers.

These City & Guilds dog groomer training courses are offered at colleges and centres across the country:

  • Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants
  • Level 3 Certificate in Introductory Dog Grooming
  • Level 3 Certificate/Diploma for Dog Grooming Stylists

Skills needed to be a dog groomer

To be a professional dog groomer you need a range of skills. Firstly, you need a love of animals. It’s not a glamorous job so you really need to enjoy being around other people’s pets.

You’ll be dealing with clients all day so strong communication skills are a must – just imagine having to tell someone their chihuahua can’t have the luxury spa treatment because of its temperament.

Patience and the ability to calm nervous or aggressive animals will come in handy as pet behaviour can be unpredictable at times. The music you play in the salon or how you use rewards for behaviour can make a real difference.

Being a self-employed dog groomer, your creativity and aptitude for running a business will also be put to the test as you’ll need to sell your service and build your customer base. What is it that makes pet owners want to spend money on their pets? How do you tap into that emotional desire?

We all know people love pictures of animals, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your photography skills so you can capture moments in the salon for your social media marketing.

But it’s not all looking after fluffy animals when you run a dog grooming business. You’ll also need to be on top of admin such as:

Tips for setting up a dog grooming business

1. Get to know the industry

The best way to build your dog grooming CV is to volunteer at a kennel or become an apprentice at an established salon. Be prepared to be flexible as you get to know every aspect of running a salon, from understanding the behaviour of different breeds and their nutritional needs, to knowing which specific health problems to watch out for. With experience you can then consider going self-employed.

2. Weigh up the pros and cons

Make sure that you're fully committed to your business idea. You might love the idea of being around dogs all day, but are you prepared for the physical demands of the job? You'll be on your feet all day, often dealing with stressed out dogs and demanding owners. Speak to some experienced dog groomers to make sure you're fully aware of what the job entails.

3. Study a professionally-accredited course

Specialist dog grooming courses in the UK are accredited by the Pet Industry Federation (PIF). Choosing a professionally-accredited course means you can feel confident that you’re getting the training you need, which will put your future customers at ease too.

Dog groomers in the UK can also become a member of the British Dog Groomers’ Association (part of PIF) to access further training, education, and support.

3. Decide on your niche

You’ll need to identify what makes your business unique so you can stand out in a competitive market. Are you going to specialise in grooming small dogs or long haired dogs? Will you focus on running a sustainable business with eco-friendly products?

Do your research and start marketing to potential clients.

4. Create a business plan and budget

It’s important to write your dog grooming business plan so you know how your business will be structured and marketed – but also how you expect it to grow.

It’s also useful to conduct competitor analysis to better understand the landscape you’re working in and how you can offer something different, better, or new compared to similar businesses in your area. You could even try visiting a few of your competitors as a customer if you or a friend has a dog.

You’ll also need to consider costs – expect to spend £500 to £1,500 at least – and budget accordingly. The cost of setting up your business will vary depending on whether you're going to run a mobile salon, lease a commercial property or work from home. Make sure you factor in rent and vehicle costs (where relevant) as well as the cost of your equipment.

5. Consider business insurance

Running a dog grooming business involves caring for people’s pets, which means they expect you to operate in a professional and careful way.

Getting a tailored pet grooming insurance policy can protect you, your premises, and the dogs in your care, should something go wrong.

You don’t need a dog groomer license for your business in the UK. However, you should be aware of the following legislation:

  • Animal Welfare Act 2006 – you have a duty of care to people’s pets so you must follow good practice, which includes providing the right environment and nutrition, and protecting dogs from pain or injury
  • Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 – if you’re planning to play music in your salon, make sure you organise a licence from PPL PRS
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – when using potentially harmful chemicals, for example shampoos and cleaning products, make sure you know how to keep yourself and your employees safe by using the correct protective equipment

7. Buy professional dog grooming equipment

Generally speaking, dog groomers will use the equipment listed below.

Grooming essentials

  • grooming table
  • clippers
  • scissors
  • dematting comb
  • brushes
  • nail clippers (various sizes)

Bathing and pampering

  • bath
  • dryer
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • flea shampoo
  • towels

How much do dog groomers make in the UK?

As a starting salary, dog groomers typically earn £13,000, and with experience this can rise to £20,000 (National Careers Service).

The good thing is, once you’re a self-employed dog groomer you can set your own prices. In the UK, dog groomers typically charge £20-30 for each treatment. But prices can be up to £80.

The amount you charge will usually vary, depending on the size of the dog, condition of its coat, its temperament, and where your business is based.

Depending on your client's needs and how you’ve set up your business, you’ll probably be working about 38 to 40 hours a week – and be prepared to work on evenings and weekends too.

Setting yourself up as self-employed with HMRC

Everyone who's self-employed must be registered with HMRC so you can declare your earnings and pay the correct tax. Unsure how to register and why? Our guide on setting yourself up as self-employed will help get you up to speed on the admin side of running your own business.

Similar careers in the pet industry

There's a range of careers in the pet industry for those who want to work with different animals. You could also consider becoming a:

  • dog breeder
  • cattery owner
  • pet groomer
  • pet minder (anything from cats and dogs to birds and horses)

Read more ideas for side hustles and jobs working with animals.

Are you looking to start a dog grooming business? Let us know your progress in the comments below or tag us in your photos on social media.

Insure your dog grooming business

With Simply Business you can build a single self employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it's public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we'll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we're a good fit.

Start your quote
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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