Should You Give Your Nanny A Raise When A Puppy Is Added To The Home?

 photo via  Unsplash  x  Jairo Alzate

This is a post that is long overdue. The number of nannies I encounter that struggle with puppy/dog issues at their job, is kind of overwhelming! It seems like just about every other day there is a post in one of the nanny Facebook groups where a nanny is seeking advice about a new dog being added to the home. More often than not, the nanny needs advice because their nanny family fails to recognize that an untrained dog being added to the home is actually quite a lot of extra work for their nanny and it is totally inappropriate to 1. just assume a nanny is okay taking on puppy responsibilities and 2. not offer appropriate compensation if a nanny does agree to take on puppy responsibilities

Before we dive in, I want to mention that I am a HUGE dog lover. I have two rescue pups and they are legitimately my life. I don't mind taking care of dogs and thoroughly enjoy the bond I've developed with my nanny families' dogs. I say this because, while some nannies love dogs so much they are okay with taking on puppy care for no additional pay, please keep in mind that, like myself, even a nanny that loves dogs might still expect the norm: A temporary pay raise when an untrained dog is added to the home and the nanny is expected to care for it. That’s right, it’s not just puppies we need to think about, an older rescue dog that is untrained can oftentimes be just as demanding as a puppy. With that said, I polled over 300 nannies asking what amount of pay raise they feel is fair for caring for an untrained dog, and I was pretty shocked by the results (probably because I’m such a huge dog lover)! MANY nannies (32% of nannies to be exact) said that even with a pay raise, they would not agree to take care of the dog and their employer would have to hire a separate dog sitter/walker. This is because nannies choose to become nannies to take care of children, not untrained pets.

Now for those nannies that are cool with adding an untrained dog to their daily responsibilities, let's talk about the reason a temporary pay raise is in order. It's honestly pretty simple. In sum, it's because the nanny's workload increases. When new responsibilities are added to a nanny's plate, a pay increase should follow. It makes sense and it's fair. The key issue I encounter regarding pets being added to a nanny's workload seems to be either a.) the parents in general don't believe a pay raise is necessary when the workload is increased or b.) the parents don't think adding an untrained dog is that big of a deal and the nanny's workload isn't increasing enough to warrant a pay raise. I want to be clear that I don’t think most of the parents citing reason B are purposely trying to take advantage of their nanny, I think they just haven’t genuinely considered and realized how much an untrained dog impacts their nanny’s day and takes away from their actual job of caring for, educating, and raising kids.

Let's go ahead and tackle reasons A & B at the same time, because they honestly go hand in hand. Reason A is an interesting concept because I'm genuinely not sure of the justification. I can see this reasoning for very small added responsibilities such as "hey we would like you to start quickly wiping down the kitchen counter every day before the end of your shift." This is something that truly takes a minute or two to complete, and by itself, in my opinion does not warrant a pay raise. But here's the thing with a pet being added to the home and the reason why concept B is an issue (a dog is most common, but this article applies to any untrained pet a nanny is regularly having to care for/clean) — more often than not, it’s not a small added responsibility like the above example of wiping the counters down — I think we can all agree taking a couple minutes to wipe down counters is wholly different than caring for a puppy 8-10+ hours/day.

Unless a nanny is truly only responsible to let a TRAINED dog out once/day or occasionally help out when the dog walker calls out sick or cleaning up a rare potty accident, asking a nanny to be the sole caregiver (even if you have older kids who are going to “help”, let’s be real, the responsibility still falls primarily on your nanny) to an untrained dog during their entire shift, is a very demanding responsibility and warrants a raise until the dog is fully trained. An untrained dog is incredibly hard work, especially if it’s a puppy! Puppies require constant supervision and need to be let out to go to the bathroom every one to two hours. Many nannies report that the dog has to be crated unless it’s being fully supervised, which results in a sad dog whining and barking most of the day because it sees people and wants out, but the nanny can’t fully supervise it because they’re busy tending to the kids or cleaning up from lunch. In other words, it’s utter chaos.

