I wanted to share some thoughts on the dog walking/daycare industry following a small incident I had this morning…
I was out in the Puttenham area with four dogs I was walking on behalf of my clients. I had just arrived in the carpark when I looked over and watched another dog walker open up her van, and allow NINE dogs to to run free… in the carpark! I stood by almost in disbelief as I observed one of the dogs run across the carpark to greet another dog. The walker attempted to call the dog back as she locked her van and walked away, however this had no effect on the dog who was merrily introducing himself to a rather confused Collie across the carpark. Undeterred the walker continued to walk away until out of sight from the dog she was responsible for, who having looked around to see her gone, then ran back across the carpark in a blind panic to find her.
Are you getting what you pay for?
This got me thinking… as nice, and as friendly as this lady seemed she had nine dogs in her care which she was unable to control. Fortunately on this occasion nothing resulted of the incident… but what if it had? I decided to look up the company involved and was rather surprised to find that there was no mention of relevant training, courses completed or seminars attended. Yet the price per dog for that walk was £12.00 per hour. This matches our pricing for a 1 hour dog walk.
" This means that ANYONE can set up a dog walking business and say - right I’m open for business. "
My issue with this is that the dog walking/training world is an unregulated one. This means that ANYONE can set up a dog walking business and say “right I’m open for business”. To me this is terrifying. Taking out other people’s dogs is a big responsibility. If you are the sort of owner who pays to have your dog walked your dog isn’t just a dog, they are family. Yet anyone can advertise their services with no training or knowledge of things such as:
- Understanding dog body language
- Canine first aid
- How dogs learn
- The law (Dangerous dogs act)
These four things, in my opinion are a must have for any dog walker. It must also be said that someone with this level of knowledge would not take out NINE dogs onto public land. I often hear dog walkers who have no training or qualifications say “yes but I have owned dogs all my life” and my response to that is “but I have owned a car for most of my life, I still don’t know what to do with it when it goes wrong”
Competent Competition vs Self Certified
Last year as a company we spent nearly £10,000 on courses, training and seminars on our staff. We do this so we can offer the best service we can, with the most up to date, scientifically proven advice.
I am not saying “don’t use an untrained dog walker”, I am saying be aware of who you are using and if they are not trained should you be paying them as much as £12.00 an hour? This is a decision for you the owner to make.
Whichever decision you make, take your time with it. Don’t feel bad questioning your dog walker on qualifications they claim to have. Any good dog walker/trainer will love talking about it. Just be warned that once you get a passionate dog walker talking about dogs… you might not be able to shut them up.
Happy new year everyone, have a great year and enjoy your dogs!
Here is a link to a handy guide for sorting the wheat from the chaff. 5 Questions to ask your pet care proffessional.