My 13-year-old daughter is crazy about dogs. She says she’d like to be a veterinarian or a dog trainer. What suggestions do you have for her? ~ Marina
Those are both great career choices. The best thing for her to do now is to get involved in some dog-related activities. Training a dog to do agility, rally-o, or tricks will teach her a lot about dog training and behavior. Most trainers will allow her to take a class with your dog as long as you attend with her. If possible, sit a distance away from her and let her work on her own. If your dog enjoys training and interacting with new people, your daughter may want to train the dog to be a therapy dog and take him to nursing homes and hospitals.
To be a vet, she’ll need excellent grades, particularly in math and science as well as good communication skills. Dog trainers do not need a college degree–though many have one–but the field still requires a lot of independent study of behavior and learning theory.
Introducing your daughter to dog lovers in a variety of careers–groomers, shelter/rescue workers, trainers, veterinarians, veterinary assistants, pet sitters, dog daycare providers–can help her decide what best fits her interests.
When she’s a bit older, perhaps she can do an apprenticeship to learn more about a given job. There are lots of career and volunteer opportunities open to someone who loves dogs. I’m sure she’ll find something that’s right for her.