Petco vs. Petsmart Dog Grooming Training Programs

Petco and Petsmart are two of the most renowned names in the pet retail industry. Both offer a range of services, from pet supplies to veterinary care, and most notably, grooming services. As a prospective groomer, choosing between Petco and Petsmart grooming training programs can be a daunting decision.

Petco Grooming Training Program

The Training Structure

Petco’s grooming training program boasts of a structured approach to grooming that prioritizes not only technique but also animal safety and welfare. The process typically starts with a three-month stint as a bather. This allows trainees to familiarize themselves with handling different types of pets, their behaviors, and grooming requirements. After this initial period, trainees proceed to a six-week haircut school where they learn and master technical skills.

Compensation and Commitment

One of the appealing aspects of Petco’s training program is that trainees are paid during their training. However, there’s usually a contract that mandates trainees to work with the company for a specific period post-training. Failure to adhere to this contract could lead to a repayment obligation.

Petsmart Grooming Training Program

The Training Process

Similar to Petco, Petsmart also incorporates a period as a bather before moving onto advanced grooming techniques. However, the duration before one can proceed to the grooming academy can vary. The grooming academy emphasizes safety protocols, handling techniques, and basic grooming skills, preparing trainees for their grooming career.

Career Progression and Contractual Agreement

Petsmart encourages career progression, providing opportunities to move up the ranks, from bathers to fully qualified groomers. The transition is based on a combination of factors such as performance, time, and availability of positions. As for contractual obligations, Petsmart may also require groomers to remain with the company for a specific period after the training.

Comparing Petco vs. Petsmart: Key Differences

While both programs offer comprehensive grooming training, they do differ in some ways.


From various online discussions and reviews, it appears that Petco might provide more scheduling flexibility compared to Petsmart. This could be a significant factor for prospective groomers who have other commitments to balance.

Emphasis on Training

Some reviews suggest that Petco places more emphasis on extensive training, potentially giving trainees a more in-depth understanding of grooming techniques and pet behavior.

Pay Structure

In terms of pay structure, while it varies by location, some comments indicate that Petsmart might offer a more attractive compensation package. After completing the academy, groomers might be put on a commission system, providing the opportunity to earn more based on performance.


Choosing between Petco and Petsmart grooming training programs largely depends on individual preferences and circumstances. Both programs offer solid training and opportunities for career progression. It is crucial to consider factors like location, scheduling flexibility, contract stipulations, and the company’s culture when making your choice. Remember, what matters most is not only becoming a skilled groomer but also creating a nurturing and comfortable environment for pets in your care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Duration of the Training Programs?

The duration of the training programs varies between Petco and Petsmart, primarily depending on the trainee’s progress and the specific structure of each program. At Petco, trainees typically spend about three months as a bather before advancing to a six-week haircut school. Petsmart, on the other hand, does not have a fixed time for transition from bather to groomer, and it largely depends on factors such as performance and position availability.

Are There Any Costs Involved in the Training Programs?

The beauty of these training programs is that they are offered free of charge. Both Petco and Petsmart absorb the cost of training their prospective groomers. The goal is to ensure that trainees receive the necessary skills and knowledge without the burden of financial obligation, besides potential contractual work agreements post-training.

Can I Work Part-time During the Training Program?

While part-time options might be available, they largely depend on individual store policies and the flexibility offered. Given the nature of the training, a full-time commitment often proves beneficial to quickly gain the necessary skills and experience.

What Skills Will I Gain from These Training Programs?

Both Petco and Petsmart grooming training programs are comprehensive, offering a wide range of skills. Trainees learn how to safely handle different breeds of dogs, understand their behavior, administer baths, perform different types of haircuts, clean ears, trim nails, and identify potential skin issues. The emphasis is on providing a comfortable grooming experience for the pets while ensuring their safety and well-being.

What Career Opportunities are Available After the Training Program?

Once you complete the training program, you typically start as a junior groomer, handling basic grooming tasks. However, both Petco and Petsmart offer avenues for career progression. With experience, you can become a senior groomer handling more complex grooming tasks. There are also opportunities to become a salon leader or manager, where you’ll oversee salon operations and mentor new groomers.

Are There Any Contractual Obligations After the Training?

