Dog Handler

Job Description:

Dog handlers work with specially trained dogs to help detect and prevent crime, find lost or missing people and protect property.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

Depending on the service you work for, you could:

  • patrol premises and protect property
  • search for lost or missing people
  • detect drugs, firearms or explosives
  • control crowds
  • look after your dog in your own home
  • attend training courses with your dog


You’ll need:

  • the ability to teach people and animals how to do something (creativity)
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (leadership skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a dog handler, you don’t typically need specific subjects, but you should focus on developing skills and gaining relevant experience. Becoming a dog handler often involves a combination of practical experience, training, and certifications. Here are some considerations:

  1. Mathematics (Maths): Basic math skills may be useful for tasks such as record-keeping and financial management if you plan to operate your own dog training or handling business.
  2. English Language: Good communication skills, including reading and writing, are important for maintaining records and interacting with clients.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly


You could take a course that will increase your knowledge and skills to handle and work with animals like a:

  • Diploma in Animal Care or Animal Management
  • Level in Animal Care and Management


You could do an animal trainer higher apprenticeship.

Some employers may expect you to have previous experience of working with animals. Employers will set their own entry requirements.


You can train to be a dog handler if you work or have worked in the uniformed services.


You can gain confidence with dogs and develop your training skills through volunteering.

Organisations like dog rescue charities may be useful places to search for opportunities.

Direct Application

You can apply to work with a private security firm as a dog handler. You’ll need a licence to do this.

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

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 38-40 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays on shifts.

You could work in kennels. Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding. You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & 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 lead teams of dog handlers.

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