Keeping pets in style

Keeping pets in style

If you love animals and aren't afraid of a few energetic customers, then dog grooming could be the choice for you

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Kaylie Chan visits her human and canine clients at their homes.
Kaylie Chan visits her human and canine clients at their homes.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP
Interviewee: Kaylie Chan Sau-ling has always been a dog lover, but her family does not agree with her having a dog in the house. Right after she left secondary school, she went to work as an apprentice pet groomer at a pet shop. Now she is working on a freelance basis, providing a personal dog grooming service for clients at their homes. Her ultimate goal is to open her own dog-grooming business.

Get started

I started as an apprentice and learned on the job. There are many private institutions offering certificate courses for pet grooming. Currently the government does not have a standard for pet groomers' training, but the basic requirement to start working is having a "C" certificate. The "C" certificate includes basic training in pet cleaning and trimming fur. I got my qualifications from the Hong Kong Pet Groomer Association.

Moving up

Pet groomers start off as apprentices or assistant pet groomers. After a year of experience and getting the "B" certificate, one is ready to become a pet groomer.

The "B" certificate is training for advanced fur styling. Pet groomers who want to participate in dog shows have to take the "A" certificate to learn about the standards and requirements to groom the dog to a show standard. The long-term goal for most pet groomers is to open their own businesses or become pet-grooming trainers.

Race to the top

A pet groomer has to love dogs and not be afraid when they get a little over-excited. The animals can sometimes get quite aggressive during the grooming process and it is not unusual for a groomer to be bitten.

A groomer also has to be patient with the animal when it is not co-operating.

Like a fashion designer, a pet groomer has to read pet magazines and discuss trends with people in the business to keep up with the latest fashions in fur styling. Styling changes all the time and a good pet groomer should have new ideas.

A pet groomer should get to know more pet owners to establish a broad client base. Visiting the dog park is also a good way to meet clients.

Rewards and benefits

Apprentices usually start at about HK$9,000. Experienced pet groomers can earn up to HK$20,000 a month. Those visiting a client's home for pet grooming normally charge about HK$300 to HK$500 for each pet.

A day in the life

A pet groomer at a pet shop works six days a week and usually has their day off on a weekday. Working hours are usually from 11am until 9pm. Weekends are the busiest times for pet groomers.

It is important to keep a pet shop in a hygienic and pleasant condition, so pet groomers also have to spend a lot of time cleaning up the place.

Throughout the day, a pet groomer will bathe the dogs and give their coats a trim and style.

Jargon

Continental Clip - One of the standards in fur styling used for poodles in dog shows. The face, throat, feet, and base of the tail are shaved. The legs are shaved, leaving bracelets on the hind legs and puffs on the forelegs. A pompom is left on the end of the tail.

Fluff dry - The method used to soften and straighten a dog's coat using a blow-dryer and a comb.

Whisker coat - The fur that grows at the sides of a dog's mouth.

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