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How To Be The Best Dog Walker Ever!

Holly Leake
Yes dog walking may seem like a simple job, however, when you begin to consider the physical and behavioural welfare of the potential dogs in your care, you will begin to understand why there so much more involved.
Many people believe that you don't need any skills or qualifications to be a professional Dog walker and sadly this has led to a huge increase in new dog walkers, all advertising themselves as professionals. While technically, the dog industry is unregulated, it’s still important to bring skills to the role.

Yes dog walking may seem like a simple job, however, when you begin to consider the physical and behavioural welfare of the potential dogs in your care, you will begin to understand why there so much more involved.

Firstly, you will be responsible for the welfare of the dogs you walk, meaning you need to ensure they are kept safe and well.

While this sounds pretty obvious, you'd be surprised how many dog walkers have endangered the lives of dogs because of the incentive to earn as much as possible. The welfare of the dogs in your care must always be prioritised over financial gain. Although there's nothing wrong with walking groups of dogs, you should only walk the amount that is legally permitted under your local council, in order to prevent serious injury and even death to the dogs in your care.

It should also be noted, that walking large groups of dogs together can result in bullying and fights. This often happens when the dog walker lets all the dogs off lead and precedes to stare at their phone for most of the walk.

While most behavioural issues towards other dogs are unfairly blamed on a lack of socialisation, it is often negative experiences with other dogs that causes or worsens anxiety and reactivity.

For some dogs, it only takes one traumatic experience for them to become terrified of other dogs and you really don’t want your walks be the cause of that.

Of course, one to one walks are another potential service you can offer and this is a necessity for many dogs suffering with anxiety or reactivity. That being said, walking dogs with reactivity or anxiety is no simple feat. In fact, knowing how to manage the dog’s stressors and how to respond when they become reactive, are important skills that walkers need in their repertoire.

While you likely won't be formally training the dogs you walk, you can still learn how to improve engagement on walks, how to utilise coping strategies and how to reduce a dog’s stress, all of which will contribute to the dog’s overall welfare and your reputation as a professional dog walker.

Responsibility and Insurance

Regardless of whether you are walking one dog or many, you also have a responsibility towards others dogs and people that may be in the area, hence public liability insurance is a must. Allowing dogs off lead can have legal implications, if the dog is out of control in a public place and/or causes harm to others.

Sadly, a dog attacking another dog is not a criminal offence, regardless of the severity, however the police can still be involved and any incidents could reflect badly on your business. As a professional Dog walker, it’s important to be aware of the laws relating to dog welfare and ensure you abide by them.

Today, “professional” seems to mean that you simply charge for dog walking, when in reality it should encompass so much more. To truly be a professional Dog walker, it’s critical to be experienced and dog first aid trained before taking on clients. This prepares you to appropriately respond to emergency situations, understand disease prevention and to recognise signs and symptoms of ill health.

Although illness and /or injury seem like a rare occurrence, I promise you that you will be relieved that you invested your time and money into such training.

When you begin professional dog walking, you will realise that there's so much more to it than meets the eye.

While experience in caring for dogs is beneficial, you still need to have a basic foundation knowledge about a dog’s physical and behavioural needs. You also need to understand the basics of canine body language, how dogs communicate, what emotions they are capable of and how you can meet their needs.

It is inevitable that your clients will turn to you for advice and you have a duty of care to ensure you provide the correct information or at the very least, know where to direct them to.

Learning and Qualifying

Therefore it is advisable to complete a course in Canine care and welfare to ensure you provide the highest standard of care to your clients.

Since the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in dog walkers, due to the fact that many think it's a great way to make money fast, without the need for particular skills or education. However, if you acquire qualifications in Canine Care, you can specialise in walking dogs with specific needs, making you stand out amongst the competition and ensuring the dogs you walk, have the highest standard of care.

Finally, a love and passion for dogs is essential! Developing strong relationships with dogs and their people, is key to a stellar reputation and business success. Walking with dogs should be a bonding experience and the relationship you share will be evident to onlookers and potential clients.

There are so many that pursue this career simply to earn as much as possible, in the shortest time possible. However, when quick financial gain is the biggest incentive, the dog’s welfare is rarely prioritised.

These ones miss out on what truly makes this job one the most rewarding careers. So, if your love for dogs is your true motivation to be dog walker, then your passion will shine through to your clients and the dogs in your care will be very lucky to have you.

Canine Principles offers a variety of courses in Canine Care and welfare that will give you the skills you need to set yourself apart from the competition.

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