Latest News

6 Career Choices for Dog Lovers

Have you ever wanted to work with dogs for a living? We chat to six passionate dog lovers who sooner or later realised they had to combine their passion with their career and now enjoy working with dogs every single day!

1. CHARLOTTE REEVES - Professional Pet Photographer

After finishing Yr 12, I went straight to TAFE and studied a 2-year Diploma of Photography. Throughout the course I tried out many genres ranging from automotive to landscape photography, but I could never pinpoint what my true calling as a photographer was. Instead, I moved on to further study, eventually working as a web and graphic designer. 

It wasn’t until seven years later when I finally got my own dog, a Great Dane called Kaya, that I began documenting her first year through the lens and really started enjoying photography again. I completed a “photo a day” project and picking up the camera every day for a year really helped cement that pet photography was something I wanted to pursue professionally.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I have the flexibility to design my business around my personality. I’m a combination of perfectionist, animal lover and introvert and being a pet photographer caters to all of those things, while challenging me to grow as a person. I will happily spend an afternoon chatting away with the owner at a photo session, learning more about them and their dog, then the next day I can spend time working away at home with just my own dogs for company while I select my favourites and perfect their images ready to show my clients.

Unfortunately it’s not all about playing with cute puppies and kittens all day! Although I actually enjoy all the behind the scenes organisation that goes into running a business, being a creative person doesn’t always go hand in hand with all the admin-related tasks that are essential to running a successful business. Setting up automations and systems is so important for getting your admin time under control and leaving more time for the fun stuff.

What advice would you give to someone who'd like to be a pet photographer?

Running a business can be a daunting and often overwhelming experience so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. These days there are many educational resources available for new photographers from those who travelled the path before you, ranging from shooting guides to marketing workbooks to editing courses.

To improve your photography, the best advice I can give is to practice, practice and practice some more - the more pets you photograph the better you get at dealing with different pet personalities, developing patience (the number one attribute you need to have) and ultimately getting the best possible photos of your furry subjects.

If you’re in need of a kick start, I’ve written two e-books that cover everything you could want to know about photographing dogs, called Fetching Photos and Dog Shots. I’ve poured everything I’ve learned in my 9 years of being a pet photographer into these books and they cover topics ranging from working with dogs, lighting considerations, technical hints and tips and even how to run a photo session from start to finish.

There is no magic button and you’ll still need to get out there and put it into practice, but how I wish there’d been something like this available when I was first starting out!

2. KIRSTEN - Blue Wheelers Wash Clip & Groom Franchisee

Kirsten had been working for a large international company in various sales and management roles for 8 years when she had her "Aha" moment and started looking at other options for herself.

Watching a video recommended by a mentor, titled ‘What if money was no object’ by Alan Watts, it made her question what she wanted her life to be and what she was passionate about... “Over time, these questions kept playing on my mind and I kept coming back to dogs and business”. After thoroughly exploring many career options, Kirsten decided dog grooming was the right fit for her.

Much research followed, until Kirst made her final choice: a Blue Wheelers, Wash Clip & Groom franchise.“It was the right brand for me as it allowed me to combine my passion for great customer service, forming meaningful relationships, business and of course dogs! What also excited me with Blue Wheelers was the sense of entrepreneurship, flexibility and finding it offered a true work/life balance”.

A typical day starts with preparing my mobile salon for the day - “I love my Big Blue Dog Bonnie and take as much care of her as I do my furbaby clients - then attending appointments, interacting with human and doggie clients, grooming dogs of all breeds and sizes, admin mostly done on my iPad and phone and cleaning.
Grooming is very physical so it keeps me super fit and I sleep very well at night”!

“Hands down, the best part of the day is all of the cuddles and smooches you get from the dogs. It makes every day enjoyable”.

Kirsten advises those thinking of becoming a dog groomer to do their homework: "Read, speak to and spend time with others. Consider joining a franchise where you will get the support and training you need to be successful. The key is learning to run a really good business not just a dog washing service!

