Changing careers from the defence force to dog grooming may seem like a wild move, but, according to Nathan from Dash DogWash in Ulladulla,  it has been a very rewarding change.

There are multiple ex-defence force franchisees who have created thriving businesses across the two Dog Washing brands under The Franchise Group –  Blue Wheelers and Dash DogWash. Nathan started his dog grooming journey in March 2021 with Australia amid the pandemic.  He has a chat to AAPT magazine below.

Hi Nathan, please introduce yourself and your background.

I’m Nathan from Dash DogWash Ulladulla, New South Wales. I was in the military from November 2000 until April 2020. I was sent all around Australia, to every capital city. I spent 11 out of my 20 years of service at sea. I was a Bosun’s Mate for my first 7 years and then Military Police for the remainder of my service. Now, I live with my blended family in Ulladulla, my wife Kellie and our 5 children. The girls live with us full time and the boys, 50/50. We also have them on school holidays and they all go to different schools, so things can get pretty chaotic!

Why did you choose dog grooming post Military?

I never had an interest in dog grooming until 12 months before leaving the Navy. I thought, ‘I have 5 dogs (which are just like children) and geez it’s always a pain when they need a clip! ‘Maybe I could learn the skill.’ As I have 3 Toy Poodles and 3 Maltese Shih Tzus, they all need to be groomed regularly and it can take a long time per furcut. I love being around dogs and being able to be able to clip all 5 of my dogs is an added convenience. I took a long time researching different franchises before joining Dash DogWash. I found that Dash DogWash had the best offering for what my business goals were.

What’s the biggest difference between working for the defence and working for yourself?

Working for myself lets me be in control of my home and work life. I can work my own hours and take holidays when needed. A downside is that your income can vary until you build up to capacity. There is no set income, unlike the military. But, I enjoy every day knowing what I’m going to be up for,  in the way of what people and dogs I get to see.

Do you have any lessons you have learnt from your defence background that has helped you to manage your dog grooming business?

People skills definitely. Working with different types of people, big personalities and complex situations. No situation is ever the same and it’s similar in dog grooming. My defence career also helped me learn to deal with stressful situations.

What do you enjoy most about being a dog groomer?

Every day I get to have interactions with many different breeds, ages and types of dogs. No dog is ever the same. I also enjoy that their makeovers make the dog feel happier and owners enjoy the look, smell and feel of their dog again. Being mobile also makes the day easier for my customers. I conveniently come to them and they don’t have to leave their dog in a salon or cage for hours.

Is your business where you thought it would be at this stage?

I’m not a goal oriented person. I am not solely reliant on my dog grooming income, so I have been building steadily over time without that added pressure. After only 6 months, I am successful and have built a regular steady client base.

Has COVID-19 affected your business at all?

My business has not really been affected by COVID. I had one week off in July but that’s been it. Business as usual here, just a bit of extra PPE and COVID Safe guidelines to follow.

What challenges have you faced as a dog groomer?

From time to time, dogs can be difficult. No one thing works with every dog to calm them down. There’s many different techniques I’ve learned to relax a stressed dog.

What advice would you give to people thinking about a career change?

Changing careers can seem daunting. Investing in your own business is a big decision too.  Specifically in the defence force, you can feel institutionalised and that there’s no other World than defence. I recommend taking a leap of faith. There’s some really interesting careers and businesses out there. You only live once and the hardest step is the first one!

Dash DogWash takes all the hard work out of setting up your own business so you can get on the road to success as quickly as possible. As a Dash DogWasher you get your own marketing territory close to home, your own Big Yellow Kennel Trailer, a direct pathway to join the booming pet industry and all the training & support you need to build a successful business. If you’re interested in learning more about Dash DogWash business opportunities go to to get an information pack and book your no-obligation experience day to see what a day out as a dog groomer is really like. You might even get to spend a day with Nathan!