A full time career with dogs

In your second chapter, you ask, 'Do you have what it takes?' What does it take to work with dogs?

In order to work with dogs, you need to have a love of animals, knowledge of their health and behavior, and lots of patience. You also need to be able to deal with people too since most dogs come with owners!

A lot of people love dogs, but there is a lot more to it than that, right?

There is a lot more to working with dogs than just loving them. You have to want to spend lots of time with dogs--most of your time, in fact, if you plan to have a full-time career in the dog world.

Can you give us a glimpse of all of the jobs out there related to dogs?

Jobs that will enable you to work directly with dogs include veterinarian, trainer, obedience instructor, veterinary technician or assistant, animal control officer, petsitter, groomer and kennel worker. If you would rather work with the subject of dogs rather than working hands-on, you can become an animal welfare advocate, a marketing specialist for a pet care company, a photographer, or writer or editor of a dog publication.

Many of these jobs might have a very sad side to them. How do people deal with this, and how does a person know that they might be able to deal with this?

Just about every job that involves hand-on dealings with dogs has a sad side to it. Those in the veterinary profession have to deal with seeing sick and injured dogs, and face the realty that some dogs need to be put down. Animal control officers witness terrible abuse and neglect, and have to cope with the tragedy of thousands of innocent dogs put to sleep each year because they have no homes. Even groomers see dogs that are poorly cared for. In order to deal with this, you have to be able to feel that the good you are doing outweighs all the bad you have to witness. People in these professions love dogs and feel awful when they see dogs suffering, but they know their work is helping dogs.

Which of these jobs do you think has the most impact in terms of helping people?

The jobs that are most helpful to people are the veterinary professions, training and grooming. Good veterinarians, technicians and assistants spend a lot of time counseling dog owners about how to care for their pets. In times of tragedy or loss, the owner leans on the vet care staff for emotional support. Trainers help owners teach their dogs to be good family members, and can profoundly affect both canine and human lives by correcting dangerous or destructive behavior. Groomers help people by keeping dogs clean, and looking and smelling good. A clean dog gets lots of petting and hugging--and we know this is good for people!

Which of the jobs requires the least amount of emotional investment?

The least amount of emotional investment comes from the jobs that don't require hands-on work with dogs, such as marketing specialist or editor. Although dogs are the focus of your work, you spend more time with other people than you do with real live dogs.

What are some of the advantages of working with dogs?

The advantages of working with dogs are profound. Spending time with these loyal, intelligent and loving creatures can lift your spirit on a daily basis and make you feel like your job is worth doing. Although it's unlikely you'll get rich working with dogs, the emotional rewards are tremendous.

What are some of the keys to success in working with dogs?

To be successful working with dogs, you need to understand them. Spend time around dogs and learn to understand their body language. Find out how their bodies work too, and what kinds of illnesses they are prone to. Become comfortable with dogs, and let your passion become apparent. Other dog lovers will sense how much you care and will want you to work with their pets.

Is there anything else that you would like to add for readers of the website?

Working with dogs is a labor of love. You can't make a lot of money doing it, but if you really love dogs, you'll find the rewards can be greater than monetary.

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