Battersea unveils Housework Hounds training programme for homeless dogs

Housework Hounds
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
01 April 2013

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has started training its dogs in more unusual “life skills” such as hoovering, gardening and washing up, in a bid to help them find new homes.

The animal charity can today reveal it has developed a unique “Housework Hounds” programme, where dogs pick one of 10 skills, including gardening, cookery and cleaning, and are trained to world-class standards during their stay in kennels. The courses are led by a crack team of dog trainers, who also have extensive knowledge in their area of home care.

Head of Canine Welfare Ali Taylor said: “Gone are the days when someone was impressed that a dog did a ‘sit’ or lifted a paw. Now people want to know whether our Westies can wash up or if a Labrador can do the laundry.  Families are so busy these days that they don’t just want a dog to sit in corner chewing on a toy – they want a pet who can help with the housework too. We see it as our role to equip these dogs with the life skills they need to find a new home.”

One of the most talented dogs to graduate from the Housework Hounds programme is Robin the Lurcher, who trained at the charity’s London centre. Robin can hoover an average-sized lounge in ninety seconds, while simultaneously dusting ornaments with his tail. Ali explains: “Robin was one of the first recruits on our new training programme and he really has excelled. This is a dog who can spot a rogue crumb on a sofa at 20 paces, and will have vacuumed it up before you’ve had chance to sit down.”

One resident on track for a First in the Housework Hounds canine horticulturist course is Sadie the Akita, from Battersea’s Brands Hatch centre. Sadie’s skills go way beyond digging holes in the garden, and Ali explains: “Sadie really does have green paws. She’s currently cultivating a crop of potatoes and has already seen her first batch of daffodils and snowdrops come to fruition. She’s also very good at rounding up stray leaves with her paws and removing weeds, and there’s even been talk of her entering the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.”

However not all the dogs have Sadie and Robin’s zest for learning. One resident who is a firm believer in old school canine tricks is Sarah-Jane the Deerhound, currently staying at Battersea’s Old Windsor centre. She loves food, so staff enrolled her in the Cordon Bleu cookery course, but Sarah-Jane made her feelings quite clear. “Sarah-Jane was having none of it,” Ali explains. “We started with the easy stuff – peeling carrots and preparing a beef joint, but Sarah-Jane just ate all the ingredients. We even showed her some classic cookery books, but she seemed more interested in using them as toy than reading them. At the end of the day, some dogs just prefer playing with a squeaky toy.”

To find out how a Battersea dog can make your home complete, please visit


For more information and images please contact 020 7627 9317 or email [email protected]


Notes to editors 

  • Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help.  We reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners through our Lost Dogs & Cats Line or care for them until new homes can be found for them, giving them shelter and the highest standards of kennelling and veterinary care. 
  • Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • All Battersea’s dogs receive care and training from the Home’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
  • Battersea cares for an average of 400 dogs and 190 cats across its three centres at any one time.
  • For further information on Battersea Dogs & Cats Home please visit


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