Her final words of advice? Bring passion and enthusiasm to everything you do. Be optimistic even when it seems really tough – there are definite highs and lows as with everything in life but when you back yourself, the satisfaction of doing well and growing your business is definitely worth it!

If this sounds like you, find out more at

3. ADAM FARRUGIA - RSPCA Education and Training Officer 
In Year 10, I chose working with animals as one of my work experience weeks. I always had pets growing up and thought it would be fun to work with animals. I really enjoyed this work experience but I received advice saying: “You don’t really want to be picking up poo for a living do you?” 

This comment stuck in my head so after school I steered away from working with animals. It wasn’t until I had been through several boring jobs that I decided I needed to look for work with something I was passionate about and cared about. It was then I looked at working with the RSPCA and was lucky enough to get a job as an animal attendant where I began my career in animal welfare. And yes, I really did want to be picking up poo for a living!

What I love most about my job is being able to turn up to work every day and make a difference to animals’ lives and help people look after their animals which is very rewarding. Seeing animals re-homed and offered a second chance after being through some horrific events in their lives is inspiring!

It is definitely a mentally demanding field, as we see acts of cruelty that are hard to comprehend. Sometimes personal life is put on standby for emergency situations

I remember being about to leave work on Christmas Eve one year when our inspectors turned up with a large number of animals. We ended up leaving after getting them all checked and settled in after 10.30pm, so I missed Christmas dinner that night...

Most of the training I have received has been on the job. I am grateful to have worked so closely with animals in the shelter, as I learned a great deal about their care and their behaviour. I was able to work up from an animal attendant to a team leader. From there, I moved into a supervisory role and then went on to become the manager of the RSPCA Sydney Shelter

After 7 years at the shelter, I took up an opportunity with the Education Department and am very excited to have the opportunity to pass on my experiences and information to new people coming into the industry and provide assistance to the community.

I’d really encourage people to volunteer! Getting involved in the industry while you’re young will let you know if it’s really something you want to do. Plus, it looks great on a resume. Study would also be beneficial to add to your experiences. There are a lot of people wanting to work in the industry and not a huge number of jobs, so be prepared for some knockbacks and keep trying if it’s something that you really want to do.

Discover career paths within the RSCPA at

4. TANIA COLLYER - Owner DOGUE Gungahlin
I was looking for an opportunity to go into business for myself after many years in the public sector. DOGUE looked like an interesting opportunity – a boutique business that wasn’t a typical corporate superstore structure. After meeting with the DOGUE team I knew it was the right decision: their passion for excellent customer service, grooming and their products was clear from the beginning and did fit with my own ethos!

I decided to go with a Franchise arrangement rather than set up on my own store because I didn’t want to go into business alone. I wanted support from a business 
who had a proven track record of success that could provide guidance and support me at every step. I also have access to quality suppliers with better buying power than an independent retailer.

I love working with dogs! My own dogs are a part of my family, and I understand that many other families feel the same way about their dogs. Each dog has their own unique personality and traits, and I love meeting new ones and seeing ‘old friends.’ I love making our customers happy, and nothing pleases me more than when a customer is thrilled with their freshly groomed dog’s new haircut.

Working full days, 6 days a week can be tiring, and this was a struggle in the early days, but as my business has grown, so have my staffing levels which means I no longer have to be at my store for the entirety of our opening hours.

I underwent Induction Operations training, which provided a lot of information about Franchising in general and where I learnt about the history of DOGUE, its products and services, processes and systems.We have online tools as well as HQ support only being a phone call away. I also purchased and read numerous books on franchising, management and marketing, to expand my knowledge.

Future opportunities within the organisation may include opening other locations and adding extra services for customers at our existing location.

Do your research so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Talk to other Franchisees: this will give you an idea of how happy they are, what level of support they receive, and if they feel valued and supported by the Franchisor. 

Find a good lawyer with Franchise experience who can go over contracts and commercial leases.

Also find a good accountant to advise you on the best business structure for your unique circumstances, help with budgets, financial projections and bookkeeping to meet your legal obligations.

Think long and hard about whether you are ready for the commitment being a business owner takes, especially in the early days of establishing your customer base. It takes time to build a profitable business, but it is also very rewarding.

