Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals

Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals
Dog Day Care

Do you ever have days where you’d rather be lying on the ground covered in puppies than have to go to work? Well, you’re not alone - except you might be in the wrong industry.

Nicole Farren is Co-Founder and Director of the multiple award winning, diggiddy doggy daycare. It is currently Australia’s leading dog daycare centre and Nicole (together with her sister Jeanette) is responsible for the creation, vision, values and strategic growth of the company.

For her canine behavioural advice and assistance, Nicole is regularly invited to speak at industry events, and is often called upon to consult to local council and the Pet Industry Association of Australia.

She is a veteran in the industry, with active involvement in the National Dog Trainers’ Federation, Women’s Network Australia, Marketing Communications Executives International and Australian Businesswomen’s Network!

Open Colleges was fortunate enough to chat with Nicole about how a love of animals and ongoing education have helped her lead a fulfilling career - and what exactly happens at a doggy day spa!

dog day care
1 Your love for animals is evident - but what inspired you to start an actual dog day care business?

Without a doubt, my beautiful Bernese Mountain dog, Qenia! We simply wanted to build a business around her so we could hang out with her all day. My passion is to work with animals and their owners to develop more balanced, happy pets.

dog day care
2 The demands of this industry must be strong! What is the biggest challenge you have faced running a dog daycare business and how did you overcome it?

A dog daycare business is considered a very high-risk environment. Typically we take on 70 unbalanced dogs and balance them out for up to 11 hours in a high stimulus environment. Thus, we have conducted extensive risk analysis and implemented a number of procedures which minimise all risks involved in the operations of our business. We also aim to educate dog owners in the hope that they can assist their dog to progress - and become better on their next visit.

dog day care
3 A lot of people want to get into the animal care industry. What are the top three things you look for when hiring workers at your centre?

While we do request experience, we also recognise that there are some humans who have a natural gift working with dogs that cannot be taught. The connection with the dogs is the highest priority, so the majority of the time the dogs will let us know whether to hire or fire. If the candidate has the right attitude, they will have an open mind to learn, the motivation to grow and the passion to work with these amazing animals.

dog day care
4 With so many animals on hand, it sounds like a very quickly paced environment! Tell us about your day-to-day role working with the dogs - what does it involve?

Well, we specialise in behaviour modification, which means working in great depth with each and every dog at the centre. So that involves assessing the dog on arrival to select the right starting energy, balancing out their excitement or anxiety prior to meeting the other dogs and encouraging them into their initial group in a well-balanced manner. After commencing interactions, we schedule games, training and learnings and day spa activities! It’s equally important for animals to be pampered and relax, and we monitor and pace dogs throughout the day to keep them happy and maximise their learning.

dog day care
5 Your understanding of animal behaviour is exceptional. Do you have any formal qualifications? And how do you keep your qualifications up to date?

The staff at diggiddy doggy daycare are always developing and training! We have such a ranged and excellent team, with certified qualifications from Delta, Kintala, National Dog Trainers Federation and Australian Forces. Our managers are qualified dog instructors and all have current Animal & Human First Aid Certifications. Furthermore, the directors also hold degrees in Accounting and Business Management. I will also soon be heading back to recommence my studies in Animal Behaviour!

dog day care
Are you interested in getting into the animal care industry? Read more real life stories from a range of industry professionals here.