September’s Guest Post comes from Michelle from Puppy Steps, a dog walker from County Durham.
Before I start let me introduce myself. My name is Michelle. I’ve been running Puppy Steps dog walking and pet care in county Durham for the past 3 and a half years. I love almost every minute of it. It can have its stressful moments; however the rewards far outweigh the stress. At the moment I am doing all of the work myself, without any staff. Hopefully I’ll have some help soon. Until then, I’m quite happy and hope my customers are satisfied as well. Anyway, here is a typical day for me.
At 6am my alarm goes off. If I press snooze one too many times, my 5 month old Border collie puppy, Seamus, makes sure I don’t sleep in. I get myself ready, feed my 2 dogs and 3 cats, Seamus and Vinnie, Holly, Geordie boy and Scruffy cat, then have breakfast myself while the dogs are exploring the perimeter of the garden. If I have any dogs on their holidays with me, morning walkies are at 7.30am. I then make sure the dogs are settled before going to collect the day care pooches at 8.30.
The day care pooches join me on my second breakfast walk. Up to 4 dogs are walked at a time.
Between 10am and 11am its time for games and cuddles with the day care dogs. If the weather is good, we play games such as “find it”. Treats are hidden in either the yard or garden and the dogs are let out to search for them, adding obstacles always adds to the fun with “find it”. It lots of fun.
At 11am its time for me to pick up the dogs for the lunchtime walks. Usually I have 2 walks booked in, although I will push 3 walks in the schedule if needed. Again, up to 4 well behaved dogs are walked at a time. I don’t just let them off lead and tire themselves out. I try to make it a controlled walk. Ball games, find it games, wild agility. Wild agility is great fun for dogs. Finding fence posts to weave through, and things to jump over. A fallen tree is a great tool for this. Dogs can walk along the trunk or jump over it.
Lunchtime walkies finish at approximately 2pm. Its then time for more games with the day care dogs. This is usually when I try to make time for lunch. I either stop off at the drive through on the way home or grab a sandwich. It’s always something quick and easy. I usually take the day care dogs for a walk at 3.30pm. Most of the day care dogs go home between 4 and 5.30pm. Then it’s feeding time for the animals.
After all animals are fed it’s time to clean up the mess from the days’ activities. This includes cleaning the kennels inside the van. Then it’s time to check my emails and follow up on any enquiries. Most days I don’t have the chance to sit down and relax until at least 7.30pm. Running this sort of business is very tiring. I work very long hours 7 days a week. I love every minute of it. Having the honour to look after a lot of beautiful dogs makes it all worthwhile. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Whatever ‘that’ is, the answer is generally ‘I painstakingly taught him’.
I was asked how I could make my dog stop walking when I told him. I was on my way to work, so I couldn’t go through it, so here it is.
Not every training method works for every dog, but this is how I usually start, and may start tweaking what I’m doing if it’s not sinking in. Also it can depend on whether their relationship with you is a good one, or if they like other dogs better, but try it and see.
There are three essentials every dog should know – stop doing that, stop moving and come back to me. Of these, stop moving is probably the most important, because if your dog manages to get himself on the edge of a cliff, or escapes and rushes across a road, a recall may not be appropriate. Each dog really must understand how to stop moving, the emergency stop.
If you go to a training class, this is usually taught with your dog facing towards you, but if he’s off the lead on a walk, he will often be facing away from you as he’s pottering about, or they are so used to obeying commands at your feet they will carry on moving until they get to you, and only then stop, which is not what you want.
It’s reasonably simple. When you take your dog for a walk on the lead, every time you stop walking, say ‘wait’ (or whatever you choose to use). When you start moving again, use another word to say they can move – I use ‘forwards’. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Stop lots of times, when you need to pick up poop, to have a drink of water, to stop and chat with someone, when you fancy stopping to take in the view, or rest halfway up a hill. Stop more times than you need to, every time.
The dogs soon pick it up – if you’ve got an under-exercised dog who is a maniac on the end of the lead you’ll need to start giving him the right amount of exercise, or at least, don’t start doing this until he’s had some time to have a leg stretch. Once he seems to have got it, start doing it off the lead, and try to time your Waits until he’d have to stop, somewhere like a gate, or walk up to a fence, just to give him the extra help.
