Job type

Dog handler

£16k - £26k

Typical salary

38 – 40

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Work closely with dogs in a security, public service, or armed forces setting
  • Can be physically demanding and will include shift work
  • Develop a strong bond with your dog and work with them as a team

Work for the police, RAF, Border Force, and HM Revenue & Customs, or private security firms. You could also work for other services, like the Fire and Rescue Service, HM Prison Service, or for a mountain rescue team.


  • Patrol premises and protect property
  • Search for lost or missing people
  • Detect drugs, firearms or explosives
  • Control crowds
  • Attend training courses with your dog


The job can be physically challenging as you would need to keep up with your dog during tough training sessions, and you'll work outside in all weather conditions.

In all services you'll work shifts on a rota that covers 24 hours, 7 days a week. In some organisations, like the police service, you'll look after your dog in your own home.

You'll need

This role requires the ability to work with a dog efficiently and look after its welfare needs, self-confidence and the ability to work with minimum supervision, patience with inexperienced dogs, good observation skills, the ability to judge a situation accurately and react instantly.

There are no set requirements, but you'll need experience of caring for dogs and have a good level of fitness.

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 can apply to be a dog handler if you're already working in an organisation like the police, British Army or Royal Air Force.

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

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


Promotion opportunities will vary depending on the service or organisation that you work for. In the police and armed services 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.