Become a better groomer with these 3 easy tips!

Free ways to improve your dog grooming skills.

Whether you are new to grooming or have been doing it for years, learning a great new technique or style is always exciting. Unfortunately, grooming conventions, seminars or workshops can be expensive or too far far away to attend. Luckily, there are lots of other ways you can improve your grooming skills for free or minimal cost!

1) Watch (or even better, attend) a dog show
Dog shows are are invaluable opportunity to see the newest trends in breed specific styling. While each breed has its own written standard of how it should look, these standards are open to a degree of interpretation, and every year things seem to be done just a little bit different. The most obvious example would be for Poodles, whose trims become increasingly refined, elegant and complex, but can also been seen in Bichon Frise, Airedales and others. Knowing and learning these trends allows you to offer your client the most modern styles, even if some of them prefer to stick with the old school trims.

The most prestigious dog shows, including Crufts and Westminster, are broadcast on TV, but there are also a large number of smaller shows every year, across North America and Internationally, so if you can find one in your area, actually being there is definitely better. Both the CKC and AKC have listings of upcoming events on their websites. Being there allows you to see the dogs up close, take photographs and notes for your records, and occasionally you may find a handler or show groomer willing to spare a few minutes to answer your questions, though you should always be very considerate of their time and need for preparation, especially before they've entered the ring!

2) Borrow or buy any books or DVDs you can get your hands on.
Check out books, DVDs or magazines on grooming, dog behavior, different breeds or animal health. Anything you learn about dogs will benefit you, because it will help you handle the naughty ones better, recognize signs or illness, and make you your client's go-to person for dog related questions, which will build their trust and investment in your relationship.

One of the most highly recommended grooming books is Notes from the Grooming Table, by Melissa Verplank. It is a hefty 3 pound book, absolutely packed with information on everything from the best way to remove mats and how to properly hold your scissors to the proper grooming of a Lowchen.

3) Sign up for trade magazines & forums
Groomer to Groomer offers free subscriptions either online or in print to their bi-monthly magazine. You can also read back issues online, all full of great articles written by groomers, for groomers. There's also a ton of great, grooming specific forums online, so just take a look around and find one you like. Forums are the best way to interact with other groomers around the world, get all your questions answered, and keep up to date with what is going on in the grooming universe.

Whatever route you choose to go, just remember that there is always more to learn, and increasing your knowledge will make the grooming better for everyone: yourself, your client, and your dogs.

A miniature poodle in a show clip.

Watching dog shows is a great way to learn new styles and techniques.

Black Miniature PoodleCredit: WikipediaCredit: Wikipedia