Important tips for employers when introducing a new domestic helper to their pets

This article is written in collaboration with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), a registered charity in Hong Kong working to prevent cruelty to animals.

A new domestic helper is essentially a stranger to your pet(s), so the steps for introduction should be no different to introducing any new person, such as a new family member or friend. Below we provide you with a few essential tips when introducing a new domestic helper to your pets:

Keep them separate at the beginning, just for a little bit!

When the new domestic helper arrives at the employer’s home, it is best to keep the pets in a separate room. This prevents the pets from feeling too overwhelmed due to new smells, voices and the associated noise and disruption.

Slowly introduce them to each other, and observe their progress

Once the domestic helper has settled down, they can slowly be introduced to the pets in the company of the owner. The whole process should be taken slowly and not be rushed as pets might react differently to strangers. The domestic helper should not be too proactive in approaching the pets – it is important to do a consensus check and let the pet decide the length and location of the interaction. The employer should be involved in the whole process and observe the pets’ body language and reactions in order to judge whether the pets are comfortable to accept more interaction with the helper.

Use treats and toys to make friends

During the initial introduction period, employers can also prepare some treats or toys for the helper to give to the pets. This way the pets can start associating the domestic helper with fun and positive rewards.

Have a full debrief, and provide more extensive training where needed

It is important that the employer provides a full introduction to the domestic helper about their pets’ personalities, behaviours, preferences and habits. In addition to this, it is important that the employer provides the helper with extensive training on care and hygiene routines as well as pet safety, even when the helper has previous experience in pet care. Customised training programmes specifically designed for domestic helpers would be particularly helpful in ensuring high-quality pet care.

Give them time to get used to each other

Sometimes pets may show some type of behavioural change when introducing a new person to the home. These changes can start showing soon after the arrival, or may take a while to develop. Examples include peeing and pooping inside the home in areas not designated for this. These behaviours signal that the pets are trying to mark their territory. For this reason, employers should not punish their pets for this type of behaviour, but rather let the pets take their time in getting used to the change. If the behaviour continues and the employer starts to get concerned, advice can be sought from a behavioural trainer.

Want more information?

  • Contact the SPCA at 2802 0501 or send them a message here.

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Fair Employment Agency is a nonprofit agency. We put a lot of work into producing high quality, accurate and updated information resources because when employers and domestic helpers are informed, they are empowered to make good choices. If you found this article helpful, please consider donating to support us through Fair Employment Foundation, a registered section 88 charity in Hong Kong, which builds social businesses (like us!) to make migrant recruitment fair to workers & fair to employers.

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