What you have to remember is, lots of practice, lots of times. If you forget your Forwards word, your dog will learn to stop walking when you do, then as soon as you move, he’ll start walking again. If you are trying to catch him up reattach the lead, or pick him up, or otherwise do something to him, for instance he’s carrying half a bush in his feathers, this really does defeat the object.
You could also try – just falling over…
You may wonder what relevence this has to you – I walk dogs in small groups of around 4 dogs. We walk in country parks where it’s very safe to have dogs offlead. But occasionally the rangers drive round in their small trucks or land rovers. If we’ve got 4 dogs off the lead, this can be a problem! ‘Wait!’ I call. They all stop walking, allowing the vehicles to pass safely. Once, I came round a corner in a part of the park we dont’ walk in very often, to find an electric fence not 10 yards ahead. The wait command stopped the dogs from getting a nasty shock while I attached their leads and walked them carefully past it.
Another way to do it is to just stop walking. Any dogs off lead will keep going of course, until they check in (which our dogs do frequently as often unexpected things happen), turn and come back. If you do this often enough, allowing your dog to get all the way back to you (if they won’t come close enough, turn and walk away, making no fuss about it), they’ll check in more often, and as they learn to stop walking when you do (to avoid that bothersome walking all the way back to you, just for you to walk back to where they were in the first place!), add in your word ‘Wait’. Practise, practise, practise! If you need help, with your dog not checking in or not wanting to come back to you, contact us about our Ready Steady Recall. We do private recall training, or training classes.
I also teach Wait at the Gate.
Related Blog Posts:
It’s been so hot after such a long time being cold it’s taken us all by surprise! Well, not all of us. Today while Will & Graham walked the dogs, I was back at home loading the van up with sausage and tuna icecubes I’d frozen the day before, ready for an after walk cooling game.
The gallery chops bits off, but if you click each photo it comes up in its full glory! I have tried having the photos come up as a page, so people can comment on them individually, but nobody ever does, so the big file it is!
If you’d like to know how we made the icecubes, let me know in the comments. Obviously ice cubes are simple, it’s the toppings that are tricky.
It’s a busy life looking after pets – I aim for the calm peace and grace of a swan, gliding along the water, with legs going like the clappers under the water where no-one can see. I’m not sure if I manage this, but I’ll give you some idea of what it’s like behind closed doors, from midnight to midnight on a typical Sunday.
Midnight: I should be asleep, but I’m on the sofa because one of the boarders is sad (and noisy) to be alone so I’m downstairs in a sleeping bag. Scamp is curled up inside with me so I can’t turn over, Fred is on my legs so I can’t stretch out, and Sally (the lonely girl) is quietly woofing air at me because she wants to come up too, but there’s no space.
3am – I must have dozed off because I’m awake again, Fred’s heard something, probably a cat, and it barking at the back door. Sally is now on my legs instead, but jumps off to have a bark as well. Scamp’s on his back, legs akimbo so not only can I still not move, I have a very attractive view. Could have done without the full moon. Both literally and figuratively.
6.10am A cold wet nose appears in my face – Ted’s awake and wants to start the day. Sally’s having another little woof from her bed. Fred is nowhere to be seen, and Beauty’s on her bed giving me The Stare because she wants to go outside to have a drink (3 full, clean water bowls indoors not to her taste it seems). I give up and get dressed. Let the dogs out who want to go out, and insist Sally and Scamp go outside as they seem not very impressed with the cold morning. Go out with them and clear up any overnight deposits.
9am Slow start to the day because I’m tired from two nights broken sleep. Gather dogs up ready for a walk, harnesses, leads, keys, diary, extra bits of equipment, money. Lovely, lovely walk where the dogs are all well behaved, they come when called, don’t bother people or other dogs, and I get the chance to stock up on dog waste bags (3000) and enjoy a drink. 4 children stop to talk to us and are amazed I can walk 5 dogs at once. I’m amazed Dad can handle 4 kids at once without a single lead for back up.
