Kennel attendants provide daily care for boarded dogs and assist with kennel maintenance. They are involved with scheduling boarding appointments, cleaning cages and runs, bathing, grooming, exercising, feeding, administering medication, and monitoring the behavior of boarded dogs. They also interact with clients as they pick up and drop off their dogs.
Kennel attendants work under the direct supervision of a kennel manager, veterinarian, breeder, or other facility supervisors. In boarding kennels that operate as a part of a veterinary clinic, kennel attendants may help handle and restrain dogs for veterinary procedures that are performed during their stay. Some kennels also may offer dog training services while dogs are being boarded, so attendants may assist with such activities under the supervision of the trainer.
Kennel attendants may be required to work irregular hours including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They also must be prepared to handle dogs that may be stressed due to being in an unfamiliar environment. Kennel workers always should use caution when administering medication, feeding, and exercising boarded dogs to minimize the chance of an injury.
Kennel attendants most frequently are employed by boarding kennels, but they can also find employment with veterinary clinics, doggie daycare businesses, show dog breeding facilities, and animal rescue organizations. Kennel attendants also can work their way up to a managerial role or go on to open their own boarding or pet sitting business.
Some kennels also offer boarding services for cats, rabbits, exotic birds, and a variety of other pet species, though these animals are kept in a separate area away from the dog kennel.
Education and Training
No degree or formal training is required to secure a position as a kennel attendant, 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 attendants.
Most successful applicants for kennel attendant 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.
Most kennel attendant positions are considered entry-level roles and tend to pay close to minimum wage. Kennel attendants with more experience or those working for larger facilities may earn higher wages. Those with expanded responsibilities (such as assisting with training) also may earn higher wages due to their extra duties.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a separate category for kennel attendant salary data, it does include kennel attendants under the more general category of animal care and service workers. As of 2018, BLS data shows that the lowest 10% of wages paid to animal care and service workers was less than $18,160, or $8.73 per hour. This is where most kennel attendant positions would fall on a pay scale.
BLS projects job opportunities for animal care and service workers to grow at a rate of 16% during the decade ending in 2028. This is more than three times the rate of growth projected for all jobs combined.
Data from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) shows that spending on pets in the U.S. has grown steadily over the quarter of a century leading up to 2018, when Americans spent more than $72 billion on their pets. That number is projected to top $75 billion in 2019, and dogs remain the most popular pet.
There should be many opportunities for kennel attendants as more facilities will be opened to accommodate the growing pet population. Kennel positions also have a higher turnover rate than many other animal-related careers, which should also translate to more opportunities for those hoping to enter the field.