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Would you take a lesser pay for the chance to work with dogs everyday?

I am 26 years old and I have always been in corporate office type job settings, which has paid great for me. After deciding to leave my last job I thought, I love dogs SO much, wouldn't it be great if I was paid to be around them every day? Why not try something new?

So I just got accepted for a trial period at a kennel/daycare/training facility (it literally is a one stop shop for your pet, with it's own grooming parlor and dog park)

It is a LOT of manual labor and cleaning, for almost 4 dollars less per hour than my previous job. but I get to feed, medicate, and play with dogs all day. I feel like lesser pay is made up for in how rewarding it could be. and how exciting it is to see different furry clients every day. I also am looking forward to learning new things about dogs.

I don't have any kids to support and I am not the only person at home paying the bills so I feel like my decision so far to take less pay is justified... it is an exciting new chapter in my life as well, and who knows - maybe I can build a career in working with animals.

Does anyone have experience working at a kennel that can enlighten me on how you feel about your job? I did already have a working interview, so I got the gist of it - but it is all still so new to me.
 

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I've worked at two daycare/boarding/training kennels over the past five years. Try it out, you might like it.

I think people underestimate how physically and mentally demanding the job is. There's a high turnover of new employees and long time employees tend to burn out at some point. That's where I'm at right now. At my lowest point I was so sick of animals I didn't even want to go home and spend time with my own pets. Dogs can be jerks- it's not all fun and games- they will bully each other and occasionally fight. The worst though is seeing mistreatment and not being able to do anything about it. Not so much the dog owners (other than like, overfeeding their dogs or something) but fellow employees and even supervisors. :(

If you want to work with animals, a kennel can be a good starting point for your career. You can potentially learn a lot about dog care, health, handling, and behavior (depending on how knowledgeable your supervisors are) and that could prepare you for a job as a trainer, vet tech, owning your own pet care business (dog walking, pet sitting, daycare, etc), etc. It's not all bad, there are times when it can be very rewarding and a lot of fun.
 

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I've worked at two daycare/boarding/training kennels over the past five years. Try it out, you might like it.

I think people underestimate how physically and mentally demanding the job is. There's a high turnover of new employees and long time employees tend to burn out at some point. That's where I'm at right now. At my lowest point I was so sick of animals I didn't even want to go home and spend time with my own pets. Dogs can be jerks- it's not all fun and games- they will bully each other and occasionally fight. The worst though is seeing mistreatment and not being able to do anything about it. Not so much the dog owners (other than like, overfeeding their dogs or something) but fellow employees and even supervisors. :(

If you want to work with animals, a kennel can be a good starting point for your career. You can potentially learn a lot about dog care, health, handling, and behavior (depending on how knowledgeable your supervisors are) and that could prepare you for a job as a trainer, vet tech, owning your own pet care business (dog walking, pet sitting, daycare, etc), etc. It's not all bad, there are times when it can be very rewarding and a lot of fun.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I was actually slightly worried about getting sick of dogs, but that probably won't happen for a while because I do love them and have had such little exposure to many different breeds that every day at the kennel will probably be so interesting at first. I was awestruck during my working interview, meeting a beautiful & sweet Greyhound (never seen one in person before!) so that was a nice experience.

There are sections of the kennel for more aggressive dogs, which is a bit intimidating, but I won't have to really handle them.

There are a lot of pros and cons to this job. Getting used to the very physical manual labor itself is going to take a while (as I mentioned I'm coming from a job that involves sitting on my butt most of the day!)

Hopefully the fact that this kennel offers paid vacation time off after 6 months will keep me from getting burned out!

How do you cope with the physical demands and other parts you dislike about the job?
 

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I worked at a Doggie Daycare, but it was very poorly run. As a result, I was sometimes alone with 40+ dogs - which is a recipe for disaster. Even noticing body language, and being quick enough to stop scuffles, you just can't watch 40 dogs at once. I now focus on the training of dogs instead of the daycare.
You meet some AMAZING dogs. Oh man, there were quite a few I would take home in a heartbeat.Even some breeds I would never own, I fell in love with (one husky in particular, oh man I miss him). There are also some dogs that make you want to turn them into a fur coat, I mean honestly. One dog in particular, tested my patience every day. She was a Bernese Mountain Dog (ironically enough named Heidi) who loved to jump up and bite my arms. She's not a small dog, and I'm not a big person. I LOVE animals, but man oh man, I hated that dog.