Finally, once the nanny can properly supervise the dog (aka, when the kids are napping), the nanny’s now ONLY possible downtime during their 10-hour shift is spent allowing the puppy some necessary freedom to play, and then having to run after it anytime it sniffs a rug. Then when it inevitably has an accident on said rug, the nanny has to clean it. In fact, any accident the dog has, the nanny has to clean it up. When the nanny is trying to take a much-needed break or even when the kids are around and they’re all playing on the floor, the nanny is simultaneously making sure the puppy isn’t getting into something or chewing a cord or destroying a shoe or having another accident. The supervision involved with a puppy is truly nonstop and it’s exhausting. On top of all that the nanny is also responsible to work on potty training and letting the dog out every couple of hours for consistency purposes. The nanny also usually has to make sure the dog is getting adequate exercise because everyone knows wearing a puppy out (or any active breed) is vital and reduces behavioral issues. Some parents also ask their nanny to train the dog with basic commands. Say what?? Since when did a nanny become an expert dog trainer?

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but parents really need to think about the extreme responsibility that comes with adding a pet to the home, and either ensure that the responsibility doesn’t fall on their nanny or ensure their nanny is well compensated for becoming a temporary dog nanny/trainer in addition to a child nanny. Even if a parent just needs their nanny to help with potty breaks, it’s still A LOT to ask. I understand that it makes the most sense to have a nanny also take care of the dog since they are in and out of the house during the day, but if parents didn’t have a nanny and no one was at home, they would either have to come home themselves multiple times throughout the day OR they’d have to hire a dog sitter/walker. Nannies are flexible and most are happy to let a housebroken dog out once or twice per day as it fits the children’s schedule for no additional pay, but an untrained dog is a completely different story. Many nannies report that an untrained dog ends up being more work than the kids!

In addition to the increased workload and attentiveness that caring for an untrained dog involves, take a moment to think about how this impacts a nanny’s day. Caring for and training a puppy that can’t hold its bladder now means the nanny is pretty much housebound. When a nanny is expected to care for a new puppy, the nanny’s entire day-to-day routine is thrown off and no longer revolves around the kids they were hired to care for, but rather the puppy’s bathroom and exercise needs. No more going out for a long morning play date. No more spending the afternoon at the zoo. Why? Because by the time the nanny commutes to an outing, they have maybe 45 minutes to an hour before they have to drive back to let the puppy out. Remember, puppies need to be let out every one to two hours. As they get older they are able to hold their bladder longer, but until they are much older, they still need to be let out multiple times throughout the day and this significantly impacts what a nanny can realistically go out and do with the kids. Unless a nanny is already housebound and unable to take the kids places, this is likely going to wear on a nanny and become frustrating — nannies don’t sign up to be nannies so that they can raise a puppy. Many parents tend to think that because they’re not asking their nanny to take the puppy on a long 30 minute walk, that it’s not that big of a deal….but it is. I’m pretty sure most would agree they would much rather be responsible for one long walk instead of stopping home to work on potty training every couple hours.

Now even though many nannies are happy to take on puppy responsibilities for extra pay, as our poll results have proven, lots of nannies are not okay with giving up their freedom to plan outings with the kids in order to care for a dog. These nannies will legitimately become very unhappy at a job where non-child related responsibilities impede on their schedule with the children, even if only temporarily. Or maybe they just aren’t pet people and they have no interest in caring for a dog. Or maybe they are allergic to pets! Because of this, it is imperative that parents sit down and talk with their nanny when deciding to add a pet to the home. I’m not saying parents need to get their nanny’s permission before getting a puppy, but as an employer, it’s respectful to communicate with your employee about changes to their workplace and job dynamics.

Plus, this way parents can effectively budget, plan, and make sure it’s all doable before officially committing to adopting an untrained dog. Adopting a puppy is a big undertaking and ultimately the responsibility of ensuring the puppy is cared for falls on the owner, not the children’s nanny. Parents should give their nanny the option to either help care for the dog with a pay raise, or if their nanny doesn’t want to do that, then parents need to be prepared to hire a dog walker multiple times throughout the day or send the dog to daycare. I’ve heard reports of parents getting annoyed and resentful when their nanny puts their foot down and is firm they will not take on puppy care, but I want to encourage parents to stop and think about why they hired their nanny in the first place and why they value their nanny. Is it because they’re good with kids and excellent at what they do or is it because the plan was for them to one day double as a puppy nanny? A nanny has the right to say “no” to non-child related duties being added to their workload. And if they say “no”, is it really worth losing a good nanny over?

