QC Pet Studies graduate Casey Bechard works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada.

It’s not always easy grooming dogs in a salon. Grooming difficult dogs is always challenging, but even the cleaning protocols we follow can be tricky. Every grooming salon is different with their own unique challenges. But some difficulties are shared no matter what salon you work at. The reality is, I can’t pinpoint one aspect as the hardest part about working at a dog grooming salon. What’s hard for me may not be an issue for you. But these are a few of the hardest things I have had to face in our salon.

Preventing the Spread of Fleas and Ticks

At my salon, we have two sides to our business: the grooming side and the daycare side. You can imagine how serious we take disease and pest infections!

With any new dog that comes into our shop, we ask for updated vaccine records. Now, those records should almost always say that the dog has been treated for fleas and ticks. This is your first protocol when trying to prevent those nasty things.

finding fleas in dog fur

I have worked at my dog grooming salon for over two years now and have only run into a dog with fleas a couple of times. For the first one, I noticed dark spots on her when I was bathing her. I didn’t know if it was just her skin or if it was fleas. So my boss and I did some investigating and once we figured out it was fleas, we called the owner to retrieve the dog and take her home. We told her to get her dog treated, and that we could resume grooming after all the fleas are dead.

Once the dog left, I used bleach to disinfect every area the dog came into contact with— making sure to cover every inch! I let the bleach sit for at least 10 minutes before wiping everything down. Fleas cannot survive without a host. Even after cleaning, we avoid using the same affected areas until the next day, just to be safe.

In these situations, it’s okay to tell the client that you are unable to groom their pet. It’s your responsibility to protect your grooming shop and your other canine clients. Let them know that they are welcome to return after they have been treated.

Keeping Up with Cleaning Protocols

One of the hardest parts about working at a dog grooming salon is keeping up with the cleaning. We have a constant flow of dogs coming in and out of our facility. Some people think that professional dog groomers just playing with puppies all day, and they are wrong! The dog groomer job description is way more intensive than people think. We need to pick up after them, disinfect used dog grooming kits (and areas), and deal with scared dogs. It’s not all happy puppies and good times!

At our shop, each groomer has specific duties. That way, we know what is getting done and by who. We use pet-friendly cleaners besides the instances where we have to use bleach. We usually use bleach at the end of the day on our tables and floors and when we have pests.

dog grooming table

On days when we have a full day of grooming and dogs to watch over at our daycare, you best believe it is hard to make sure everything is spotless at the end of the day! Especially since we reuse many of the same tools throughout the day. Even if you take 20 mins out of your day to make sure things are clean and tidy, that could go a long way.

You should clean your dog grooming equipment after every dog you groom. It’s not always possible to give everything a deep clean. Usually, we wipe down and move onto the next appointment—but at least it is somewhat cleaned. You should never go for days on end without cleaning a single tool. That is not sanitary!

We use Barbicide to clean and disinfect all our tools. It’s the best option to clean your grooming tools without rusting and destroying them. It’s also safe to use after each dog. Just make sure the tools are completely dry before use.

Dealing with Shy/Hostile Dogs

Another hard part about a career in dog groomer is working with dogs that don’t like leaving their homes and entering new environments. Believe it or not, we get a lot of those. There’s nothing wrong with anxious or shy dogs, it is just makes it more challenging to do our jobs.

When these dogs first come in, they will likely be glued to their owner’s hips. It won’t be that easy to make them want to stay, and it will be just as hard reassuring the owner that their pup is in good hands. If the owner is nervous for their first time leaving their dogs at a salon, the dog can pick up on their nervousness. Making everyone comfortable in the situation is key.

dog groomer scissor hair

Once you have the dog alone and are about to start the grooming process, you need to take things slow. Reassure the pup, and take breaks even if need be. I have had some situations where the dog just would not calm down. He was getting too worked up so I simply put him in a kennel for a few minutes. Once he settled in the kennel, I took him out to resume the groom and he seemed like a different dog.

Dog groomers are often on a strict timeline. But if the dogs you work on need a minute, give it to them. It’ll make getting your work done properly and efficiently much easier. It’s all about sensing what your clients (the dogs) need from you to have a good experience.

These are just a few challenges that I face while working at a dog grooming salon. With a little work and thought I hope you consider these points to help your salon run smoothly. Just keep your head in the game and keep things clean and tidy. Things will run smoothly after that.

In your opinion, what’s the hardest part about working at a salon? Let us know!

Puppies coming in for the first time could be one of your most difficult clients. Find out how to care for a puppy doing its first groom!
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