Want to Work in the Pet Industry?

Learn about animal health care, and develop business and management skills, that are valued for a career working with pets or providing support services within the pet industry.

This course can be an excellent starting point for:

  • Pet Shop staff or proprietors
  • Animal Breeders or Service Providers
  • Veterinary Assistants
  • Animal Shelter Staff
  • Allied professions in Farming, Wildlife, etc

The course is also well suited to anyone who already works with animals who is seeking to further their skills and career prospects



This course involves six modules; four compulsory and two electives

Compulsory Modules:

All students must study the following four modules:

  • Animal Health Care  VAG100
  • Pet Care AAG100
  • Animal Behaviour  BAG203
  • Starting a Small Business  VBS101

Electives (click on each one for details)

Natural Animal Health Care BAG218

Animal Biology (Animal Husbandry I) BAG101

Animal Health  BAG201

Horse Care I BAG102

Sales Skills VBS108

Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III) BAG202

Breeding Animals BAG301

Animal Grooming

Horse Breeding

Aquarium Management

Core Module Outlines:

Animal Health Care

There are twelve lessons in Animal Health Care as follows:

  1. Introduction to Animal Health Care
  2. Common Health Problems in farm animals and pets
  3. Animal Behaviour
  4. Signs of Ill Health
  5. Veterinary Facilities
  6. Safety Procedures
  7. Administration of Animal Health
  8. Animal First Aid
  9. Preventative Health Care
  10. Routine Health Treatments
  11. Health Problems in Domestic Pets
  12. Rehabilitation Care

Pet Care

There are 8 lessons in Pet Care as follows:

  1. Introduction to Animal Care
  2. Cats
  3. Dogs
  4. Birds
  5. Fish
  6. Rabbits
  7. Reptiles & Amphibians
  8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters & Mice.

Animal Behaviour

There are eight lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction: Influences and motivation.
  2. Genetics and Behaviour.
  3. Animal Perception and Behaviour.
  4. Behaviour and the Environment.
  5. Social Behaviour.
  6. Instinct and Learning.
  7. Handling Animals.
  8. Behavioural Problems.

Starting a Small Business

There are twelve lessons in Starting a Small Business, as follows:

  1. Introduction to Small Business Types of business and communication, types of language, office equipment.
  2. The Business World Consultancy services, law and business, the landscape industry, business letters, communication systems.
  3. Your alternatives - different types of ventures Buying and starting a business.
  4. Marketing What is involved in marketing, advertising, selling, communication.
  5. Planning Organising and planning to ensure the success of the business.
  6. Basic Bookkeeping Financial statements, balance sheet, profit and loss statement,insurance.
  7. Sales Methods Selling, sales method, telephone canvassing.
  8. Budgeting Assets and liabilities.
  9. Developing a 12 month business plan Protection, planning and production.
  10. Implementing a business plan Communication with employees, planning the development of the business.
  11. Reviewing progress in a new business Research, evaluate and decide on business plan updates.
  12. Improving profitability Increase profit and reduce expenditure



The are more opportunities to work with pets than what you probably realize.

The obvious careers are as veterinarians, vet nurses or animal trainers; but consider the following possibilities for working with dogs (and these are just dogs!):

Day Care & Exercise

Dog walking is becoming a very popular business as many people are now working longer hours and do not have the time to exercise their pet. No formal qualifications are needed to become a dog walker but obviously its beneficial if you have experience of owning and walking dogs and a love for dogs in general. You also need to be fit. Adverts can be placed in local papers or in shop windows or you could start your own website.

Many council and local government authorities have specific rulings on the numbers of dogs that can be walked at any one time. It is recommended that no more than 4 dogs are walked at one time by any single person. Any more than and they may develop a pack mentality and become difficult to control.

Insurance is not compulsory but should be seriously considered in case the dogs in your care damage property or injure anyone.

