Tips and tricks of everyday dog grooming

Alison Rogers with Pete the Poodle

With 20 years of industry experience, groomer and trainer Alison Rogers of Pretty Paws near Huddersfield, knows what she’s talking about when it comes to grooming. Here she shares some of her techniques for bathing and drying…

I am often asked how I achieve a lovely scissor finish and sometimes people are surprised to find out that I put it down to the preparing of the coat. In my opinion, bathing and drying are the most important parts of grooming. If the dog’s coat isn’t clean enough, you can’t blow dry it to remove dead hair and matted areas effectively. There are no hard and fast rules to grooming as every dog is different but I try to stick to a fairly set routine when it comes to bathing and grooming.

Setting expectations:

When an owner arrives with a dog for grooming, you need to give the dog a health check so you have a clear idea of what treatment is needed and what finish is possible. You’ll need to look at the condition of the coat and also examine the skin underneath for sore patches and signs of irritation that are already there. You’ll need to communicate this to the owner up front. This initial assessment will also help you assess which products and tools will be necessary for your groom.

Before bathing:

If the dog has very matted hair you will need to make some decisions about whether the finish that has been requested is possible, appropriate and necessary. Grooming out before bathing will help remove the bulk of the matted coat. You can, at this stage, spray with de-matting spray. Leave the spray in the coat for a few minutes and then use a dryer set to cool to blow the coat so it opens the hair up. This will make it easier to brush from the roots outwards with a slicker brush. For bigger areas of matting, you will need to use a matt zapper to groom this out so as not to cause the dog any pain.

Get the best out of your shampoo:

I believe that using the same shampoo on a dog all the time is not always effective. Changing the shampoo you use can help to keep the coat in better condition. It’s important to consider not only the dog, and coat condition when selecting a shampoo but also the type of water in your area (whether it is hard or soft).

Shampoo on a dry coat:

I always apply the shampoo on to a dry coat. If you wet the dog first, it can be quite hard to get the shampoo right down in to the coat and the water will close the hair follicles. If you apply the shampoo on a dry coat, any muck and dirt slides out of the coat more easily.

Use a drying routine:

Make sure you blast your dogs in a routine fashion so you are not just  transferring the water from one area to another. I would suggest starting with the belly and mid area, from under the top of the dog’s back, then tackling the back legs from toes to tail, then the front legs and chest followed by the back of neck. Finally, if the dog will let you, gently blast from the back of head holding the ears. If you are drying a dog with a wool coat, such as a poodle, you should dry from the head first – this will help the coat to dry quicker.

Blow drying:

If using a cabinet dryer, remember the dogs should only be in for 5 to 10 minutes at any one time. You can take them out and blast them and then return them for longer – but never leave dogs unsupervised in a cabinet dryer – likewise never leave them unsupervised in a bath or on the grooming table. You should use a stand-dryer (superjet) to blow dry or fluff dry. You’ll need to brush from the root of the hair and work on small areas at a time in order not to miss any parts of the dog.

Insuring for successful grooming

Anja Cantillion of Pet Business Insurance

Being trusted to work with people’s pets is a big responsibility and while groomers can take steps to safeguard the animals in their care, there are some things you just

can’t prepare for. Having the right type of insurance can help protect your business when accidents happen, as Anja Cantillion of Pet Business Insurance explains…

Having specialised in providing insurance for pet-business owners over a number of years I have seen various claims and calamities that groomers and other animal-business owners face on an almost daily basis. One that comes to mind is a professional groomer with years of experience. Everything was going well until the dog she was grooming twitched, in the way they sometimes do, and she inadvertently nicked the animal’s skin. Nothing she could have done differently would have changed the outcome, but having the correct insurance meant that she was covered when the distraught dog owner started demanding compensation for the injury.


The right cover:

Through some standard nonnegligent cover the business owner was able to claim her insurance payment within a few weeks. Unfortunately not all the stories we hear have such satisfactory outcomes, but many business disasters could be diverted just by having a policy with non-negligent cover. Another example of where having the right type of insurance has paid off comes from a pet boarder. The business owner found that a large dog in their care had, without warning, eaten a substantial amount of carpet and had become severely ill as a result. Through non-negligent insurance the business owner was covered against the compensation claim that the dog’s owner subsequently tried to claim.

Business sense:

Whether you are starting up in the pet-care industry or simply reviewing your finances, the type of insurance you choose is something you should consider very carefully. Non-negligent insurance covers business owners against compensation claims when, through no fault of their own, an animal they are responsible for becomes ill or is injured.


For more information about non-negligent cover and clear descriptions of all other insurances see the Pet Business Insurance information pages at:

Pet Care Trust

The Pet Care Trade Association is the only membership body dedicated to the entire pet specialist sector in the UK, supporting its members with a range of benefits and services. In our first issue we've asked them to tell us the latest on one of their cornerstone events – the  British Dog Grooming Championship...

The voice of the pet specialist sector for the past 50 years, the PCTA and its predecessor bodies have been a leading force in the pet industry. Businesses displaying our logo offer the pet-owning public a hallmark of quality: our members agree to abide by a sector-specific charter to demonstrate good practice, high standards of professionalism, customer service and animal welfare.

