dog walker : Spending your days with people so authentic and charming that our friends the canines are undoubtedly the dream of all animal lovers in this world. If you are passionate about beautiful hairs, it has surely already occurred to you to make your passion a full-time job!
Among the multitude of professions in the canine field, that of dog walker is probably the most accessible… And yet!
Training on the subject seems non-existent, which leads us to believe that anyone with a simple leash can go out for a walk. If that’s what you think, you’re making a big mistake! The dog walking profession requires precise qualities and aptitudes as well as a minimum of knowledge in order to be able to be happy and perform.
Being a dog walker, summer and winter alike!
In summer and winter, you will have to face the bad weather. You will need to be prepared for all eventualities and have the right equipment. Your fellow walkers will also have specific needs depending on the weather and you will need to ensure their well-being. Walking several hours a day and retaining the excitement of a dog that can sometimes be very strong and energetic requires you to be in good shape. That’s why good health and physical strength are essential to avoid hurting yourself.
The good things about the job:
Are you well prepared and dressed? Do you have good health? You will quickly see that this work is a therapy in itself. The clean and cold air of winter is beneficial to your overall health and will be felt even in your mood! And who doesn’t love the idea of spending an entire summer working outdoors in the sunshine? Vitamin D permanently and a tan to make you jealous will be there! In addition to having a more active and stimulating life, you will get the most outdoors and the best companions!
The qualities of a good dog walker
The most important quality of a walker is passion. Everyone loves animals, but not everyone has the passion. It is not enough to love cuddling and playing with dogs, you have to appreciate even their worst faults, be fascinated by their multitude of personalities, want to understand them, look for solutions and always want to learn more.
Passion will be the fuel for your success. It will push you to surpass yourself and to continue when you encounter obstacles. Thanks to it, you will accumulate more knowledge and experience, allowing you to make your daily life more pleasant, to stand out from your competitors, to spend a better time with your protégés and to know how to better advise your customers.
Of course, patience is an essential quality if you want to be a dog walker. It’s not always easy to spend an hour with a hairy man who thinks he’s a tractor or who throws himself with all his might to catch a squirrel. Patience will help you make it easier to deal with overexcited or anxious dogs.
Indeed, a frustrated or nervous walker could make things worse, as dogs become stressed and therefore even more distracted.
You will also have an important role to play with the owners:
Although the walk is a moment between you and their precious canine dog, you should keep them informed of the progress of the outing. Not all people have the same level of knowledge about animals. This makes it more difficult for customers to understand their expectations. You will need to be patient and empathetic with them. You will need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are going through to better meet their needs.
Reactivity, canine language and mental stimulation
Do you not understand the meaning of these terms? However, these notions are at the heart of the profession of dog walker.
You will have to handle dogs on a daily basis, either to put on their harnesses, winter boots or clean their legs. It is essential to respect their tolerance limits and to ensure that everything goes smoothly and stress-free for your canine clients. You will need to be able to decode their discomfort signals, however subtle they may be. A walker reports that she has already spent ten minutes desensitizing a dog to put his leash on. Time wasted? Not at all! By knowing how to read the animal well and respecting it, she showed her companion that he did not have to fear her and established a relationship of trust with her, making her future interventions faster and faster!
You will also have to manage special cases. Once again, you will need knowledge of canine language and behaviour. Do you know when a reactive dog experiences great discomfort when it crosses its congeners or what to do when a dog that is preying leaps with all its might to catch a cat hidden under a car?
These are scenarios that you will encounter frequently during your walks. You could also find yourself with an anxious dog who is suspicious when you enter his house or with an excited dog who wants to play very intensely. You will need to anticipate dogs’ reactions to each other, to humans, to the environment or to yourself in order to prevent your protégé from engaging in certain behaviours or creating a bad association.
Dog training in positive methods will be your best asset. It will allow you to build a relationship of trust with these dogs, motivate them… and divert their attention if necessary.
A walk is not always enough!
Walking alone will not be enough to meet the energy needs of some of your companions. These dogs are often referred to as “tireless” by their owners. Your creativity and knowledge of mental stimulation and dog training will make the difference between giving your human a constantly moving hair ball or a quiet and happy dog. Remember that fifteen minutes of mental stimulation activities is equivalent to one hour of physical activity. Combining training with walking will become your magic wand for a dog with satisfied needs!
In addition to a pleasant walk without stress, hassle or snag, let the dog sniff and analyze the odors, increase your walking speed and add more or less 10 minutes of training! A guaranteed recipe for your customers to find their dogs calm and happy! And tell all their friends about you….
Strolling a dog around town, not an easy task!
Urban life is not the easiest for daily walks. Obstacles await you on every street corner: the sidewalks are dirty, the alleys are swarming with stray cats or dogs off-leash, the concrete is hot in summer and calcium and salt can hurt your protégé in winter. You must ensure that your companion is doing well at all times.
The dangers you will have to analyze:
“Believe me, a puppy who puts absolutely everything in his mouth understood the broken glass, cigarette butts or even pieces of asphalt, it’s not easy to rest on the streets of a big city! Avoiding urban pollution altogether is almost impossible. You have to have scanning devices instead of eyes and choose where you walk,” explains Kristina Lesco, founder and owner of Animadou. She could talk to you for a long time about all the challenges faced by a dog walker in an urban environment!
The environment is not the only danger for dogs. Some of your canine clients will have behavioural problems that will require even more management and thought in choosing your itinerary. Fortunately, there are no problems, only solutions! Like Kristina, you will become experts in environmental management.