Poll: Do you ask your Au Pair to walk your dog?

by cv harquail on January 8, 2009

And the little sweetie pie

Let’s take a walk into another grey area of potential au pair responsibilities- your family dog.

“Officially”, here in the USofA, your (See Dawn’s comment, below) with my agency, APIA, the Au Pair is not supposed to do any dog (or pet) care at all. Still, since the dog is part of the family, and your au pair is part of the family, often the au pair is asked — or volunteers — to help care for the dog.

I’m not worried about feeding the dog or letting the dog in and out of the back door — neither of these is a big chore, and both seem perfectly reasonable to ask of an Au Pair. But, taking the dog for a walk (and sometimes having to pick up after the dog) — that’s a different kind of thing.

Let’s take a quick poll:

Among host families (1) who have a dog (2) that needs to be taken for walks:

Do you ever ask your Au Pair to walk your dog?

View Results

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And to get a little “texture” behind those numbers:

How do you think your Au Pair feels about walking the dog?

View Results

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And as for cats???? They deserve — they DEMAND — a poll of their own. (to be continued) …

Daffodil, Getting High Again on Flickr - Photo Sharing!_1231092626162


Dawn January 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm

cvh, thanks for posting this poll! Since I asked this question in one of my prior comments, I will (obviously) be very interested in seeing the results! I’m actually surprised to see you say that pet care is not “officially” permitted, because as part of my agency’s (Cultural Care) application process, you are asked whether you have pets and whether the au pair will be expected to do any pet care as part of his/her duties. (I just looked at the app, and the specific questions are “Do you have any pets?” and “Will your au pair be expected to help with their feeding and maintenance?”) Based on the inclusion of these questions on the application and the fact that no-one from the agency contacted me about my “yes” response, I assumed that it was allowed within the “official” rules.

That said, in answer to the poll, I said “occasionally,” because pet care is not part of the duties we’ve outlined for our current au pair in our handbook, although she does sometimes (on her own) decide to walk the dog in the afternoon. In our situation, when we matched with the current au pair, we lived someplace where she was able to just open the door and let the dog out and then back in again. (Which is why I didn’t include walking the dog as one of her enumerated duties.) We have since moved to a new house where the dog needs to be walked on leash rather than let out in the yard, so I am considering whether it is fair/appropriate to ask the next au pair (who will arrive in February) to regularly walk the dog as part of her duties.

cvh January 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Hi Dawn-
It didn’t occur to me that there might be agency-based differences in what’s “allowed”! With APIA, there is no pet care… but I guess with CC that’s different! So let’s see what the ‘rules’ are with other agencies…. cv

Maya January 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I cannot remember what the exact rules are, but I know that my agency, Au Pair USA asks about presense of pets in the household. As we dont’ have any pets, it was not relevant to me. I will look it up later.

Fernanda January 21, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Host Hello Mom …
First a happy new year paw all, much success in everything.
Come on …
I came more time talking with the vision of “perhaps a future Au Pair”, because my English is not good even for me to go and with the financial crisis does not have to pay $ $ $ agency …
But back to the subject.
I saw with the Culture Care how the whole issue to be au pair, and that told me about the pets is that if animals have the family I can help them.
But already described in the Application or not if we want to be with pets, for example I love animals, but if any family has any exotic animal mainly spider, or would not look for them. But if they were dog and cat I would love.

In my opinion the deal bitch with my family and I treat the same way the animal of my host family.


Karina March 24, 2009 at 6:49 am

Your Au pair is not responsible for the family’s pets. She is with you to take care your children and do duties related with them; but not to take care the pet. Yes, she is part of the family but she is not the owner of the pet; or for example: In my case, I have a brother who loves animals and I don’t , but we live together and we are family, I know…but he is the owner of the pet, he has to be responsible; I didn’t decide have a pet. So I won’t do anything with his pet.
If your au pair, really wants and love animals, may be she will offer herself for walking with the do, or feeding him. And it’s fine if she like it. Take in mind that if she doesn’t is ok, she doesn’t have to be force to do it. And this doesn’t have to be part of her usual duties.
And when family is on vacation, she is not., and she will be at home. It’s not her fault that you don’t take her and she will have a lot of off time. If you would like she take care of the dog, ask her if she would mind and pay her extra or if you don’t want, it’s easy pay a boarding place. It’s not her job.

Anna March 24, 2009 at 9:26 am

Karina, its easy – if you don’t like pets, don’t match with a family where a pet is a part of that family. As simple is that, nobody forces you.
And families with pets, don’t match with Karina.

Alyce May 3, 2009 at 4:29 am

I’m an au pair due to join a lovely family in July! In regards to this topic, I feel that if you have a dog (especially if it lives inside) you should always match with an au pair that (to the best of your knowledge) loves animals. As a dog lover myself I can understand that an au pair not used to having pets around may not understand the needs of your pets….or may get overly annoyed at the hair around the house etc.