Yes, both Petco and Petsmart usually have a contract that stipulates a required period of work with the company post-training. This period varies and is meant to ensure that the company recoups its investment in your training. Breaching this contract might necessitate repayment of the training costs.

How is the Work Environment in These Companies?

While individual experiences can vary, both Petco and Petsmart are known for fostering supportive work environments. They uphold values centered on pet care and customer service. As a groomer, you would work in a team-oriented setting where collaboration and learning are encouraged.

What is the Expected Salary for a Newly Trained Groomer?

The expected salary for a newly trained groomer can vary based on location, hours worked, and individual store policies. Typically, many groomers work on a commission-based system, earning a percentage of the grooming services they provide. Additionally, base pay is also offered in most cases. It’s important to discuss this with your employer to understand your specific compensation structure.

How Much Hands-on Experience Will I Get During the Training Program?

Both Petco and Petsmart training programs place a significant emphasis on hands-on experience. From the initial period working as a bather to advanced grooming techniques, you’ll have ample opportunities to interact with different breeds and temperaments of dogs. This hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced groomers is crucial to understanding pet behavior and mastering the practical skills of grooming.

How Will These Training Programs Prepare Me for a Career in Pet Grooming?

The training programs at Petco and Petsmart are designed to equip you with the fundamental skills necessary for a successful career in pet grooming. They cover a wide range of topics including pet safety, handling techniques, breed-specific grooming needs, haircut styles, and customer service. Furthermore, the experience of working in a busy grooming salon provides practical insights into the business aspect of pet grooming.

Are There Opportunities for Continuous Learning and Skill Advancement?

Yes, both Petco and Petsmart encourage continuous learning and skill advancement. Beyond the initial training program, there are opportunities to learn new techniques, styles, and advancements in pet care. Regular workshops, seminars, and refresher courses are part of their commitment to professional development.

What Are the Requirements to Join the Training Program?

The basic requirements to join the grooming training program at both Petco and Petsmart typically include a minimum age requirement (often 18 years), a genuine interest in animal care, and the ability to perform physically demanding tasks. Previous experience with pets, while beneficial, is not a mandatory requirement as the training programs cater to beginners.

Will I Only Learn to Groom Dogs?

While the primary focus of the training programs at Petco and Petsmart is dog grooming, the skills and techniques you learn can be applicable to other animals. However, specific grooming needs of other pets like cats, rabbits, or guinea pigs might require additional training or experience. It’s always beneficial to discuss your career goals with the training coordinator or salon leader.

Are There Any Job Placement Services Available After the Training Program?

Upon successful completion of the training program, both Petco and Petsmart typically provide opportunities for employment within their grooming salons. However, these opportunities might depend on factors such as salon needs, job performance during the training, and contractual obligations.

What is the Schedule Like During the Training Program?

Most training programs adhere to standard business hours, but the specifics can depend on the salon’s operational hours. Some flexibility might be offered, but this is subject to individual salon management and training schedules. Generally, it’s advisable to commit full-time hours for the most comprehensive learning experience.

Will I Learn About Specific Breeds During the Training?

Yes, an important component of the training programs at Petco and Petsmart involves learning about specific dog breeds. This includes understanding breed characteristics, specific grooming needs, and appropriate handling techniques. Recognizing the needs of different breeds is crucial to providing tailored grooming services.

How Many Dogs Will I Be Expected to Groom Each Day?

The number of dogs you will groom each day can vary based on your skill level, the complexity of grooming tasks, and the salon’s volume of appointments. Initially, the focus will be on learning and mastering the techniques rather than the number of dogs groomed. As you gain proficiency, you can expect to handle a larger number of dogs.

How Do I Handle Difficult Dogs?

Handling difficult or anxious dogs is a common challenge in pet grooming. Both Petco and Petsmart training programs impart essential skills in animal behavior and handling techniques. These include understanding stress signals, using calming techniques, and knowing when to give the animal a break. Safety of the pet and groomer is always prioritized.

Can I Specialize in a Particular Type of Grooming?

As you gain experience and expertise in grooming, you might find a specific area you are particularly interested in, such as breed-specific grooming, creative grooming, or cat grooming. Both Petco and Petsmart generally support groomers who wish to specialize and might offer further training and resources in your area of interest. Always discuss your career aspirations with your salon leader or manager.

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