Animal Behavior College (ABC) Grooming Instruction Program graduate Christopher Speicher is living his dream. Upon completing the school’s Grooming Instruction Program with honors in 2017, he opened a mobile grooming business, Spike’s Zoom-N-Groom, earlier this year that serves clients in Garrett County, Maryland. The budding entrepreneur not only grooms dogs, but also educates owners on the importance of taking their four-legged companions to certified pet groomers to help keep them healthy.
“Pet grooming is much more complicated than picking up a set of clippers and cutting a pet’s fur, hair or coat,” he said. “Certified pet groomers are trained to practice safety and thoroughly inspect a dog’s entire body during the grooming process. This aids in finding potentially serious conditions such as parasites, infections, skin issues and lumps.”
As an Animal Behavior College Certified Pet Groomer (ABCPG), Speicher has seen first-hand the vital role groomers can play in noticing the underlying signs of certain diseases and conditions.
While grooming a client’s dog, he felt a suspicious lump on the pooch’s inner back thigh. Concerned, he immediately called the owner who rushed her dog to the veterinarian only to find out he had cancer. Another time, Speicher was grooming a dog who exhibited troublesome symptoms: cloudy urine and incontinence. He notified the owner who took her pup to the veterinarian, who diagnosed a bladder infection.
Speicher credits ABC’s curriculum with teaching him how to detect common skin and medical disorders. Although the curriculum doesn’t teach students how to diagnose medical conditions, it encourages them to be mindful of certain health problems so they can immediately bring them to pet owners’ attention.
Grooming is not only essential for dogs but for cats, too.
“Cats groom themselves routinely and in the process swallow some of their hair. Sometimes when the swallowed hair doesn’t pass through the intestines, it forms hairballs which can lead to gastrointestinal blockages,” said Tori Boucher-Hodel, honors graduate and Animal Behavior College Certified Cat Trainer (ABCCCT) who owns Purrsuasion Cat Behavior Consulting and Training in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. “Hairballs are more likely to occur in long-haired breeds such as Maine Coons and Persians. This is why owners of these and other longhair cat breeds should brush their cats daily to prevent matting. It reduces the amount of hair the cats ingest when grooming themselves, which can minimize hairballs.”
For cats with short hair, Boucher-Hodel recommends owners brush them at least once or twice a week.
“If cats’ fur gets too matted, they should be taken to a certified groomer to have the mats safely removed without damaging their skin. Mats can also hide bacteria and are breeding grounds for ticks and fleas,” she said.
In addition to choosing a certified groomer, ABC recommends that pet owners in search of groomers do the following:
Ask for Recommendations. Ask friends, your pet’s veterinarian, dog and cat trainers, etc., for recommendations. While walking your dog or visiting a dog park, ask other owners with similar breeds where they have their pets groomed.
Interview Prospective Groomers. Call the groomer. Groomers are busy so don’t be put off if they can’t speak to you when you call. Be patient and ask when is a good time to chat. Ask about their experience. Do they have experience grooming your dog’s particular breed?
Request a Facility Tour. After the phone interview set an appointment to visit the salon and meet the groomer. Are the grooming stations and kennels clean and sanitary? Is the groomer friendly and professional?
Trust Your Gut. Are you comfortable with the groomer? Do you believe your pet will be safe at this salon? If there are doubts, trust your instincts and keep looking.
ABC’s online pet groomer course teaches canine and feline anatomy, health and safety, how to identify common canine and feline skin problems and medical disorders, proper brushing, bathing, clipping, scissoring and styling techniques, business building, pet first aid and CPR. Participants receive information that equips them to start a pet grooming business, work for an established grooming salon or pursue other professional pet grooming-related passions.
There are currently 485 students enrolled in ABC’s pet groomer program. ABC also offers specialized certificates of completion in seven Short-Term Programs including Doggie Daycare, Pet Fostering and Pet Nutrition to name a few.
As of June 30, 2018, ABC has graduated and certified more than 2,847 students from the pet grooming program.