Now that we’ve established that a pay raise is absolutely necessary if you expect your nanny to take on caring for an untrained pet, let’s tackle what everyone is wondering: how much of a pay increase is appropriate? To be honest, there’s no set industry standard out there that I know of. All I know is nannies are getting fed up. Because of this, I decided to use a couple tools to determine what is fair and appropriate: 1. I took a poll and asked over 300 nannies what they feel is fair and what they would need in order to happily take on puppy duty without feeling resentful and 2. I compared those results with what a dog walker charges to calculate just how much parents save (yes, SAVE), by giving their nanny a temporary pay raise instead of hiring a dog walker for their puppy.

PUPPY DUTY POLL RESULTS

38% - $2-$3/hour raise
32% - Even with a raise, I wouldn’t want to do it. They would need to hire a dog walker/trainer
14% - $3-$4/hour raise
8% - $1-$2/hour raise
4% - $4-$5+/hour raise
2% - Wouldn’t charge anything extra
1% - Cash bonus
1% - $1,000/minute (ha!)

As you can see, the majority of nannies said they would happily take on caring for an untrained dog for an extra $2-$3 per hour. Coming in second is a bunch of nannies who said they wouldn’t agree to help care for an untrained dog no matter how big the raise. From there we have some that would need a higher raise of $3-$4/hour and of course a very small percentage said they wouldn’t charge anything extra or would be happy with a cash bonus. I think the biggest takeaway from these results is parents need to sit down and ASK their nanny what they feel is fair and what they are willing to agree to.

So let’s break down what this comes out to on a daily basis because that’s easier than temporarily increasing a nanny’s hourly rate. A nanny that works a typical 10 hour day would make anywhere from $20-$40+ extra per day for letting the dog out to go potty throughout the day, playing with the dog, supervising crate-free time, cleaning up accidents, feeding the dog, and making sure the water bowl is full. If we take a look at what dog walkers typically charge it can range from the very low end of $10 for a 20 minute walk and up to $30+ for a 30 minute walk. The most common seems to be $15-$20 for a 20 minute walk and $20-$30 for a 30 minute walk. Keep in mind, this is just ONE visit/walk, once per day. This isn’t a dog walker stopping by 3 times throughout the day to let the dog out for 3 separate 10 minute walks. Dog walkers charge per visit and typically have a minimum of 20 minutes per visit in order to make it worth their time.

This means, in a 10 hour day a parent would have to hire a dog walker to stop by 5 times for a new puppy. I’m sure you can do the math, but this would cost anywhere from $75-$100 per day….much higher than the extra $20-$40+ most nannies are asking to be compensated to care for the dog throughout their entire workday. Even if you only need your nanny to stop in for potty breaks and they aren’t required to give the dog supervised play time or clean up after the dog, you still should be paying a minimum of $20-$40+ per day simply due to the inconvenience and disruption of having to stop home multiple times and due to the fact that it would cost you much more than that if you hired a separate person to take on this task. With these bargain prices, parents are essentially paying the equivalent of a dog walker stopping by 1-2 times per day, but in exchange getting someone to take care of all of their dog’s needs for an entire workday!

After breaking down the numbers, I hope we can all agree that nannies are offering quite a good deal by charging so little and that the reasonable and fair thing for parents to do is pay these minimum daily rates if they expect their nanny to help out with an untrained dog. Once the dog is trained and no longer needs to be attentively cared for throughout the day, the nanny of course would no longer receive the extra daily dog rate. At this point if the dog needs more care than just being let out once or twice per day in a fenced yard, then parents need to hire a dog walker or ask if their nanny would like to keep their flat daily dog rate in exchange for a 20-30 minute walk in the afternoon. Lastly, as I’ve mentioned many times in this article, the biggest takeaway from our poll results is that parents NEED to talk with their nanny to see what they are comfortable with. It is not okay to just assume and add on non-child related responsibilities to a nanny’s plate without first asking them if they are okay with it. It is basic common courtesy and respect for an employer to have open communication and discuss workplace changes with their employee. As always, please take a moment to put yourself in your nanny’s shoes and be the type of employer you would LOVE to work for.