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Finding the right Dog Walker

08/09/2020

When I first started as a dog walker 11 years ago there weren't many in the industry so I felt honoured to become one. To be trusted with someone else's dog, family member and best friend. That passion still hasn't left me. In fact, I'm even more passionate than I was on my first day.


Being a dog walker has given me opportunities to meet new people and a variety of different dogs. Some customers of mine have stayed with me from the very beginning. I’ve learnt so much about being with dogs.

So, this had me thinking about what makes a good dog walker? How do people choose a dog walker? Why have my clients chosen me?


When choosing a dog walker, for a lot people it’s like finding a nursery for their child. They want somewhere or someone they can trust and their child will come back happy and smiling. It’s the same with someone’s dog. When someone chooses a dog walker for their best friend, they may search the internet, ask a friend for recommendations. With social media being a popular platform, they can see pictures and videos of the dogs having fun, and read through reviews of the services they provide. For Coastal Canine Pet Services, there is a Facebook page, Instagram page and a website. On these platforms, it provides a phone number and an email address, so that it makes contacting me easier. The Facebook page also offers a messenger service, making it easier than ever before to get in contact.


A good walker should be open and transparent. They will answer any questions that the owner may have or any concerns. This initial consultation may be done over the phone to find out services offered and whether the dog walker has availability, before a face to face meet and greet at the owners’ home. We at Coastal Canine Pet Services offer a meet and greet service before your dog is taken out. This gives me a chance to find out more about your dog and for the dog to get to know me too. Cuddles and kisses from the dogs are always welcome!!


A service provided by a dog walker could be from group walks to pet sitting. Each dog can have different needs, some prefer a solo walk for various reasons and some prefer to have friends for company.


Once an initial meet and greet is done between dog, dog’s owner and dog walker, the next step is getting booked in for walking. An owner will often get an idea how happy their dog is around you while you are there.


At Coastal Canine Pet Services, I provide 3 group walks a day, 8am, 10.30am and 1pm so pet parents have a choice depending on which time better suits them. Clients who have worked a night shift may prefer to be able to have their dog walked on an 8am walk, so they can rest and recharge. Knowing their dog is looked after is a weight off their shoulders. Other clients prefer a lunchtime walk as they work during the day are unable to get back to their dog. This will break up the dog’s day, allowing them a change of scenery, a toilet break and to release some energy allowing them to settle nicely while owners are at work.

I also offer a let-out service if a dog can’t join in on a group walk. Group walks are structured carefully, putting the dog’s well-being and safety first. I try to match dogs together with friends they’ve made, so they get the most out their walk with me. Groups are walked in a maximum of 6 so it’s not too overwhelming for dogs or anyone we may meet on a walk. This also complies with the insurance policy of the business.


Another service provided by Coastal Canine Pet Services is Pet Feeding. Pet feeding is usually provided while owners are on holiday, to give them peace of mind their pets are being looked after in the comfort of their own home.


It isn’t law for a dog walker to have qualifications. However, training and knowledge of dogs is very important, for both the dog walker and the dogs. It gives the dog walker knowledge and confidence about reading the dogs whilst in their care. Their body language gives away how happy they are, and a dog walker should ideally be able to observe this. Here at Coastal Canine Pet Services, I take pride in keeping up to date with my knowledge. I have taken courses in Canine Reinforcement Learning and Motivation, Canine Aggression and Canine Hormones, a 2-day course on being a dog trainer and kept up to date with my Canine First Aid.


In my experience of dog walking, pet parents have continued to use me for years. But why? I’m easy to talk to, and happy to help them wherever possible. I have good relationship with the dog’s owners, and I am always smiling when I see them. Their dogs are like family to me, like nieces and nephews, and I have a great bond with them. I like to tell their parents about their adventures with me and the friends they made. When a pet parent sees the bond between us, it makes them feel at ease, that their dogs are in safe hands for many years.  

Our Dogs Post Lockdown

04/10/2020

As we are trying to get our normal lives back on track, so are our dogs. Lots of people have changed their routine completely from when we were in Lockdown. 


Owners are going back to work and children are going back to school. This is something our dogs are trying to get used to again. Dogs like routine, so even having regular feed times can help, and if you haven’t already, gradually move them to a time that works for you when you come home from work. Owners can help dogs to prepare for being left, by spending time going out without their dog, for shorter periods of time first and then they can start to leave them longer each time.


Many dogs can find change stressful. Being left for longer periods of time while mum or dad go back to work, can lead to separation anxiety. Having a dog walker can help with this, whether it’s to pop in for some time to break up their day, or take them out for a walk. This can give them shorter periods of time being left on their own, and will hopefully allow them to settle better.


Leaving relaxing aids can help to take their mind off the feeling of being alone, for example a stuffed Kong or lick mat, with their favourite treats in. The act of licking for dogs, releases endorphins which helps the dog calm down in stressful situations. If this is left out for the dog walker to put down when they come in, it can help the dog relax. Leaving the radio on can sometimes help give the dog a sense of someone being home. Pheromone collars and plug in diffusers are available and may help to de-stress the dog.


Some dogs may be relieved to have the house back to themselves, if households have been noisy during Lockdown. However, for some dogs, they may have had key workers as pet parents so are so are used to being home alone.

Some pet parents are still working from home, so perhaps not a lot has changed for the dog with regards to someone being at home. Owners are able to take their dog out for a lunchtime walk still, give him an extra biscuit or Kong at lunch. However, the work load may have increased and finding time to take Rover out is hard, so they hire a dog walker to help. Here at Coastal Canine Pet Services I have 3 walks to choose from, 8am,10.30am and 1pm, all walks are at a woodland away from roads and livestock.


A new routine may have been practiced altogether, and new activities have risen for both pet parent and dog, such Trick Training. Robbie my Staffordshire Bull Terrier, has loved the Trick Training sessions and learning new skills, so have decided to carry on with it. During Lockdown we both also kept busy by creating videos of activities to practice with your dog and posting on to Facebook. Some of which were Hoopers videos, which has led onto a few people taking up a new sport with their dog. If you would like to know more about Hoopers classes take a look at the Hoopers page on the website.


If your dog is finding it hard to cope with the new normal, and showing signs of stress and anxiety, you may need to seek help of a vet or behaviourist, to get further help.