My decision to join DOGUE was one of the best decisions I have ever made! As with setting up any new business, it’s hard work in the beginning, but DOGUE HQ have been there every step of the way, providing guidance and support whenever I’ve needed it. I am very proud of my store, and the business I have built so far, and proud to be part of the DOGUE brand. 

5. LOUISE GINMAN - Professional Dog Trainer 

I started out as the guardian of ‘Mekari’, a lovely male Siberian Husky. We went to puppy class and were instructed by two very talented trainers who impressed me greatly in their knowledge of dog behaviour and breeds and also their positive training methods. 

Later, I needed a bit of help with loose lead walking and some on-leash reactivity I accidently created, so I chatted to one of my Taronga Zoo colleagues, who was also a great trainer. 

Aside from giving me some great pointers to help with my issues, she also recommended that I attend the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) conference to learn so much more about dog behaviour and training. Well, I went and loved it and that is what really spurned me on to becoming a dog trainer myself and not just a dog owner. Oh, and I haven’t missed a single APDT conference since !

I studied my Certificate IV in Companion Animal Studies with Delta Society Australia. This is an excellent and really comprehensive course covering all aspects of positive reinforcement dog training, behaviour and class management.

Currently this industry is not regulated so anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and dog owners should always look for someone with an actual qualification and specific experience with the problem they need addressing. Trainers can take their qualification one step higher by becoming certified or accredited through international accreditation boards such as the Pet Professional Accreditation Board and Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

If I had to give some advice to someone in following the same career path?

1. I believe you need to have lived with and trained your own dog to be a really good and credible trainer!
This sounds obvious, but I know a lot of ‘trainers’ who have never raised a puppy or adopted and trained a rescue dog. Having practical skills and firsthand knowledge helps you relate better to your what your clients may be going through whether it be toilet training that new puppy, teaching loose lead walking or working with on leash reactivity

2. Get qualified. While it is great to go and learn from experienced trainers, don’t stop there! Go and do a Certificate IV course in Companion Animal Services. Look for a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) so you will get a quality-assured and nationally recognised qualification in positive reinforcement-based training. 

3. NEVER stop learning, attend conferences, workshops, talks and seminars whenever you can and get out and about with your own dogs to extend your skills by trying your hand at activities like agility, obedience, Rally O, K9 NoseWork and many more fun things you can try!

6. SHARON OSMOND – K9 SWiM, Hydrotherapy Centre 
I am a Qualified Veterinary Nurse but my passion is physical and natural therapies.I have always had a passion for animal rehabilitation and physical therapies.

This prompted me to do as many courses and training as I can to expand my knowledge and now I also hold qualifications in Myofunctional Therapy, Cranio Sacral, Ttouch as well as a Diploma in Animal Naturopathy.

When Curzon, one of my Weimaraners was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and arthritis, I knew the best thing I could do for her was to swim her in warm water to build up her muscles and give her stability. In 2013, I started K9 Swim and in 2014, I was honored to win a scholarship through the VNCA (Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia). I flew to the UK and did a Certified course in small animal hydrotherapy. With this new knowledge and accreditation I could bring this to K9 Swim.
Puppy tests the waters at K9 SWiM - Photo: Stephen Cooper

Canine Hydrotherapy is a wonderful non-weight bearing exercise that is great for dogs recovering from surgery or an injury. It is also really good for conditioning and training – for those dogs that are participating in sports and competitions such as agility, flyball and showing. 

Dogs can also just come and swim for fun in a safe environment and burn off some energy and enjoy themselves. Swimming is also great for weight loss and can be a gentle exercise for the senior dog. 

I get great satisfaction in helping the dogs that come in needing rehabilitation and watching their progress in strengthening and mobility. 

Being both Veterinary Nurse and Physical Therapist gave me the opportunity to develop K9 Swim and have that training and knowledge in being able to assist in their recovery. 

We work closely with vets, surgeons and referral hospitals to offer the best possible service for our four-legged friends. I’m really looking forward to adding additional services to ensure we are providing the best care we can to our canine friends.


No comments

Post a Comment