Career as an Army dog trainer

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Carol is a dog trainer in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. With her dog, Ben, she guards key buildings and stores.

What training have you had?

I did an initial two-day selection course at the Defence Animal Centre which gave me the chance to see the range of jobs available. I've done a basic dog-handling course and I also trained in kennel management – dog health and welfare, feeding and documentation.

What is your normal work with your dog?

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Ben and I guard key buildings like ammunition depots and Army headquarters. In Iraq, I carried out crowd control with the Iraqi people. It was my first posting overseas as a dog trainer and I found it quite a culture shock seeing some of the conditions.

I work pretty unsociable hours – we mainly patrol after dark to protect the people in the camps.

Who looks after Ben?

I do! After we finish a shift, I feed Ben and groom him. Each dog is reliant on its handler so I have to care for him and check that he's fit and well. We both found the heat in Iraq took a bit of getting used to.

There are 20-30 dogs out here in Iraq. They're all trained to the same standard so I could work with any of them. I only need to handle a new dog for a couple of hours to establish a bond and build up the level of trust we need to work together.

What skills and qualities do you need?

You must have a genuine love of animals and the patience to work with them – sometimes it takes a while to train them to do what you want them to do.

What do you like about being in the Army?

The variety as no two days are the same. Also, I like the travel and have already been to Canada, Gibraltar, Oman, Afghanistan, Macedonia and Kosovo. I've had the chance to go canoeing, windsurfing and even skiing in Alberta.

What about the future?

When I get back to the UK I want to take a 12-week course in handling specialist dogs – for the detection of drugs and explosives.

Carols's tips

  • The job is demanding so it's important not to be afraid of hard work.
  • You need a lot of patience to work with animals.

Getting in

  • After basic training, you will commence Corps training at the Defence Animal Centre
  • You will initially train up to Class 3 standard protection dogs, progressing to Class 2 and then Class 1. During this period you will learn all there is to know about dog training and kennel management.
  • As a dog trainer you will be able to study NVQ Animal Care up to Level 3

Modified: 16 June 2013

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