Dog walkers are highly sought-after individuals in the western world. Dog walking is the process of a human walking alongside a dog.
The process usually begins from the residence of the dog and ends there as well. Dog walkers employ the use of leashes for this exercise.
The leash or harness is placed on the neck of the dog. If the leash isn’t used, the dog walker relies on word control and familiarity.
Typically, a dog walker is usually someone the dog trusts, including a family member or the owner itself. However, in cases where they won’t have the time, they seek professional dog walkers’ services.
The benefits that both the dog and walker enjoy from dog walking include fitness and companionship.
Table of Contents
- The profession of dog walking
- Is dog walking healthy?
- Dog walking tips you should know
- Requirements of a good dog walker
The profession of dog walking
It could be an individual or a business outfit hired by dog owners to walk their pets for them. In some cases, dog walkers can take many dogs for a walk simultaneously. Usually, a dog walker goes on a walk with one dog. Two factors determine the distance covered during the dog walk.
The first one is the owners’ request for a short relief walk or long walks within a specified period, and the breed of the dog being the other factor.
A similar profession to dog walking is dog running. Dog runners are professionals who run alongside dogs.
Dog walking is licensed in some places, and employees must be trained in animal first aid. Professional dog walkers can be sought either locally or via online referral services or platforms.
Being a certified dog walker has become increasingly difficult due to intensive training and cumbersome assessments.
Despite this, if your location requires licensing or training, dog walkers must be aware of some practices. This includes knowledge suitable for dog walking and the ability to use a leash of fixed length.
The first professional dog walker in America is said to have been Jim Buck. He began his dog walking service in 1960, operating in New York City.
Is dog walking healthy?
A research carried out by Michigan State University revealed that dog walkers are 34% more likely to meet anticipated exercise levels.
This is with a recommended level of 150 minutes of dog walking each week. Another study conducted by the University of Western Australia suggests that an increased level of dog walking in a community tends to foster more interpersonal relationships.
It further suggests that the locals tend to greet and socialize more with other people and neighbors. This could give pave the way to more exercise in that community.
The dogs and their owners or walkers get an opportunity to develop a healthier lifestyle. These two research result opines that dog walking is indeed healthy.
Dog walking tips you should know
There are a good number of useful tips for every dog walker and a dog owner. Get acquainted with them in the list below:
- Use a front clip harness if your dog pulls on the leash
A front-clip harness is the recommended option for a dog that always pull on leashes. The harness can also be called dog collars.
A single back-clip harness encourages more pulling from the dog as it gives it more freedom. An expert once said that the usage of harnesses trains the dog to ignore you and pull you along.
She further stated that trying to pull on the harness and regain control only diverts the dog’s attention from you.
So if searching for a harness you intend to use for dog walking, you should get the front clip harness. It keeps you in control of the exercise and makes dog walking much easier.
While the front clip harness solves the dog pulling problem, you still need to train your dog to walk nicely.
- Allow your dog to smell the air around before the walk
You might wonder why this should be considered, but this stimulates your dog’s mental senses. Dog walking is beyond physical exercise, and it is perhaps the only time dogs get to stroll around to get a feel of the outside environment.
However, you should ensure that your dogs don’t go sniffing around in inappropriate places. Places like your neighbor’s property or even frequently stopping to sniff around should be discouraged. They can sniff around only when and where it is safe and appropriate.
It helps to loosen your dog’s leash a little to give your dog the allowance to sniff around. This should be done in a few minutes. You can use verbal controls to begin and end the sniffing sessions.
Those smells perceived by your dog not only stimulates it mentally but also informs it. With these smells, they can easily keep tabs on the happenings in the neighborhood. Besides, sniffing makes dog walking more fun for dogs and gets them less exhausted.
- Avoid the usage of retractable dog leashes for dog walks
It is not advisable to use retractable dog leashes for walks with your dog. This is because of the avoidable hazards that could occur compared to conventional leashes.
Retractable leashes possess a length that gives you a hard time controlling your dog during walks. This is even more evident in high traffic locations.
In locations such as that, the dog can easily run onto the busy road, and it will be hard to pull them back. Even though retractable leashes have locks on them, they are not reliable. These locks are known to unlock with just enough pressure. This kind of leash also causes injuries to humans and dogs as well.
Holding onto the leash for more support while the dog is in motion can trigger severe burns. In extreme cases, it can lead to the amputation of the dog walker’s digits. A sudden jerk could also occur if your dog reaches the end of the leash, and this may make you trip and fall. Such falls can seriously injure the dog or the walker.
If you walk a dog fond of pulling, using this kind of leash will only worsen the situation. It will be hard for the dog to stop pulling because it realizes it has more freedom with each pull.
This leash, though not suitable for walks, still has some usefulness. It can be used for situations such as potty breaks. But when dog walking, use the conventional leash, particularly in high traffic locations.
- Always scoop up your dog’s faeces
This is a vital tip for dog walkers. Always scoop up the waste or excreta of your dog during your walk. This act extends beyond being neat and being a good neighbor. It also prevents major health issues for both pets and humans in the area.
The excreta may possess hazardous organisms such as roundworms, hookworms, giardia, E. coli and salmonella. These organisms are capable of spreading to humans and other animals. Also, when the dog’s poop is just left lying around, pathogens and disease-causing bacteria can enter the soil and contaminate the water supply.
These organisms can live for a long time underground. A good example is the hookworm larvae that can survive for several weeks in the soil. Research has shown that up to 30% of the bacteria in urban water spots is from dog poop. That’s huge!
