6 min read

A Day in the Life of a Dog Groomer


Written by Leslie Ingraham

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 07/20/2022, edited: 07/20/2022


Over 63% of U.S. households include dogs. As their roles as cuddly family members have become the norm, it’s more important than ever that they’re clean and well-groomed. Many people feel they don’t have the time or expertise to groom their pups themselves. That’s where the demand for professional groomers come in. 

The dog grooming industry is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S. Dog groomers practice their skills in a variety of settings, from their own homes to swanky salons that offer everything from simple baths to facials and massages! In between are mobile salons that come to your home, big box pet stores, veterinary clinics, and dog shows. Some groomers even offer coat sculpting and dog-safe dying to create fanciful canine art that captures a lot of attention on the street or at the dog park! 

Let’s take a look at dog grooming as a career, including what an average workday might look like!

How do dog groomers get their start?

Unlike other canine professionals such as vets and vet techs, groomers aren't required to have specific professional education, certifications, or licenses to practice, although there is legislation pending on licensing in some states. So can just about anyone who loves dogs throw their hat in the ring and become a groomer? 

There are several ways to learn grooming skills, get experience, and get hired as a groomer, such as:

  • Volunteer at a vet clinic, doggy daycare, pet store, or shelter to gain experience handling dogs 
  • Land an apprenticeship at a local groomer, perhaps as a bathing assistant or receptionist
  • Look for opportunities on job boards like Indeed or iHire Veterinary
  • Start out as a freelance in-home groomer
  • Enroll in on-site grooming training programs that can take five or six months and may cost up to thousands of dollars.
  • Taker shorter, less expensive virtual courses online 

Formal education, whether on-site or virtual, can help land that first job. Certification can also be a salary booster, especially if it's in special kinds of grooming, salon management, or specific canine medical or behavioral skills. 

There are also dog training certifications and first aid courses for pet caregivers that will enhance a groomer's value to a salon owner, vet or clients. These certifications indicate you're able to respond to canine medical problems or emergencies and know how to handle shy or difficult pooches. With virtual courses in Pet Groomer Business Management, you can make yourself a more valuable employee or land your first job in a salon. 

Small brown dog getting a bath at the groomers - A Day in the Life of a Dog Groomer

What do dog groomers do in a typical day?

What do dog groomers do? Many people think only of baths, brushing, and nail clipping when they consider what a groomer can do. But dog groomer requirements can range widely depending on where the groomer works. The most efficient dog groomers can see six to eight doggos in a day, depending on the services required and sessions can take one to three hours, or even longer. Let's look at some of the tasks groomers might be expected to do on a given day:

  • Bathing and drying
  • Nail clipping
  • Ear cleaning
  • Checking for parasites in ears, on the skin, or near anal areas
  • Removing and detangling matted hair
  • Looking for and reporting any infectious or allergic skin conditions
  • Being aware of lumps under the skin that may signal tumors, cysts, or abscesses
  • Expressing anal glands
  • Brushing and examining teeth and mouth
  • Examining the footpads for cuts, infection, or bruising 
  • Meeting special requests like creative grooming with coat sculpting and dyes
  • Providing doggy massage
  • In some cases, applying bandannas, bows, barrettes, or other accessories

If a groomer is also the owner of a salon or spa, there are additional daily activities, such as balancing accounts, re-stocking grooming stations, washing towels, and more. And don't furget marketing, taxes, insurance and payroll!

Where the groomer works will shape some of their daily activities as well. For example, a mobile dog groomer will do their own scheduling, may participate in adoption fairs, work outside clients' homes, or set up in a parking lot to accept walk-ins. Dog groomers who work in big-box pet stores provide basic services in a relatively fast-paced environment that is often less luxurious than in salons and spas, but needed equipment and products are generally provided. 

In-home grooming requires the groomer to carry all of the supplies and equipment with them and to find the best spot to do the job in the home. It may be helpful to bring a fold-up grooming table and various types of restraints. Veterinarian offices sometimes offer grooming services in addition to medical care, and groomers here might be expected to help out with other tasks when they're not busy. 

There's no question that skilled dog groomers can choose from a variety of settings and in some cases function in dual or even triple roles. There's never a dull moment!

