By Kathy Hosler
Is this a typical day for you? Get up early, grab some coffee and go to work. You work, work, work, and have a quick donut or energy bar for lunch. Then work, work, work some more, go home, woof down some dinner, and collapse on the couch—then do it all over again tomorrow.
Unfortunately, this really is a normal routine for many groomers. All too often groomers are consumed by their work. They obsess about how many pets they have to groom and how quickly they can get them done. They take very few breaks and have no downtime. How long can someone continue like that before they burn out? You’re a human being, not a machine. Even machines can’t operate continuously without care and maintenance.
Grooming is a very physically demanding job. Back, shoulder, knee, foot, and hand issues—along with a multitude of other work related problems are very common. If you want to continue to groom for the next 10, 20, or more years, you need to plan ahead and take care of yourself.
Your workspace should be designed to make your job easier starting from the floor up. Your equipment needs to help you get the job done efficiently and with less strain on you.
• Anti–fatigue mats are a must at your grooming tables and in the bathing and drying areas.
• Make sure to wear supportive well–fitting shoes.
• Go to trade shows and ‘try on’ scissors. Have them fitted to your hand. Properly fitted shears reduce fatigue and make scissoring a breeze.
• Bathing systems help deep–clean pets quickly and with less ‘elbow–grease’ on your part.
• Clipper vacuum systems remove the hair as it is clipped. They substantially reduce the grooming time, and in many cases eliminate a lot of scissoring.
• High velocity dryers can drastically decrease the time it takes to dry a pet, and they can greatly reduce the amount of brushing you have to do.
• Adjustable tables and bathtubs not only make grooming easier on your back, it is safer for the pets.
• Support and restraint systems help hold a pet safely and make it easier for you to groom them.
Groomers often work in a noisy environment—dogs barking, HV dryers, the noise of vacuums, clippers, nail grinders, and other equipment can all take a toll on your hearing. Wearing hearing protection is a must for everyone. When you are drying a pet, dander and pet hair are released. Protect yourself by wearing a mask and also hearing and eye protection.
You may not have given it much thought, but when you grind a pet’s toenails you also need to wear protection. The grinding produces a combination of toenail dust and particles from the sanding drum. The dust and particles can fly into your eyes and you can also breathe them in. Wearing protective glasses and a mask when you dremel nails is a must.
Some groomers use their stand dryers to blow air on the pet’s foot when grinding nails thinking that they are blowing the dust away. In fact they are dispersing it into the air to be breathed in by everyone—including the pets. You can get an attachment for your nail grinder that connects to a clipper vacuum system. That will remove the dust as it is produced, thus saving you and the pet from breathing it in or getting it in your eyes.
“If you have your health, you are truly rich.” This is a statement that almost everyone will agree with. And, your good health should be a top priority.
• Proper nutrition is what fuels your body. You can’t work at peak efficiency when you try to
exist on fast food, donuts, and
coffee or soda.
• Exercise. Although you work hard every day, it’s not the same as structured exercise. Take a yoga, Pilates, or an aerobics class. You can have fun while you strengthen
• Get adequate rest. It’s more important than you may think. You can’t perform well if you don’t get enough sleep.
• Learn how to lift pets correctly to reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself. Using ramps or steps to get larger dogs into the tub or on the table can save wear and tear (or permanent damage) to your body.
• It is imperative that you have medical and disability insurance. You will have the peace of mind knowing that you have protection for everything from a minor accident to a major illness. Without coverage, a medical catastrophe could end your career or bankrupt you.
Do you know someone who is old enough to retire but they are still working because they don’t have any money in savings? Don’t let that happen to you. Plan for your retirement. Begin putting money away for your future. Even if you start with small amounts, your money will grow when you invest for the long term. Then as you near retirement age (or even earlier), you will have the great satisfaction of knowing that you are financially secure.
Make Time for Some Groomer TLC
Groomers are some of the hardest working people on the planet. You give lots of TLC to your clients and to their pets, don’t you think it’s time that you got some too? When was the last time you went to a movie, got your nails done, or had a massage? Do you feel guilty if you take a day off to do something that you want to do? Free time is one of the most precious (and often most elusive) things a groomer would like to have.
Your entire life should not revolve around your grooming career. You need to have other interests, too. Read, meditate, or get a hobby. Try your hand at painting. Join a bowling league. Take cooking, gardening, or scuba diving lessons. Make yourself a priority with a little groomer TLC. You need it and you deserve it! ✂