Scooping up your dog’s waste can be an annoying chore, but it entails a responsible dog owner or walker. Responsibility, in this case, doesn’t just apply to the social aspect, but the health aspect as well.
Pet stores sell poop bags you should buy and carry along during your dog walks. If during your dog walk, your furry companion starts pooping around, you know you have got it covered.
- Don’t let your dog get dehydrated
If you are going for a lengthy walk or dog walking during hot weather, take along enough water. Dogs have less temperature regulation abilities than humans. So it’s pretty easy for them to get uncomfortably hot.
They start panting which signals they are sweating. If this continues, they become pretty dehydrated soon enough during the dog walk.
An excellent gear to solve this is a plastic water bottle, which can be purchased at a pet store. Lidded water bottles are better options because it’s easier for the dog to drink out of. It also has clips which make it easy to carry around.
If you don’t want to be a handful with dog walking gears, purchase a dog backpack for them.
- Ensure your dogs are wearing an ID tag
Your dog should have on their ID tags before you venture out of the house. This is vital if the dog gets missing or lost. Ensure the tags are not just worn but updated. It is recommended you customize the tag with your phone number.
In the event the tag gets damaged or wriggled out of, you can opt for a microchip. Your up-to-date information should be registered on the microchip.
This is to ensure that anyone who scans your dog for a chip can contact you. Microchip has played a significant role in reuniting many lost dogs with their owners.
- Avoid hot pavements during your dog walk
Well, since your dog can’t talk, you have to bare feet or hands to feel the pavement for about 5 seconds.
Suppose it is uncomfortably hot for your skin, it is the same for your dog’s feet. Minus the discomfort, it can seriously injure the dog’s paws.
When the weather is scorching, take your dog for a walk on the grass, in the park, or in a bushy area. For a dog that won’t get fussy over booties, get it a bootie to protect its paws.
Nonetheless, the best option is to go for a dog walk early in the morning or in the evenings to beat the heat.
- Maintain your dog’s attention with tasty doggy treats
Dogs easily get distracted during their walks. A good dog walker must know how to win back the dog’s attention in such a case. This can be easily done by having some tasty treats for your dog. Treats can either be gotten at the store or home-made.
Fruits can also be used, as long as you know what fruit your dog loves. Another infallible treat that will undoubtedly win back your dog’s attention is chopped meat.
- Always seek permission before approaching other dogs
During a dog walk, it is almost inevitable that your dog will run into another dog with its walker. This can be a tense or dicey situation, though. Even if your dog is friendly to other dogs, it isn’t a guarantee that every encounter with other dogs will be pleasant.
It is always wise to seek permission or ask before allowing your dog to approach another dog. This is because the other dog(s) might not be friendly, and a lot of dogs don’t react well when on a leash.
Requirements of a good dog walker
Just like every other professional, a dog walker must possess certain qualities required of an ideal dog walker. These qualities include:
The dog walker must be able to keep things for the benefit of the pet’s owner and the pet itself. If the goal of the dog is to lose a few pounds, the dog walker should be able to undertake the steps necessary to achieve this.
If the dog owner seeks an improvement in the dog’s neatness in the home, the dog walker should be able to keep the dog engaged.
An organizational dog walker gives the dog owner a feeling of control and a good return on his investment. They are more efficient and are better equipped with management skills than the average dog walker.
They also lower the level of stress usually encountered by the dog owner. They make it easy for owners to track the progress of their dogs.
To ensure your prospective dog walker is organizational, offer to meet them before hiring. When you meet them, assess them with certain questions so you can grasp their personality and skill set.
A dog walker has to match the pace and energy of the dog he is walking. Otherwise, it will be less of a dog walk and more of a dog chase. Funny, right? The dog might get disappointed if its energy is not reciprocated.
Also, the dog walker must be eager to go some extra distance. This is to ensure that the dog gets its required exercise for the day.
Before dog owners hire a dog walker, they should ask about the dog walker’s stamina, especially if the owner wants his dog to regularly go for a long walk of about 30 minutes daily.
They must be assured that the prospective dog walker can commit to this requirement.
Punctuality is the soul of every business, and this doesn’t exclude dog walking. The dog must maintain a regular schedule. This is an excellent way of ensuring their satisfaction daily.
The dog walker needs to understand the dog’s needs, which means knowing when the dog wants its exercise. The best way to seek out or hire a punctual dog walker is by referrals from trusted people.
Dogs are very unpredictable creatures, so it needs a calm guardian. A dog walker with less experience and patience might react badly in some given situation.
Such a dog walker reacts this way because they don’t fully understand the entire situation. For instance, if a dog barks, instead of the dog walker, to examine the cause, he might go ahead to discipline it.
A good dog walker needs to be calm. This calmness inspires confidence in the owner that their pet is in good hands.
It is usual for a dog owner to want to hire an acquaintance to walk their dog. But then, it’s not advisable to hire anybody to do a job such as dog walking.
What if an event occurred where your dog bites someone during their walk? It is much better to seek out a dog walker with the needed experience. Such experience will come in handy in such situations.
Yes, you will pay more since you are seeking a professional, but it will be worth the money spent. An experienced dog walker can show you their portfolio and give you the information of their reference.
They know the best paths to take dogs on and also how to handle different breeds of dogs. Each breed comes with its temperament and attitude. You need someone who understands this to walk your dog.
Also, a professional and experienced dog walker will want to take the time to get familiar with your dog. In so doing, it will bond with your dog and create a relationship that will prove useful during your walks.
Dogs are indeed wonderful creators that serve as great companions to most pet owners. Investing time and resources into this animal is worth every energy.