11am Collect 4 month old puppy Luna for daycare on the way home from the walk. I get home to find she’s messed the van as she’s not used to travelling. I had been told she may be sick. Feed my 3 and the 2 boarders, clean up Luna’s paws while they eat. Scatter food in the garden and let her out there with them – this helps stop them all wanting to investigate her all at once and making her anxious. She can check them out in her own time. Load the washing machine with soiled bedding and spend the next hour cleaning the van, scrub all the food and water bowls, and while I’m at it I disinfect the wall in front of my house as all the boys like to pee on it when they come in, and wash down the path (badly because I’m tired and can’t find the broom).
12pm Take a call that my 1pm was cancelled, means rescheduling, but I can’t help feeling a bit relieved. Go back to scrubbing.
12.30pm finally get a chance to sit down. I beg Fred to make me a coffee, but he’s not being very responsive. All the dogs find a place to settle as soon as I sit down, except Luna, who is here for the first time (although I’ve worked with her for 4 weeks so she does now me, and she’s met Fred before), so is carefully watching everything. Think about lunch, but the morning’s work has put me off a bit. If I’d still had my 1 oclock I’d be frantically trying to get myself cleaned up so I could meet a client. Washing machine finishes, so I get up again (followed by all 6 dogs in case something exciting is going to happen), hang out the van bedding, load in more (it has to be half empty or doesn’t get washed properly when it’s dog stuff, especially when it’s Dog’s Business). Make a coffee while I’m up.
2pm Washing machine finishes, hang that out, machine is now filthy so put it on empty at 90 degrees. Too late after that to wash anything of mine, let’s hope the warm weather continues! All the dogs are now sleeping off the excitement of the morning (they won’t settle until I do) so I get on with some paperwork. Start to feel hungry, but if I get up it will disturb all the dogs, so decide to hang in there for a while.
3.30pm Take Luna home as she’s not staying for tea, think I see Mark Wright from The Only Way is Essex drive past, but one cocky young man looks much the same as another when you get to my age so can’t be sure. No mess this time, but the promised sick arrives. Clean out van again, change bedding, put soiled bedding for a wash tomorrow (AFTER human clothing is washed!). Spot mess on road that fell out of van earlier, so clean that up too. Also realise just how badly I cleaned the path, as the water I sluiced round after scrubbing has dried a kind of murky grey (why did I choose light coloured flagstones??). Put ‘stiff broom’ on shopping list.
4.30pm Feed hungry hounds, only 5 now, so plenty of room to all eat together. I sit with them to make sure they only eat their own, and once a bowl is finished it’s picked up. Let them out to the loo, clear the garden of any mess that’s been deposited since this morning, bring in the dog laundry and put back into the van. While we’re outside spent 20 mins playing on the playframes. Scamp pinches Ted’s toy in hope of being chased, but despite my urgings Ted is far too polite. Wonder if I have time to eat something before Ted’s owners arrive to collect him.
5.00pm Sit down with a salad, Scamp comes running in with Ted’s toy and barks at me to play with him. Decide I really must eat. Get up and find Ted another toy. Then eat.
5.30pm Finish eating just in time for Ted to be collected. Sing his praises to his owner as he was such a star and how much we enjoy having him.
5.40pm curl up on the sofa with Scamp and Sally. Beauty likes her own bed, and Fred’s made a nest in the dining room. Find time to watch ‘Dragon’s Den how to win in the den’ in hope I’ll learn something.
8pm Back is aching so last 15 minutes of ‘work’ has been 4 minutes of reading through factsheets, and 11 minutes of gazing at the laptop wishing it was a tablet so I could do the research on the sofa instead of at a badly designed desk. Give up for the night, read business PDFs on the Kindle instead. Wish I’d bought one with a browser. Promise myself the Kindle Fire for Christmas, sooner if possible.
8.30pm tuck myself back into a sleeping bag with Scamp and Sally and wait for Jacob to come home so he can switch off the lights.
11.30pm woken by Sally woofing and wanting to get up. Didn’t even realise she’d got off
Related blog posts:
First – our town.
Brentwood is a suburban town situated in the green belt –which means although we are a busy and interesting town, we have large areas of country parks, public footpaths, woodland areas, green spaces, wetlands and agricultural land. As little as ten minutes drive from the town centre (which contains several Listed Buildings and an Ancient Monument – the St Thomas a Becket Chapel) there is a very much a ‘countryside’ feel to the area, with lots of pretty villages with outstanding walking areas, while still having as many pet shops, health care providers and grooming parlours as your dog could possibly need!
