Canine curiosities your groomer knows

 

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by Betsy Lane, MA

Professional dog groomers get to know more dogs well than almost anyone, other than a veterinarian. This week, we spoke with Nicole Morris, Regional Salon Quality and Education Manager for PetSmart’s Great Lakes Region, and asked her what she’s learned that might surprise us. As usual, Nicole didn’t disappoint!  

Every pet professional picks up specialized bits of information on the job. For example, a pro musher will quickly learn that not all “Northern breeds” are created equal (not by a long shot). Vets learn that sometimes the fastest way to get a simple but stressful procedure done is to give the patient brief breaks. And dog walkers learn every client-dog’s preferences, from how they like to get leashed up to which fire hydrants provide the most fascinating scents.

Over the course of a career a groomer’s hands will cover every inch of thousands of dogs, from miniatures to giants, puppies to seniors, and super-relaxed to super-stressed. Because of this, experienced groomers have an inside scoop about dogs that other pet pros don’t usually have. Here are three of Nicole’s favorite fascinating facts:

Terriers pose one of the biggest challenges as far as temperaments for grooming. The terrier personality is “fight or flight” and when they don’t like having their nails trimmed, for example, they will try to get away from the groomer—and if that’s not an option, they may try to fight. Reading the behavior of a terrier and changing your technique/approach are crucial for both the terrier and groomer to keep everyone safe.

Many people bring their pups in for a groom because the dogs “smell.” One common culprit of a smelly pet is dirty ears! Pets ears should be cleaned regularly, especially if they have dropped ears, like spaniels and hounds. Look inside your pet’s ears regularly for redness, dirt, or discharge.

Did you know poodles shed? Instead of dropping the hairs onto your floor, they often fall back into the dog’s coat and, if not brushed out, can cause tangles and mats to form.

Because of their extensive contact with so many dogs, good groomers—those who pay close attention to the dogs in their care, understand canine body language, and know the unique characteristics of each breed or type of dog—have insights like these that are as fascinating as they are useful.

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

Building a great career, step by step

By Betsy Lane, MA, Education and FetchFind Academy Instructor

Madi Correa - Dakota HandLike many dog pros, Madi Correa grew up with dogs. From an early age, she knew she wanted a career working with animals, and—like many people—thought that meant being a veterinarian. (For other career paths with dogs, check out FetchFind Monthly Pro.) Becoming a vet is still Madi’s ultimate career goal, and she has begun her journey by enrolling in an online veterinary assistant training program and attending PetSmart’s Grooming Academy. Recently, Madi took time out to answer a few questions about her training, work, and how all the pieces fit together to move her towards her professional goals.

Fetchy:  What brought you to where you are today, as a student in PetSmart’s Grooming Academy? Did you apply to a number of programs, or just this one?

Madi:  Actually, I started out studying human psychology and then criminal justice—but once I decided to pursue a career with animals, I knew I only wanted to work here, because when I asked the vet techs at my pets’ clinic for advice, they spoke so highly of this program.

Fetchy:  What was your first job here?

Madi:  I started as a bather. Then, after just a few months, I unexpectedly had the chance to be assessed for the grooming program. There were 17 applicants for only 6 slots. The assessment process was challenging, but I did really well, and got in!

Fetchy: On a typical day, about what percentage of your time is working with animals, and what percentage is with people?

Madi: It’s about 80% animals and 20% people. I like that balance. As long as we’re busy, it’s good!

Fetchy:  Your ultimate career goal is to become a vet. How will what you’re learning here benefit you in a veterinary clinic?

Madi:  One part of our training is learning to recognize the signs of stress in dogs, and learning these and [more generally] how dogs might react or behave in different situations will really help. Even if you start out as a dog bather, or just want to be a better dog owner, you’ll be better prepared knowing the critical signs of stress.

Fetchy:  What’s one thing you’ve learned in this program that surprised you?

Madi:  I’ve brought my own dogs to groomers [for years], but I didn’t think about all the aspects of grooming and the different considerations for different types of dogs, different ages, and so on. But now I get it!

Fetchy:  What makes a person successful in this work? What advice do you have for others who want to succeed?