Day care is something which you may also be able to do in your own home, if you have adequate space and fencing. So you may walk and exercise someone’s dog and make arrangements for them to come to your home during the day for care and company. If you have a number of dogs on your property, this can also be great for the dog to socialise with other dogs. You need to be there to supervise the dogs if you have a number of dogs or the dogs are new to each other. Pack instincts do take place and you must be able to intervene to prevent any aggression problems.

The earning potential differs greatly depending on the size of facility, the overheads, the management style and personality of the staff – lively and outgoing people are great for this type of business and are likely to attract more customers.

Long term care

Boarding Kennels
These kennels provide temporary accommodation for dogs whilst their owners are away on holiday or cannot have them at home for any other reason e.g. illness.

To run a boarding kennels you will need good management skills as well as an excellent knowledge of dog care and behaviour. Most countries require boarding kennels to have a licence to prove they meet the required standards. Additionally the location of kennels will determine council approval for the business. Obviously there is a potential for boarding kennels to be extremely noisy and operating boarding kennels in residential areas is likely to attract complaints from people nearby.

Jobs would include feeding, cleaning out, grooming and exercising the dogs. Good customer service skills are also required. There is an income to be made from boarding kennels, but fees

Rescue Centres and Shelters
These kennels are usually run by a charity e.g. RSPCA or the local council. They take in and care for unwanted or stray dogs. Many of these may have behavioural problems or have been subject to mistreatment and neglect so require a lot of patience when handling them. A good knowledge of dog behaviour is therefore important when working in rescue centres. Most dogs will be re-homed but some may have to stay at the kennels on a long term basis.

When working at rescue kennels, in addition to feeding, cleaning, grooming and exercising the dogs, it may be necessary to advice the public on the suitability of the dogs for re-homing.

Foster Homes
Foster homes are considered an option for people who have the time to give dogs a temporary home in a loving environment. Some dogs waiting to be re-homed do not cope well in kennels and rescue shelters, because of their happier nature in a home; they are more likely to be re-homed. Socialisation with people, children and other pets make for a stable and balanced dog which can easily adjust and settle into life in a new home. Also, puppies are often taken into the foster home environment instead of being kept in kennels. There is no income to be made from this, people who foster dogs do it voluntarily.

Assistance Dogs

Guide dogs
Guide dogs associations in many countries rely on the services of volunteers to help their organisation. Puppy walkers ensure puppies become familiar with busy shopping centres, public transport and family life. They look after the puppy until it’s just over a year old and teach basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’.

There are also opportunities to be a volunteer boarder. This involves dropping off the young dogs with their trainers each morning and collecting them later and caring for them at weekends. Boarders also look after working guide dogs when their owners go into hospital or in other emergency situations.

Jobs are also available with breeding guide dogs and in their more advanced training.

Hearing dogs
Hearing dogs are trained to alert their own who may be deaf or hard of hearing to every day sounds e.g. door bells, kettles, smoke alarms. The training of a hearing dog takes around 18 months, consisting of initial puppy socialisation training (eight weeks to 12-14 months) with volunteers before moving onto sound work training at a training centre. During this period a suitable recipient for each dog is identified. The recipient and hearing dog then spend a period of time training together before qualifying as an official partnership.

Volunteers can help by being a puppy socialiser. This requires taking on a puppy and have him or her living in your home for around 12 months. There is a requirement for the volunteer to be 18 years of age or older. Volunteers must have the time, the commitment and be physically able to provide basic training, socialisation and exercise for your puppy.

Canine Therapy

This is a type of therapy for dog owners to become involved in on a voluntary basis. Dog owners who are willing to give up some of their spare time to take their dogs to spend time with disadvantaged people, young people in schools, sick and injured people in hospitals, disabled people or the elderly can register their details to become a volunteer. It’s usually pretty simple to become involved in, although there is an application and a temperament test for the dog(s). Once registered and received the all clear, you and your dog attend a brief introduction/training session to find out what’s involved in the work.