You will be so drained when you come home at the end of the day. I remember I came home after my first day, sat on the couch, and immediately fell asleep. The biggest drawback for me was how poorly it was run. It ruined my whole take on doggie daycare.
 

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How do you cope with the physical demands and other parts you dislike about the job?
Not very well! lol Sorry, joking.

Physical: I take a hot bath with epsom salt and lavender bubbles and that soothes the muscle and joint pain from being on my feet all day. It's not that bad, I just think about how much exercise I'm getting and how many calories I'm burning!

The other stuff... honestly it depends on a lot of things. If you get along with your coworkers it helps to vent/joke/complain about things with them- it makes you feel better and helps build camaraderie. The mistreatment is hard though, at first it really upset me and I've gone to supervisors about it in the past, but when it's the higher ups doing it in the first place, there's not really much to be done. I just focus on my own dogs and making sure they're okay and happy, and dream of the day when I'm able to move on to a different job. You start to get desensitized to some things- you just have to make sure you never compromise your own morals and take your frustrations out on the dogs like you might see other employees doing. I'm not saying they beat them or anything- but you might see people scruffing, alpha rolling, yelling, trainers (mis)using shock collars or prong collars. It depends a lot on the handling/training philosophies of the facility you work at.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not very well! lol Sorry, joking.

Physical: I take a hot bath with epsom salt and lavender bubbles and that soothes the muscle and joint pain from being on my feet all day. It's not that bad, I just think about how much exercise I'm getting and how many calories I'm burning!

The other stuff... honestly it depends on a lot of things. If you get along with your coworkers it helps to vent/joke/complain about things with them- it makes you feel better and helps build camaraderie. The mistreatment is hard though, at first it really upset me and I've gone to supervisors about it in the past, but when it's the higher ups doing it in the first place, there's not really much to be done. I just focus on my own dogs and making sure they're okay and happy, and dream of the day when I'm able to move on to a different job. You start to get desensitized to some things- you just have to make sure you never compromise your own morals and take your frustrations out on the dogs like you might see other employees doing. I'm not saying they beat them or anything- but you might see people scruffing, alpha rolling, yelling, trainers (mis)using shock collars or prong collars. It depends a lot on the handling/training philosophies of the facility you work at.
Eerie - The lavender Epsom bath is the same thing I did after my first day!
I definitely welcome the exercise though...I desperately need it lol.

I'm sorry you have to deal with that stuff at work. I am hoping it's not like that at the kennel I'll be at, but I haven't gotten to know the trainers or anything yet =/ Doesn't make sense for people that love dogs to mistreat them that way, but it clearly happens... I'll have to let you know how it turns out.

Have you tried to find other facilities to work at instead?
 

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I worked at a Doggie Daycare, but it was very poorly run. As a result, I was sometimes alone with 40+ dogs - which is a recipe for disaster. Even noticing body language, and being quick enough to stop scuffles, you just can't watch 40 dogs at once. I now focus on the training of dogs instead of the daycare.
You meet some AMAZING dogs. Oh man, there were quite a few I would take home in a heartbeat.Even some breeds I would never own, I fell in love with (one husky in particular, oh man I miss him). There are also some dogs that make you want to turn them into a fur coat, I mean honestly. One dog in particular, tested my patience every day. She was a Bernese Mountain Dog (ironically enough named Heidi) who loved to jump up and bite my arms. She's not a small dog, and I'm not a big person. I LOVE animals, but man oh man, I hated that dog.

You will be so drained when you come home at the end of the day. I remember I came home after my first day, sat on the couch, and immediately fell asleep. The biggest drawback for me was how poorly it was run. It ruined my whole take on doggie daycare.
Oh man, alone with 40 dogs?! Sounds terrifying. The daycare where I'm at seems to break the dogs up into groups for daycare, so there is never that many at once to manage... Being new to the whole kennel/daycare scene, I am curious how often dog fights break out and what the best way to break them up is. I was told they use air horns but that it doesn't happen too much because they try to group them according to temperament.

