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11 Real Jobs Working with Dogs (2023)

Dogs have been man’s best friend for centuries, providing companionship and love while performing valuable services

Dogs are used in law enforcement, search and rescue, therapy, and other roles. Dogs are happy and fulfilled working these jobs, but what about jobs for all the dog-loving humans out there? I know a job working with dogs would sure make me happy.

jobs working with dogs
11 Real Jobs Working with Dogs

Here are 11 real jobs working with dogs:

Kennel Staff

Kennel staff takes care of dogs while their owners are away, usually at special facilities and campuses. Kennel care can include feeding, walking, exercising, and cleaning up after the dogs. Kennel staff will greet customers, arrange all the appropriate paperwork, and then care for the dogs until the owners come back to pick them up.

Kennel care staff have a demanding job, but if your dream is to be surrounded by herds of dogs all day, it could be the perfect position for you.

Groomers

Groomers bathe, clip nails, and groom dogs to keep them looking their best. Groomers may work in pet stores, kennels, animal shelters, or mobile businesses. Many groomers also offer additional services such as teeth cleaning and flea and tick removal

dog groomers with dogs
Dog groomers with two dogs.

Mobile groomers drive to their client’s homes to take care of their dogs right in the comfort of their own yards, typically in specially outfitted vans complete with all grooming equipment. Mobile grooming can remove anxiety around grooming dogs, making it a more pleasant experience.

To be a good groomer, you must have a steady hand, handle dogs of all sizes and temperaments, and be comfortable using sharp tools such as scissors and clippers.

If keeping dogs looking good with high-value services sounds like something you’d enjoy, look into a career in dog grooming!

Animal Welfare Officer

Animal welfare officers work to protect animals from abuse and neglect. They investigate complaints of animal cruelty, rescue animals from abusive situations, and educate the public about animal welfare. 

checking a sick dog
A woman check on a sick dog.

To become an animal welfare officer, you must have a deep love for animals and a desire to protect them. You must also be comfortable working long hours, as many cases of abuse or neglect are discovered outside regular business hours.

While your interactions with dogs in this role may not always be positive, including seeing dogs in neglectful or abusive situations, you can feel good knowing you’re rescuing them from dire circumstances and giving them a new shot at life.

If you’re interested in law enforcement and have a passion for protecting animals in a meaningful, actionable way, consider a career as an animal welfare officer.

Therapy or Service Dog Trainer

Therapy and service dogs are trained to assist and support people with physical, psychological, or emotional disabilities. 

A Basenji being asked to wait during training
A Basenji being asked to wait during training. They respond to movements as well as verbal cues.

Therapy dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other institutions to provide comfort and companionship. Service dogs are individually trained to perform specific tasks for their disabled owners, such as fetching items, opening doors, or providing balance support.

Therapy and service dog trainers must have extensive knowledge of dog behavior and training methods. They must also be patient, calm, non-reactive, comfortable interacting with strangers, and comfortable in various busy public settings. Training a therapy or service dog can take up to two years.

Training therapy or service dogs could be a perfect career if you love working with dogs and helping people overcome disabilities or providing emotional support.

Dog Walker

Dog walkers provide services to busy pet owners who cannot walk their dogs during the day. They may also offer other services such as feeding, watering, and exercising the dogs. Dog walkers typically work regular business hours but may also be available for early morning or late evening walks.

dog walker with dogs
Dog walker with different dogs on the street.

To be a good dog walker, you must be physically fit as you walk for long periods, sometimes in inclement weather. You must also be comfortable handling dogs of all sizes and temperaments and have good stamina to keep up with them on walks. 

Consider that you may be walking several dogs at once, and ensure you have the physical stamina and calm temperament to handle it.

Dog Photographer

Dog-tographers are professional pet photographers who specialize in taking pictures of dogs and their owners. They may work in a studio or on location, travel to events such as dog shows or agility competitions to take pictures, or run a mobile business. 

dog curious with photographer
A curious dog smells the photographer’s camera in a photo shoot!

Dog photographers must have an eye for composition and lighting and be able to capture the unique personalities of both dogs and their owners. They must also be able to handle misbehavior and distracted dogs, as it can be challenging to pose dogs still for photos.

