Dog Grooming Competitions
Competitions are quite literally my favourite thing about the grooming world. It is where I learnt most of what I know now. Although I learned to be a groomer in a chain store and whilst my training was good, I would have classed myself as an average pet groomer back then. It was starting to compete and being in that show environment that elevated my skills and knowledge and where I learned some amazing tricks and tips from some top groomers. I was able to pick up different things from different groomers, through watching them at shows or attending seminars they were leading.
For anyone who thrives when learning, then competitions are 100% the best place to start. Even watching competitions will open up so many doors for you. There are so many places to start, including novice competitions which are just for beginners. These competitions really do help ease the nerves and come without the huge pressure of competing against people who have been doing it for years.
The prep for competition starts weeks before the day, in terms of finding an appropriate dog, growing the coat out, sourcing good products, sourcing suitable equipment that is easy to transport, accommodation, insurance etc. It is not a cheap hobby that’s for sure but the buzz you get from competing and being in a room of hundreds of other like-minded people is worth every penny. Creative competitions take even more preparation as you must plan designs and apply colour before the competition day.
The biggest thing I struggle with is pre-competition jitters. I get SO nervous that I second guess myself to the point of wanting to back out of the competition BUT seeing the other groomers and speaking to them the night before I then realise that everyone is in the same boat. We are all nervous, all terrified that we might not be good enough but that is what competitions are for, building confidence. It is not just about the placing or winning it's about showcasing your skills and learning from the feedback that is given - the judge’s feedback is honestly like gold dust.
To help with my nerves I use calming yoga and rescue remedy and then once you're in the ring grooming, you just don’t even notice the people watching. I go into my own little world with music on. As groomers, we rarely get a full 2 hours of peace to scissor a dog so enjoy the uninterrupted time grooming them.
For competitions, prep is key. Without good prep, you cannot execute a good groom. I invest in specialist products which vary depending on what breeds I am doing in the ring. A couple of firm favourites of mine are Show Dog Crisp Coat which leaves a lovely finish to scissor, Thick N Thicker spray to add texture and volume to the coat and Groom Professional Scissor Spritzer to remove any static while I am scissoring in a class. It is quite hard to keep the dogs clean, so I personally try and prep them the night before either in the hotel room or at the salon depending on what time my class is. Wraps and hair ties can help with stopping long ears and legs from getting dirty.
Remember to have fun
I’ve talked a lot about the learning side of competing, but I haven’t touched on the fun! The atmosphere is something I can’t even describe, especially if you place or a close friend places! The buzz is incredible. I love seeing and talking to people that I see on social media every day, chatting to other groomers and seeing them groom their dogs with pride on their faces - it is amazing. A lot of competitions also have an event of some sort for socialising, and this is not only fun but a great chance to network.
I have lots of great memories and some funny stories from the competitions I’ve entered including the time I wore a Twister morph suit and I nearly walked into the elevator door - it was very embarrassing but also very funny.
So to anyone thinking of competing – go for it! I promise you won't regret it. Competitions are full of friendly like-minded people and it is not about the placing. If anyone has any questions about competing, I would be more than happy to answer them please just send me a message!