Dogs account for almost 40% of pets owned by U.S. families. That amounts to a staggering 76,811,305 mutts, according to recent AVMA statistics. But not all dogs are family pets; many work for a living!
Little wonder then that there are plenty of well-paid canine careers on offer for dog lovers who want to take their love of all things canine to the next level. Whether you want a fun, part-time dog job to fit around your family life or a full-time position that offers career advancement opportunities, you must read this guide!
Best 24 Jobs Working With Dogs
Jobs working with dogs can be challenging, fun, and incredibly rewarding. Check out these 24 dog-related careers and get inspired!
Jobs At The Clinic
As a veterinary medicine professional, you’ll work with all kinds of animals, diagnosing and treating various conditions and injuries.
There’s a lot of study involved in gaining the qualifications you need, and you must be academically gifted and hardworking to attain the certification you need for this role. The work usually involves working shifts and weekends. You may be based in a clinic setting, but you’ll most likely be required to make house calls, too.
Generally, the pay for this career is good, and the satisfaction you gain from the job is priceless.
If a veterinarian’s role is a little too full-on or you don’t fancy the five-year training course that’s required to fully qualify, you may prefer to work as a vet tech.
A vet tech assists the veterinary surgeon, carrying out various procedures, including:
- Placing catheters
- Drawing blood
- Managing anesthesia during surgery
- Dispensing and giving medications
This role’s pay is generally pretty good, but you will be expected to work shifts and provide weekend cover for in-patients.
The veterinary assistant role is essentially one step down from the vet tech.
As a veterinary assistant, you will be responsible for feeding, exercising, and grooming the dogs and other animals that are spending time as in-patients at your vet clinic. You’ll also monitor animals following surgery, prepare theatre equipment, prepare and clean accommodation for animals attending the clinic.
You may be asked to work some weekends and provide overnight cover for in-patients.
A canine hydrotherapist uses water as a form of low-impact physiotherapy to help dogs recover from injury or ease the discomfort of chronic debilitating conditions such as arthritis. Hydrotherapy is also used as part of an exercise program for overweight pets, enabling the dog to lose weight through exercise without placing undue stresses or strain on its muscles and joints.
To do this job, you must be able to swim, have an aptitude for science, and love dogs! You will also need to study for a range of qualifications and certificates through your national canine hydrotherapy body.
Trainers And Behavior Consultant
Animal Behavior Consultant
Animal behavior consultants generally work with specific kinds of animals, for example, dogs.
In this role, you’ll study the way in which dogs behave to try to work out why they act. You will attend dog owners’ homes to observe how they interact with their pets to determine why the dog is misbehaving. Then, you’ll explain what action and changes the family can make to cure the problem.
A dog trainer devises training programs to promote desirable behavior in a dog. You can either work with owners and their pets or take on a more specialist role, for example, as a trainer of service dogs.
As well as training the dogs, you will be responsible for helping owners to continue their pet’s education. In an easy case, you’ll develop a training plan for each individual dog. You may also choose to run an organized group dog and puppy training classes, often in consultation with your local veterinary clinic.
Assistance Dog Trainer
Assistance dogs play a vital role in helping their owners to live happier, safer, healthier lives. These days, there are several different functions performed by assistance dogs, including:
- Guide dogs
- Medical detection dogs
- Seizure alert dogs
Puppies begin their training when they are between six to eight weeks old. Training assistance dogs is a highly specialized field, and you should find out what qualifications and experience you need by contacting the specific organization you want to work with for more information.
You may need to work as a volunteer to gain the necessary experience before progressing to working in this field.
Jobs In Dog Shows
Dog Show Handler
Successful, professional dog show handlers can command six-figure salaries and are often more respected than dog show judges; who knew?!
Professional dog handlers travel to dog shows where they exhibit owner’s dogs in the show ring. The handler is also responsible for ensuring that the dog is groomed and presented to perfection, giving it the best chance of picking up the blue ribbon. Often, the very sight of a highly respected professional handler can influence the judge’s decision; hence the reason pros are so much in demand.
Dog Show Judge
To be a dog show judge, you must have sufficient knowledge and experience in the particular breed you want to judge.
The Kennel Club recommends that their judges have at least five years’ involvement in working with pedigree dogs before they apply for registration as an official. Becoming a professional dog show judge is a complicated, time-consuming process, and not everyone will always agree with your decisions!
If you fancy a career in the police or military, you could choose to work as a K9 handler.
Dog handlers usually train their dogs from scratch, as well as care for them so that the bond between handler and dog is strong. That’s essential, as some of the work you and your dog will be required to do may be potentially dangerous.
Your dog could be trained as a detection dog, searching vehicles and containers for contraband goods and trafficked people, or you could work in public order enforcement.
Generally, you need to have several years’ experience in your basic service role before you can specialize.
Jobs In Dog Grooming And Care
If the idea of shampooing a Schnauzer or trimming a terrier appeals to you, then you might enjoy a career as a professional dog groomer.
The best way to get into this career is to start by working with a qualified pro groomer to learn the craft. You will then need to achieve certification with the National Dog Groomers Association. Once you’re qualified, you can work freelance or even set up your own grooming salon, catering for pampered pooches in your area.
Although grooming is a fun job, you may have to deal with some tricky canine customers, and it can be a dirty job!
Dog walkers play a major welfare role in modern society, exercising dogs while their busy owners are out at work during the daytime or working shifts.
Also, many owners prefer not to put their dogs in boarding kennels while they go on vacation. Dog sitters live-in so that the dog can stay at home and enjoy his usual routine without the stress of staying in kennels.
Dog walking and dog sitting are both very responsible jobs. You must be happy to work without supervision and be prepared to venture out in all weathers, too!
