If you really enjoy working with dogs of all types, breeds and kinds you may serious want to consider working as a professional groomer or as a doggy spa owner. More and more busy professionals and those Moms and Dads with active families simply don't have time to groom, bath and pamper their pets, so they turn to professionals to safely and carefully take care of their beloved dogs.
Becoming a professional groomer is usually the first step for both options, which does take a lot of work and some time in training. It is important that professional groomers do more than just wash, brush and clip dogs, they also have to know general eye and dental care, how to care for minor skin conditions and even how to deal with issues such as anal gland impactions, skin and ear infections and allergies in dogs. Of course the groomer or spa staff won't be prescribing medications or treatments but they can help owners in management and indicate the need for the dog to be taken to a vet.
If you want to become a professional dog groomer or spa owner with a good, solid list of clients then you have to do more than just the basic training to prepare for your career. For basic dog grooming programs there are a wide option from home study courses to dog grooming certificates you can earn online. All of these programs are not created equally however and it is important to check the credentials of the individual or the agency providing the training.
While online and home study programs, typically with video or DVD demonstration components will provide the knowledge, you will still need to get some practice on the real thing! Working at an existing pet grooming salon or a dog spa can be a perfect and practical way to learn the business on top of the theory that you learn from the classes. Working your way up through the different jobs within a grooming salon gives you a solid background and will only help you in deciding how you want to run your own business and what the skills are that are associated with each particular part of the salon.
Another training option is to attend a dog grooming school or academy. Most of these schools are located in major metropolitan areas and offer either weekend or even classes along with regular day classes, special workshops or even specific breed grooming certificates. These breed grooming certificates are essential if you want to get to be one of the groomers that are used for preparing dogs for the show ring. If you aren't familiar with the judging standards for the breed with regards to coat clipping, stripping or trimming you will need to also get this information before you try to groom a dog for show. The last thing that you would want to do is to give an incorrect cut that disqualifies a dog or causes them to lose points in the ring.
If you are specifically interested in working with one or two different breeds, perhaps because you know a kennel owner or breeder, working with a professional groomer that has already obtained a reputation within the breed group is a great way to jump start your career. Joining an organization such as the National Dog Groomers Association of America can provide listings of breed specific classes or dog grooming trainings both nationally and internationally.
Pet spas are often associated with professional grooming salons or they can include grooming facilities and specialists. Dog or pet spas tend to go beyond just the average professional groomer to really pamper a dog or to help with non-medical or therapy type treatments for dogs. Many dog spas offer features such as dog massage, aromatherapy for pets, relaxation and exercise programs for dogs, hydrotherapy programs or just good old fashion pampering.
Many dog spas use only organic or completely natural products in their bathing, grooming and coat and skin care products. This can include herbal shampoos and natural products as well as skin care treatment and even herbal remedies and supplements. Some dog spas offer their own lines of organic dog treats and food, which may be very appealing to some clientele. Dog spas may also offer day boarding or even kenneling for owners that really want to provide a very special treat for their pet. Some dog spas even offer both human and pet spa facilities for those owners that just want to get away and enjoy being treated like a star, but also want their pet along too.
People that take their pets to dog spas expect the very top in professional treatment for their dog. Groomers or pet care professionals at these spas tend to be more highly trained as well as more knowledgeable in general about behavioral issues and basic dog wellness issues. Often dog behavioralists and trainers may be provided as an additional service to patrons of the dog spa. Hydrotherapy treatments, hot tubs and even massage for dogs is a great service to offer for dogs recovering from illness or surgery or dogs that are having complications with arthritis or other joint related conditions. A holistic vet or a traditional vet may be willing to work with your day spa program or may even make referrals to use these features of the spa for dogs you may not have even thought of in your marketing program.
Whether you are interested in opening your own dog grooming salon or a dog spa, you should consider taking both dog specific courses as well as some business management courses. It will be important to be able to talk knowledgeably to your clients about their pets, but it will be equally as important to be able to manage the business side of the endeavor. Advertising and marketing classes as well as learning about business financial management can be the difference between a successful grooming salon or dog spa and one that just breaks even.