Programs in animal grooming prepare people to work with pets and other animals who perform in races, competitions, shows, zoos, or circuses. In grooming programs, students learn to clip nails, shampoo, blow dry, brush, and comb animals.
Nowhere else does the world of animal grooming take center stage than at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It is even televised nationally and covered on ESPN (and spoofed in the movie "Best in Show"). Dogs competing at the Westminster Dog Show must be meticulously groomed and obedience trained. Their coat, teeth, and eyes as well as body shape are examined. They are also tested on their response to commands and how well they present themselves when sitting on stage. In 2005 the Best in Show trophy went to a German Shorthaired Pointer named Carlee. (Her official name is Ch. Kan-Point's VJK Autumn Roses, and she is now enjoying a graceful retirement.) If you love animals and don't mind giving up the stage to them, perhaps a career in animal grooming is for you!
Animal groomers work with animals before competitions. They also provide maintenance grooming such as brushing, combing, trimming, washing, drying, and styling hair or fur and clipping claws and toenails. You can work with dogs and cats or animals as big as elephants.
A few colleges and private career schools offer programs in animal grooming. Some schools may offer courses within their programs in animal science or equestrian studies. However, many people learn on the job by working as helpers to animal groomers or trainers. Grooming is not very complex to learn, but it does require practice and skill.
If you do go to an animal grooming program, your course work teaches you basic animal handling and behavior. You may also learn basic business skills, such as client relations and budgeting. Most of your classes will include hands-on experience working with animals.