All this – and only one hour away from central London.
Our boarders come for their holidays from all over Essex, but we’ve also enjoyed the company of dogs from as far as Suffolk, Kent & London. Our boarding is much in demand for London dogs – your dogs love the freedom our large back garden and secure front garden (supervised only) bring them. They enjoy the green areas around my home on their way to the local park and I can see them light up as they get to run and run and run when we visit one of our large country parks. Of course, some dogs just want to sniff, and sniff and sniff!! Whatever your dog wants to do, we find a safe, secure and fun way for them to do it.
Your dog is not a ‘guest’. They are a treasured friend and family member – you won’t hear us say ‘our own dogs have to come first’ because each dog is equal in its need for love and affection, exercise and play, and house rules and guidelines. Each dog has its needs met in a way that compliments all the other dogs. Your dog is as welcome on my lap as my dogs, as deserving of that last biscuit! They all need love and companionship and we have enough love to go around. As I work with dogs, mine get a lot more of my time and attention than many family dogs and can be relieved to have some peace and quiet while I play with your dog! You may find me hard to get rid of at collection times, as I don’t want your dog to leave us. Your dog, of course, just wants to be with you!
A Day in The Life of a Boarder
Days at Aunty Linda’s always start before 7am. Dogs really enjoy being busy and active at dusk and dawn so it’s only fair to share that time with them. The morning walk takes place at 8am weekdays, around 9am on weekends. This helps everyone build an appetite for breakfast, which we have on the return from the walk. This helps avoid digestive problems, and mimics the ‘natural’ way – the hunt and chase comes before the meal!
More active time around the house and garden while I tidy up the house, before I settle to some paperwork. The dogs settle to sleep very quickly, and usually like two-three hours of nap time. By that time I’m usually fed up with papers and want to get back to the dogs, so we either go out for an activity dog walk (Wild Agility, Find It, Trick Training), or we play dog games around the house and garden.
We LOVE Find It, Paddling Pool Dipping for treats and toys, Sandpit Search ‘n’ Scoff, Cardboard Box/Newspaper Challenge (Lucky Dip for dogs), gentle agility on the Outdoor Play frames (or King of the Castle games!), Kong Games plus we have individual activity toys for the dogs. Some of our activities were published in Dogs Today magazine (October 2011 issue), and are also available as articles on our website.
After the activities have worked up yet more appetite, the dogs have their tea, then my family and I have ours. Your dog is fed before us for two reasons.
1) It’s really hard on a dog, who can’t operate a can opener or reach his dog bowl, to have to watch someone else eat when he is hungry and has no means to feed himself.
2) It cuts down the amount of drool!
After tea is clean up time, perhaps time for one more dog walk around the block if anyone looks willing, then it’s settle down time. I like to watch TV with a dog on my lap – this is a relaxing time to tease out the day’s activities from the dogs’ coats, and check them over for anything that might have hitched a lift home, whether it’s parasites, burs, seeds, brambles, twigs or thorns! The dogs love this time too – a comfy sofa (with your permission), a cushion, blanket if desired and your legs in the air. What better end to the day can there be??
When I was a young teenager I once got into a fight with my younger brother and our cousin, who were both a little younger than me. They’d been teasing me for a long time, and I’d snapped and hit my cousin. My dad was FURIOUS and told me that they could push me under a bus and I still could not hurt them. So of course, being kids, they just teased and taunted me all the more, especially when around traffic, as now they had permission from my dad (status by association) to do what they liked to me as I was not allowed to retaliate, and certainly he wasn’t going to interfere now.
Did this decrease the chance that they would get hurt by me? No. It increased it. As I was only a child myself and hadn’t learned self-control. No-one was protecting me (in fact the protection was going to the boys who were ganging up and bullying me) so I had to do it myself. Eventually, the boys were crying, then I got walloped by my dad and I was crying too. We all got hurt.
Why do I tell you something that makes me sound unpleasant and maybe a bit of a thug? Chances are we’ve all got into fights with our families when we were kids and you’ll understand. But why is it related to dogs? I’ll tell you.
When I look after puppies, they get a lot of leeway from my dogs, and the dogs I walk, as they’re all good-natured nice family pets. But they all have different temperaments and different levels of tolerance of being messed about by puppies.
