If you’re an avid dog lover, becoming a dog walker for fun or profit can be a very rewarding experience. Many people start dog walking businesses as part or full-time jobs. This can be a very lucrative source of income since dog ownership is on the rise. However, some people like to help out their friends or neighbors for free by walking their dog when they go on vacation or on a business trip. It’s a great feeling to know you’ve helped someone out, and for a dog lover, it can be loads of fun and enjoyment at the same time.
I became a dog walker just for the fun of it. I like the good feeling I get knowing I’ve helped my friends out when I can be there to take care of their dogs when they’re out of town. I also truly love dogs, and I enjoy the special bond that I have with all of my friends’ dogs because of that extra special time that I get to spend with them when their Moms and Dads are away.
However, as fun and rewarding as dog walking can be, it is a serious business that doesn’t always go according to plan. In fact, I had one adventurous dog walking day recently that went anything but according to plan. And for everything that went wrong that day, I thought of a few good tips that I could share with my fellow or aspiring dog walkers to help you avoid or handle some of the problems that I faced that day.
That day of dog walking actually started-off well. I arrived on time to walk my friend’s German Shepherd, Hunter (not her real name), on my way to work. I smartly removed my fancy work shoes at the front door as I entered my friend’s home because Hunter is a submissive-type dog and has a habit of excitedly urinating on my feet when she greets me. That was pretty much the last thing that went right that day.
I let Hunter out into the back yard and walked outside with her. She ran around for a minute or two in the unfortunately damp yard, and then jumped up onto me with her muddy paws, leaving muddy paw prints all over the front of my white work blouse. This brings me to my first tip: dress for the job. Don’t wear clothes to your dog walking job that you would mind getting dirty. Or, throw something on over your good clothes in case the dog jumps up on you with her muddy paws.
While Hunter was out in the backyard, I went into the bathroom to try to wipe the paw prints off my shirt. After doing a halfway decent job, I returned to the kitchen to put some food in her dish. It was then that I saw my fancy work shoes strewn across the backyard lawn! Apparently my strategy of removing them at the door was not so smart since Hunter had thought I had left them there for her as a gift. I ran into the backyard to retrieve them, an action which Hunter naturally took to mean that I wanted to play a quick game of keep away with the shoes. Being that I have no ability to outrun a spry, young German Shepherd, I had to employ all of the tricks up my sleeve in order to outsmart her. Hence, my next tip: make sure to study a little bit about dog behavior. You see, if I were to have run after Hunter, she would simply have run away from me, carrying my shoe all the while, gleefully winning the game of keep away shoe. However, I ran away from her, causing her to chase me, a normal dog instinct, and thus bring me my shoe.
You may be thinking my article must be coming to an end. How much worse could this adventure in dog walking get? From muddy paw prints on a white shirt to a barefoot game of keep away shoe in the backyard, I’d sure met my challenges for that day. But truly the challenge had just begun. When I returned home from work that day, Hunter greeted me at the door with a plastic bottle that she had been chewing on. It was a now empty bottle of antacids!
A quick call to her owner told me that the bottle had been three quarters full, and another call to the emergency vet confirmed that Hunter would need to be observed all night for signs of calcium carbonate overdose! So, finally, we have arrived at my last and most important tip: be prepared for an emergency. Make sure that you have the number for the dog’s owner and your local emergency vet programmed on your cell phone so that you can contact them quickly in an emergency. Also, discuss contingency plans with the dog’s owner in case of an emergency. For example, what would you do in an emergency? Who would you call? Would you have the owner’s permission to bring the dog to the emergency vet if necessary? It can be quite expensive. And, what would you do if the dog you were watching had to be observed overnight due to an incident similar to the one I experienced with Hunter? In our case, we simply brought Hunter’s crate to our house and had a slumber party with her for the evening and everything worked out fine.
Along those lines, you should have the dog’s regular veterinary number programmed on your cell phone as well in case any minor questions come up. Further, go ahead and do a walk of the house on your first visit there. Don’t worry about invading your friend or client’s privacy when the health of his or her dog is at stake. Move any potential hazards, such as chocolate, antacids or other medicines out of reach. Also, if the dog has a dog crate, use it. If the owner’s don’t normally crate the dog while away, this is something you may want to discuss. The dog will be alone more than normal and may be out of sorts with its owners away. It might spare everyone a lot of trouble and worry to make use of the crate in this instance. Don’t worry; if a dog is crate trained, he or she will probably feel very comfortable in there and will get enough exercise by your frequent visits to walk and play with him or her.
I hope my crazy adventures in dog walking have helped to give you some tips that you can remember if you are or aspire to be a dog walker for fun or profit. If you remember to dress for the job, study up on dog behavior and plan ahead for emergencies, you’ll be off to a good start!