Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dog Day Care Attendant; What Skills Are Required?

Day care workers need skills in recognizing which dogs can go with each other, what signals mean a confrontation is imminent. The attendant, who redirects play when signals are sent, is better than one skilled in the fastest correction. Both are better than the lovely lady, who loves dogs, but stands shocked when they become animals.

Entertaining dogs is another educational category. Have you ever watched half dozen eager labs wait for one ball to be thrown? The skilled day care attendant can throw the ball, throw the next ball, so all the dogs have a shot at a ball. Not every dog wants to play fetch; what’s in your bag of tricks for these dogs? My personal favorites are the smart dogs tired of the usual day care games; what do you have to offer these pooches so they don’t go home restless and bored.

Lack of knowledge runs deep with inexperienced day care attendants, this is a skill set that must be learned by every new employee, we hire. Owners of day cares have a huge investment in staff.

Observing the dogs is an art form honed over years, where do you begin with a newcomer? Sadly, I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t count the dogs until they moved them to the yard where they were going to play. It’s already too late!

The day care attendant who thinks the dog lying in the corner is a good dog has ever so much to learn.

Have you ever watched the day care attendant who runs behind the dogs correcting all forms of doggie behavior, such as butt sniffing? Understanding normal dog behavior, when to correct and when not must be part of the training.

Dogs forgive us for tons of mishandling, but good in service education is a must for our business. This is an industry that must develop a skill set for staff, so perhaps we should identify what the skills are.


  1. I'll agree and then some. I deal with many caregivers at shelters and see the same. On it taking years to learn how to observe dogs, that's often the case. Just remember, as little children it took us several years to begin understanding other people, and this is a similar process. Similarly, some become much better at it than others.

    So, how would you identify the skills needed? I've spoken with many people who work with dogs but, in the end, I learn far more by just watching them work for even ten minutes with the dogs. I've worked with trainer and behaviorists with all sorts of credentials, but it's only the dogs who tell me how good they are.

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