Written by Ella White
Love dogs so much you want to work with them? We don’t blame you! For many of the team at Front of the Pack, our love for our pets is what inspired us to take up a job working not just with dogs, but for the great good of their health and lifestyle.
So if you’re considering a similar path but aren’t sure exactly what you want to do yet, let us help you with some inspiration. These are some of the best careers working with dogs.
A vet tech (or veterinary assistant, a role which often shares responsibilities with a technician) helps veterinarians with jobs around the practice, such as caring for and cleaning up after animals, and helping pet owners and clients. Some vet techs train in specialist areas, while others have a more generalized role.
The tasks carried out by a vet tech include organizing, cleaning, and operating equipment in the lab or surgical theater so require a level of medical training. But they’re also involved in admin and clerical work including client-facing tasks so a friendly manner and patience are also essential. Vets and vet techs deal with pet owners who tend to be stressed and often upset, meaning a calm and empathetic personality is helpful.
However, the role can be fairly well paid and is very rewarding for those who love animals and have an interest in animal medicine.
If you want a hands-on role working with dogs that isn’t quite as in-depth or medical as veterinary work, becoming a dog groomer is a great way to go. Not only do you get to spend the day hanging out with adorable pooches, but you help them look their best too. Dogs require professional grooming not just for aesthetic purposes but to help keep them healthy, so it’s an important role that’s highly regarded by fellow dog owners.
But it’s not all bathing and brushing. Dog groomers have to get stuck into some less desirable tasks, too. Such as ear and teeth cleaning and de-fleaing. To become a groomer, you can enroll in a grooming course or become an assistant at a dog groomer’s to learn the trade. The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to work with show dogs and breeds that need very specific requirements, as well as easier-to-care-for pet dogs.
Some dogs can be difficult. Some hate grooming. Some feel anxious when they’re separated from their owners. And some don’t like to be touched, especially by strangers. But a dog groomer’s role is to stay calm and work with the dog. For this reason, it’s a job best suited to experienced dog owners that feel confident around animals that aren’t their own.
An up-side of a career in dog grooming is that it has the potential to bring in a high salary, and is flexible to work around your own availability. You can choose the hours you work, and where – even setting up a parlor from your own home or a mobile dog grooming van if it suits you.
Though many of the workers at an animal shelter will be volunteers, there are paid roles available for those who work in more administrative roles. Volunteers tend to handle the animals’ care like cleaning and walking, and work with the people who are looking to adopt an animal from the shelter.
However there is often still a need for paid roles, like shelter manager and jobs in accounting and finance, which are harder to cover with unpaid workers. So if you want a job that helps animals, including dogs, but isn’t necessarily a hands-on physical role, working at a shelter could be a good option.
Most shelters are charities, meaning that salaries tend to be modest and are often based on the amount of money the shelter is able to make in a year. But workers can still make a living in these roles, and find them very rewarding.
All dog owners like the idea of training their pups perfectly from home. But in reality, many dogs have specific individual needs and can be tricky for owners to train themselves – especially if they’re inexperienced. So, dog trainers don’t just train dogs but they train owners in how to train their own dogs, too!
Dog trainers can work with pets in obedience, behavior, and socialization. But they can also work with professional dogs, for example care and assistance animals, and even in police and military units. How advanced you want to become as a trainer is up to you – and you can learn with another trainer before setting out on your own, or enroll in a professional course to develop more advanced skills and work within specific dog-training professions.
Dog trainers can earn a good living working with dog owners to help them train their pets. Some trainers even specialize in very specific types of commands, and can make more money off their specialism.
Slightly different to a trainer, a dog behaviorist is more like a therapist. Even well-trained dogs can need the help of a behaviorist to help them overcome trauma responses and other psychological issues, and to help their owners understand the dog’s needs better.
Though this is a fairly new and emerging job, dog behaviorists can make a good living as their skills are highly specialized and sought after – particularly with owners of rescue dogs. However, extensive experience is required to become a high-level professional dog behaviorist which means there are limited numbers of people with the knowledge and expertise to make it their career.
An academic understanding of animal science and behavior, and hands-on experience working extensively with animals is essential to become a professional dog behaviorist. But if you have that, you won’t be short of work as these specific requirements mean there’s not much competition.
