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  • Linda

When Walking Someone Else's Dog

11 points a pet sitter should keep in mind when dog walking.

While a pet sitter/dog walker should walk a client's dog with as much care and attention as they would walk their own dog, there are certain things they should keep in mind because quite frankly, it isn't their dog, and there are additional responsibilities that should be noted.

Here are the points I want to share with you today:

1. A walker must add an extra layer of safety and security when walking someone else's dog. The liability is greater. As much as you may know a dog that is a client, you still do not live 24/7 with that dog and so there will always be unknowns as far as behaviors are concerned.

2. When walking, keep your eyes alert to what is on the ground near the dog, what a dog may be walking towards, what might distract him, or possible dangers that come into view. You don't want the dog scooping up and eating something dangerous while you are looking at a beautiful store window display, or inadvertently becoming hurt because you are distracted by something.

I guess the word I want to say is "Focus".

3. When walking in different neighborhoods other than your own that you don't know so well, keep your eyes peeled for critters and other dogs that the dog might lunge after. For instance, I once walked a dog that lunged only at black dogs, so if I saw a black dog, we'd cross the street and I'd tighten up my hold on the leash "just in case".

4. Keep the leash coming safely from the harness or collar. If it gets tangled under the dog, stop and fix it. Neighbors are noticing, and you don't want the dog to feel uncomfortable.

5. This goes without saying but never become violent with the dog. If YOU don't have the temperament or a good relationship with the dog, better let another walker take the job, or retire from pet sitting/dog walking.

6. Be mindful of the weather. If the dog has some coats that could be warn on a cold or rainy day, take a minute to put it on the dog before heading out. You'd do it for your own dog, so do it for your client's dog.

7. In general, avoid other dogs along the way. Maybe the dog you are with is kind and gentle but you don't know the behaviors of other dogs.

Normally, unless a client, wanted me to socialize their dog, or if I knew the dog was a pet therapy dog, or super super gentle, I'd also avoid other people. I had some dogs that were always wanting to meet other people and their owners almost 100% guaranteed me that it was okay to interact with other peopel (and/or dogs). This was discussed during a Meet and Greet. However, if I had vibes that this wouldn't work for me OR the dog, I'd steer clear of others while we were out walking. If people wanted to interact, I'd just politely say that today was not a good day to interact, and everyone was respectful.

8. Make sure you have ample poop bags with you, treats, and a dog water bottle. Make sure you have your cell phone with you complete with emergency numbers entered into the phone just in case there are big problems along the way.

The goal is to go from Point A (Dog's home) to Point B (Back to Dog's home) in safety. Plus, being safe really makes things more fun and less stressful for you and the dog.

9. Oh, and another thought - always, always, always, unless in an enclosed dog park sanctioned by the owners, keep the dog on a leash when outside. Common sense will tell you the many problems that could arise if you are not somehow attached to a dog when walking him/her.

10. What about retractable leashes? I think for the most part they are only good and safe if you are in a huge empty area with the dog-like on a beach or flat green park. You should never use them on city or even suburban sidewalks where dogs can get into other people's yards, tangled up around a tree, or lunge into the street.

An example: I sat for a beautiful huge Bernese Mountain dog and the owner said to let him out in their huge yard without the retractable leash. Around the yard was a 2' stone wall and with woods beyond. I explained to the owner that I didn't feel comfortable letting the dog off-leash in the yard because the stone wall was something a dog could easily jump over. She said it wouldn't happen, but she agreed to have him stay on the retractable leash in the backyard, which was really the only thing I would agree to. At my first visit, I took the dog out the back door on the retractable leash. Within seconds the dog spotted a wild turkey and took off like a bat out of you know where. If I didn't have him at the end of this 30' retractable leash, he would have easily taken off over the wall.

Experience teaches us many things and when walking someone else's dog, err on the side of safety.

People used to ask me " how many dogs do you walk at one time?". They probably asked that because they've seen shows on TV or those big city New York dog walkers who walk multiple dogs at a time. I do not live in a big city and I've never walked more than one person's dogs at a time. To answer the question directly, I've walked two dogs from the same family at one time. Actually, once I walked four dogs from the same family at one time, but I didn't enjoy it. All the other many dog walks I've done over the years were single dogs.

11. This brings me to another point I'd like to share, and that is that a dog walker must be aware of their own personal stamina and strength when dog walking. For instance, a dog walker in their early twenties who is a male, is probably able to have more stamina and strength to walk larger, stronger dogs, than a small middle-aged woman. Call me a little sexist, but to me, this is common sense.

12. Probably the biggest piece of advice I'd like to mention is that when a dog other than your own is being walked, stay off the cell phone. The time you are walking the dog is the dog's time and your client is paying you for it. All attention needs to be on the dog.

It is great fun walking dogs of all kinds, shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. It is also a great responsibility. It is possible to be seriously attuned to all that needs to be a concern but also have great fun with the dog(s).




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