The grooming job is hard work. We can take steps to keep ourselves healthy and strong and to be able to continue grooming as long as we would like. I’ve accumulated the following 9 tips to help you improve the longevity of your grooming career.
1. Ear Protection
The noise from dryers, shop vacs, and barking can damage our hearing. Wearing ear protection can be a great way to protect yourself from hearing loss while still being able to hear some of the world around you.
As a house call groomer with only one dog to focus on, I choose to wear noise-cancelling headphones and listen to music or podcasts while I groom. I can still hear if someone talks to me and I can learn all day while I groom.
2. Lung Protection
Wear a mask. The hair and dander that we are exposed to can damage our lungs. Freshly trimmed hair that pokes into your skin isn't healthy for your nose or lungs either. There are some comfortable choices. It took some time for me to get used to wearing a mask, but my nose felt great after a day of grooming.
A mask may be scary for a dog the first time they see one. I introduce it by doing a bit of lighthearted “peek a boo”. Get their attention, place the mask in front of you face, move it away again, etc. I find that’s usually enough for the dog to be calm. Then put the mask on.
3. Table Height
Your workspace should be comfortable. In a salon or a mobile having a table that is adjustable is a great way to keep your back healthy. Adjust the table while you work. Lower the table to trim heads and faces on tall dogs, raise it to work on their feet, lower the table to a comfortable height when you need to pick up a dog.
4. Sitting while grooming
Being on your feet all day isn’t ideal. Sitting for part of the process can be a break for your feet, legs, and back. Sitting while drying is a good first step. Make sure that your workspace is at a comfortable height. You’ll want to be able to move the dog and turn the dog on your table so that you don’t have to reach too far.
I wish that I had learned to groom sitting down. At this stage of my career I'm trying to learn but I'm always finding myself standing when I’m doing the trim. I’ve had much better luck sitting during drying.
5. Lifting Safely
Getting dogs into and out of tubs, onto and off of tables, and into and out of crates can damage your back, shoulders, and arms. Hold the dog close to your body, wait for them to be still, then lift with your legs. Holding a dog close to you will help them feel safe as well as make it easier on your arms and shoulders while you lift.
6. Stress Free Dog Handling
We need dogs to be comfortable with grooming. This is a safety issue. Wrestling with dogs is when dogs get hurt, groomers get hurt, equipment gets damaged, customers get upset, and groomers get stressed. It’s important to teach dogs to be good and/or to send them to a vet or trainer to address their behavioral needs.
7. Time off
Everyone needs to have fun with family and friends. Don’t let grooming take over your entire life. Make time for vacations. Spend time with hobbies. Enjoy the rest of the great big world.
I play Flyball with my dogs. It’s a fun way to spend time with my own dogs as well as other dogs and their owners outside of grooming. I also love crafts of all kinds.
8. Continue to Learn
There is always something new to learn or try. Conferences, workshops, webinars, online groups, and other learning opportunities can keep your career interesting and help you be the best groomer that you can be.
I come back from conferences with a desire to try everything that I just learned. It recharges my batteries!
9. Networking with Other Groomers
Having other groomers to talk to can be so important. We can all learn so much from each other. Everything from how to talk to customers, ideas about running the business, the new products you’ve tried, and so much more.
I have a number of people that I can turn to when I have a question or need some help. I recently had a heart to heart with another groomer about how many of my sweet little old dogs passed away this year. Other groomers know how heartbreaking that is for us. We also discussed clippers, local sharpeners, and dematting sprays. Make some grooming friends.
Author - Chrissy Neumyer Smith
Chrissy Neumyer Smith CPG, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA has been working with dogs since 1986 when she got her first internship for her Animal Science major at Essex Agricultural and Technical Institute. She started Happy Critters Dog Training in 2000 providing house call grooming and private dog training in the Nashua NH area. As a groomer, behavior consultant, and trainer she understands the unique needs of the grooming setting.
She started the Creating Great Grooming Dogs Podcast in October of 2018 to help groomers, trainers, Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, owners, and all other dog pros to teach dogs be good for grooming, vet visits, and other types of husbandry. She lives with 2 border collies who are addicted to flyball.