Dog photographers play an essential role for many people, especially those who brought a new dog into the family or those who may want to capture end-of-life memories with an elderly or sick dog. It requires sensitivity and empathy for diverse circumstances.

Dog photography is a career I would think about if I had a passion for photography as well as dogs.

K9 Police Officer

K9 police officers are responsible for handling police dogs in law enforcement. They train the dogs to perform specific tasks such as tracking suspects, finding evidence, or detecting drugs or explosives

dog sits beside the police officer
A dog sits beside the K-9 police officer.

K9 police officers must be physically fit and able to keep up with their dogs on foot during a chase or on rough terrain. They must also be able to control their dogs in high-pressure situations and display good judgment to know when and how to deploy them.

K9 police officers have an important job in keeping our communities safe. So if you’ve considered a career in law enforcement and have a special place in your heart for dogs—especially German Shepherds—becoming a K9 officer might be a good goal.

Responsible Breeder

A responsible breeder is someone who breeds animals intending to improve the quality of the breed and provide customers with a healthy furry friend. They take care to select healthy, well-tempered parents and carefully monitor the health of their breeding stock and puppies. 

two Cane Corso puppies
Cane Corso should be expose to other people or dogs at earliest to avoid future aggression.

Responsible breeders also provide customers with education on care and training, including information on common health problems in the breed.

To be a responsible breeder, you must have extensive knowledge about the breeds you are working with and good business sense to run a successful operation. You must also be able to handle large numbers of animals and have the physical stamina, space, and amenities to care for them all.

Are you passionate about a particular breed of dog and want to help improve its health and temperament while placing puppies in their new, happy homes? Then, think about becoming a responsible dog breeder.

Veterinarian

Veterinarians are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating animal diseases

vet and dog with cone
The vet adjusted the cone on the dog’s neck.

Vets might be the first thing you think of when you consider jobs working with dogs. They may work in private practice, with zoos or other animal organizations, or conduct research. Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from an accredited veterinary school and pass a state licensure exam.

To be a veterinarian, you’ll need excellent communication skills to discuss treatment options with pet owners and work collaboratively with other animal health professionals. You must also be able to handle emotionally challenging situations, such as euthanasia, and have strong decision-making skills.

If you are interested in a career helping animals and their owners, becoming a veterinarian might be right for you.

Pet Adoption Counselor

Pet adoption counselors work in animal shelters or rescue organizations and help potential adopters find the right pet for their family and lifestyle. They interview potential adopters, educate them on the needs of different pets, and help them choose a pet that is a good match.

taking care of dogs
A young woman taking care of dogs in an animal shelter.

Pet adoption counselors may need to travel for home visits where they ensure the potential new home is adequate and safe. They may also facilitate dog meetings between rescues and their potential new siblings to ensure safe interactions and avoid hostile or aggressive dog relationships.

Pet adoption counselors must be able to handle animals of all temperaments and sizes and have knowledge about animal care and behavior.

They must also be patient and able to deal with a high volume of people, as there are often many potential adopters interested in the same pet. If you love animals and have a gift for matchmaking, consider a career as a pet adoption counselor!

Behavior Specialist and Trainer

Behavior specialists and trainers work with dogs with behavior problems, such as aggression, separation anxiety, and excessive barking. They assess the dog’s problem behavior and develop a training plan to help the dog learn new, more appropriate behaviors.

train German Shepherd
Owner trains her train German Shepherd.

Behavior specialists and trainers must be able to communicate effectively with both dog owners and dogs. They must also know a lot about animal behavior and learning theory, as well as patience and physical stamina to handle sometimes tricky or dangerous situations.

If you are interested in a career helping dogs and their owners solve behavior problems, consider becoming a behavior specialist or trainer.

Finding Your Career Calling While Working With Dogs

You can find many jobs working with dogs, from grooming and walking to veterinary medicine and animal rescue. No matter your skills and interests, there is likely a career working with dogs that is right for you.

What are you waiting for? Start exploring the wonderful world of careers working with dogs today!