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Want to Work with Dogs? 7 Canine-Centric Career Choices

Love being around dogs all day but don't want to go to vet school? Consider some of these career options!

 |  Jun 13th 2012  |   13 Contributions


“I wish I had a career that had something to do with dogs.” Raise a paw if you've had that thought more than once. Having a passion and turning it into a profitable enterprise would be a dream come true, right? Although veterinarians, groomers, and trainers are obvious career choices, what about some lesser-known (yet still potentially profitable) ways to work with dogs? 

Jumping the career fence is no easy task, but the hurdle is more easily cleared when you have a passion for pooches. I know this is true from experience: I went back to college in my 20s and switched careers in my late 30s, all in the name of dog. The paw inspires my pen!

Here are seven more jobs that might just inspire an inner career calling. Canine-inspired careers not need fit a predetermined template; these are worth considering for those whose hearts beat dog. 

1. Dog Blogger

The power of the electronic word is a far-reaching one. Dogs who might not have found their forever homes otherwise are shining examples of social media’s wagging stronghold on the way we disseminate information.

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The author's dogs hang out at BlogPaws.

Yvonne DiVita knows. In the summer of 2009, DiVita cofounded BlogPaws, an online pet community to support pet bloggers and pet lovers. From blog to brand, BlogPaws brings pet parents and enthusiasts together, covering the brands they buy with experts who give actionable advice. 

2. Pet Product Inventor

According to the American Pet Products Association, we'll spend an estimated $53 billion on our pets in 2012, a large percentage of which will be on pet products and supplies. Kristin Elliott, a mom, wife, and high school science teacher, found a niche from an eco-friendly knack.

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While walking her own dog, Elliott watched a woman trying to maneuver a crying baby, stroller, leashed dog, and bag of poop. Her light bulb moment became the Doodie Pack, a lightweight functional utility dog backpack that allows dogs to carry items like bags and keys and doubles as a waste management system. 

3. Dog Artist

"I love capturing the individual dog's personality and mood and motivations as seen in his or her eyes, posture, ears, snout, and overall body idiosyncrasies,” dog artist Heidi D. Hansen says. The retired child and family counselor has been painting for nine years. She advises others to spend time people and dog watching and even daydream about it. “Reach out and risk a new technique, style, or message,” she says.

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Art Deco-inspired dog art by Heidi Hansen

4. Fashion Designer

The Fashion Institute of New York has a program in pet fashions, and couture has definitely gone canine. Abby Kass is the founder of Les Pets en Voyage and a graduate of the fashion program. Les Pets en Voyage's Rain Poncho debuted on the runway of the pre-Westminster Fashion Show and Gala in 2011.

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From the Les Pets line.

Regarding her hands-on education, Kass says, “There are required courses in apparel and accessory design, as well as in marketing and branding. Then there are electives ranging from patternmaking for dog garments to legal basics for starting a business.” 

5. Pet Photographer

We've all tried to capture the essence of a dog with a photo. Joe Frazz turned those snapshots into a calling. “I started photographing dogs to give as gifts for friends and clients. What started out as good intentions has turned into a life’s passion,” he says.

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Photograph by Joe Frazz

Frazz says dogs are the easiest subject to photograph, as long as they are paid handsomely with treats. “Most dogs give us a small window of time to one subject, so be prepared!” Shutterbugs, rejoice, as pet photography is growing by leaps and bounds.

6. Miniature-Dog Artist

Take a life-sized calling and shrink it to thimble size, and therein lies the work of Lucy Maloney, a self-described miniature-dog artist. “Passion for dogs, particularly my Cairn, Ted, really got me making the miniatures,” she says.

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Lucy Maloney's beloved Brandy Noel.

Using alpaca, cashmere, silk, leather, and even real dog hair, Maloney has crafted hundreds of dogs, including an inches-high version of my first Cocker Spaniel love, Brandy Noel, whose slight tilt of her head and loving gaze are brought to life via the magical qualities in Maloney’s work. Her advice for others wanting to enter the trade: “Practice and attend miniature shows.” 

7. Animal Communicator

Ann Marie Hoff works as an animal psychic and intuitive medium. “Like any talent, such as singing or painting, everyone has the ability to perform to some degree; however, more talent is present in some people than others, and it can also be cultivated by learning, studying, and practicing." She has a master's in Animal Science and believes we can all communicate with our pets. Personal beliefs aside, becoming an animal communicator or dog psychiatrist are two potential career choices. 

Considering a career related to dogs but aren’t sure where to start? Looking for encouragement, resources, or just a paw in the right direction? These suggestions should give you a jump start in creative thinking. Please share your suggestions in the comments!

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