Bernice Allen is the owner of Tell-Tails, a dog grooming parlour based in Wacton near Long Stratton. She is also a part-time dog grooming tutor at Easton College. Donna Capleton speaks to her about life in the industry.

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Fact file: dog groomer

Training

You can start this role through a number of ways: attending a course at college, finding work with a qualified groomer and training on the job or starting an apprenticeship.

You do not usually need any particular qualifications to begin training but would normally need some experience with dogs. You could consider voluntary opportunities.

Timescale

A part time course takes one year to complete or you can take a short, intensive course

Local training

• Easton College 01603 731210/ www.easton-college.ac.uk

Offering full and part time courses including apprenticeships in animal care. They offer the NPTC level 2 and 3 in dog grooming on a part-time basis with a course due to start on Monday October 31.

The college offers a monthly veterinary clinic in its new Animal Welfare Centre including a dog grooming parlour giving students excellent hands-on work experience.

• College of West Anglia 01553 761144/ www.cwa.ac.uk

Offering part time NPTC level 3 in dog grooming and a short course in pet care

• Dapper Dogs Grooming Centre 01603 749937/ www.dapperdogsgroomingcentre.co.uk

Offering a variety of City and Guilds courses at all levels.

• Volunteering www.do-it.org

Find out about voluntary opportunities in the area

For further information:

• Pet Care Trade Association www.petcare.org.uk

The national membership organisation for pet trade specialists including groomers.

The British Dog Groomers’ Association is part of the association.

Salary range

Dog groomers can earn from around £12,000 to £18,000 or more a year.

Self-employed dog groomers can charge between £25 and £70, depending on the breed of dog.

Belle Jones

Why is it a good profession to get into?

I absolutely love dogs, and this job enables me to work with them and be around dogs all day.

I first trained as a hairdresser, but soon looked for a new direction. A friend suggested dog grooming, and the idea sounded brilliant. I re-trained and have never looked back.

What does the work involve?

Every day is busy! Sometimes hectic.

At the parlour some clients will bring their dogs to me in the morning because they have to go to work, so first thing is usually about checking dogs in. I then get started on the grooming. Some dogs will have been booked in for a short treatment such as nail clipping and brush; where others will have a longer process such as hand-stripping, washing and brushing. At the end of the day, I will clean everything and prepare for the next day.

When I am teaching at Easton College, my day is about teaching students different methods of grooming and all the different areas involved in running a parlour. This includes preparing and grooming dogs prior to bathing, bathing and cleaning the dogs, cleaning and maintaining the equipment, controlling and restraining the animals, dry and preparing coats for styling, basic trimming and maintaining the cleanliness and bio-security of the working environment and reception skills.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

Getting bitten! But this very rarely happens. I don’t like when a dog is put through undue stress because the owner has failed to keep the dog in a healthy condition. I have had dogs whose coats have been horrifically matted, and it is not a pleasant experience having to groom the dog when it is distressed and scared.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

Yes there is - people are always looking for a trained and professional groomer for their dog(s). My parlour is very busy and I know that others are too.

The industry is definitely growing; more people want their dogs to look good, but do not have the time to do it themselves, either because of work or family commitments. This has resulted in the dog grooming industry growing.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

Ideally people should be patient and committed. The job is physically demanding as you need to lift and control dogs. Being qualified is something clients will look for when choosing a dog groomer for their dog(s) and there are various qualifications available for those who want a career in dog grooming.

Tell-Tails is at Hall Lane, Wacton, Norfolk. Phone 01508 531550 or visit www.telltales-longstratton.co.uk

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