Before you start a career working with dogs, although very rewarding, you need to realise there can be negative aspects to this job as well as the enormous positives.
Animals need care twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. You will most likely be working some unsocial hours, such as weekends and holidays and may be called on at short notice to attend to a problem with a dog depending on which of the career paths you may decide upon.
Emotional ties to the dogs you work with can be inevitable, but it's important to try and keep a professional attitude and give confidence to the dogs you are working with and their owners. If you are to become a vet, there will be times when you have to give bad news to the owner of a dog. It won't be easy telling the owner of a dog for many years that his or her pet will not live much longer or that it would be kinder to put him to sleep, so you will need to develop good communication skills to deal with these situations.
On the other hand, successfully treating a sick dog and returning it to an overjoyed owner can be a tremendous reward in itself.
Working with dogs is not always a well paid job and there is a lot of competition, so it's always a good idea to try and get some experience in working with dogs before applying for a full time job.
Dog shelters and rescue centers are always looking for volunteers for cleaning out the kennels or exercising the dogs. If you want to become a dog trainer contact someone who has their own business or a training center and offer your services for free. Although you won't get paid, the experience you gain could be invaluable and give you the edge when you come to apply for a full time job.
Learn some basic dog first aid. You never know when you may need it.
If you decide to run your own business working with dogs, you will have to deal with appointments, accounts, tax, customers, suppliers, employees, insurance, marketing and a load of other uninteresting stuff that must be attended to if you are to become a success. Take a basic course in how to run your own business and get as much information as you can before you start so that things don't become too daunting.
Depending on what service you are supplying, you will probably need a driving license. The cost of a decent vehicle fitted out for your needs and the cost of fuel will all have to be taken into consideration as well as any special equipment you may need. Good dog grooming equipment can be particularly expensive so explore the market before you commit.
Get as many qualifications related to your work as you can. Veterinary courses are long, expensive and very thorough but the financial rewards can be very good as you probably know if you've ever had to take your dog to the vets for treatment.
Some jobs working with dogs don't need certificates and qualifications. Dog sitting and dog walking are two of these. However it's obviously important that the dog's owner can trust you, especially if you are entering their home whilst they are out to look after their favorite pet.
If you are looking for a job working with dogs in your area, local newspapers may advertise vacancies at dog grooming salons or dog shelters. Call and leave your references even if there are no jobs going just now, at least you'll be first in the queue if one does come up. The net is always a good place to explore. Read dog magazines to find out what's happening in your particular field. There are nearly always some jobs working with dogs here although maybe not in your area so you could have to travel to find work.
In conclusion, read as many books as you can to increase your knowledge and understanding of the dog service you want to be involved with. If you are looking to start your own business; experience, education and qualifications will give your customers confidence and they'll be happy to let you be a part of their dog's life, whether it's as a dog groomer, vet, dog trainer or a dog sitter.
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