With dogs in almost 40 million homes in America, pet grooming has grown into a multi-billion dollar business. If you are fond of our furry friends and want to become your own boss, pet grooming is a great way to turn your love of animals into a small business opportunity. If you are considering pampering pets for a living, here is a guide to starting your own pet grooming business:

Learn the business
Qualified professional pet groomers have the skill and experience necessary for their own safety and that of the pet. Pet groomers are often in difficult, stressful and sometimes even dangerous situations.  Luckily, many outlets are available to prepare anyone for a career as a pet groomer. You can seek out an apprenticeship with your local pet groomer, who may show you the ropes in exchange for help around the shop. If you prefer a more formal training program, you can try out an online or in-person school. Schools offer numerous programs that last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, and they often provide you with a dog groomer diploma. Whatever form of training you choose to pursue, you will likely follow a course that starts off with simple tasks such as shampooing a dog. As you gain more experience, you should accrue a varied and useful skill set, as well as information on pet behavior and safety. You may even learn breed identification, how to spot skin disorders and shop management.

While not required, pet groomer certification is available through the National Dog Groomers Association of America. To be certified, you must pass a series of written and practical examinations.

Types of pet grooming businesses
With the pet grooming business, you can start big or small. Commercial groomers usually run out of a brick-and-mortar business. These groomers perform grooming services in one location, where they may also sell specialty products such as dog treats, brushes, toys, shampoos or pet colognes. Commercial services usually operate within a set business schedule each day, and customers can either walk in or make appointments. While commercial grooming allows you room to expand your business and take on assistants, securing and outfitting a retail space takes a large financial investment. Mobile groomers work with individual clients and usually travel to their homes in order to groom the dog. Oftentimes, the pets or pet owners may be elderly or physically incapable of traveling to the groomer. This service may also be popular amongst clientele too busy to shuttle their pets back and forth. Pets may feel less anxious about grooming in their own homes, which would ease the job of the groomer. Note that due to traveling time, a mobile groomer will have potentially fewer clients than a commercial groomer in any given day.

Develop your services
Animals can take a surprising amount of physical upkeep. Offering a wide variety of services can help you build a customer base, and it can encourage established customers to branch out and try new services. In addition to the standard shampooing, shaving and nail clippings, you can offer tooth brushing, pedicures and ear cleaning and deodorizing. If you are a master fur cutter, you could even offer different hair styles. Other specialized services include fur-minimizing baths and dog massages.