Careers with canines (Part 2)

Here are more careers and jobs in the world of dogs


The previous article in this series featured jobs such as dog handler, dog show judge, show superintendent, AKC staff member, groomer, trainer, dog sitter and dog walker, animal behaviorist, and boarding kennel owner or worker. Now we’ll go on to artists and craftsmen; pet supply manufacturer, store owner, or worker; medical professions; animal control officer; shelter worker; police canine handler; writer; and photographer and we’ll add a list of contacts at the end.


Dog food and equipment companies and pet supply stores need regular corporation employees from clerks and secretaries to managers and officers as well as product designers and engineers. Some companies specialize in particular types of equipment such as dog houses, dog crates and carriers, or leashes and collars; others make a variety of items. Companies that make food, flea control products, shampoos, and supplements need researchers and technicians to work in laboratories as well as corporate and retail employees.

A pet supply store can be a large or small business. The super stores belonging to regional or national chains need many types of employees from cashiers to stockboys and sometimes use groomers and trainers as well. The small stores are likely to be family businesses with only a few employees who learn many jobs from waiting on customers to ordering merchandise.

Artists and craftsmen

Dog owners often collect paintings, jewelry, sculptures, note paper, clothing, mugs, and other items for their homes and for gifts, providing opportunities for talented artists and craftsmen. Many artists travel the dog show circuit with their wares – everything from oil paintings and pastel sketches to hand-painted jackets, hand-cast jewelry, and fashions sewn in doggy fabric – and enjoy the dog show at the same time.

Publishing companies need illustrators to provide drawings for books. Most illustrators go to art school to home their skills and add to their resumés, but artists and craftsmen who sell directly to the public or to galleries or specialty stores need attractive work, not an art degree.

Veterinary medicine

Veterinarians are the equivalent of human medical doctors. They need at least four years at a veterinary college after four years of undergraduate work, and need additional years if they plan to specialize. Veterinarians can be general practitioners, taking care of puppies and dogs, doing some surgeries, advising clients on pet care, and diagnosing and treating diseases. They can be specialists in internal medicine, reproduction, behavior, bones, eye diseases, etc. or work in research on anything from cancer treatment and prevention in humans and animals to canine nutrition or drug development. They can write textbooks and articles for pet owners and professionals, help enforce animal health laws, or work in animal shelters – the possibilities are almost endless.

Veterinary technicians attend two-year college programs to learn how to help the doctor in his work. Technicians give shots, draw blood, get animals ready for surgery, monitor them during surgery, take x-rays, and do whatever else needs to be done to keep animals comfortable in the hospital. They also work in research labs, animal shelters, kennels, and companies that manufacture animal foods and supplements.

Animal control officer and shelter worker

Animal control officers in many areas are police officers who happen to enforce laws about animal laws. They help educate the public about dog care, write tickets for unlicensed dogs, and impound stray dogs found on the streets. Sometimes they go to court to testify against a dog owner who has violated the law.

Many animal control officers are also humane agents who investigate complaints of cruelty to animals.

Although animal control officers and shelter managers are paid, many shelter workers are volunteers. A good way for young people to find out if they can work with dogs every day is to volunteer at a shelter to groom, exercise, socialize, and clean the kennel.

Security dog (Police dog) handlers

Many police departments use dogs to track and attack criminals, sniff for drugs or bombs, and search for victims of crimes or disasters. Police dog handlers train their own dogs, go to training camps and seminars, and work in all kinds of weather and circumstances. The dogs live in their homes as family pets when they are not on duty.

Many police departments depend on volunteer search and rescue teams to provide dogs for most jobs instead of keeping dogs themselves. These teams provide opportunities for people to get involved in search and rescue without becoming a police officer.

All branches of the military use dogs for a varietty of security purposes. For information visit any recruiting office.


Students who like to write about dogs may find a market for stories and articles in general dog magazines, pet magazines, newspapers, or publications for children or families. Those with a special interest in a dog sport may sell an article to a magazine for hunters, sled-dog enthusiasts or working dog owners.

There is a market for dog books – breed books, training books, medical books, breeding books, breed selection books, and more. Book writers usually need an agent and work with an editor at the publishing company.

Freelance writers come up with their own ideas and peddle them to magazines, newspapers, and book publishers. It is difficult to make a living as a freelance writer until you are well-established, but feature writers and editors on well-known publications make a comfortable living.


If you like to take pictures of dogs, you can become a dog show photographer, work for a magazine, take freelance photos and submit them to various publishers, or set up a studio and take dog portraits.

Winners at dog show like pictures of their dog with the judge. A dog show photographer contracts with the show committee to take the pictures and deals directly with the dog owner when the picture is taken. A dog show photographer might take more than 100 photos in a day and often needs an assistant or two for a large show.

Show photographers and studio photographers are small businessmen and must market their pictures in order to make a living. Magazine, book, and newspaper photographers work on assignment and are paid by the publisher for the work they complete.


The best resources are local. If you want to work with dogs, talk to a veterinarian, groomer, boarding kennel owner, or other business person involved with dog care to find out about education, opportunities, and details about the job. Or you can write to these organizations or search for websites for information about careers with dogs.

Norma Bennett Woolf

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