While all pet owners must understand how to take care of their four-footed companion, many want to learn more than the basics. However, given sufficient dedication, you can learn by working or volunteering with a dog-oriented organization. For the most passionate, formal education may open the door to a career working with dogs.
Surfing for Solutions
The internet offers a wealth of information for those looking to understand dogs and their needs. As with any reference, it is important to consider the source of the information. While a veterinarian, experienced breeder, non-profit organization or researcher will likely provide quality advice; well-meaning, but misguided amateurs may provide nothing but misinformation. Universities often publish high quality, unbiased information, as well – especially if they are a school that offers a veterinary program. Always read the “About us” page for any website to determine who is providing the information and their credentials.
Break Out the Books
Though the internet is an unparalleled repository of information, it is not the only resource of value. Libraries are great sources for information about dogs, as well as broader subjects, such as physiology and nutrition. In addition to the many books, both old and new, which contain invaluable information on dog care; libraries carry many other media as well. You may find important information in periodicals, professional or academic journals, or even DVDs.
In the Trenches
One of the most effective and beneficial ways to learn how to care for dogs is to work or volunteer with a business, non-profit organization or veterinarian. Sometimes these organizations will require that you participate in a training course before beginning work, which advances you toward your goals immediately. Additionally, while they do not often keep domestic dogs, some zoos maintain their close relatives, in the form of foxes, coyotes, wolves, dingos and African hunting dogs. Helping to care for any of these would provide you with a better understanding of the entire family tree.
If you are truly passionate about dogs, and think that you want to spend your life working with them, consider obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an animal-related field, such as biology, zoology or animal behavior. To be a veterinarian or researcher, you will need additional schooling, but by then you will have time to be sure you have made the right career choice. Even if you do not wish to obtain a degree, you may be able to audit a class, which will allow you to attend class, though you will not get credit for it.