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Dog Handler


Job Description

Dog Handlers work with specially trained dogs and are responsible for their care and control, they can be used for tracking missing persons, searching for drugs and explosives, chasing criminals, crowd control and patrolling and guarding property. Dogs and Dog Handlers are used by the police, RAF, Army and Customs as well as private companies.

Entry Requirements

You can get this job through:


You may be able to start by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in animal care.

You could then move onto an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

Click here to search for an apprenticeship.


You can apply to be a dog handler if you're working in an organisation like the PoliceBritish army or Royal Air Force.

Direct application

You can apply to work with a private security firm as a dog handler. You'll need a Security Industry Authority licence to do this.

You'll have an advantage when you apply for jobs if you've got experience of working with dogs.

Careers Tips

You could get voluntary experience with the National Search and Rescue Dog Association before applying to be a dog handler.

You can find out more about becoming a dog handler from the College of Animal Welfare.

Restrictions and requirements
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks and have a good level of fitness.

Career Path and Progression

Promotion opportunities will depend on the service or organisation that you work for. In the police and armed forces, you may have to move out of dog handling to get promoted to the higher ranks.

In security, you could go on to be head of canine services, where you direct teams of dog handlers.

You might also become a trainer, working with organisations like search and rescue, to help train dogs and their handlers.

Related careers you may be interested in:

  • Animal care worker
  • Assistance dog trainer
  • Dog groomer
  • Kennel worker
  • Security officer

Required Skills

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to teach people and animals how to do something
  • work well in a team
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure

Salary Range

£16,000 to £25,000

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