A kennel assistant provides the care that boarded dogs need. That includes feeding, exercising, giving the dogs medication where required, and cleaning the kennels. Some kennels also provide a doggy taxi service, and you may be expected to help with that, too.
As a kennel assistant, you could work in a private boarding kennel, breeding kennels, charity shelter, or rescue center. Although this is a fun job for a dog lover, the work is physically demanding, and you must be prepared to clean up after your charges.
Unfortunately, kennel assistant work is typically not very well paid.
Doggy Day Care
Doggy day care is a rapidly growing industry.
Many hardworking families want to enjoy the many benefits of dog ownership, but they have to be away all day at work. Doggy day care offers an alternative to dog sitting and boarding kennels.
Doggy day care facilities are usually based in the caregiver’s home or purpose-adapted premises. Canine guests spend the day as part of the family, playing with other dogs, enjoying meals, going for walks, and joining in with playtime. Some facilities offer overnight stays and a collection and drop-off service too.
Animal Massage Therapist
Animal massage therapists work primarily with dogs and horses, using their advanced knowledge of physiology, anatomy, and massage techniques to help the animal’s recovery following an injury or to manage conditions such as arthritis.
You will typically work in conjunction with local veterinarians, pet owners, and other animal professionals, although most animal massage therapists are self-employed freelancers.
Dog Restaurant Owner
Eating out is not just for pet owners! Did you know that there is a whole range of restaurants with a menu that’s lovingly designed just for your four-legged furry friends?
As a dog restaurant owner, you would devise menus that offer safe, nutritious food for your doggy diners and provide a safe, dog-friendly environment for your guests.
Although this is a super-fun job, you’ll need to consider health and safety provisions for your guests, and their owners, the overheads that running a restaurant entails, and the cost of insurance. So, although it’s a rewarding role, managing a dog restaurant does come with its fair share of headaches.
Dog breeding is a very rewarding career that also pays well, depending on the type of dogs you choose to raise.
Responsible breeders are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC). Once approved, you can advertise your breeding kennels and puppies on the AKC website.
As a dog breeder, you must have an understanding of canine reproduction, pregnancy, whelping, and the things that can go wrong. You’ll also need to understand how the breed studbook works and acquire healthy, well-bred breeding stock.
Running a dog breeding business can be expensive, as you must provide appropriate facilities, insurance, and veterinary cover, as well as food for your dogs and puppies.
Retail Pet Store Personnel
If you’re a dog lover who also enjoys working with people, a career working in a retail pet store environment might suit you.
You’ll be expected to develop an in-depth knowledge of the store’s merchandise range so that you can assist customers in making the right choice of product for their pets. You may also be required to stack shelves, pack customer orders for delivery, and care for any pets for sale in the store.
Although working in a pet store is generally quite low paid, this kind of job is perfect for those dog lovers who are looking for a part-time or school vacation position.
Dog Writer, Dog Blogger
If you’re an experienced dog owner with a talent for writing, you might enjoy working as a dog writer or blogger. Dog writers and bloggers create content for publication on internet websites and magazines.
Although you don’t need any official qualifications for this kind of work, you do need a good command of your native language. Also, you must acquire a working knowledge of SEO and writing for the internet.
You could create your own website, go freelance, or work exclusively as a staff writer for a magazine. I started out by writing part-time for low-paying content mills, where I gained valuable experience in creating content and copy for the net. Now, I work full-time doing something I love and making a pretty good living at it too!
Crafting with Dogs in Mind
If you love dogs and crafting, you could combine both your passions and start your own business.
Dog lovers will buy pretty much anything canine-related, whether that’s cards, D.I.Y. dog toys, doggy décor, dog clothing, or dog-themed gifts for friends. Market and sell your products through your own website, via drop-shipping, or buy a stand at a trade fair.
Dog lovers with a talent for photography might fancy working as a dog photographer.
Dog photographers create keepsakes and gifts for dog owners, as well as attending dog shows and providing images for magazines, marketing agencies, and the like.
Why not get busy with your camera? Your best shot might even win you the Dog Photographer of the Year award!
Spending time around dogs can be incredibly valuable for those who are suffering from stress and other forms of physical and mental illness.
If you chose a career working with dogs in an animal-assisted therapy role, you and your dog would spend time visiting people in their homes, in care facilities, and even hospitals. This is a rewarding role that would be perfect for you if you love helping people and spending time around dogs.
Animal Control Officer
As an animal control officer, you’re responsible for enforcing animal licensing laws and humane care regulations to maintain public safety.
Animal control personnel are usually employed by a city, county, or the federal government. In this role, you’ll be working with all kinds of animals, including dogs, and your duties will include:
- Catching and impounding strays
- Investigating animal cruelty cases
- Enforcing licensing laws
- Rescuing trapped animals
- Providing care for animals under your supervision
- Attending court to provide expert testimony
Sheepdogs are trained to herd sheep and other livestock. Dogs are often used for herding on farms where the terrain is unsuitable for quad bikes or in tandem with them.
Although there are online courses in sheepdog handling, the best way to learn the craft is to spend time shadowing and working with someone with considerable experience in this ancient art.
Sheepdog breeds vary depending on the whereabouts in the world you are located. However, the most popular breed internationally is the Border Collie. To work in this field, you must be prepared to spend your days outside in all weather, and you must be physically fit.
If you love dogs, there are plenty of careers that would suit you. From pampering pooches in your very own canine salon to working with sick dogs at your local veterinary surgery or shelter, there are dog-related roles to suit everyone.
Not all jobs working with dogs are highly paid or glamorous. But that smiling face, lolling tongue, and wagging tail will more than compensate for the downsides of your chosen career path.