Kennel workers handle animals in kennels or catteries and provide care for pets. They feed the animals, clean their cages, look after ill or old animals, groom them and take them out for a walk.
Kennel workers typically do the following:
- prepare food and feed the animals
- keep animals clean and groom them
- exercise dogs in a yard or take them for walks
- clean out kennels and cages
- maintain cages, runs and kennel grounds
- look after elderly, ill or distressed animals
- answer telephone calls and greet visitors to the premises
The following job titles also refer to kennel worker:
Kennel workers work in animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and other animal care facilities. They may work with all types of animals, including dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and rodents. The work can be physically demanding, as kennel workers must be able to lift and carry heavy animals, as well as clean out cages and kennels. They also work with cleaning solutions and other chemicals that can be harmful if not used properly.
Kennel workers typically work full time, although they may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. The work can be stressful, as kennel workers must be able to handle animals that may be sick, injured, or aggressive.
No degree or formal training is required to secure a position as a kennel worker, and it is a popular entry-level position for high school students or undergraduates looking to major in an animal-related field.
Many aspiring veterinary technicians, veterinarians, breeders, and groomers start out as kennel workers.
Most successful applicants for kennel worker positions already have prior experience working with animals as pet sitters, veterinary assistants, or dog walkers. Experience with family pets also may count toward a candidate’s prior experience. Most kennels have experienced staff that can train new employees to complete the required daily duties.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Kennel worker is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Kennel worker career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to kennel worker.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of kennel worker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of kennel worker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of kennel worker.
- Control animal movement: Direct, control or restrain some or part of an animal’s, or a group of animals’, movement.
- Bathe dogs: Prepare dog by removing excess hair, knots and tangles. Bathe and clean a dog’s coat and skin.
- Feed pets: Make sure that pets are given appropriate food and water on time.
- Assist in transportation of animals: Assist with the transportation of animals, including the loading and unloading of animals, the preparation of the transport vehicle, and maintaining the wellbeing of the animal throughout the transport process.
- Follow written instructions: Follow written directions in order to perform a task or carry out a step-by-step procedure.
- Protect health and safety when handling animals: Protect health and welfare of animals and their handlers.
- Assess animal’s condition: Inspect the animal for any external signs of parasites, disease or injury. Use this information to determine own actions and report your findings to owners.
- Stay alert: Stay focused and alert at all times; react quickly in the case of unexpected events. Concentrate and do not get distracted performing a task over a long period of time.
- Maintain customer service: Keep the highest possible customer service and make sure that the customer service is at all times performed in a professional way. Help customers or participants feel at ease and support special requirements.
- Provide dog walking services: Provide dog-walking services, including activities such as agreement of services with the customer, selection and use of handling equipment, interaction with the dog, and safe and responsible dog walking.
- Maintain animal accommodation: Make sure animal enclosures such as habitats, terrariums, cages or kennels are in the appropriate and hygienic condition. Clean the enclosure and provide new bedding material if called for.
- Work with veterinarians: Consult veterinarians and assist them in the examination and nursing of animals.
- Monitor the welfare of animals: Monitor animals’ physical condition and behaviour and report any concerns or unexpected changes, including signs of health or ill-health, appearance, condition of the animals’ accommodation, intake of food and water and environmental conditions.
- Assess animal behaviour: Observe and evaluate the behaviour of animals in order to work with them safely and recognise deviations from normal behaviour that signal compromised health and welfare.
- Groom animals: Prepare the environment for grooming, select the correct grooming equipment and grooming methods for the animal. Apply occupational health and safety principles of basic animal anatomy and physiology, including the identification and reporting of any abnormalities.
- Follow verbal instructions: Have the ability to follow spoken instructions received from colleagues. Strive to understand and clarify what is being requested.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of kennel worker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Animal nutrition: Aspects of how different animal species are fed and provided water. Different types of animal food, the quality criteria for animal food and methods to feed and give water to animals.
- Animal welfare legislation: The legal boundaries, codes of professional conduct, national and EU regulatory frameworks and legal procedures of working with animals and living organisms, ensuring their welfare and health.
- Physiology of animals: The study of the mechanical, physical, bioelectrical and biochemical functioning of animals, their organs and their cells.
- Animal training: Animal responses to specific conditions or stimuli. Animal behaviour, ethology, learning theory, training methods, equipment, as well as communicating and working with animals and humans.
- Anatomy of animals: The study of animal body parts, their structure and dynamic relationships, on a level as demanded by the specific occupation.
- Animal behaviour: The natural behavioural patterns of animals, i.e. how normal and abnormal behaviour might be expressed according to species, environment, human-animal interaction and occupation.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of kennel worker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
- Advise customers on appropriate pet care: Provide information to customers on how to feed and care for pets, appropriate food choices, vaccination needs, etc.
- Provide an enriching environment for animals: Provide an enriching environment for animals to allow the expression of natural behaviour, and including adjusting environmental conditions, delivering feeding and puzzle exercises, and implementing manipulation, social, and training activities.
- Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
- Maintain welfare of animals during transportation: Keep the health and welfare of animals during transportation, including frequent monitoring for signs of stress and symptoms of ill health.
- Work in shifts: Work in rotating shifts, where the goal is to keep a service or production line running around the clock and each day of the week.
- Create animal records: Create animal records according to industry relevant information and using appropriate record keeping systems.
- Maintain professional administration: File and organise professional administration documents comprehensively, keep customer records, fill in forms or log books and prepare documents about company-related matter.
- Implement exercise activities for animals: Provide exercise opportunities that are suitable for respective animals and meet their particular physical requirements.
- Instruct on animal care: Provide employees in animal care with information on how to treat the animal, the animals eating habits, nutrition and medical condition and needs.
- Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
- Advise on animal welfare: Prepare and provide information to individuals or groups of people on how to promote the health and well-being of animals, and how risks to animal health and welfare may be reduced. Provide recommendations for corrective actions.
ISCO group and title
5164 – Pet groomers and animal care workers
- Kennel worker – ESCO
- Kennel worker | Explore careers – National Careers Service
- Kennel Attendant Duties – Liveabout.com
- Kennel Attendant Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
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