One day I was walking with an older puppy, just on the cusp of adolescence when the tolerance of adult dogs can sometimes drop. He was bouncing around, happy to be alive and in the great outdoors, wanting to play, like every other puppy. He’d bounce off the other dogs every now and then, trying to get some dog games going. None were really interested as they just wanted to do their own thing, and dogs walking with me never know how long they are going to be out so they like to pace themselves just in case.
So eventually one of them had enough, and told the puppy off. He ran off to another dog, who also told him off, which started a bit of noise and nonsense with a couple of the dogs running after the pup and barking at him – really telling him off, but not hurting him. He ran to me for protection, as that’s what I always teach the dogs. If you’re worried or don’t like what’s going on – come to me. Only when the pup got to me this time…
I told him off too.
Why would I do such a wicked thing? Because I don’t want to give the puppy status by association. He has to learn that he can’t just insist on a game. He can’t go up to other dogs and bounce all over them. He can ask for a game, and lots of dogs will say yeah, great! But when they say no, he has to accept that or face sometimes unpleasant consequences. Of course, being a pup who did what he was supposed to by coming to me I didn’t tell him off badly. I simply ignored him. Wouldn’t look at him, wouldn’t touch him, wouldn’t talk to him. I don’t want him to think coming to me is a bad thing. I just wanted him to know that I wasn’t happy with him either.
This protects ALL dogs, as this puppy is learning that when he’s told no he should gracefully accept it. The other dogs know they do not have to bite or fight because they are allowed to tell another dog to leave them alone. Why didn’t I stop the puppy bouncing on them in the first place? Because it wasn’t excessive, he just hadn’t accepted the no the first time. When pups are really excessive and not taking no for an answer time after time after time no matter what, I will take steps to prevent them being a bother, usually keeping them on a lead until they’ve calmed down. But in cases like this it is beneficial to allow the puppy to learn something without being traumatised by bouncing up to a dog who’s had one too many dogs bounce on him and get bitten.
Two minutes after that I did a successful recall with the puppy which meant I could shower him with love and affection. By leaving it two minutes, pup didn’t associate the fuss and love with the scolding from the other dogs, nor my cold reaction. He just knew he’d done A Good Thing and Aunty Was Pleased.
One of these leads has either snapped or been chewed through. The other has definitely snapped as there’s no lead there any more!
Most of my regular clients know that I don’t like extending leads and won’t use them. If that’s all a dog owner has, we bring our own, it’s not a problem. I’ve recently read a couple of blogs where a dog trainer has done some research and compared them to guns (only in America!), and a blogger who works his terriers in the States also agrees they are dangerous.
My assistant once said “I know you don’t like them”, but that’s not the case. I believe them to be dangerous – as do the manufactuers who have a very, very long safety notice on the product. Possibly the smallest injury could be cuts to your fingers, if you grab the lead – you can’t reel the dog in without the dog’s co-operation as they have to relax the pressure. If they don’t, then you have to hold the lead to allow the mechanism to work. If the dog pulls at that time – cuts all over your fingers, which, like, paper cuts, may not be life-threatening or bleed, but are very, very painful! Finger amputation is apparently a real worry.
If you have a small dog and he pulls it out of your hands – if it retracts while he’s running and hits him in the back of the head it can cause a lot of damage, even death. If this is avoided, dogs have been known to be so scared by the noise of it dragging along behind them they’ve run away in panic, getting lost – if you’ve been walking your dog on the side of the road – he could run out into traffic (a danger when he’s on the lead as well). Dog have also been known to jump obstacles, that chunky handle getting stuck, the dog can’t reach the ground on the other side and slowly strangles.
I have also heard many stories of other dogs, or young children, running into the lead because it’s so fine they don’t spotting it and being injured.
If you use a flexi lead because your dog doesn’t have a recall, please contact a good trainer in your area who can work with you to improve that for you, join our Ready Steady Recall workshop, or sign up for our newsletter to get hints and tips delivered directly to your inbox.
