Animal Grooming

With more pet ownership than ever before, there has never been a better time to get into the animal grooming industry. Whether you wish to start your own business or gain employment as a groomer, this course is a great first step along that path.

Course CodeBAG106
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to Groom Dogs and other Animals

Animals are groomed for a variety of reasons:

  • Aesthetic -Horses have tails and manes plaited for competition
  • Practical eg. Poodles were originally trimmed to allow them to swim without wet fur dragging them down; but leaving balls of fur around joints 
  • Health -Matted fur can catch burrs, parasites, become dirty etc
  • Safety -Bird beaks might have sharp tips removed to stop them injuring other birds
  • Conservation -Rhinos have horns removed to discourage poachers

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Grooming
    • Introduction to grooming behaviour
    • Why do humans groom animals?
    • What animals are groomed?
    • Generic grooming tasks
    • Common tools and equipment
    • Combs, brushes, rakes, blades and other equipment
    • Confidently handling animals Introduction
    • The industry and workplace opportunities
    • Workplace skills
    • Accessing the right information online
  2. Animal Biology
    • Skin – Epidermis & Dermis
    • Claws, Nails and Spurs
    • Hair
    • Horns
    • Hooves
    • Physiological control – Homeostasis
    • Thermoregulation
  3. Caring for the Skin and Coat
    • Animal nutrition
    • General nutrition
    • Micronutrition
    • Water requirements
    • Common skin problems in dogs and cats
    • Ringworm – fungal infection
    • Flea and flea control
    • Ticks and tick control
    • Lice and control
    • Mites (mange) and control
    • Treating skins problems in dogs and cats
    • Common skin problems in equines
    • Caring for the coat – brushing, bathing, blowdrying, dematting, clipping, trimming
    • Removing burrs from fur
    • Caring for cats – combing, brushing and bathing
  4. Specialised Grooming Tasks
    • Risks of working with animals
    • Selecting a suitable grooming location
    • Understanding animal psychology and behaviour
    • The flight or fight response
    • Environmental Influence on behaviour in zoo animals
    • General considerations when handling animals
    • Pre-restraint techniques
    • Physical restraint
    • Medical restraint – sedation
    • Safely handling different animals when grooming: dogs, cats, cattle, poultry, rabbits, captive wildlife
    • Handling Horses: Safe and Respectful
    • Catching, releasing, leading, tying up and working around the horse
    • Indicators of pain, mild fear and extreme fear
    • Transporting horses
  5. Handling Animals
    • Risks of working with animals
    • Selecting a suitable grooming location
    • Understanding animal psychology and behaviour
    • The flight or fight response
    • Environmental Influence on behaviour in zoo animals
    • General considerations when handling animals
    • Pre-restraint techniques
    • Physical restraint
    • Medical restraint – sedation
    • Safely handling different animals when grooming: dogs, cats, cattle, poultry, rabbits, captive wildlife
    • Handling Horses: Safe and Respectful
    • Catching, releasing, leading, tying up and working around the horse
    • Indicators of pain, mild fear and extreme fear
    • Transporting horses
  6. Grooming Dogs
    • Communication in dogs
    • Use of scent
    • Barking & body language
    • Grooming different types of dogs
    • Long Coat types
    • short coat types
    • single coat types
    • Double coat types
    • Smooth coat types
    • Wire haired coat types
    • Woolly or wavy coat types
    • Corded coat types
    • Bald or hairless coat types
    • Brushing and bathing care
    • Clipping and styling
    • Grooming procedures that can go wrong
    • Cutting toenails too short
    • Cuts or nicks when clipping
    • Overheating
    • Water trapped in the ear canal
  7. Grooming Exotic Animals
    • Grooming birds
    • Handling birds
    • Beaks
    • Feathers
    • Bathing birds
    • Grooming rabbits
    • Handling
    • moulting
    • Transporting
    • Grooming captive wildlife
    • Bathing small and large mammals
    • Handling large animals and exotics
    • Dangerous animals
    • Fear of humans
    • Issues with handling animals
    • Psychological effects of different handling techniques
    • Grooming areas
  8. Safety in Grooming Workplace
    • Safety for people and staff – workplace health and safety
    • First aid
    • Legislation and duty of care
    • Safety of animal owners and visitors to the premises
    • Protective equipment
    • A groomer’s personal protection
    • Equipment and workplace safety
    • Storage and disposal of chemicals
    • Handling Tools and Machinery
    • Safety with tools and equipment
    • Safety audit
    • Example of an audit checklist
    • Safety for animals and people
    • Transportation
    • Safety of the animal at the salon
    • Electrical safety – at home and the groomers
    • Slip risk – wet surfaces
    • Cat and dog allergies
  9. Preparing for Showing
    • What is animal showing?
    • Why do people show pets?
    • Showing dogs
    • Training your show puppy
    • Preparing for show – dogs
    • Days and evening before the show
    • The day of the show and in the ring
    • Showing – dress to impress
    • Showing poultry
    • Getting started – selecting your breed and buying your birds
    • Preparing birds for show
    • The day before the show
    • The day of the show
    • Showing cattle
    • Preparing cattle for show
    • In the show ring on the day
  10. The Business of Grooming Planning a new grooming business
    • The business plan
    • Financial planning
    • Long term goals
    • Medium term goals
    • Annual financial plan
    • Financial records
    • Commonly used finance related terminology
    • Cash flow
    • Make the business a success – know your market
    • Insurance and risks – risk analysis and managing risk
    • Groomers insurance