There are around 1,500 PCTA members from small, sole trader enterprises right up to many of the largest players in the industry. Our members include pet shops, groomers, kennels, catteries, manufacturers, and wholesalers and our professional services category – colleges, publishers, dog walkers and pet sitters – is ever expanding, reflecting the increasing diversity of the sector.

The British Dog Groomers’ Association (BDGA) and British Kennel & Cattery Association are both parts of the PCTA, representing and supporting members specific to those sectors.

2012 British Dog Grooming Championship

The centrepiece of the BDGA calendar is the British Dog Grooming Championship, at which groomers compete for the prestigious title of ‘Groomer of the Year’. It's a great event for industry professionals with seminars, masterclasses and demonstrations taking place as well as the competition itself.

This year’s event is the 32nd annual championship and will take place on Sunday October 28 at the Kennel Club Building, Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. The championship is open to groomers, whatever their level, from juniors and students right up to advanced. Competitors have the chance to show off their skills to our array of prestigious judges, and to pit themselves against their peers.

New for 2012

For the first time in the history of the competition, a suite of winner’s logos will be granted to those reaching the top in the competition using a ‘Proud to British’ theme in the light of the Olympics and the Royal Diamond Jubilee. Class winners, group winners, the Groomer of the Year and the runner up will be able to use these on marketing materials, websites and adverts.

Also new for 2012 is a ‘Team Student’ event – open to students from colleges and satellite centres who have studied in the last 12 months and have entered the Student and Newcomer category. The winning team will win the BDGA Memorial Award for a year, as well as a trophy for the training centre and certificates for all members of the team who are placed first, second or third.

Janet Nunn, Chief Executive of the BDGA and PCTA said: “We’re delighted to provide the opportunity for colleges and satellites to demonstrate the efforts of their students and to celebrate the next generation of groomers, at what will be another fantastic event. The British Dog Grooming Championship showcases the best of British grooming.”

Seminars and Trade Show

Visitors and competitors will have the opportunity to further their own professional development through a range of seminars and workshops that will be hosted in the Kennel Club Building’s bespoke seminar room. Those with level 3 qualifications will be able to gain Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, and anyone who attends will receive a certificate proving to customers their commitment to advancing their knowledge and skills.

A trade show will take place alongside the excitement of the competition. It offers visitors and competitors the chance to browse a range of products and services specifically catering to the grooming market.

Businesses who are interested in promoting their products and services to a captive audience of top groomers should contact the PCTA on 01234 273933.

Find out more by visiting

Making a start in grooming

The basic prerequisites for a career in grooming are a genuine interest in dogs and a bit of flair for style. But, as with any business, there are many more things that you'll need to consider.  Joanne Angus, a director of Look North Grooming and Training Centre and a founder member of Groom Team England, explains...

Grooming has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last 20 years with the onset of recognised training schools, qualifications and new, more advanced time saving equipment. Training is a necessity if you are to achieve the correct styling outcome. Your choice of training school should be thought about and researched carefully to be sure that you choose the one that suits you and your requirements the best. Look at the tutors grooming experience and make sure that they have the appropriate teaching qualifications. A good groomer is not necessarily a good teacher and a good teacher is not necessarily a good groomer! Turn to page 16 for more on training. It takes years to master a practical skill so it is important to continue with your grooming as soon as the training has finished. A lot of your grooming skills will only come with time and experience such as knowing exactly how much hair to trim off, confident handling of the dogs and interpreting the owners instructions.

The right equipment for the job

Having the correct tools to suit both you and the job is also vital. Tables, driers and dematting tools are invaluable to make the work easier and more time effective. Redcape suppliers have a huge range of tools and equipment from baths and shampoos to brushes, combs, scissors and clippers. Spend your money wisely; buying quality equipment and having it serviced regularly is the best way to ensure that it will last for years.

Once you have the basic training you can continue to build your knowledge by attending seminars and demonstrations and getting a good insight into breeds by visiting championship shows. You will never stop learning throughout your career as a groomer due to continuously changing styles and techniques. Groom Team England organise at least two seminars per year where the audience can participate and pick the brains of the highest calibre of groomers. These events are publicised in the dog press and on their web site.



LCGI Awards

 Once you feel confident you can begin on your qualification route. City & Guilds have three grooming qualifications – Level 2 Certificate for dog groomers assistants, Level 3 Certificate in Introductory dog grooming and Level 3 Diploma for dog grooming professionals. There is also a higher qualification available through the Pet Care Trust which is the Higher Diplomas. On completion of this you may become a member of the Guild of Master Groomers. Details of all the qualifications can be found on the Pet Care Trust website.  After many years experience and attaining your qualifications you can apply for the Licentiateship of the City & Guilds of London Institute directly through City & Guilds and this allows you to use the letters LCGI after your name.


Showcasing talent

Competition work is the ultimate goal as achieving placings and awards are a real pat on the back for you, and your clients will love them too. Competing regularly in this country can now lead to a place on Groom Team England as the team members are selected from the most consistent winners over a two year period to compete and represent their country in the World Team Championships. The next event will take place in Barcelona in September 2013.

Premier Groom on August 12, 2012 at The Kennel Club Buildings, Stoneleigh Park is now well established on the grooming calendar and is co-organised by Groom Team England and Redcape. It's a great opportunity to see the seminars and demonstrations of the highest level of grooming in the country.