D EAR OLD TRAINER: I am finishing my sophomore year in high school and love dogs. We have three that I feed and exercise. I am interested in a job being a trainer or dog walker or something where I can be around dogs and maybe make some money too. Can someone my age do that?
DEAR MADISON: Yes. President John F. Kennedy said, “Age is no barrier to leadership.” There has never been a better time for young people to get involved in the business of caring for dogs, but you must have experience. People will not entrust their pets to you until you prove you know how to care for them.
Taking care of your own dogs is a good start, but I advise you to volunteer at a local shelter. You get immersion training on how to instantly evaluate a dog and what it needs, how to care for them, and a better understanding of canine psychology. You’ll learn how to deal with strange dogs and make them happy.
Once you do, there is a growing industry that is the perfect place for someone your age to start – pet sitting and boarding. It’s a lot of responsibility because people expect you to be perfect in the way you care for their pets.
To better understand the business, visit this website: www.dogvacay.com.
This company lists people in the pet setting business in your area. Study the bios, how they list their services, and how much they charge. Explore the website.
Decide which services you can perform and what you will charge. Design a flier for yourself listing what you offer, how much you charge, and your experience. Explain why you are a good pet setter. Hand it out in your part of town and at the dog park. Give it to everyone you see with a dog.
Start by taking care of pets of your friends and neighbors when they are out of town, or checking on them and walking them when the owner is at work. If you don’t think you are ready for that, contact the local people on that website and ask for a job.
When you get enough experience to feel you are a professional, submit your material to that website so your services will be listed.
Everyone with a dog is a potential customer, and once you prove you are reliable you’ll get their business over and over.
DEAR OLD TRAINER: We have four dogs and just moved to a house with five acres of land. There is a fence around the yard, but nothing around the entire property. We’re considering an electronic fence, but only if it is foolproof.
DEAR CARL: They work, but are not foolproof. They short out for various reasons, long hair can stop the collar from working, and electricity can go out after a storm. Some dogs learn to ignore the minor shock when they want to see if the grass really is greener.
The fences work fine with well-trained dogs that like to stay close to home. If your dogs are not trained or if they like to ramble, it is best to get a wire fence.
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.