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xtramile 01-16-2014 12:44 PM

doggy daycare, thoughts/as a job?
 
What are some of your thoughts on doggy daycares? Good, bad, hit or miss? Has anyone ever worked at one? What was it like?

I believe that people should work in a place for mostly one of two reasons, passion or financial. Currently my job is not fulfilling either of those and a local doggy daycare is hiring full time. Just wanted to hear what some peoples thoughts were.

If you are familiar with Spokane and its doggy daycares please PM me so we can talk about this establishment, no need to publicly talk about businesses. Mods feel free to move wherever, I searched and could not find a place to put it.

Thank you

Baillif 01-16-2014 12:58 PM

I work at one and help train the board and trains with the owner when there are classes, we also do a lot of our mondioring training with our sport dogs in the same training rooms. I enjoy that aspect of it the most which may or may not be present at the one you are looking at. Getting paid to train makes the whole thing financially feasible long term. Being able to train a crap ton of dogs is great too. They are all different and each one will teach you something new. You can read theory and watch dvds all you want. At the end of the day you have to train a bunch of dogs to really get good at it.

The pluses

You learn a lot about dogs, and how to control them in pack conditions.

At mine I can bring my own dogs to work with me which is a nice plus. I train mine when things get slow through the day.

It also helps keep a balance where you can allow your dog to pick up social skills with a large variety of dogs under way more controlled conditions than a dog park. If you do get the chance to bring your own dog it is a great socialization tool. The dogs socialize with other dogs and strangers and are less shaken by new and novel things. We have accepted many a scared of everything puppy for two week training and returned confident socialized pups. You can really help pull young dogs out of their shells.

On the downside there is the less glamorous part of it. To paraphrase Bart Bellon at the end of the day you get paid for picking up dog crap.

xtramile 01-16-2014 01:04 PM

Thanks Baillif, what is the size of the place you work? How many dogs do you get on average? What do you feel is an adequate dog to staff ratio?

Sp00ks 01-16-2014 01:15 PM

Which one do you work at Baillif?

Baillif 01-16-2014 01:21 PM

At least one and a half acre of fenced in yards in the back with 7 different fenced areas to split dogs into. We can easily handle upward of 80 dogs comfortably although the highest I've seen it go was around 70 or so. We can do 15 or so board and training dogs separate to that.

There really is no average. There are cyclical waves with holidays being peaks in business. Most of the time there are at least 10-15 dogs there at any one time. During holidays we load up.

As for staff to dog ratio it really depends on a few things. The kind of dogs you have coming in and the staff members skill level. Someone who is experienced can obviously maintain the peace with more dogs because they can prevent issues before they happen. I've seen us watch those 70 dogs with 3 people and have no incidents.

We often house dogs that other daycare's refuse to deal with because of dog aggression or behavior issues. The more of those you have the more people you would need around or you would need to play musical yards to cycle those guys in and out or their kennels and manage them that way.

The Pet Wagon in Durham NC. Dogability is the training portion of that.

howlk9 01-16-2014 03:18 PM

I've worked at and managed several daycare/boarding facilities and will say be very careful. There are facility owners who are more interested in $$ than the dogs' safety or well-being. Also, you are being paid to manage a large group of dogs, not train individuals. It can be very hard to draw the line between managing the group and focusing on the one dog you just KNOW you could fix if you had time to work with him. As Baillif posted, it is also a LOT of cleaning and dirty work instead of actually interacting with dogs. That said, I love being able to take my dog to work and to see the various interactions between dogs. As one who studies canine behavior, it has given me an amazing amount of material to learn from.

martemchik 01-16-2014 03:30 PM

The type of place that Baillif works at is very rare. Many don’t understand working dogs, and don’t really care to understand powerful breeds. You’re probably not getting many responses because not many GSDs are really allowed at those types of establishments. I have one near me where the owner is a IPO helper, place looks good, but again I wouldn’t use it. Although I’d trust the guy to be able to deal with issues, I don’t really think it’s necessary for me to bring my dog to a place like that. We did take my boy to a doggy day care when he was like 4 months old. By the second trip he was kicked out for being too rough and dominant over the other dogs, they couldn’t control him (AT 4 MONTHS) and so they just didn’t want to deal with it. Yes…these were supposed to be “dog people.” They don’t have a problem handling a little Chihuahua, but don’t quite have the experience to deal with a shepherd.
I know the guy that owns the one place pretty well, and I doubt that his employees are making much more than minimum wage (so I’m not sure if that’s financially viable for someone in your situation). I’ll assume that if you can help train, or offer other services, you might make more, but who knows? Most of these places charge around $20 a dog per day, many take about 10-20 dogs a day, so you’re not talking A LOT of income per day and with other expenses, I doubt the employees are getting a huge cut. The majority of the dogs they deal with are peaceful family pets, and so it’s not 100% necessary to be a skilled dog trainer in order to work there. I think most of the employees are high school students.

xtramile 01-16-2014 05:23 PM

Thank you everyone for your responses, your viewpoints are helpful. I plan to drop by and see the facility soon. Feel it out as to what kind of people they are. More feedback from anyone is welcome.

howlk9 01-16-2014 06:03 PM

Ask a lot of questions. See if they will allow you a "working interview" so you can actually see inside the play areas and how other employees act. Be sure you are clear on how they expect you to handle issues-such as over-zealous play, barking, timid dogs or bullies.
Martemchik, I think when some of these places say the employees are "dog people" they mean a teenager or 20-something that thinks it's cool to play with dogs as a part-time job. As you said, few places have the resources to hire people with serious handler skills or in-depth knowledge.

Baillif 01-16-2014 07:15 PM

Another thing. Don't expect holidays off. The holidays will be when you do the most work. Expect split shifts, expect to need to be flexible as to when you work and when you don't.

As has been mentioned, without commissions coming from the training/petwalking/at home care/ pet transportation portions of things, if the facility even offers that, the pay probably won't be great and don't expect to get in on that kind of thing unless you have the knowledge needed and the trust of the owners.


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