Chicago’s SIT MEANS SIT DOG TRAINING recently asked us to give them an interview about dog walking for their monthly newsletter. We were happy to oblige and hopefully this helps make our dog walking process more open to those considering a dog walking service.
Why do people use dog walkers and how does it benefit the dog? People use dog walkers because, like all of us, we have to work and be away from the house and we all want our dogs to be healthy, happy and not sitting home alone all day. Using a dog walker sets a routine that dogs appreciate. They look forward to seeing us every day and they look forward to getting out and exploring their neighborhoods, relieving themselves, getting some exercise and just having some fun being a dog! They also enjoy seeing their dog friends each day just like people do.
What are dog walkers able to do if a dog has behavior problems? We can work with the owners and re-enforce training methods they are using with their dogs during our time on the walks. We try to communicate as much information to our clients as we can and be open and honest with them about behavior problems. We’d much rather address a behavior problem than have a dog and a dog walker suffer through it each day. We are not dog trainers however and it is important for us to remember that.
What does an average dog walk look like? Let’s say it’s sunny, blue sky and 70 degrees outside…as a dog walker, you’re feeling really good about your day! For me, I show up between the designated two hour window, go inside, turn off an alarm if necessary, then greet the dog. “Baxter! Baxta! Where are ya buddy?!!!” “Oh my sweet boy/girl!” I talk to my dogs A LOT, sometimes in different accents (usually English and Australian) and I’m genuinely happy to see my dog pals. After some TLC I locate the leash/harness/collar and head for the door. I try to spend as much quality time outside as possible and I try to do a combination of exercise, exploration and TLC time. That being said, each dog is different and some like to take it easy and some like to cover as much ground as they can, so we try to keep that in mind and treat each dog as the individuals they are. Back inside, I write down what we did on our walk, provide some fresh water, sometimes lunch, straighten up any mess I might have made and then say goodbye.
What difference does training make for the dog walker? (i.e. if the dog has had some training, do you notice the difference and is it helpful?)
Training can make a huge difference if everyone is on the same page with it communicating and being consistent. We’ve seen aggressive or frightened dogs completely change after training and it truly enhances their worlds and everyone who interacts with those dogs. I think most dogs enjoy training and feel more confident after being trained.
How often a day should a dog get walked? How far should a walk be? Some high energy or athletic dogs would walk all day long, sunup to sundown. I would say it really depends on each dog. A dog needs to be outside, obviously, every day and I would say the time, frequency and length of the walk depends upon each dog, their age, their desire to walk, what they enjoy doing when they’re outside. Dogs are a lot like people and on the walks they have preferences, quirks and different motivations, ie, they all have unique personalities. A general rule of thumb though is give a dog at least one 30 minute walk every day. Most dogs love being outside and want to walk as much as possible.
Do the dogs ever bond with the dog walker more than the owner? No way man! While the dogs we walk love us and we love them and they love seeing us every day, they know we’re just there as their friends and not their permanent family members. We do love seeing those wiggle butts, dog smiles and the little dances they do when we come in, but I’ve brought dogs back to their owners after walks and they go running to them, full wiggle butt mode!