When owners go away, their dogs need somewhere to stay. And that’s where boarding kennels come in. It’s not always easy to find a trustworthy dog- and house-sitter, and if owners are going away for a longer stretch of time they’ll want to leave their pet somewhere that they know will be well looked after. So if you run a boarding kennel you’ll be constantly surrounded by furry friends taking their own holiday.
You could manage or work at an existing kennel, or run your own. The tasks carried out by a boarding kennel are very varied, and range between feeding, playing with, and exercising the dogs, cleaning out their crates after they leave, ordering supplies like food and cleaning products, and dealing with clients.
Owning or managing a dog kennel requires patience, reliability, and a high level of experience looking after dogs. You’ll need to be confident with different breeds, temperaments, and specific requirements and not afraid to deal with stubborn or temperamental animals.
Most boarding kennels charge by the day for each dog they look after, with other additional fees incurred for extra services. This could include grooming services, and home pick-ups and drop-offs. Though some kennel owners run their businesses on the side of another career, many people make a full-time job of owning and managing a boarding kennel.
If your dream is to spend all day every day looking after dogs – or if you’d love to own a dog but your lifestyle or situation means you can right now – then working as a dog sitter is the perfect solution that requires less time and dedication than running a kennel. Dog sitters look after dogs in the family’s home while they are away, which means that as well as being experienced with dogs, you also need to be trustworthy and reliable.
Some dog owners hiring dog sitters might ask the sitter to stay at their home for the duration that their dog needs looking after. While others might require a few hours a day, or a couple of visits per day to ensure the dog is walked, fed, watered, and cleaned up after.
Dog-sitting can be a full time job, especially in towns and cities where dog owners want someone to take care of their pets while they’re out at work. However, it’s an adaptable role which many people choose to do part time around their other responsibilities.
Dog walkers look after other people’s dogs for a few hours each day, taking them out for long walks when their owners aren’t able to. Many people that employ dog walkers use them on odd days when they don’t have time to fit in walkies, while others use them daily to make sure their dogs get enough exercise while the owner works.
Though most rural dog owners don’t require a walker, many urban workers struggle to find the time to take their furry friends out to a nice green space where they can frolic. So dog walking is a booming business. Some dog walkers also double as dog sitters, and will look after dogs for their clients if they go away, once they have built a relationship.
Many dog walkers walk multiple pets at one time, so reliability, experience and confidence with animals, and patience are all essential. You’ll also need to love the outdoors – not just when the sun is shining – as dogs need their walkies in all weathers!
Usually, dog walkers get paid on a daily or hourly rate and usually work part-time. However, in areas with high demand for dog walkers it is possible to turn the job into a profitable business.
It might sound more like a hobby than a job, but the demand for professional animal photographers is on the rise. As well as working with individuals wanting pictures of their pets, animal photographers can also find work with dog clubs, dog shows, specialist magazines and websites, professional services such as vets. groomers, or boarding kennels that need marketing materials to promote themselves online, and even as an artist selling prints of your work photographing animals including dogs.
Though most animal photographers will develop their skills in more generic types of photography before going into animal photography professionally, if you have an interest in animals then they make a great subject to focus on.
Many photographers work part time and monetize their hobby on the side of their career, while others make a full-time job of it. How you get paid will depend on the type of photography you do and for whom. But one thing is true – people are happy to spend money on good quality photography, especially of their animals!
Though not always a hands-on role working with dogs and animals, a pet supply store is essential for dog owners, and you’re bound to have plenty of furry clientele coming through the door. Pet supply stores sell everything from toys to food and bedding to educational books and other accessories that pets and their owners need.
Running a pet supply store requires some business knowledge, people skills, and an understanding of the kind of things that customers will want – and at what price. Keeping up to date with the competition will be as important as your knowledge of animals themselves, so if you want to help animals without working directly with them this is a great option.
If you want to get more involved with the pets that come into your store, you could offer additional services like dog sitting, grooming, and even training and education sessions to help people understand how to be good pet owners or learn more about different aspects of pet ownership. Though running a pet supply store can earn you a decent salary, running additional services and working with other animal-focused businesses and charities in your area is a great way to boost income.