Professional Dog Handling

Police and Armed Forces
Dogs are used extensively by the armed forces, the police force and customs officers. You would need to be a trained member of one of these organisations to be eligible to become a dog handler.

In the police force dogs are used for:
• tracking missing persons
• controlling crowds, for example at football matches
• searching for explosives or illegal drugs
• chasing armed criminals
• guarding prisoners
• searching for stolen property
• search for human remains
• support armed officers

In the Armed forces dogs are used in:
• guarding military bases and aircraft hangers
• locating land mines and other explosives
• searching for casualties

In the security industry dogs are used for:
• patrolling and guarding property
• guarding construction sites
• searching for explosives or illegal drugs
• providing security at events

Revenue and Customs use dogs at ports, airports and large train stations to detect:
• drugs, tobacco and cigarettes
• food products such as meat and dairy produce that are being brought into the country illegally

They are also used in the fire service, the prison service and mountain rescue.

Show Handling
This can be a really fun thing to become involved in. You will learn a lot about the breed, other breeds, the importance of conformation and it can be fun whilst training your dog to bring it up to show standard. Firstly start attending dog shows without the intention of showing. Do this even before you buy your dog. If you have a dog already, you should think about going along to a show to get familiar with what’s expected before competing.

To enter a dog show your dog must be registered with a controlling body and you must become a member. In showing dog breeds are divided into groups, this can depend on what country you live in. Commonly, groups include Toys, Terriers, Gundogs, Hounds, Working, Utility and Non-sporting. You will also need to become which class you’re dog is in, this is often based on sex and age. You will complete for Best of Breed, Best in Show, Best of Group and Champion.

It costs very little to enter shows and the winning dogs receive ribbons and trophies.


Pet shops
Pet shops offer a wide range of dog products e.g. food; bedding, toys etc and customers may frequently ask pet shop staff for advice on looking after their dog. In this respect they need to employ people who have a good knowledge on all aspects of dog care.

The laws governing sale of puppies and dogs in pet shops varies from country to country. It is widely recognised by reputable breeders and animal welfare organisations that pet shops are not the best place to keep puppies. There is often doubt as to the source of the puppies and they cannot be socialised in a way that will make them good pets and companions. It is far better when buying puppy, to source one from a reputable breeder.

Working in a pet shop gives you the opportunity to work with puppies by feeding them, cleaning out their living area, playing with them and working out the best owners from the people who express interest in buying a puppy. This is an opportunity for you to help these young dogs find safe and secure happy homes.

Home-made Pets Foods and Treats
You may like to start a business preparing and selling home-made food products and treats for dogs. These are often bought but people who like produce free from additives and preservatives. Just like it is questionable for human nutrition, additions to food are not good for our dogs either.

Writing recipes for dog meals or selling your own home-made dog foods can be a great way to make a little extra income either online or via markets. Most dog owners care about the health of their pets and want to feed them nutritious and tasty meals.

Online Veterinary Stores
These stores are everywhere; you design your own online store, create an ebay store or produce a niche product where the competition is low. Online stores are generally cheaper for buying dog products from veterinary good such as wormer and flea treatments, to shampoo and ribbons for their hair.

Funeral and Memorial Services

After a dog has passed away naturally or by euthanasia, it is the owners decision what should be done to dispose of the dog. Many people will ask their veterinarian to dispose of the dog on their behalf. A small is fee is charged for this and the vet will arrange for collection of the dog from the surgery where it will be taken and cremated.

Other people may decide they would like to take the dog home and have arranged for a burial of their pet on their own property. There is often legislation in place preventing or restricting this (dependent on where you live) so you should check with your local authority or environment protection agency if you have permission to do this.

Another option open to people is to carry out a small memorial service for the dog in which it will be cremated. After the cremation, the ashes (calcified bone fragments) of the dogs are returned to the owner if requested. There are generally no laws which prevent the burial of the ashes of the cremated dog.

The cost for dog burial and cremation services varies depending on exactly what you want. Say you want an urn for the ashes, or a headstone for a grave you should expect to pay more.