In one of our previous posts, we tried to answer the question of whether dog grooming could be for you. Have you decided that dog grooming is your calling? Congratulations and welcome to the world of dog grooming! We are happy to advise you. There is, of course, a great deal to say about learning to groom dogs in general. We will certainly come back to this soon. However, since the practical grooming exams are just around the corner for many students, we'd like to take the opportunity to talk about this subject in our current blog post.
One of the things you should prepare for during your training is your practical exam. If you are a student and not properly prepared for your practical dog grooming exam, it can quickly become a battlefield. An exam is just a momentary event, but one that can have major consequences. You only have one chance, one opportunity! We would therefore like to increase your chances of success and help you by giving you 5 tips for your practical exam.
1. Preparation is key
Make sure you are well prepared. Are you a competitive person? Perfect! You can always look at your practical exam as some sort of competition. For a competition, it is also best to prepare months in advance, and to do this to perfection. It is the same for a practical dog grooming exam. We recommend that you take excellent care of your dog and his coat already several months in advance. This way, you will not be faced with unpleasant surprises at the time of the exam itself!
It is best to make a schedule or timetable about 2 to 6 months before the exam (depending on the type of coat) so that you and the dog's coat are perfectly prepared. This is especially important when it comes to washing and blow-drying your four-legged friend’s coat. Especially with poodles, cockers and long-haired breeds in general, it is advisable to wash the coat every week or at least every 10 days. That way it stays in optimal condition and above all, free of tangles. This does not apply to coats that need to be hand-stripped. If your dog is wire-coated, then hand stripping and preparing the coat well in advance (up to 6 months before your exam) is necessary. You can read more about hand stripping of a wiry-haired dog in this previous blog post.
Observe the dog and its coat, looks at its build and get a good feel for it. People with a photographic memory have a great advantage here. Ideally, you should be able to imprint everything in your mind and convert the images in your head into practice. Good preparation will definitely boost your self-confidence! At the moment of the exam, you will doubt less while grooming and therefore lose less time. It is useful to make a clear and achievable time schedule with how much time you can spend on each grooming part or body part. Train yourself on this time, try to improve it. This way you will have some margin during your exam. Another tip is to take good notes and surround yourself with inspiring and motivating pictures while practising and studying.
2. Lather, rinse, repeat
Repetition is the best motivator. Or as we say, practice makes perfect! Make sure that you can easily perform all the steps, from start to finish. The more you practise, the better the result you need to create will be imprinted in your mind. One thing that some students overlook is the basic techniques, such as trimming nails or cleaning the ears. During the exam, this can cause you to make mistakes and lose time. For this reason, it is important that you fully master the basic grooming techniques so that you can also perform them smoothly on your exam.
Furthermore, it is undoubtedly interesting to gain knowledge outside of school. Do not hesitate to contact breeders or groomers. Ask them if you can take private lessons and additional workshops. They will undoubtedly be happy to pass on their knowledge to you. The more knowledge you gain, the better! You will become more confident, have fewer doubts, less panic and stress, all of which will come in handy not only for your exam but also in preparation for your further professional life. We live in exciting times, in which you can find an incredible amount of interesting information through numerous channels. One of those channels is our very own YouTube channel, Transgroom TV.
3. Great equipment in optimal condition
In addition to good preparation, it is also essential to have the right tools and products available, within reach and in top condition. Sometimes this point is overlooked. Examples include scissors that have fallen to the ground and whose tips no longer cut properly, or brushes and combs with missing pins or teeth. What if you have mastered the grooming techniques perfectly, but then suddenly your clippers don't work properly because of a blunt clipper blade? Well-maintained working equipment ensures that you are well prepared, can practise thoroughly and can enjoy the same equipment for longer. Because we at Transgroom know that properly maintained grooming tools are just as important as good techniques, we have our own sharpening and repair service.
We cannot repeat it enough: good preparation is everything. Analyse, observe and try. In doing so, you can optimise the entire grooming process. Be sure you are armed with stripping knives that fit perfectly in your hand, sharp(ened) shears, and all the necessary tools in excellent condition. You have months to apply and try the right products and tools on your exam dog. By studying this well in advance, you can go to your exam with peace of mind. Do you have doubts or questions about products and materials? Remember that you can always contact us. We are standing by!
4. Choose the right dog
Many dog grooming students do not take a suitable dog to their exam. Dogs that are not behaviourally right, aggressive or anxious should not be chosen as exam dogs. At an exam, most students are nervous, which is perfectly normal. Dogs will subconsciously sense this though and react accordingly. Even dogs without behavioural problems can sometimes react differently than expected under these circumstances. Therefore, it is important to choose the right dog in terms of behaviour.
Not only is the exam dog's behaviour important, but also its age and coat type. Never choose a puppy or an old dog. After all, an exam takes a few hours. A puppy cannot sit still for so long and it is not physically ok for an older dog either. We also recommend that you think carefully about the type of coat you choose. Some dogs are not really suitable for an exam when it comes to their coat. If you choose a dog that already has a beautiful coat, you will also be more likely to create a beautiful result. Or if you choose a coat that needs a lot of preparation e.g., a wire-coated dog, it is best to make sure that the preparation is done properly. In case of a wiry-haired dog, this means creating a rolling coat.
5. Focus and spread the love
A little stress won't hurt but try to keep it in check. Being under pressure from time to time can produce amazing results. You get an adrenaline boost and push yourself to the limit to get a great result. Too much stress, however, can throw you completely off balance and cause you to block. Fear of failure can also occur. And perhaps more importantly: When you are stressed, your dog will definitely feel it! This can have a very big impact on him or her and might cause your dearest four-legged friend to act nervous or anxious, this the last thing you need on your exam. Try to keep stress at bay and limit these triggers that can throw you off balance. Make sure you are well prepared, have a well-thought-out planning, the best material and the right dog. If you take the above tips into account, we are sure you will succeed with flying colours!
Perhaps the most important aspect of dog grooming that we would like to pass on is this: sharing your passion and love for grooming with others and, of course, with those who are at the heart of it all - our lovely dogs. As a dog groomer, it is important that you have a lot of respect for the dogs you work with. After all, loving and treating the animals correctly takes centre stage. To conclude, we would like to say the following: Think and act positively. You are doing yourself, your dog and your environment a great favour. Good luck! And remember: We are here for you! Feel free to contact us if you have a problem, question or doubt. Within our team there are several experts and professionals who are happy to help and guide you and your dog if necessary. Just give us a shout/bark!