So you want to work with dogs? – The Westender

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As the owner of two doggy day cares there are two things, I hear the most. “You have the best job in the world” (true), and “I want to work with dogs, how do I get your job?”

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t straight forward. The ‘pet’ industry in Australia is worth $100 billion (Petkeen) and the latest stats show that 61 per cent of households have pets (RSPCA). With these massive figures you would think that it would be easy to enter the industry and know where to look for courses and study, but it’s not and it can be very frustrating trying to find correct and reliable information about working with our furry friends.

Before going down the rabbit hole of websites and places promising to teach you the world for an insane amount of money, ask yourself some questions.

  • What do you see yourself doing on a day-to-day basis?
  • Where do you see yourself within the industry in five years?
  • Are you physically capable of doing the job?
  • What inspires you to be in this industry?
  • What do you class as an achievement within the industry?

Most people know that you can become a vet, vet nurse and even a vet technician but this industry is full of opportunities, especially as it continues to grow. The current shortages of trained and qualified staff is felt across the sector, most particularly with a shortage of dog trainers and dog groomers. Both of these career paths provide ongoing opportunities for personal and professional development.

The best piece of advice I have is to really understand what is available. Just because you enter the field in one job doesn’t mean you are stuck there. I have several dog day care teachers who have gone on to complete their dog training courses and have successful careers. My team members who are studying veterinary nursing say how valuable it is to have dog handling skills (learnt as a dog day care teacher) for their role in the vet setting. This industry is very much connected, we work closely with each other, and a good partnership is what’s best for the fur kids.

If you want to know more, I encourage you to have a look at courses run by TAFE (Cert 3 Companion Animal Services). This certificate has on the job placements at day cares and grooming salons providing you with an insight into everyday duties. For my day care teachers, this course is a bare minimum for an entry level position.

National Dog Trainers Federation (NDTF) provides the best dog training courses. Their courses are Australia wide and highly regarded in the industry. It would be rare for a day care to hire a non-NDTF trained dog trainer.

Grooming can be overlooked as an option, yet it mixes creativity, time management, dog handling and customer service all in one. Groomers are in a prime position right now to get experience in salons and either branch out or continue their studies to move up in a business. There are many courses, but my only advice is don’t do one online. Get some work experience and follow a senior groomers recommendation on where to train.

I love dogs (well all animals) and I am passionate about building this industry in a sustainable and ethical way. This means we need people to be choosing this industry as a career and investing in it. We provide much needed services to pawrents and fur kids and to continue doing this the doggy industry needs passionate, qualified and eager employees.

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