1st Have the Passion
2nd Learn (eg. start with a basic course like Animal Health Care or Pet Care)
3rd Network -connect with industry
4th Get experienced (eg. volunteer at an animal shelter)
5th Get to know the options and start a business or get a job
Dog Grooming
Dog grooming is a rapidly growing industry. Most salons are located at privately owned premises dealing only with dog grooming. Other outlets such as veterinary surgeries and kennels may also offer this service. In addition there are also mobile groomers who visit and groom dogs in their own homes. There are three main routes to pursue with a view to becoming a dog groomer. Private grooming salons may offer training courses, almost all of these are on a fee paying basis. Some private salons offer apprenticeships to young people interested in the job. There are also recognized qualifications that can be done at college or by correspondence courses Training will provide you with the skills on:
  • Animal behavior and control
  • Best safety practices
  • Characteristics of different breeds and types of pets
  • Recognising health conditions that a pet’s vet should be alerted to
  • How to recognize animal skin disorders
  • Specifics on parasites such as ticks and fleas
  • Bathing procedures
  • Cutting, Brushing, combing and drying
  • How to use and where to get the right grooming products and supplies

 To be a good dog groomer you need to have the following:

  • Ability to handle dogs of different temperaments – not all dogs want to be groomed
  • Patience to handle uncooperative dogs
  • Good hand to eye coordination in order to be able to do a good grooming the dog and also to ensure that at no point is the dog in danger of receiving a nick or cut from a slipped pair of scissors.
  • Good customer service and business skills are highly desirable.
Dog Training

Dog training involves helping owners to work with their dogs to achieve a basic level of obedience which is a vital part of responsible dog ownership. The best way to get involved in this industry is to contact a local dog training group (details of which can be found on the internet) and ask if you can observe their sessions. It is advisable to have a good understanding of dog behaviour and a real empathy with the dogs and their owners. Dog trainers can offer the following services:

  1. Basic obedience exercises – Sit, Stand, Down, Recall, Walk nicely, leave food, pay attention. You will also teach puppy owners/handlers about bite inhibition, natural dog behaviours, socialiation/habituation and the needs of their dog. You can also help owners to understand how their dog learns so they can teach their dog anything they would like it to understand.

  2. Advanced Obedience (competition or fun) - close heel work, sharp turns, long stay, send away, scent discrimination etc Agility – competition or fun – jumps, weaves, tunnels, A frame – fast and accurate. There are many courses and books on the market to help learn about dog training but there is no substitute for actually becoming involved with a dog training club to get the practical experience.
Dog Behaviour Counsellor
This job involves working with dogs who have specific behavioural problems such as aggression, barking, phobias etc. To become a pet behaviour counsellor, you will need an academic knowledge of the theory of behaviour and solutions to problems, practical handling skills and experience, and an empathy with, and an ability to communicate and motivate owners. There is no single route for study but there are an increasing number of courses related to pet behaviour counseling available. Most dog behaviour counselors will have studied animal behaviour, veterinary medicine, psychology, or one of the biological sciences.
Dog Walking
Dog walking is becoming a very popular business as many people are now working longer hours and do not have the time to exercise their pet. No formal qualifications are needed to become a dog walker but obviously its beneficial if you have experience of owning and walking dogs and a love for dogs in general. You also need to be quite fit. Adverts can be placed in local papers or in shop windows or you could start your own website. Many councils have specific rulings on the numbers of dogs that can be walked at any one time. It is recommended that no more than 4 dogs are walked at one time by any single person. Any more than and they may develop a pack mentality and become difficult to control. Insurance is not compulsory but should be seriously considered in case the dogs in your care damage property or injure anyone.
Boarding Kennels
These kennels provide temporary accommodation for dogs whilst their owners are away on holiday or cannot have them at home for any other reason eg illness. Jobs would include feeding, cleaning out, grooming and exercising the dogs. Good customer service skills are also required. To run a boarding kennels you will need good management skills as well as an excellent knowledge of dogs care and behaviour. Most countries require boarding kennels to have a licence to prove they meet the required standards. Rescue Centres and Shelters These kennels are usually run by a charity eg RSPCA or the local council. They take in and care for unwanted or stray dogs. Many of these may have behavioural problems or have been subject to mistreatment and neglect so require a lot of patience when handling them.

