Contests aren't for everyone, but they can be personally and professionally rewarding. (An award-winning groomer can charge more for his or her services, after all.)
Are you thinking about entering a grooming contest, or getting ready to compete in your first one?
Here are a few quick tips from our staff grooming experts to help you get the most out of the experience.
- Study the rules of the competition. What will the contest be judged on? Adherence to breed standards? Creativity? Will the contest be timed? Do you need any special tools or supplies? Does the dog have to meet certain standards in order to gain entry? For example, many dogs are required to have six weeks of unchecked growth prior to being entered in a contest. In other contents, groomers are allowed to work on faces and feet before the competition begins.
- Choose the right dog. You want to enter the contest with a dog that won’t panic or get flustered in loud and chaotic environments. For that reason, many groomers like to use former show dogs in competitions. Make sure you check on the contest's vaccination standards. If you're traveling with the dog, make the necessary travel and housing arrangements beforehand.
- Don’t be afraid to overpack. When you first start competing, you may not know exactly what tools you'll need to compete. As a rule of thumb, we recommend bringing your best tools, but when you are first starting out it's a good idea to bring more than you need so you won't be without a crucial toool. As you become more comfortable competing, you can streamline your packing so that you're only taking the essentials along.
- Check and recheck what you pack. We recommend checking over your supplies before you leave for the competition, and again when you arrive. Go through the entire grooming process in your head beforehand and make sure you have the tools and supplies you need for every step. If you are missing something, you may be able to pick it up from a vendor booth at the show. We have a booth at the annual Super Zoo trade show in Las Vegas every year, we’ve had more than a few visits from competition groomers who need last-minute supplies.
- Keep it light and loose. Remember that grooming in a pressure-packed competition setting is different than grooming in the comfort and (relative) calm of your shop. You may not do your best work your first time out, but you will get more comfortable each time you compete. If you relax and have fun with the contest, you’ll enjoy yourself more and make the dog feel more comfortable, too.
- Don’t take feedback personally: If your goal in competing is to sharpen your skills, then it’s important to listen to all feedback from the judges with an open mind. It’s easy to feel defensive when someone is examining and passing judgment on your work, but if you stay open to their feedback, you may learn something from what they see and say about the groom.
- Let us know what you think! Have you recently entered a grooming competition? Are you preparing for your first one? Are you an old pro with some advice for up-and-coming groomers? We’d love to hear your stories. Post them as comments on the blog, add them to our Facebook wall, or email us to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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