I also have the opinion that a pet is always one of the family, so as an au pair I find it perfectly reasonable to help out caring for just another family member. Also chores relating to pet care are perfectly fine as long as you are up front about it!

In my dear family letter, I actually wrote that I love caring for animals and wanted a family hopefully with a dog for me to walk and care for as well as the children!

Overall, I don’t think families asking for pet care is unreasonable, but like any duty you expect with your au pair, make it clear in your interview – that way you’ll get a quick impression of what your au pair considers fair in terms of pet care.

Hope that helps!

TMK May 3, 2009 at 7:44 am

Make sure you only match with a pet loving au pair if you are a pet loving family, because eventually, probably through no fault of your own, you will need her help with something pet related. Our AP loves dogs, but our large dog is just too big and too silly for her to handle, so she helps with the small dog and if we are gone we have a friend stop by to do the big dog. This works out well for her and she doesn’t mind at all. Keep the requests within the scope of her natural talent and ability for the best chance of success.

Franzi May 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

also, keep this in mind when you end up in rematch! if you have a dog – or a pet in general – mention this. even if the AP is not required to do anything with the dog. there will come a time and place when she needs to and you would want someone who feels comfortable with your dog.

i ended up rematching with a family who had a dog (though i never really wanted to but i fell in love with the family) and it was a daily struggle for me to live with the dog. i got used to it but still didn’t like the whole cuddling/slime all over. i think i was great for the kids, but not for the dog. while my family respected this, i know that others would feel like i didn’t do my job right.
that’s why i think pets and caring for them is an important topic both during matching and rematching.

IJC June 13, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I was an au pair. The family expected me to walk the dog for 2 hours a day (no mention of this was made in the interview.) I also had alot of housework to do. One day the family had guests which meant I had extra housework to do, and so only had time to walk the dog for 1 hour that day. The mother was furious and screamed horribly at me for not managing to do the full 2 hours that day.

JT July 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm

We are with Cultural Care and the way they handle in the applications process is the best way, IMHO. That way families decide and declare what they expect and there is no misunderstandings. I fail to see how asking your AP to care for a pet — if it’s disclosed in advance before the AP agrees to match with you– is “illegal” or “against the program’s rules.” The rules are there to prevent abuse and this ain’t it. If an AP doesn’t want to walk a dog, there are loads of families for whom this isn’t a requirement. She can move along.

As for our family, we made clear that our AP was not the owner or caregiver for the dog, but he was part of the family and well, if needed to go out, she was to let him out and if it rained, to wipe him off. We’ve had no issues at all.

Also, we’ve taken several family extended weekend trips where we have asked our AP if it would be okay if she took care of the dog (walked, fed, etc.) while we were away since we wouldn’t be able to. No problems there either. I’m guessing at least part of this is because our AP realizes it is to her benefit to agree — she gets a few days off in exchange for minimal effort.

OnceAnAuPair July 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

When I was an au pair, I was expected to walk the dog twice a day. I was never told of this in the interview, but after I arrived. I hated walking the dog, I was supposed to do it for 45 minutes everyday. I also got in trouble for their being too much poo in the garden and was told I had to walk him 2 times a day. I would usually also take the dog for a walk when the mom got home, so usually I walked the dog three times day. Awesome, wish I would known before that I was actually going to be a dog walker.

EUROaupair August 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I just wanted to say that I wish my family had a pet for me to walk and/or take care of. I miss my pets more than my family sometimes!

massaupairmom January 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I don’t ask our au pair to care for our dog on a regular basis, but I do ask her to care for her if we are out late or away for a weekend without her. The total minimum care for our dog takes about 1/2 hour a day. I don’t think this is too much to ask a member of the family.

Aupair in Ireland January 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I am an aupair and I walk the dog every evening before I go to bed, even when I am off. It started when the hostdad was gone overnight and hostmom asked me to go with the dog.
I loved the view, all the lights and also it helps me sleep better. It became a part of my daily routine.

Of course, sometimes (like when it’s pouring outside or when I come home from a party) I feel like this is too much for me, but I deep inside I still feel good about it.

I don’t get paid extra for walking the dog, I am more than happy to do it and I don’t mind picking up after the dog.

LuvCheetos January 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Our children 6 and 10 are supposed to let the dog out and feed the dog. The AP is expected to supervise that. If they actually walk the dogs rather than letting them out, the AP has to be actively involved becuase we have 2 large dogs.

We are going on a trip soon and are not taking the AP (too expensive). She initially agreed to take care of the dogs for extra $$. She changed her mind. While it’s inconvenient for us that she would do that without much advance notice to make other arrangements, we respect that the dog is not her job.

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