The Kennels

Tails of the Unexpected Dog Groomer – Episode Two

Starring South Coast Grooming Academy

In the last few weeks, I have spent many a hour looking at all the kit you need for this dog grooming game. And believe me, it’s a booming market.

My first purchase which led to actually three sales and two returns was buying myself a lovely polyester tunic. Having washed a polo shirt three times with half a Cockapoo attached to it, I knew it was time to buy some polyester. Now discussing my size is not something I relish to write about so openly but according to statistics, I am the “average” UK female size. So when my size sixteen tunic arrived, I knew immediately as I opened the bag that it was more suited to fit Kate Moss… I couldn’t even bring myself to try it on with the hope that it would fit and it went straight back to the Post Office. Two purchases later and a size I cannot even bring myself to type, I am finally modelling a comfortable tunic to work in. Thankfully I have plenty of pairs of scissors now to cut the size label out!

Training at South Coast Grooming Academy has been varied over the last few weeks and I am definitely adapting to the physical aspects of the job. Harley came with me on week five and he was so excited to spend the day with me. Little did he know he was going to have his teeth cleaned, a shampoo and dry and then a small trim up. Harley is a dog that shows his emotions clearly and as you can tell, his face said it all.

Teeth cleaning is a growing service within the dog grooming industry. We were trained with the Emmi-Pet system which was very easy to use. Forget the see-sawing action of teeth being brushed, this system is ultrasound. There is no obvious vibration or noise, so it is not at all scary for dogs. With toothpaste designed especially to clean and kill bacteria, you just hold the toothbrush to the dog’s teeth and the ultrasound system does it work. Harley probably behaved like all dogs who were not used to having their pearly whites (well more yellowy-brown teeth) being cleaned and showed his distaste for it. With lots of assurance and gentle persuasion, he settled into the teeth cleaning and we were all pleased with the results. It is something that I am going to consider for the future, as I feel it will need some thought in how to introduce it to customers and them committing to the canine teeth cleaning service.

We had an afternoon of marketing with Tim from Abstract Creative. This topic (showing no bias whatsoever) is paramount in learning how to get your name, face and brand out there.

It was good to discuss with Tim and within the group what the advantages and pitfalls are when doing the hard job in promoting yourself! This part I am sure will be a busman’s holiday for me but I do worry that my grooming skills won’t match up to the marketing pitch of my “brand”!

Over the next few weeks, I was able to bring in my own models to work on. I had the lovely Tilly who is a Miniature Schnauzer x Jack Russell who was so easy to work with. I was mindful in keeping her character and that is something I am really working on at the moment. Every dog has its own characteristics and to take that way with some heavy-handed clipping (when matting is not present) is not going to endear you to the owner!

I had my toughest challenge grooming the gorgeous Luna, a Wheaten Terrier. She was incredibly patient but not a lover of the driers which I am actually finding not many dogs enjoy a “blow dry”. Characteristic of the Wheaten coat, there were some mats and tangles to deal with. Thankfully I had help with fellow trainee Shaz, where we both teased and cut out the offending twisted hair. Clipping was problematic as it felt like you were clipping carpet! But this was partly my fault. You think a coat is dry but actually sinking your fingers through the coat you can then feel dampness underneath. Luna has a very different coat with almost a second layer but Wheatens are not double coated dogs? And I am quickly learning that the clippers will not accept any short cuts other than a fully tangle-free and a bone dry coat. We were all pleased with Luna’s end result and so was she. She even shook my hand in relief at the end…

Luna showing her appreciation! 

Another week and another breed to groom. Sid the Sprocker is a dog that makes my heart sing! I absolutely love working dogs. It was a real treat to learn to groom a silky coat and partnered again with the fab Hannah, I think we both did a great job! (does that sound like Donald Trump…?)

A really interesting part of the course was to learn all about how to ensure your equipment is looked after. Having clipped my horse over the years, the only thing I did in a way of looking after them was a quick brush off and a squirt of oil and threw them back in the tack room until next year. I would get the blades sharpened but I have to slovenly admit this was only every few years…

We had clipper and scissor expert Andy from Ultimate Edge Salon Services (who travels many a county ensuring that hairdressers and dog groomers equipment are in tip top condition), give us an afternoon tutorial. The first shocker for me and I have to admit is that I have been doing the cardinal sin and putting on the blade on my clippers… with them turned off!! I know! They need to be ON and then push the blade in position. We learnt in detail in what to look out for when they need servicing and this led on to the care of our scissors. So the key advice was to keep them oiled, clean, check the tension and don’t lob them on the floor!

The next shocker was how clogged up the blaster dryers get. Andy opened one up to show how the filters look after a few uses in a salon and it looked like crows nest inside it! Joking aside, if the filters are not regularly cleared you’ve potentially got a fire hazard on your hands… and I don’t fancy explaining to Mr H the grooming room has gone up in flames because I couldn’t be bothered to de-fluff the dryers. So all very valuable advice.

The weeks are quickly going by and we are nearly halfway through our training. So far there have been many triumphs and challenges learning this trade. Wouldn’t it be boring though if you didn’t have a challenge or two in your life? I just hope Covid stays away, as I would be gutted to stop training… So fingers crossed that I can write episode three very soon!

by Samantha Hobden

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Please visit for training information: South Coast Dog Grooming Academy