Canine Careers

Dog training class
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There are many career options for those who want to work with dogs. Here are 10 possibilities for those seeking a canine career:

1. Dog Trainer

Dog trainers use a variety of training and conditioning techniques to direct and modify canine behavior. Sessions often involve working with both a dog and its owner to establish desired behaviors based on a variety of cues and commands. Earnings for dog trainers may vary, but an established trainer can expect to earn around $40,000 per year on average.

2. K9 Police Officer

K9 police officers use their canine partners to deter criminal activity and subdue criminals that attempt to evade capture. They may also participate in a variety of community outreach programs such as visiting schools or participating in demonstrations. K9 officers must work a few years on the regular force before being eligible to apply for specialty units such as the K9 division. Established police officers earn an average salary of $53,540 per year.

3. Kennel Manager

Kennel managers are responsible for taking care of dogs in boarding, breeding, or show dog kennels. Kennel manager salaries can vary widely, from as little as $25,000 per year to well over $40,000 per year, depending on the size of the kennel they manage and the specific responsibilities that the job entails.

4. Dog Walker or Doggie Day Care Operator

Dog walkers visit the homes of their clients during the day to take dogs out for exercise. Most dog walkers charge by the visit, and some (especially those in the city) take multiple dogs out for a walk at one time. Fees are set by the individual walker and vary widely.

Doggie day care operators take care of dogs that are dropped off by their owners for the day. Doggie day cares tend to offer grooming, bathing, basic obedience training, and group play options for the dogs in their care. Fees are charged per dog per day and generally range from $10 to $25. Some doggie day cares allow dogs to be boarded overnight for an additional fee.

5. Dog Groomer

Dog groomers are responsible for bathing, clipping, and styling the coats of the dogs brought to their grooming salon. Fees for grooming visits vary widely based on the type of cut and the time that it takes to complete. Groomers can learn the trade in a grooming school or by interning with experienced professionals. Full-time groomers can earn salaries from $30,000 to more than $60,000 per year.

6. Pet Sitter

Pet sitters provide general care for dogs while their owners are out of town. Most pet sitters provide care by completing multiple visits per day to the client’s home, though some sitters will bring dogs home with them. Pet sitters may be independent contractors or work for a pet sitting company. Fees vary widely based on the number of visits required, the number of animals being cared for, and any special requests made by the owner.

7. Dog Adoption Counselor

Dog adoption counselors help match up potential owners with adoptable pets in shelters or humane societies. They may screen adopter applications, participate in fundraising, organize off-site adoption events, and provide administrative support as part of their duties. Adoption counselors generally earn salaries between $20,000 and $30,000 per year.

8. Dog Show Handler

Dog show handlers present dogs in the show ring as they compete for breed championship titles. Handlers should have extensive experience with their breed, and those with significant experience are eligible to become members of respected handlers’ organizations (such as the American Kennel Club’s Registered Handlers’ Program or the Professional Handlers Association). Established handlers can expect to earn $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

9. Small Animal Veterinarian

Small animal veterinarians are responsible for providing comprehensive canine health care. Services may include giving general exams, taking x-rays, treating wounds, performing spay and neuter surgeries, and prescribing medications. This career path requires a significant educational and financial investment but can yield significant rewards: a small animal veterinarian in private practice earns a salary of $97,000 on average.

10. Dog Breeder

Dog breeders arrange matings between superior animals that are designed to produce purebred puppies for show or companionship purposes. The salary that a breeder earns can vary widely based on what specific breed they produce, the number of puppies produced per year, and the quality of their breeding stock. Dogs from championship show dog lines tend to command top prices in the industry.