A personal note from the owner about our pack leaders

A personal note from the owner about our pack leaders

Hi, this is Jennifer, the owner. I’d like to share some insights in how we hire and train our pack leaders — the people who care for your dogs.

I personally interview and hire every one of our staff and keep track of their development. We go through periodic hiring sprees to ensure that we always have a robust pipeline and are never short staffed. We have a highly selective screening and interview process: less than 1% of the applicants get hired.

Once hired, the newbies go through an extended probation period with dedicated in-house trainers who teach them the skills of handling a pack of dogs, including multiple rounds of tests based on our training manual, on-the-spot tests of dog names, and one-on-one video reviews of pack handling skills, such as spacing or baths or proper use of harnesses. 

Of the 1% who get hired, less than half make it out of probation, after a couple of months of training and evaluation. Some people are let go because they don’t meet our high standards of reliability and work ethic. Some people choose to leave after realizing that working with dogs is harder than they thought — it is not just cuddling dogs and loving them.

The job is actually physically and mentally demanding — they are on the feet, cleaning and moving around with the dogs, as well as being mentally engaged in anticipating dog behavior while projecting calm assertive presence. It is never fun to lose people during the probation, but it is a necessary step to maintain standards!

For those who make through the probation, our retention is unheard of in this industry: over 80% remain with us for a year or more, with an average tenure of almost 2 years. We provide ongoing skills training and professional development, and always promote within, and indeed many of our staff end up working for us for many more years. Out of the 47 staff we currently have, several have been with us for over 5 years, with the longest tenure being over 9 years.

I always tell my staff — we are not about seniority, but about “show me what you can do!” Those with skill and heart rise and become leaders.

Many of our staff have gone on to do great things, including becoming registered nurses, teachers, United Nations advocates, private investigators, NYPD officers, vet techs, lawyers — and even a business owner of a multi-location bakery! Some of our staff are full-time college students, including at NYU, SVA, Baruch, Hunter, etc. We love being part of our people’s long-term success stories.

We take immense pride in our “pack of staff.” They are not ordinary people, nor is our process of selecting, training, and advancing them ordinary. To me, seeing them grow is among the most rewarding aspects of Happy Dogs.

— Jennifer (owner)