The love of dogs leads many people young and old to consider a career in the dog industry. One of the most common choices of career is that of the kennel-hand. Many highly successful members of the world of canine related employment start off as a kennel-hand.
The job itself requires a huge amount of dedication and commitment, as well as a genuine love of dogs. The hours can be very unsociable and the pay can be less than brilliant. But the job itself can provide huge satisfaction and happiness. Many people in the job find the feeling they get every time they open the kennel door to a happy and healthy dog who is as pleased to see them as they are to see him, is easily worth the late nights and early mornings.
The general duties of a kennel-hand will include some of the following.
• Feeding. Most dogs will need to be fed twice a day. (this may vary depending on certain things) but as a rule, twice a day is the normal amount. Some dogs may require special diets and some owners may provide their own food so it is essential that the kennel-hand is conscientious when feeding the dogs. Watering is also very important. Every dog in the kennel should have a fresh supply of water at all times. It is important not to forget that every dog in the care of a kennel-hand needs feeding twice a day, every day. (even on Christmas day and bank holidays)
• Cleaning. All dog owners will expect that their dog be kept as clean at the kennels as they would be at the owner’s home. This will involve a daily or twice daily (depending on kennel policy) thorough cleaning of the kennel and vicinity. All mess must be completely removed from the kennel and the area must be disinfected. The floor, walls and any area where bacteria could survive must also be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. This job is never pleasant, but is always necessary.
• Grooming. As well as cleaning, grooming of the dog should be carried out whenever necessary. It will need to be done more or less depending on the dog. If the kennel hand is a dog owner, they should be able to appreciate when a dog requires grooming, if they are not then they should consult a superior.
• Exercise. All of the dogs in the kennel will need to be exercised to the degree that is common for their age and breed, or to the owner’s specification. Any person considering a job of this type should appreciate that dogs require just as much exercise in the winter as they do in the summer. This means that when there is two inches of snow on the ground, the dog will still need to be taken out.
• Socialisation. Dogs in the care of the kennel-hand will suffer if they do not receive a good amount of interaction with humans and perhaps other dogs. This is one part of the job that can be very enjoyable and rewarding.
• Health care. Kennel-hands are not expected to be vets. They are however, expected to look after the dog in a way that is sensitive to it’s health and well being. They should also be able to detect any problems and refer them to the vet or a superior.
There are certain variations within the kennel-hand vocation. Boarding kennels provide an excellent education for anyone wishing to specialise in any area of this profession. Greyhound training kennels require a very professional, presentable kennel-hand. Good communication skills are essential as many kennel-hands are required to deal with the public on a large scale. Greyhounds always attract a lot of attention, it is therefore necessary for the kennel-hand to be able handle situations where dog care and public relations go hand in hand.
Rescue kennels such as Battersea dog’s home offer a wide range of career opportunities for people who have experience as a kennel-hand. Re-housing specialists have a responsibility to ensure the dogs are given a suitable, safe home and that it stays that way. People can also specialise in the rehabilitation of mistreated dogs. Work in this particular field can be very distressing and very rewarding all in one morning.
Promotions are available within this vocation and are usually given on attitude and aptitude rather than academic achievement.
It takes a certain type of person to succeed at this job. Academic qualifications are not usually essential but candidates do need to display an aptitude for learning. Dedication and commitment is essential, as is the ability to follow instructions. A genuine love of dogs will be needed as the days can be very long.