If you walk your dog daily, and are confident in dog parks, and join other packs of dogs so your dog gets fully socialised, then yes you are close to what a pro dog walker can provide. But for many people, they either don’t appreciate these points, or don’t have time to do this with their dogs.
I know people who hire their neighbours kid, for $5, and they let the dog be boss for a 5-10 minute walk around the block. Yes that gets your dog outside of the house, and lets them poo outside of your yard, but its not about being social, nor is it usually safe. If that dogs gets off lead, or is scared and bolts, that child/ teenage is very unlikely to be able to prevent a dog accident, nor will they cover insurance for any car damages that are caused – not that insurance is likely to cover non pro people walking dogs around the block.
About the pack composition
The thing that many owners don’t think about either is the composition of the pack. A pro dog walker doesn’t usually get the luxury of selecting exactly what dogs they would like in their pack, but that’s part of the excitement. A good walker won’t accept ‘red zone’ dogs, ones that are anti social, aggressive etc But you often end up with a range of breeds, ages and temperaments that must all sit together in the car on the way to and from the park and work well on the field.
The dogs sitting together in the car actually builds social skills for many dogs, they have no choice but to learn to behave, for the packs sake – and this can be a great benefit on the grass and at home.
A good pro dog walker sees potential trouble with approaching packs, or play that gets out of hand, or dogs feeling bullied or dogs straying too much. There is probably a sweet spot of between 4 and 10 social dogs to make a good pack locally. Too little and boredom can set in, too many, and your attention can be divided too much.
For much of the time on the laps of our very natural park, I take a lot of dog photos. Yes the client wants to see these in email reports, but it also focuses my mind on seeing each dog, and making sure each dogs needs are catered for. Once you have got a stable pack you invent ways of not becoming complacent, but much of what you need to do is keep calm so that the dogs accept you as the leader and want to follow. Calm means assertive and focused, but not anxious or any negative energy, because dogs are extremely good on detecting these things in body language and faces of humans. This is another great reason why its better for a ‘stranger’ (ie pro dog walker) to walk your dog rather than an owner who has a tendency to give in to their dog.
I love my job, but I take my job seriously. Pro dog walkers, the good ones, are massively underpaid in the development and health work they do with the dogs under their charge and that is one of the biggest issue in being a pro dog walker. Not that dog walkers don’t love dogs, but most walkers have to have two or three jobs to make even an average income. A good dog walker makes it look easy, but you will be glad you have one, whenever there is a crisis situation, that they guide your dog through, often even without you knowing about it.
BIO: Bruce Dwyer is a professional dog walker based in inner west of Melbourne Australia. From an original career in Electronic Engineering and Corporate Marketing he chose to concentrate on the dog service industry. His company ‘Dog Walkers Melbourne’ has been in business since 2010 and is based on providing the best dog walking and pet sitting solutions for people in Melbourne. The only two times that he has been away from his own dog, he has used his own company’s 24 hour pet sitters. His own dog Archie (an 8 year old spoodle), enjoys TWO dog walks per day with many of the images and videos from his daily off lead dog pack walks featured on the following sites:
www.dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au | facebook.com/DogWalkersMelbourne.com.au | twitter.com/DogTreatMan | https://plus.google.com/+HealthydogtreatsAu1