Madi:  You have to love the work, even when it’s challenging. I enjoy it so much, and really feel like I am where I’m supposed to be!

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

A sense of community and family in the grooming salon

Larissa Vaughn - Dakota handBy Betsy Lane, MA, Education and FetchFind Academy Instructor

Pet lovers the world over dream of having jobs that involve working with animals, but a lot of those dreams remain just that. Perhaps it’s because they don’t know what kind of careers exist in the pet industry, or wouldn’t know where to begin to get the right training. But there are a lot of educational opportunities out there, from online programs like FetchFind Monthly Pro to physical academies to on-the-job training and apprenticeships. For Larissa Vaughn, a lifelong animal lover, turning a passion for animal care into a profession as a dog groomer for a large specialty pet retailer was a smart career move.

By the time Larissa Vaughn was 10 years old, she tells us, she was “that kid”—the one who knew every dog in the neighborhood, and gave them baths just for fun. Not yet thinking of dog grooming as a career, Larissa started out as a nanny. Her clients loved the way she worked with their children—but also appreciated the way she handled their dogs. In fact, one of Larissa’s nanny clients first encouraged her to look into a career as a groomer, and called the family’s dog groomer to recommend Larissa! Before long, Larissa was helping out at that groomer’s independent salon, where she worked for two years before enrolling in PetSmart’s Grooming Academy.

Larissa loved the structured opportunities the Grooming Academy offered its students. She appreciated the fact that all students study for 60 days and groom 125 dogs before being accepted into the Pet Stylist Development Program. Upon graduating, Larissa knew she was well prepared to groom all types of dogs safely and efficiently. Larissa notes that PetSmart’s grooming process is faster and more effective than the process she used in the independent shop where she got her start. “Bathing, grooming, drying—everything’s done for a purpose, and the purpose is safety. If you do it right, you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and you’re getting dogs done faster, too.” That’s good for business as well as for the dogs, who have more time to spend with family, playing with friends, or learning a new trick!

Larissa has always valued community. “The salon is a little community of encouragement and helpful feedback from more experienced colleagues,” she says — a point demonstrated a moment later, when a colleague popped in to share a fun story about the dog he’d just groomed. This sense of community and encouragement isn’t unique to Larissa’s location, she explains. “You go into [any PetSmart] salon and think, ‘Yep! That’s a PetSmart family!”

Larissa also applies her creativity, precision, and love of animals to her study of illustration, and is considering becoming a medical/veterinary illustrator. From grooming to drawing, it all starts with observation and a deep understanding of anatomy, function, and movement. Whether grooming dogs or drawing them, Larissa strives to create a work of art every time!

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

From cashier to confident groomer to company leader

Laura Conway, District Academy Trainer_1

By Betsy Lane, MA, Education and FetchFind Academy Instructor

You may envision a career with grooming scissors in hand rather than the headset in your corner cubicle. But how do you actually make that transition? There are a lot of educational opportunities available in the pet industry, from online education like FetchFind’s Monthly Pro program to physical academies to on-the-job training. Sometimes those opportunities become available at the most unpredictable time. Here’s a look at the career path of someone who simply wanted part-time, seasonal work but is now a district manager for a large specialty pet retailer.

When Laura Conway became a cashier at PetSmart, she was a college student looking for a part-time job during vacations. While she loved the team and the company, she never imagined she would complete PetSmart’s Grooming Academy and ultimately become a District Grooming Academy Trainer! Laura’s professional opportunities expanded from her original cashier role when her store needed additional help in the salon, and she learned how to bathe dogs. She soon learned all the salon basics, and found that she loved the fast-paced salon environment.

Six months later, with her supervisor’s encouragement, she enrolled in PetSmart’s Grooming Academy—an intensive, 4-week program during which students learn grooming skills, styles, safety, customer service, and more. Academy students groom 200 dogs as part of their training! The program is rigorous, but it helps students graduate feeling comfortable and confident as new groomers. Laura values this and the company’s commitment to continuing education, noting that “grooming is an industry that keeps changing, so I’m still learning things. There are always new groom styles coming out, like Asian Fusion, and the company held a demo for us with a famous groomer in that style.”