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the scope and nature of grooming animals, including the animals that are commonly groomed, the situations in which they are groomed, equipment that is used and the tasks carried out by a groomer.
  • Describe external anatomical structures and physiological processes of animals which are relevant to grooming.
  • Describe how to manage the coats of different types of animals.
  • Discuss tasks used in grooming animals that are supplementary to grooming the coat.
  • Describe a range of techniques used to control a variety of different types of animals during grooming.
  • Compare grooming techniques used for different types of dogs.
  • Describe a range of techniques used to groom a variety of different types of animals other than dogs.
  • Determine protocols for safety of both animals and groomers, when grooming different types of animals
  • Explain how to groom dogs, cats, horses and a variety of other animals for a show.
  • Explain how to establish or improve a grooming business to be more successful.

Grooming is Not Just a Luxury!

Grooming is a natural behavior in animals. It is often considered an innate behavior which means it is behavior that occurs without obvious environmental stimuli. Grooming also serves to establish and cement hierarchies and relationships within animal communities.

Instinctive acts and innate behaviour are considered to be coordinated movements and actions in response to stimuli. 

Some examples of natural grooming include cats scratching on posts (or furniture, or trees), licking, preening and dust baths. You will often find animals in herd or group situations grooming each other. A commonly recognised example would be monkeys picking each other’s coats for parasites. Some of these actions serve to sharpen or maintain claws, some to rid coats or features of parasites, some to smooth the coat – but each to maintain the integrity of the integumentary system.

The integumentary system, which is detailed in lesson two, is the system of the animal comprising the skin, hair and nail features and variations. This system is integral in protection of the internal structures, hence regular maintenance of this system will serve to enhance the health of the animal.

Why do humans groom animals?

Grooming is a key component of any animal care regime. It is essential to an animal’s health and welfare and can also provide aesthetic value. This aesthetic value may be used to promote an animal’s genetic potential for either commercial or social reasons. Grooming is widely preformed on pets, livestock and wildlife. People need to perform grooming tasks on animals which do not have direct access to their natural grooming systems and processes. 

In essence, by keeping and breeding animals out of their intended environment, we have limited their ability to perform these tasks for themselves. Therefore, in order to maintain optimal health, we must do it for them.

It is assumed you already know animals exist in many different shapes and size, colours and textures. Some have long or short fur while others have scales or feathers. These physical and anatomical variations serve different functions for animals and can be aesthetically pleasing. However, these variations mean humans have to conduct a variety of grooming tasks in order to maintain the animals in their care. 
Some services are essential to the animal’s health and wellbeing; while other services (at the opposite end of the spectrum) may be more about marketing than any practical benefit.
While most grooming techniques have been developed to fulfill practical necessity some techniques have been developed for aesthetic reasons. This mostly applies to companion animal grooming especially dogs, as dogs may be groomed to fit a breed standard or in a way to suit their owners taste, for example the classic poodle clip looks very different to the way poodle fur naturally grows. This also demonstrates the psychosocial role of grooming in some companion animals – it reflects on the owner and the value they place on how they are socially perceived. 
However, these enhancements are also applied to livestock in show situations, the purpose of which is to demonstrate their suitability for breeding and the superior traits which may be preserved by breeding with this stock.


Animal Grooming is a Booming Business Opportunity

Running a successful grooming business involves more than just being able to groom. You need to decide on the services you will offer, how you will package and deliver those services; what you will charge; and then manage the business itself.
Managing a grooming business involves the whole operation from the accounts and administration, marketing and advertising, customer service and client liaison and of course animal handling and grooming well. Any business needs to make a profit to be successful; as such it involves the balanced integration of all aspects of these businesses.

Our course can set you up with this knowledge.



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Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand
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Alison Pearce

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