- Rob said…
- I know it’s each to his own but I don’t like those leads, they just seem like an excuse not to train your dog properly.28 March 2011 22:07
- Linda Ward said…
- I hate the damn things. I’ve seen Greyhounds on them… 28 March 2011 22:16
- Kay9 Services said…
- I don’t like them for the following reasons:- I have a customer that lost an eye when it broke and longed back hitting her in the eye- one of my off lead dogs was almost garotted by one. Lady had her dog on one, the dogs were sniffing at each other. She pulled one way her dog the other and it was wrapped round my dogs neck! I had to pry it our of her hands to let it go so my dog could breath!- it teaches dogs to pull on the lead! They quickly also get used to tension on the collar and never learn to walk on a loose lead.28 March 2011 22:23
- Linda Ward said…
- This was posted on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BoredomBustersPetCareServices):”one of the reasons Tali is so cautious of other dogs approaching her is due to an incident when she was a puppy & a dog was allowed (by his owner not me!) to rush over on his flexi lead & ‘make friends’ he wasn’t aggressive just totally out of control, the result was Tali & I became completely entangled in the flexi lead, Tali was absolutely terrified & I had to virtually pin the other dog down to untangle us all while the other owner did nothing!”28 March 2011 22:25
- Chris White said…
- As a professional dog walker I am not a fan of the retractable leads. Too many mechanics involved made of cheap plastic. If it breaks when the dog is already 20 feet away from you, then what? I like to walk a dog close, within 5 feet, safety and control are key.16 April 2011 16:26
Avoid walkers who take out multiple dogs at the same time. IMO they care more about the cash than the dog’s welfare.
I saw this comment on a message board, where someone was asking the legalities of a dog walker taking out their dog aggressive dog. For the legal side, Trevor Cooper is your main man, and that is not what I am here to discuss. For dogs who are aggressive to others, that is also not my main concern. I’d like to talk about walking more than one dog at a time.
I often get told ‘that’s a handful you’ve got there‘ when I’m walking a small group of dogs – my idea of a small group may be your idea of a large pack of dogs. I am insured to walk up to six dogs at a time, but rarely walk this many on my own. I prefer a ratio of one handler per four dogs, which some still feel is a large group.
Let me explain. I have seen owners who cannot control their ONE dog. It’s off the lead, running around ‘being friendly’ but really barging up to people and dogs alike, regardless of the welcome it might get. The owner calls it back, and it ignores the calls. Finally the owner comes over to get it, or they walk on, leaving the dog to rejoin them when the dog feels the owner is far enough away to want to close the gap (I call this the critical distance). I have also seen dogs straining and pulling on the lead as they want to come over to my group, while the owner has to drag them along to get them moving. Who really has the ‘handful’?
I posted the comment (protecting the writer’s identity) onto Twitter, here are some of the response I got, mainly from other dog walkers and dog trainers, so if you’re a dog owner I’d love to hear your views too!
I wouldn’t want multi-dogs for my dog. 1 person, 10 dogs. How does 1 person handle unexpected safely w/ 40 dog paws in mix? And the ones who unload a truckfull @ the off-leash park? Yeah. I think those are more profit, less welfare.Caninestein
Quite agree especially when they have a large pack off lead! Once saw 1 person with 11 dogs most off lead. WagtimeUK
Lots of people round here up 7-10 dogs stick em in a van drive to the park and open the doors and let them run. we do 1-2-1 unless the owner wants them walked with another dog never more than 4. hard to control and dogs don’t get enough attention. PlatinumPetcare
This really is a ridiculous amount of dogs for one person to be walking, and does seem like profit before welfare. How can you watch the dogs when you’re picking up the dog poo? How can you carry that many bags, all the leads and still be in control of the dogs? What happens if one dog puts their foot down a rabbit hole and sprains an ankle?
