It's me or the dog!
At Hummingbird, we have noticed a trend over the last few months of families asking their nannies or housekeepers to be involved with the family pet and to be more specific walking the dog. Whilst it sounds lovely and relaxing this is causing issues over several areas of the nanny or housekeeper’s work within the home and I felt it important to start committing some of this important feedback to the blog.
When you work within a family home you take them as a package and many times this will include a dog which is great if you are a dog lover but what if you’re not?
To the family, it all sounds so simple but it really isn’t when this is not something you ever saw as part of the role – some nannies or housekeepers have no experience of dogs and although they accept they are in the home and are part of the family they didn’t ever want or expect to have to care for the dog as part of their job.
The expectation seems to be that the help has been engaged to work within the family home and must, therefore, take the lot as part of her role which would include dog walking – all well and good but if this was discussed and agreed upon during the recruitment process but many of our candidates are reporting that this is being put on them once they have started a role and they are no longer happy.
So, the biggest issues seem to be time and how much time is needed to walk the dog during what is an already busy day for a nanny or intensive work schedule for a housekeeper who has to be spread across so many areas of the house and often is already under pressure to get everything done. within the role.
Dog size and age is also a factor. We have had so many calls from staff unhappy that they have been told the family are getting a puppy and have been told that the puppy training and clearing up after the puppy ( usually a messy job) is also her job. This is not just unfair as typically dog walking is not the role of a nanny or housekeeper but some help will find it very stressful especially if they have no previous experience of working with dogs. There is also a big difference between taking a large energetic dog out for a walk and taking a small dog out who just needs a small trot around the block which is something that most nannies or housekeepers wouldn’t have a problem with as it’s a much more manageable task.
Young dogs are very often full of energy and need extra attention and time running in a large open space to burn this off. The nanny or housekeeper may not have that much time to give to a dog when there are so many other things to do and so this creates additional stress within the day. Then there is the issue of on or off the lead – if you are not confident with dogs then letting one run off the lead is also stressful as managing a dog is a responsibility and if you don’t have the experience then this is a very much unwanted job within the day.
Size of dog is also important – we often hear, he is a soppy old thing and very gentle – yet having been attacked by an old Labrador myself whilst on duty as a nanny with 3 small children in my care my experience is that it is irrelevant how old the dog is when you find yourself in a situation where the dog is suddenly on you and its bigger and heavier than you are and apparently just wants to play! The 3 children in my care were deeply upset at what they witnessed and the dog was dragged away from me by a gardener who had seen what had happened and ran over to help. I was left with 2 cuts to my face and bruises on both arms yet when it was discussed with the family I was told that I must have done something to the dog as this had never happened before - as a nanny I was there to care for and play with the children which is what I was doing when the dog got involved and tried to get the ball from me. it all sounds so simple but these situations can happen very quickly and if you have no experience of dogs ( as I did ) this is very frightening and left me feeling not just upset by the incident but also upset with the family as they felt it was my fault.
Some help are dog confident and are very happy to take on caring for and walking the dog as part of their role which is great and can be a welcome break in the day – however, for those who do not wish to be involved and have no experience it can be problematic especially if there was no prior discussion.
So the solutions – either when recruiting make sure that if dog walking is part of the role that the agency is aware that any potential candidate s need to be dog confident and happy to take the dog on as part of the role OR get a professional dog walker in who can leave the help to get on with their tasks. Either way, communication is key and making sure that your help is happy with the set up before making dog care part of their job.
If you are getting a dog and want the help to care for it then you will need to have a conversation first and gage what level of care she is willing to give if any!
Ultimately, the family must decide what is more important – keeping the help happy to maintain and secure continuity within their home or jeopardizing what they have because of the dog.
To us, the answer is very simple – find a professional dog walker as there are so many out there! Dogs are what they do every day and they love it. We are sure the family, the help and the dog will all be much happier for it.
Hummingbird Home Staff