A Dog’s Life

From fsmcy coats to a lux­ury ho­tel stay, Bri­tain loves to pam­per its pooches. But is it al­ways safe?

EDP Norfolk - - MY SUPER 7 - WORDS: Re­becca MacNaughto­n

Look in your lo­cal busi­ness direc­tory and you are likely to find a num­ber of busi­nesses of­fer­ing be­spoke dog-groom­ing treat­ments. Some may have their own premises on the high street – like a sa­lon you or I would visit – while oth­ers may have a home busi­ness, set up at the back of their house. A num­ber may even be mo­bile.

Ac­cord­ing to Alexan­dra Baker from The Pet In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion, the num­ber of peo­ple of­fer­ing groom­ing treat­ments has in­creased and, as we con­tinue to hu­man­ise our pets, the de­mand for other ser­vices, such as sit­ting and walk­ing ser­vices, dog spas and those pro­duc­ing bou­tique pet prod­ucts, has gone up too.

Many of the or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­vid­ing these ser­vices are rep­re­sented by The Pet In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion. As a trade as­so­ci­a­tion, it of­fers a num­ber of busi­ness ben­e­fits such as in­sur­ance, le­gal ad­vice and train­ing. Groomers, says Alexan­dra, form the largest mem­ber­ship group, op­er­at­ing as the Bri­tish Dog Groomers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

It is dif­fi­cult to know ex­actly why the num­bers are in­creas­ing, but ac­cord­ing to Alexan­dra it could be be­cause of a de­sire to pro­fes­sion­alise the in­dus­try. “It’s usu­ally a sec­ond ca­reer,” she says. “We don’t see many school­leavers take it up as a pro­fes­sion, and it’s of­ten be­cause peo­ple have al­ways wanted to work with an­i­mals, and have wanted to be cre­ative and set up their own busi­ness.”

At the mo­ment, though, the in­dus­try is largely un­reg­u­lated. There is no obli­ga­tion for a dog groomer to be qual­i­fied and no au­dit­ing sys­tem in place. “It’s wor­ry­ing,” ad­mits Alexan­dra. This is not be­cause cour­ses aren’t read­ily avail­able though – in fact, it is some­thing The Pet In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion strongly en­cour­ages. They work closely with City & Guilds and even have their own groom­ing school, at Had­low Col­lege, of­fer­ing high-level train­ing. “We en­cour­age peo­ple to at­tain a Level 3 qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” Alexan­dra points out, “so that they have an un­der­pin­ning knowl­edge be­fore go­ing on to work in the in­dus­try.”

In fact many groomers love to learn, says Alexan­dra, choos­ing to stack up cer­tifi­cates and awards. The Bri­tish Dog Groomers’ As­so­ci­a­tion hosts an an­nual cham­pi­onship each year, which pro­vides fur­ther learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, as well as im­por­tant chances to net­work and de­velop.

“Peo­ple have al­ways wanted to work with an­i­mals, and have wanted to be cre­ative and set up their own busi­ness”

Groom­ing is, af­ter all, fun­da­men­tal to pet health, and dif­fer­ent breeds re­quire dif­fer­ent lev­els of at­ten­tion. Breeds such as poo­dles, bi­chons and bor­der ter­ri­ers, for ex­am­ple, will re­quire more reg­u­lar groom­ing than a short-haired Stafford­shire bull ter­rier. In fact, the pop­u­lar­ity of par­tic­u­lar breeds may be another rea­son that busi­ness is boom­ing. A few years ago, a sur­vey from the Bri­tish Dog Groomers’ As­so­ci­a­tion re­vealed that 61% of groomers saw more poo­dle crosses than any other breed due to their high-main­te­nance coats. This is be­lieved to be even higher in more sub­ur­ban ar­eas where de­signer breeds are pop­u­lar.

De­spite the con­cerns, there are good groomers out there, re­as­sures Alexan­dra. “A good qual­i­fied groomer has a wealth of knowl­edge,” she says, and can main­tain your pet’s over­all health by im­prov­ing their cir­cu­la­tion, eas­ing knots and re­duc­ing mat­ting. A groomer may also no­tice other warn­ing signs, such as lumps and bumps which ap­pear un­der the skin and can be eas­ily missed by own­ers. It is there­fore im­por­tant to build up a strong re­la­tion­ship with your groomer, says Alexan­dra, so that they know and un­der­stand your dog’s needs, and that young pup­pies can get used to the process.

For those part of the mem­ber­ship group, The Bri­tish Dog Groomers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pro­vides a mem­ber­ship sticker. Placed in the sa­lon’s win­dow, or dis­played on the web­site, this can let clients know that they are ac­count­able to a wider body. “Look for the logo,” ad­vises Alexan­dra – or sim­ply look on­line at The Pet In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion’s full list of mem­bers be­fore you book.

ABOVE: A ter­rier tak­ing a bub­ble bath

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.