“Oh, how lucky are you? It must be so much fun to just play with dogs all day!”
I can’t help but sigh as yet another person makes an assumption about my career. They mean well, really they do. However, as a lead kennel tech in my city’s most popular dog resort…I can tell you that “playing with dogs all day” is not even close to my job description.
Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love my job! I would never work anywhere else. Just know that there is so much beyond play time.
For example, the noise. Lots of people just assume that dogs barking over and over is them talking to their friends. I’m here to tell you, it is definitely not. One or two barks, yes. Constant, high-pitched, high-volume barks are not. This is actually a sign of anxiety and desperation. At the facility I work at, we do not allow barking.
I can almost hear you snort in disgust as I type this. Hear me out.
Imagine spending a ton of money to spend in an amazing resort that has all kinds of activities and amenities for you, only for you to arrive to utter chaos. The staff is so busy they can’t stop to speak to you, there are strangers everywhere that are all also trying to get help, and at night, everyone is up so late making so much noise, you never get to sleep. The longer you spend there, the more stressed you become until you snap. Then, arriving home, your family is so excited for your return, but you are so upset about the trip that you can’t even feel excited to see them…
You see where I’m going with this?
Controlling barking controls anxiety in the facility. Not just for the dogs, but to keep our little sanity we have left also.
Another task that is of utmost importance is cleanliness. I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous article, but I will say it again. I was completely taken aback the first time I walked into my work…it did not smell like dog! I can tell you this is from the rigorous and plentiful hours we spend cleaning everyday.
Clients really love a spanking-fresh boarding kennel. It gives them a sense of comfort knowing their dog will not be spending their nights away, sleeping in their own filth or worse, someone else’s.
Cleaning is hard work, of course, in a boarding kennel that can house 100 dogs; but it is worth it! I love hearing the comments and remarks about how fresh and clean our facility is. Not to mention knowing that our skills help keep away nasty illnesses and pests.
Do you ever notice a change in your dog’s behavior, whether it is for better or worse after you pick them up from their daycare or vacation? Well, depending on your place of choice you could notice a positive difference!
Training and manners are extremely important to us at the resort I work at; we spend many-an hour working with dogs to teach them new (and remind them of old) things. Most of these exercises are extremely simple: sit, off, wait, heel, etc. Quite a few dogs know them; they just need reminding from time to time.
These manners make the dogs more comfortable and relaxed, as well as help build a bond between dog and handler. A dog will gain lots more respect for a handler who can take charge. It is part of the pack mentality. Letting certain dogs get their way all of the time will just cause a domino effect of problems for other dogs and of course, staff.
Over time, dogs become more adjusted to the rules and regulations and you will see a huge difference in the way your dog behaves with them versus without.
Sales…oh, how I still cringe at that word.
When I first started my job, I was so excited that I wouldn’t have to work with people anymore! Never again would I have to use a cash register or engage in awkward small talk with strangers….boy, could I have been anymore wrong?
Just because I work primarily with canines, does not mean that I still do not have to appease to the humans. With a dog care resort, there is so much to offer pet parents! All of them want the best for their best friend, so we try to give that to them by offering packages, sales, offers, classes…you name it, we have it.
Sales has never been my strong suit, but I absolutely love seeing a client’s face light up when you tell them about what a great day Sadie had with her friend Max or when their dog comes out of the groomer for the first time. It really isn’t a hard sell when people love their dogs as much as they do.
Finally, we get to play with dogs.
Of all of my tasks, this is the best time. I absolutely love belly rubs, playing fetch, doing tricks, or simply just sitting in a room with a dog who needs some more love. Each and every dog is like my own. I learn what they like and don’t like; how they react to certain environments, and the kinds of extras they like added to their food.
Believe it or not, us kennel techs do miss a dog when it isn’t at daycare or hasn’t stayed with us for a while. We worry and wonder where they are. Because, although the dog care industry is a pretty happy place, we all endure sad times. We want to know where the dog is so we can support them through that sad time with them if we need to.
Being a kennel tech is a hard job….there’s no doubt about that. However, don’t think of it as a negative thing because, seriously, we all love it. I would take 20 dog days of work than one terrible day anywhere else. So next time you take your dog to the groomers, trainer, boarding kennel, or daycare, really let them know how much they mean! We work really hard to make sure your dog is happy and healthy….sometimes we even get to play all day.