As both Home Office Associate and Field Office Associate, Laura works in a corporate setting at the PetSmart headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in the field, where she interacts with customers and associates. Laura enjoys this business travel as well as traveling on her vacations; as a 10-year PetSmart employee, she enjoys four weeks of paid vacation each year—a luxury she would miss if she ran her own salon.

There’s a lot Laura loves about this job: the travel and benefits, and the fact that it combines her love of animals and grooming with her passion for teaching people new skills. But what means the most to her might surprise you: “I like the structure, the safety focus, and the corporate values, which are very focused on the customer,” she says. “That’s something I would look for as a pet parent in the grooming salon—somebody who has set rules and can be a trusted partner to groom my pet.”

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

Level up your dog training skills at FetchFind Academy

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

We’re halfway through Essential Training Skills here at FetchFind Academy, and this was the scene in our classroom the other day:

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I mean, honestly – how can you not love a class staffed by Golden Retrievers?

Essentials is where we really start to train dog trainers – everything they learned in Behavior Fundamentals Online is taken apart, examined minutely, expanded upon, and put into hands-on practice. This is where all of that theory starts to make sense in the real world, and where our students start to become professional dog trainers.

After two more months of practice and projects, our Essentials students will move on to Advanced Training Skills. This is where they will do a deep dive into working with people as well as animals, via a wide range of internships and simulated situations. At the end of four months, they’ll be ready to start their careers as highly sought-after professional dog trainers. We have FetchFind Academy graduates in the top dog training companies, social welfare/therapy/humane education organizations, and rescues/shelters in the Chicago area and beyond (including AnimalSense, Paradise 4 Paws, Anything is Pawzible, Canine Therapy Corps, Pet Partners, Soggy Paws, Hawk City K9, Chicago Animal Care and Control, Safe Humane Chicago, The Anti-Cruelty Society, ALIVE Rescue, One Tail at a Time, All Terrain Canine, and Touch Dog Training). It’s almost impossible to overstate how many doors are open for people with top quality professional education and training – you can work for established companies, join a start up, or start your own business.

Advanced Training Skills is also a fantastic stand-alone program for dog trainers who want to level up their skills and pick up CEUs.

No matter where you originally trained, it’s always a sound career investment to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date. (If you’d like to learn more about joining us for Advanced Training Skills in August, please contact Lynda Lobo at lynda@fetchfind.com.)

If you want to become a dog trainer, we recommend starting with Behavior Fundamentals Online – at only $49, it’s a great way to get your paws wet. And if you ever have any questions about how you can get started in any area of the pet industry, just shoot us an email at hello@fetchfind.com – we’re always happy to help!

 

It’s never too late to start working with pets

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Have you always wanted to work with pets? Do you spend the last part of August wondering where the summer went and if there’s still time to make those big life changes you had planned to implement around Memorial Day? Well, I have some good news for you – it’s never too late to plan for that career change! Here are a few good ways to get your paws wet before jumping into the deep end.

Educate yourself.  With the growing popularity of online education, it’s easier than ever to get a good basic foundation in fields as diverse as canine behavior, business administration and equine husbandry. Check out resources like FetchFind, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Coursera.

Become a volunteer. Volunteering at a local shelter or animal advocacy group is probably the single best way to prepare yourself for a career working with animals. You’ll receive hands on experience, and see if you really enjoy the work. At large shelters, you can volunteer in areas such as dog and cat care, veterinary clinic, marketing, fostering and public relations. Advocacy groups often need researchers, marketers and lawyers, so if you already have those skills you can gain valuable industry-specific experience.

Apply for an internship. If you want to take a more formal approach to learning about the pet industry from the ground up, considering applying for an internship. Many established companies as well as small startups offer both paid and unpaid internships in areas from dog training to social media. One of the great things about internships is that if you like the company, you’ve already got an “in” for a regular job. And, at the very least, you will have gained a portfolio of skills, contacts and references that can help you later on.

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Dip your toe into the wonderful world of online education with a subscription to FetchFind Monthly Pro or one of our standalone courses, such as Canine Evolution & Ethology or Canine Development: From Birth to Old Age.