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Things I Learned Working at a Doggy Daycare

For the past two years, I have worked at a doggy daycare and boarding facility, and it is literally the best job in the world. Any time I tell someone this, I am immediately told how lucky I am and how they wish they could do it too. My response is always the same: it isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to get down and dirty, go ahead. While it is not an easy job by any means, there’s nothing better than playing in a yard full of pups who are happy to see you. I love what I do, but like any other job, there are parts of it that I hate. So, for anyone that is thinking about doing this for a fun way to make money, I put together a list of some of the things I have learned while being a camp counselor for dogs; the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

1. Dogs truly are the best kind of medicine. Some days all I want is to sit in the yard with the dogs and spend time with them. I could be having the worst day, and somehow just their company alone is enough to take all of my sadness and anxiety away. There is nothing better than a bunch of dogs trying to play with you. 

2. The work is never done. No matter what there will always be waters that need to be refilled, laundry to be done, and surfaces to clean. 

3. There is no way to avoid getting dirty. Dogs have a lot of...bodily fluids. No matter what, they will find a way onto you. However, the longer I have worked there, the less bothered I am by it, because at the end of the day it is nothing a shower can’t fix. 

4. You will like some dogs more than others. While all dogs that come to daycare are special and always get all the love they deserve, you will have favorites. It doesn't matter how much you think you are going to love them all equally, there will be a few that stick out. Oftentimes the dogs that you spend the most time with will get attached to you, and the bond that forms is very special. Forming a connection with a dog is one of the best parts of the job, but it also means that it can be hard when they leave with their parents at the end of the day. Also, sometimes pet owners just decide that they don’t need doggy daycare anymore, and then you never get to see them again. You have to be prepared to say goodbye. 

5. Not everyone who has a dog, should. I can’t even count how many pets come in every day because their parents don’t want to put effort into taking care of them. Also, many pet owners overfeed their dogs, which causes obesity. This can be just as harmful to their health as underfeeding them. There are so many owners that view doggy daycare and boarding as an excuse for them not to do any work, and it can be really sad to watch. 

6. The dogs will make you laugh every day. There is no such thing as a normal day at a doggy daycare. Dogs are unpredictable, clumsy, and make some of the strangest noises. You will never get tired of seeing some of the silly things they do when playing. 

7. You will have to take care of dogs who are nearing the end of their life. Unfortunately, some pet owners refuse to put their dog down no matter how bad their quality of life is. I have taken care of dogs with cancer, who can barely walk, have gone deaf and blind in their old age, unable to chew food, and so much more. This part never gets easier. While you want to take their suffering away, there is nothing you can do besides be there for them. 

8. The hours are long. Because we are taking care of living beings, someone needs to be there first thing in the morning, and really late at night. You will also have to work holidays, because that is when the majority of people board their dogs. 

9. It is extremely rewarding. While the pups are there that day, you become their parent. They look up to you and love you, and get so excited when you play with them. They miss their parents a lot, so running around with them and giving them belly rubs visibly makes them happier. You become an important part of that dog’s life, and they will remember your face and how you made them feel. I love when I see some of my daycare pups out in public and they recognize and are excited to see me. 

10. Dog nails hurt. When you are walking into a yard full of dogs, especially if they are big, they are going to jump all over you out of excitement. While this is a nice gesture, they often forget that they have very sharp nails. Wear shorts at your own risk. 

11. You can take your dog to work! Does this really need an explanation? Quality time with your dog while getting paid? Yes, please. 

12. COVID-19 is bringing people closer to their pets. Due to everyone working from home, we have fewer pups coming to daycare. While not great for business, it makes me happy that a lot of the dogs that used to come every day now get to spend time with their parents. 

13. You may become a better pet parent. Working at a doggy daycare has taught me a lot that I didn’t know about what goes into taking care of a dog. I feel like I am more attentive and better equipped to take care of my fur baby now, and I am really grateful for that. 

I know this is a long list, but there are many aspects of the job that need to be taken into consideration. While there are some things on this list that may not be fun, if you want to work in a doggy daycare, these are the things to be prepared for. If you love dogs and have the heart to deal with the good and the bad, this is the job for you. After two years, I still believe that despite all of the hardships I have to deal with, it is so worth it because at the end of the day I am improving the lives of many dogs simply by loving them. 

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I am so excited to be part of Her Campus. I am a political science and communication double major, I absolutely love writing, and I'm so excited to share some of my thoughts with you guys!
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