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A Dog Owner’s Guide to Hiring a Nanny

My friend Sara works full-time from home. It allows her to spend more time with her children and husband. But she still needs help. So she got a nanny to come over on weekday mornings, and it’s been working great for the past six years. She also has two terriers. Her nanny gets along well with everyone, but it’s not always like that.

We dog owners think that everyone is as enamored of our dogs as we are. It’s one thing to enjoy a dog at the park; it’s another thing to spend every weekday with the dog, especially if you’ve never had a dog. So before you hire a nanny, here are some things to think about.

  1. Not everyone likes dogs. Be up-front about the fact that you have dogs, and the kind of dogs you have. Don’t take it personally if some applicants are not interested in a position in a home with pets.
  2. Some people are allergic to dogs. Allergies can develop — or go away — with age, so if an applicant says she’s not allergic and then shows signs that she is, she may have an allergy she doesn’t know about. It’s a good idea to invite the applicant over to spend some time with your children and pets to find out if there are any allergies (as well as to see if everyone gets along).
  3. Not everyone who likes dogs knows how to care for them. If caring for your dog will be part of your nanny’s responsibilities, clarify that at the beginning. Training will be required, especially if the applicant has never owned a dog. Diligence on your part will help her to become comfortable with keeping the door closed, not leaving food on the kitchen counters, etc. She should go through the daily pet routine with you several times before being asked to do it herself.
  4. Be clear about responsibilities. If you’re advertising for a nanny, spell out which pet duties your nanny is expected to take care of, then honor the list. Review it periodically to assure that the list of pet duties hasn’t expanded over time from walking and feeding the dog to training it or cleaning up messes.

Check out this website for finding a nanny. They also have a good article for nannies whose employers have pets; it’s a good read.

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