YOU can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but learning new ones for dealing with man’s best friend is the basis of a course offering the chance to brush up on pet-grooming skills.
South Tyneside College has recruited canine-grooming expert Jemma Dodds to run training courses on looking after dogs.
Jemma, owner of Westoe Dog Grooming in South Shields, will lead the programme in new specialist facilities and will train students using dogs loaned by customers and friends.
The 28-year-old also hopes to take students into her premises in Westoe Village to show them the ins and outs of running a busy salon.
The dog lover, who began her business from home five years ago while undertaking her own training, said the introduction to dog grooming course is for those wanting to keep their pets looking good as well as those keen to groom professionally.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to this course, which is very much about grooming and knowing about the health of dogs.
“Some people get quite a shock when they realise just how much there is to learn and how physical the work is.
“I’m highly qualified and experienced, but many in this industry aren’t, and they go into homes to groom, but don’t know what they’re doing. That can cause all kinds of problems.”
Jemma was inspired to join the trade almost six years ago after she became the owner of Diego, a black cocker spaniel, while working in child protection for Northumbria Police, subsequently reducing her work hours to train for her current career.
She added: “I love all dogs, but large breeds are my favourite.
“Poodles are especially good to groom. They are very vain and love to look their best. You can see a poodle’s personality change from when they come in looking shaggy to leaving all fluffed up and looking gorgeous. Their strut and stance are priceless.
“I’ve no idea why, but shih-tzus are probably the dog I see most at the salon. They are very popular in South Tyneside. But any dog that loves being groomed is a pleasure to work with.”
The course, leading to a certificate, will run twice on Mondays, from 3pm to 6pm, and from 6pm to 9pm, from January 26, with eight places available for each session.
Jane Britton, the college’s head of school for applied studies and professional services, said: “It’s great to have Jemma supporting this course.
“She is very skilled and enthusiastic and has a real love of dogs.
“The college has excellent facilities, and the course will be very hands on.
“It’s the perfect way for people to find out about how to look after their dogs or to discover if a career in dog grooming is for them.”
More information is available by calling Susan Docherty on 427 3531 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org