I have to work 4 days straight to start so I am tired just thinking about it. The shifts are 730am to 5pm with an hour lunch. I'm trying to prepare myself for it.

I can imagine falling in love with a LOT of the dogs. Any big dog jumping/biting at me would be annoying. There is a loud and quite large German Shephard I have seen so far that has intimidated me a bit.

Thank you for sharing!
 

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If you have access to a hose, that's probably the fastest and safest way to end a fight.

Loud noises can work, like the air horn or slamming a stainless steel bowl onto the ground.

Worst case scenario is you grab the aggressor by the waist and pull them away, and then toss them in an empty space/time out area while you calm the rest of the dogs down.

They'll probably teach you all those things though.

How often? It depends on how many dogs in a group, the energy level of the group, if "problem dogs" are allowed to be in the groups, experience of the handlers, etc. Unless it's a horribly run daycare, fights don't happen all that often. I never saw a real fight at the first daycare I was at, and there's about one fight a month at this current (mostly because they take "problem dogs"...) Usually a lot of noise and movement though, it's rare that a dog gets injured in a fight.
 

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If you have access to a hose, that's probably the fastest and safest way to end a fight.

Loud noises can work, like the air horn or slamming a stainless steel bowl onto the ground.

Worst case scenario is you grab the aggressor by the waist and pull them away, and then toss them in an empty space/time out area while you calm the rest of the dogs down.

They'll probably teach you all those things though.

How often? It depends on how many dogs in a group, the energy level of the group, if "problem dogs" are allowed to be in the groups, experience of the handlers, etc. Unless it's a horribly run daycare, fights don't happen all that often. I never saw a real fight at the first daycare I was at, and there's about one fight a month at this current (mostly because they take "problem dogs"...) Usually a lot of noise and movement though, it's rare that a dog gets injured in a fight.
I would be a bit nervous to grab an aggressive dog by the waist - wouldn't they possibly turn around and bite me instead?

Honestly I won't be handling the daycare area, I'm mainly focused on the kennel & boarding dogs, handling dogs individually. I will work towards setting up the groups for daycare and probably escorting the dogs to the daycare area, but there is a separate department from what I understand that does the overseeing of play. (from what I understand so far)

I have to say I was surprised that owners even want to take their aggressive dogs to daycare. I mean, it's great that they get a chance to play, but for example, one of our dogs is dog aggressive and I never even thought of taking him to daycare just for the safety of everyone involved...
 

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I would be a bit nervous to grab an aggressive dog by the waist - wouldn't they possibly turn around and bite me instead?

Honestly I won't be handling the daycare area, I'm mainly focused on the kennel & boarding dogs, handling dogs individually. I will work towards setting up the groups for daycare and probably escorting the dogs to the daycare area, but there is a separate department from what I understand that does the overseeing of play. (from what I understand so far)

I have to say I was surprised that owners even want to take their aggressive dogs to daycare. I mean, it's great that they get a chance to play, but for example, one of our dogs is dog aggressive and I never even thought of taking him to daycare just for the safety of everyone involved...
Well, I mean, you're lifting their rear end in the air and pulling back (you also turn them in a circle while you're pulling), so that way the dog has to side step and concentrate on staying balanced and isn't really able to turn around and bite you. Though yes, I suppose it could happen, that's why hands on intervention is something I only do in a worst case scenario.

If you're not working in the groups though you probably don't have to worry about that though.
 