Totally disagree – I take a group out in which all dogs are vetted and introduced carefully. It allows owners to pick the time best for them (normally lunchtime) which means dogs are not left for too long either side. PoochesGalore
I still prefer 1 on 1 (w/ bonus of training while walking), but might consider skillful walker with, maybe 4 max. Caninestein
I think it depends on the walker and what dogs they have. When I walk big dogs that pull I only walk 1 or 2, but if I have dogs that are well behaved & don’t pull & have good recall then I walk 3 or 4. Depends on what owners want as well. Born2RunPetCare
Our walker takes our 2 out with max 2 others – have no prob. with that – would worry about many more… ttouchtrainer
When they say “multiple” what kind of numbers are they talking about? I only take 4-5.insured for 6 but feel safe with max 5. misstew
This last one is the point I feel – how many dogs is safe to walk, what is considered ‘multiple’? I felt defensive when I saw the comment on the message board, as the dogs I walk are all trained in recall, they all know what No means, and if I say ‘Wait’ they stop walking. Equally, if I stop walking to collect a dog poo, so do all the dogs! Some dogs are less speedy at obeying than others, but if they are having a mad five minutes, there’s always the lead. Making sure there are only 4 dogs or less per person means it’s a reasonable number to walk on leads together. But it appears there are still dog walkers out there who feel that 10 is a good number to walk – I once saw two walkers taking 13 dogs out… On a Wednesday I have 8 dogs on my lunchtime walk – my assistant takes 4, and I take 4! Occasionally we will walk them all together, but Will takes 2 or 3 on lead, and be ready to jump in with another, while I’m supervising and playing with the other dogs.
Also it should be remembered that most dog walkers are experienced in walking multiple dogs, so they don’t wander along with phone in hand, MP3 player stuck in ears, or chatting with friends as I’ve seen so many owners with their ONE dog doing – the dog gets no interaction from the owner so has to make its own amusement.
My one exception to my 1-4 rule is when I have one or more of my dogs with me. They not only have an instant, emergency recall, but a ‘walking recall’ which means when called back they stay with me until released. This means I can safely ‘ignore’ them, because once called back I know they’ll stay and I can concentrate on any slower dogs.
The general consensus seems to be that very small groups, of 4 or less, is a number the walker can safely deal with, and still be in control. So when you see a walker with more dogs than this, think to yourself, what is their motivation? It is true this is not only a vocation for some of us, but it also has to pay the rent. That’s not to say money comes first, but we have to make a living, while ensuring the safety and welfare of each of the dogs in our care. Four seems to be a reasonable number to allow both of these things to happen, while keeping fees affordable for all the lovely dog owners out there. The alternative, thousands of dogs left alone for 8 or 9 hours a day, is just too sad.
Crazy isn’t it? Good dog walkers are worth their weight in gold!! WagtimeUK
Related blog posts:
- Multiple Dog Handling
- The Shocking Truth About Exercise
- Choosing Compatible Groups
- Instant Triple Recall
- How do you get your dog to do that?
- How to find a GREAT dog walker
This post has been copied over from my previous blog. Here are the comments that were posted there:
Very good, Linda. When I was a dog walker I was strict and walked up to 4 dogs whom as all very well behaved. Also made a point of interacting with everyone one of them constantly interacting you see so many dig walkers who walk so many and just ignore them, I know if one who just parks her car then all 7/8 jump out the boot and sits on the bench having a cig whilst they all just sit around her bored …and this is for max 20minutes swell!! Makes me sooo cross!
Anyway rant over! Good blog I’ll share it
Louisa (auntielou)…you may know me as auntieloutweets on twitter!
It really is dependent on the dogs and the person and you are right that many people can’t really manage one! Certainly hard to dictate under five or six dogs but when it gets up to double figures I guess most of us would agree that is too much for any one person to have out in public!
I think there are some dog walkers who give others a bad name – one near me I saw in the park with a group of about 6 all running riot including one dog tied by a lead to another dog’s harness! I kid you not. Some people should not be in charge of any dogs!
But I also know several excellent walkers who I would be very happy to walk my guys. They tend to walk around 4 dogs or maybe one or two more if they are walking their own as well. The dogs are kept from bothering other people and have a ball.
Think it is really up to dog owners to find out and make sure they are happy with how their dogs are being looked after!
it amazing that people want to be dog walkers and it makes you think does this walker like dogs or is it just for money I think there is a fine line there, we all need money and seems to me that most of the walkers don’t care about dogs I think its so bad that people use owners for money and walking there dogs because it is obvious that they cant walk them ,so have to pay I am in the dog walking business, but also a carer for humans and I treat people with respect so that’s why I give my whole attention to one client one dog owner or if they have more than one dog I will walk them and go out of my way to help people that cant walk there dogs, its a shame that people use the inflicted for money
Linda Ward said…
Thanks for all the comments. I’m not sure what Walkies-now is trying to say, do you mean anyone who walks more than one dog at once is just abusing people for money?