Kennel Assistants look after dogs in kennels. They feed, exercise, bathe and groom dogs, and keep their living areas and runs clean.
Also known as
- Dog Care Worker
- Kennel Worker
Video: - Emily: Kennel Worker
As a Kennel Assistant, you will care for dogs in boarding places, for example, when their owners have gone on holiday or they are in quarantine. You could also care for working dogs such as hounds and racing dogs.
Every day, you'll clean, sweep, hose down and disinfect the dogs' living areas and runs. You will feed the dogs and make sure they have plenty of fresh water. Feeding can involve some preparation, especially for dogs with special diets. You will then wash the feeding bowls after use.
You must check the dogs to make sure they are healthy and in good condition. Treating minor ailments, such as cuts and bruises could also be one of your important roles. Kennel Assistants also sometimes give medicine to dogs, such as insulin to diabetic dogs.
You will raise any health concerns with Vets, and follow their instructions for looking after unhealthy dogs.
It is vital that the dogs have regular exercise. You will either take them out for walks or let them out in runs. You may also groom dogs by clipping and trimming their coats, cutting nails and cleaning teeth.
Some Kennel Assistants have clerical duties, including keeping a record of bookings and taking payments. You must be prepared to do some of your work outside - in all types of weather!
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Kennel Assistant, you'll need:
- to care about the health of dogs
- observational skills to notice when a dog is unwell or unhappy
- patience, and the ability to handle dogs gently
- the ability to calm and control nervous and mistreated dogs
- physical fitness to exercise dogs and do practical work such as cleaning
- willingness to do some work outside in all types of weather
- communication skills to talk to Vets and owners
- some clerical skills, including to make bookings on the telephone, keep notes and take payments
If your job involves grooming, you'll need to be good with your hands. You must be able to use tools for clipping and trimming dogs' coats.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £15,000 - £16,000
- With experience: £16,500 - £18,000
- Senior Kennel Assistants earn £19,500 - £21,000
Hours of work
Kennel Assistants usually work 37.5 hours a week. However, you might need to work long hours, including weekends and bank holidays. Some Kennel Assistants live-in where they work.
Where could I work?
Employers include boarding, breeding, quarantine and racing kennels. Other opportunities are with centres that help to find dogs new homes, and specialist training organisations such as:
- Canine Partners
- Dogs for the Disabled
- Guide Dogs
- Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
- Support Dogs
There are also opportunities with the armed forces and the police.
Opportunities for Kennel Assistants occur in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, at Jobcentre Plus, on the Find a Job website, and on job boards.
Entry Routes and Training
To enter this career, it can be an advantage to have gained relevant knowledge and skills through experience of working with animals. This experience could include voluntary work and holiday jobs.
People usually enter a job and receive training while they work. It's also possible to become a Kennel Assistant after completing a full-time college course.
Some employers enable Kennel Assistants to go to college part-time, for example, by day-release, to study for a relevant qualification. You might be able to work towards City & Guilds land based services awards, certificates and diplomas in work-based animal care (levels 1-3).
Kennel Assistants who groom dogs need training in this, for example, working towards the City & Guilds land based services level 2 certificate for dog grooming assistants, level 3 certificate in introductory dog grooming and level 3 diploma in professional dog grooming.
You might be able to enter and train through an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in animal care. You might be able to work towards a NVQ as part of your apprenticeship.
City & Guilds also offer a level 2 qualification in animal care. This course has a mixture of mandatory and optional units, which could include:
- maintaining animal health and welfare
- undertaking practical animal feeding
- maintaining animal accommodation
- understanding the principles and practices of animal establishments
- introduction to animal breeds and grooming
- introduction to grooming dogs
Check the website for dates and availability.
Other courses could be available in your area.
Previous experience working with dogs or other small animals would be really useful for this career.
Depending on the size of the kennels where you work, it might be possible to progress to a supervisor or manager post. You could go on to open your own kennels. Some Kennel Assistants gain qualifications in dog grooming and go on to specialise in this area.
To become a Kennel Assistant, you don't usually need any qualifications. It's useful to have some GCSEs, for example, in English, biology (or science) and maths.
You will need GCSEs to enter some college courses; the number and grades you need depend on the type and level of the qualification.
Relevant vocational qualifications could help you get in and succeed in this role. Qualifications include:
- BTEC level 3 qualification in animal management
- City & Guilds level 3 - animal management
- City & Guilds level 2 - work-based animal care
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have gained relevant knowledge and skills through work experience, either paid or unpaid, with dogs or other small animals.
You might be able to enter and train through an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Animal Care.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Skills for land-based and environmental industries
Address: Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 02476 696996
City & Guilds Land Based Services
Address: Building 500, Abbey Park, Stareton, Warwickshire CV8 2LY
Tel: 02476 857300
Animal Care College
Tel: 01344 636436
Pet Industry Federation (PIF)
Address: Bedford Business Centre, 170 Mile Road, Bedford MK42 9TW
Tel: 01234 273933
Address: 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ
Tel: 020 7837 0006
Address: Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire RG7 3YG
Tel: 0118 9835555
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844