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Personally, having worked at a doggy daycare for two years now with no raise working just a little above minimum wage, absolutely not never ever. If someone offered me an office job that paid a few dollars more than this, I'd take it in a heartbeat and say au revoir. I love my job, I really do, but the emotional and physical stress I undergo daily is just not worth it sometimes. Just to put it in perspective--I had a heart cathetherization surgery to see what was wrong with my heart, but it turned out I was having horrible palpitations from the constant stress and anxiety. I see a lot of people start out working here because they just love dogs so much, then I watch them slowly die inside as all their dreams die with every turd they have to race a poop eating dog for. I'm being dramatic, of course, but you should probably be expecting something closer to 80% boring/stressful/downright gross and 20% aw yay puppies for the duration of working at a doggy daycare. I feel like I'm cleaning up bodily fluids more often than I'm even looking at dogs.

I don't mean to make it sound horrible, it really can be rewarding. Watching puppies grow up, seeing shy dogs open up, etc. I just wish I could get out of it most days, but I can't seem to leave. Plus, I get to bring my dog to work with me. I've become so used to that the idea of not having Jayne with me at work makes me sad. And the employee discount on dog food! And grooming! It's almost too convenient to leave at this point.
 

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Personally, having worked at a doggy daycare for two years now with no raise working just a little above minimum wage, absolutely not never ever. If someone offered me an office job that paid a few dollars more than this, I'd take it in a heartbeat and say au revoir. I love my job, I really do, but the emotional and physical stress I undergo daily is just not worth it sometimes. Just to put it in perspective--I had a heart cathetherization surgery to see what was wrong with my heart, but it turned out I was having horrible palpitations from the constant stress and anxiety. I see a lot of people start out working here because they just love dogs so much, then I watch them slowly die inside as all their dreams die with every turd they have to race a poop eating dog for. I'm being dramatic, of course, but you should probably be expecting something closer to 80% boring/stressful/downright gross and 20% aw yay puppies for the duration of working at a doggy daycare. I feel like I'm cleaning up bodily fluids more often than I'm even looking at dogs.

I don't mean to make it sound horrible, it really can be rewarding. Watching puppies grow up, seeing shy dogs open up, etc. I just wish I could get out of it most days, but I can't seem to leave. Plus, I get to bring my dog to work with me. I've become so used to that the idea of not having Jayne with me at work makes me sad. And the employee discount on dog food! And grooming! It's almost too convenient to leave at this point.
I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. It definitely has me a little worried. I don't want to lose my love of dogs. Not sure if you read my other posts, but I mentioned I will not actually be working the daycare area, mostly just the kennels. Can you elaborate on what made it so very stressful for you?

I'm not naive in thinking that working at a dog facility is all fun and games. Just by the "working interview" there is a lot of hard and dirty work involved, yes - it's to be expected... I'm hoping I don't regret this decision! I'm trying to be as realistic as possible but time will only tell.

I am told after about 3 months I will be cross trained in the front office, so that will occasionally alleviate the manual labor.

It is somewhat concerning that when interviewing they didn't really care if I knew a lot about dogs or not. They stressed that they just need someone reliable that is going to show up every shift. I am wondering why people aren't showing up for their shifts.... dun dun dun!
 

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@patronizingrabbits Those are similar to my sentiments in regards to working at a daycare. Heck, I'd even take a "normal" job that paid the same amount at this point!

I am told after about 3 months I will be cross trained in the front office, so that will occasionally alleviate the manual labor.

It is somewhat concerning that when interviewing they didn't really care if I knew a lot about dogs or not. They stressed that they just need someone reliable that is going to show up every shift. I am wondering why people aren't showing up for their shifts.... dun dun dun!
If you're primarily working up front and cleaning you don't have to worry as much about the burnout with the dogs.

About people not showing up... that's pretty normal ime with daycares (and I'm sure other shift jobs). There are a lot of reasons but the general one is that people are just lazy and don't care. We hire a lot of high school/college students that haven't had a job before and don't take it seriously- especially because they come in thinking they're going to be playing with dogs all day and then are very disappointed with the reality.
At my job you're supposed to get coverage if you can't come in and you can't be late at all because you're relieving someone else of their shift and responsible for the care of animals. Some people follow the rules. Some people don't and they don't last very long. Also, holidays and weekends are necessary because you're caring for animals, they don't just stop needing to be cared for because it's Christmas or Saturday morning and you're hungover. And for some reason people come into the job not understanding that.
 