A good knowledge of dog behaviour is therefore important when working in rescue centres. Most dogs will be rehomed but some may have to stay at the kennels on a long term basis. When working at rescue kennels, in addition to feeding, cleaning, grooming and exercising the dogs, it may be necessary to advice the public on the suitability of the dogs for rehoming. Assistance Dogs Guide dogs Guide dogs associations in many countries rely on the services of volunteers to help their organization.

Puppy walkers ensure puppies become familiar with busy shopping centres, public transport and family life. They look after the puppy until it’s just over a year old and teach basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’. There are also opportunites to be a voluneteer boarder. This involves dropping off the young dogs with their trainers each morning and collecting them later and caring for them at weekends. Boarders also look after working guide dogs when their owners go into hospital or in other emergency situations. Jobs are also available with breeding guide dogs and in their more advanced training.
Hearing dogs
Hearing dogs are trained to alert their own who may be deaf or hard of hearing to every day sounds eg door bells, kettles, smoke alarms. The training of a hearing dog takes around 18 months, consisting of initial puppy socialisation training (eight weeks to 12-14 months) with volunteers before moving onto sound work training at a training centre. During this period a suitable recipient for each dog is identified. The recipient and hearing dog then spend a period of time training together before qualifying as an official partnership. Volunteers can help by being a puppy socialiser This requires to taking on a puppy and have him or her living in your home for around 12 months. So long as you are over 18 anyone can apply, although you must have the time, the commitment and be physically able to provide basic training, socialisation and exercise for your puppy.


Guide (Seeing) and Assistance dogs

These dogs are used to have been used to support people with physical impairments, mostly full or partial blindness. Typically, Golden Retrievers and Labradors are used for this job as they are very trainable, loveable, smart and their appearance is less threatening than some other larger dogs. Labradors also have soft mouths, which is very useful when picking things up for their owners/handlers. Golden retrievers and Labradors are not the only dogs used as guide dogs though.  Guide or seeing dogs are aso intelligent that they will disobey commands if they feel that it is not in the best interests of their handler.  This is known as “intelligent disobedience.”  During their training, if they are given an unsafe cue from their handler, they are taught to disobey. For example, if their handler tells them to step into the road when there is traffic coming, they will refuse. They are not able to read traffic signals or decide on a new route.  The handler will determine where they are going, so it is always up to the handler to decide the route, but the guide dog may start to learn a routine route that they often go, but the dog knows that the handler is always in charge.

This is a specialised area of animal training. This would involve training and socialising of seeing dogs or other assistance animals. Assistance dogs require an assistance animal trainer to work with them closely. That person may be employed by a charity organisation such as Guide Dogs association. Some people working in this area start out working alongside established animal trainers; and progress to assistance animals such as seeing dogs later on.

Dog Handlers

Dogs are used extensively by the armed forces, the police force and customs officers. You would need to be a trained member of one of these organizations to be eligible to become a dog handler. In the police force dogs are used for:

  • tracking missing persons
  • controlling crowds, for example at football matches
  • searching for explosives or illegal drugs
  • chasing armed criminals  guarding prisoners
  • searching for stolen property
  • search for human remains
  • support armed officers.

In the Armed forces dogs are used in:

  • guarding military bases and aircraft hangers
  • locating land mines and other explosives
  • searching for casualties.
  • Revenue and Customs use dogs at ports, airports and large stations to detect:
  • drugs, tobacco and cigarettes
  • food products such as meat and dairy produce that are being brought into the country illegally.

In the security industry dogs are used for:

  • patrolling and guarding property
  • guarding construction sites
  • searching for explosives or illegal drugs 
  • providing security at events. They are also used in the fire service, the prison service and mountain rescue.
Retail Pet shops
Pet shops offer a wide range of dog products eg food, bedding, toys etc and customers may frequently ask pet shop staff for advice on looking after their dog. In this respect they need to employ staff, who have a good knowledge on all aspects of dog care. The laws governing sale of puppies and dogs in pet shops varies from country to country. It is widely recognised by reputable breeders and animal welfare organizations that petshops are not the best place to keep puppies. There is often doubt as to the source of the puppies and they cannot be socialized in a way that will make them good pets and companions. It is far better when buying puppy, to source one from a reputable breeder.