Yorkshire Terrier getting a haircut at the dog groomer

What's the average salary for dog groomers?

When starting out, groomers won't earn a lot of money, especially if they’re working on a tiny salary plus commission, which typically is 50% of the grooming charges. They may receive compensation for selling certain products or servicing repeat customers, as well as tips. But these first jobs often grow into more lucrative opportunities, such as landing a position at an upscale spa in a relatively wealthy part of town or opening their own salon, mobile, or home business. 

New salon owners will recover a part of their initial investment in the first year, and there's potential for them to eventually earn six figures as their customer base grows and they learn how to streamline their costs. Profits will be offset by overhead costs such as heat, cooling, replacing equipment, and daily operating expenses. If there are groomers, receptionists, or managers to pay, their salaries and commissions will cut into profits as well.

The income range for a dog groomer depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Location
  • Education
  • Years of experience
  • Certifications
  • Special or unique skills, such as grooming for a specific breed or breeds
  • Whether they’re an employee, manager, or spa owner
  • If they add diverse dog services like walking, boarding, or in-home visits in addition to shop or mobile grooming

The average yearly income for groomers in June 2022 was between $29,401 and $44,901, with a median of $36,000. For groomer employees, income can be supplemented by tips, bonuses, commissions, an increased volume of services, and working more hours.

For salon or spa owners, factors might include:

  • Keeping overhead costs low by economical space leasing and supply purchasing, or working out of their home or a van
  • Hiring productive, highly skilled employees in response to a growing clientele base
  • Attracting a large number of return clients
  • Having a location with lots of dogs, such as near veterinary offices, pet stores, dog parks, or obedience schools
  • Employing effective marketing methods like business cards, flyers, and a strong internet presence 
  • Attending dog shows or other canine events
  • Providing mobile or in-home grooming services to replace or supplement salon income 

How do groomers keep dogs still?

Some dogs can be difficult to groom because of an aggressive personality, anxiety, or downright fear. Unfortunately, these puppers can hurt themselves or their groomer by thrashing, pulling their paws away, or suddenly jerking. They shiver or shake, making trimming hair or nail clipping difficult. They may refuse to stay within reach, or may even try to jump from the table. Worse, they can snap, scratch, or bite. While a groomer can refuse to work on a dog who might cause injury, there are ways they can decrease the likelihood of harm and help puppers feel calmer. 

Most groomers lift their clients up onto a table that makes reaching them easier. They may also attach a tether clipped to their collar or around their necks, and raise it a bit to limit movement. Some small dogs can be lifted up off the table in a comfortable harness to give the groomer better access. Soft, wide collars or soft muzzles are designed to prevent bites. Some of the muzzles have clips on them that attach to a rod at the end of the table and help prevent the dog from turning their head toward the groomer. Some groomers may use soft or rigid dog cones.

Check out this video from Perfect Pooches Grooming to see these practices in action!

Knowledgeable groomers may be able to apply positive reinforcement techniques in these situations, using treats to reward good behavior when it happens. It’s impawtant to check with the dog parent to be sure there are no issues with allergies or sensitivities to your treats. Groomers should check on any shampoo- or conditioner-related problems, skin-related issues, or behavioral quirks, too.

Want to learn more?

Grooming videos and stories on social media can be both educational and entertaining, and are a pawrific way for those thinking of starting a new career in dog grooming to see what it's all about.

Looking to go mobile? Check out this video from mobile groomer Briana Salas who showcases her furry clients' makeovers on YouTube:

Or if you want your four-legged clients to really shine, take a few notes from Jess Rona who offers courses on how to make any pup look like a star!

You may even want to learn a few grooming techniques on your own to get started on your furbaby. Wag! Grooming Guides are useful if you want to learn more about your dog’s grooming needs and how you can meet them between grooming appointments:

Thirsty for more? Check out the hundreds of helpful guides about everything from dog activities and health to cat behavior, and everything in between at Wag! 

Comments (1)

Yvonne Pennicott


Hi There, I came across your website, which is very informative. I however noticed that your website does not help a person with a hidden disability to navigate your site? Please advise. Thanks.

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