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@patronizingrabbits Those are similar to my sentiments in regards to working at a daycare. Heck, I'd even take a "normal" job that paid the same amount at this point!

I am told after about 3 months I will be cross trained in the front office, so that will occasionally alleviate the manual labor.

It is somewhat concerning that when interviewing they didn't really care if I knew a lot about dogs or not. They stressed that they just need someone reliable that is going to show up every shift. I am wondering why people aren't showing up for their shifts.... dun dun dun!
If you're primarily working up front and cleaning you don't have to worry as much about the burnout with the dogs.

About people not showing up... that's pretty normal ime with daycares (and I'm sure other shift jobs). There are a lot of reasons but the general one is that people are just lazy and don't care. We hire a lot of high school/college students that haven't had a job before and don't take it seriously- especially because they come in thinking they're going to be playing with dogs all day and then are very disappointed with the reality.
At my job you're supposed to get coverage if you can't come in and you can't be late at all because you're relieving someone else of their shift and responsible for the care of animals. Some people follow the rules. Some people don't and they don't last very long. Also, holidays and weekends are necessary because you're caring for animals, they don't just stop needing to be cared for because it's Christmas or Saturday morning and you're hungover. And for some reason people come into the job not understanding that.
This is absolutely a huge problem. We finally managed to get some steady and consistently responsible people working, but the good workers usually don't last long. The people who have been here a long time and never call in, come in late, or no show (me and two other people) work the hours given only to trusted employees, morning shift with weekends off. It's very rare to find someone who will stick, which is why a lot of doggy daycares really shoot for a reliable person.

If you're not working with the dogs in a group, your stress will probably be more with the owners than the dogs. There are owners who will get pissed if ANYTHING happens to their dog, even if it's out of your control. Just the other day a dog skinned it's knee and the owner threatened to never come back if "anything like this" every happens again. There are some serious dog parent divas out there that will call and get snappy because they can't see their dog on camera and want to know "what you've done with them" even though they're curled up sleeping off camera.

Most of the kind of scary stories you've been hearing are from people who work in the group setting, and since a good chunk of people here are "dog people", were the ones that are put into sucky situations because we can handle it. I know I wrote my response after a long hard day and it was probably a bit emotionally charged.

Honestly, most of my work related stress comes from the people, not the dogs. I work with a some really uneducated (on dog behavior), unreliable people and my boss is very dramatic and makes a big deal out of things that aren't a big deal, which just stresses everyone out. Like last week I had two dogs playing outside and was keeping an eye on them from inside and my boss came in and yelled at me to "break up that fight" even though they were clearly playing. She is also very big on the image of the daycare, but not really what it truly is. She wants to paint this perfect picture of a doggy daycare and a lot of times it puts a TON of pressure on us to work miracles with dogs who clearly are not a good fit. If a dog is too aggressive and gets in a fight, we get "how could you not stop that/see it coming/etc" but if we take the dog out of group we get "did you even try/can't you try with a smaller group?/etc" Every time I hear "well, can't you just try to--" I feel like that is going to be the moment I finally snap.

I don't think working at a doggy daycare made me dislike dogs, but it really made me less sympathetic towards them if I'm being honest. I also used to think I couldn't dislike a dog, but I've now learned I can indeed.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm trying to focus all my energy on simply getting my sleep schedule back together for this job, and then I have to acclimate to how much physical labor is involved since I'm coming from a pretty sedentary job... that's my main worry, because like you (and they) have said - can't tolerate call offs or being late. My 40 hr trial period begins tomorrow at 7:30am so wish me luck guys! Thanks for all the insight.
 

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So I finished day 3 and my legs are already riddled with bruises from jumpy dogs (I bruise easily). Part of my ego is a little annoyed that a couple of my co-workers are very young and it makes me feel like I'm doing a child's job... I'm so torn because I do love getting to spend time with the dogs after the cleaning is done--taking them on walks, one on one play, wellness checks, etc. The cleaning is a lot but I do like going home tired at the end if the day, does a body good. I just wish it paid more so I could better justify working there. It is very nice that I get to watch over some of the training classes and learn a lot..
 
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