What It Takes to Start a Dog Grooming Business

Love giving dogs their baths? A career as a dog groomer might be right up your alley. But do you really have what it takes?

By: libbydorazione
You’ll need to be prepared to handle all breeds and personalities. By: libbydorazione

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re a dog lover.

And as a dog lover, owning your own dog grooming business may sound like the perfect job for you. Washing and brushing amazing dogs all day? Sign me up!

However, it’s not all fun, games and dog hair. To be a dog groomer, you’ve got to make some big decisions — and we don’t just mean the size of the dogs. With the help of Kathy and Melissa Salzberg’s How to Start a Home Based Pet Grooming Business (affiliate link), let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do.

Be Realistic

It’s easy to get carried away when you have an idea you love. You might be envisioning yourself happily scrubbing down an amiable Golden Retriever while you hum a merry tune — and to be fair, that could happen.

Not often, though.

You’ll be dealing with a variety of dog breeds and individual dog personalities. Some dogs love bath time and will be that “dream dog.” Other dogs will fight you, bite you and struggle the entire time.

As a dog groomer, you have to be prepared to handle all breeds and all personalities. Meet with prospective “clients” before taking on a job if possible to gauge personality. Try to think ahead and foresee any issues that could come up. Remember, as the groomer you’re liable if something goes wrong.

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Finances

Even if you operate out of your home, you still have some major financial considerations. For example: Do you have a safe and secure place in your home to groom dogs, or will you need to add on a room?

Here are some other things to consider when making your budget:

  • Equipment: tubs, showers, brushing tools, combing tools, shampoos and conditioners, extra collars and leashes
  • Licensing: In order to run any business, you need to have a basic business license. You may also need to have other licensing in place to be a dog groomer. Check with your local town or municipality to find out exactly what you need ahead of time and how much it costs.
  • Utilities: You know you’re going to use a lot more water — and likely more electricity and/or gas as well. Be prepared for the hike in your bill.
  • Insurance: Always a must to protect yourself and your clients.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to it than just getting a couple of brushes.

Ready for your business to open. By: Tony Alter
Ready for your business to open. By: Tony Alter

Fitness

It may sound strange, but as a dog groomer you want to be physically fit. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet and carrying dogs. The fitter you are, the easier this will be.

The Salzbergs explain: “Groomers are prone to back problems from lifting heavy dogs and carpal tunnel syndrome from the repetitive motion of scissoring, brushing and hand stripping…. A groomer’s legs can suffer from standing all day over a long period of time. Circulation problems, varicose veins, overstressed tendons and ligaments — these are common ailments in this profession.”

Don’t be caught off guard by all those aches and pains. Plan ahead for them. Train yourself to groom when sitting on a stool, for example, to help with leg problems. Wear a brace on your wrist if you need to, and plan to get plenty of exercise.

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People Skills a Necessity

Yes, you’ll spend a lot of time with dogs. But each and every pet you groom will have a human — and some of those good folks are very particular about how their dog is groomed. According to the Salzbergs, you’ll need to be able to handle criticism with aplomb:

“You will need them to explain why these sometimes obsessive owners should trust you to groom little Fluffy. You will need them to educate your clients about caring for their pet’s coat between visits so that it doesn’t resemble a bramble bush each time it comes in. You will need to tactfully inform these folks that little Benji is sorely in need of an obedience trainer, or that he needs to be neutered, so that he will stop trying to leave his personal marker on every square inch of the world.”

All of these issues and more will crop up in the course of your time as a groomer, so it’s best to develop a thick skin and the people skills necessary to handle them.

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So, what do you really need to be a pet groomer? The Salzbergs say “love for animals, good business skills, sufficient capital to get started and stay in business, physical health, the drive to work hard, people skills, the desire and commitment to master the proper skills, the dedication to keep learning and improving, a thick skin, an open mind and of course — a sense of humor.”

So let us know — do you think you have what it takes to start a dog grooming business?

Additional Resources

Melissa Smith

View posts by Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith, discussions manager for Petful, has been researching and writing about pet behaviors for several years. A longtime pet lover, she lives in Massachusetts with her teenage son, their cat Harrison and the spirit of their German shepherd named Gypsy. Melissa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia design and hopes to adopt as many needy animals as she can.

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