Top dog walking tips
Posted on 26 September, 2016
The annual Pet Population report  suggests that around 24% of households own a dog and there are around 8.5 million dogs in the UK.
That’s a lot of dogs, so it’s important to follow a few simple etiquette rules when walking your dog or a client’s dog to keep yourself, your dog and other dogs safe.
Here are our top tips for a happy and peaceful walk:
On or off the lead?
For sitters on assignment always check with your client beforehand if their dog is allowed off the lead or not and do not deviate from their instructions. Always respect local parks and signs and put your dog back on the lead if requested. Many parks will have restricted areas, perhaps around lakes or specific environments where they want dogs on leads to ensure they don’t disturb the wildlife.
Ensure you have good recall
Having good recall will ensure your dog will come back at all times and it can prevent them from getting into trouble such as going up to a dog on a lead that may be aggressive or bounding up to someone who may be frightened of dogs. The dog’s name is sometimes not the best command as this is often used in many different situations so can be confusing, so ‘come’ or ‘this way’ can be clearer to the dog. With a client’s dog make sure you know what command works best for recall.
If you ever have trouble recalling a dog, walk or run off in the opposite direction as they are likely to come running after you. Don’t though run after them as most will just see this as a game and it will be even harder to catch them.
All dog walkers should have treats with them. Not many dogs can resist a tasty treat and if their recall isn’t 100 per cent it can be enough to convince a dog that it’s in their interest to come back to you rather than carrying on with what they are doing. When walking new dogs it’s always useful to try recalling them a few times in the garden with treats before taking them on a walk, especially if the client has said they can be allowed off lead.
Be aware of your surroundings and other dogs
Knowing what your dog is likely to do in certain situations will prevent many potential issues when out walking. For instance, if you know the dog is greedy and you see people having a picnic make sure you put them back on a lead in plenty of time. If you see another dog coming towards you that is on a lead, assume the dog is on the lead for a reason, such as it may not be friendly with other dogs and prevent your dog going up to it. Also put your dog back on the lead in plenty of time when nearing a road. Sitters should always find out as much as they can from their client prior to assignment on their dogs behaviour, likes, dislikes and how they may react in different situations.
Do NOT intervene in a dog fight
If you witness two dogs fighting or your dog ends up fighting don’t intervene as you could get bitten. Instead, try to distract the dogs with treats, a loud clap or even a squirt of water if you have some with you. Dogs will often calm down after they are distracted and then you can safely put them back on their lead and separate the dogs.
People can misunderstand dog behaviour. What is often innocent play can seem quite aggressive and loud. Leaning more about dog behaviour can help you distinguish what is play and what isn’t, so if you have a dog or spend a lot of time with dogs it’s worth doing some research.
Stay off your mobile phone
You can’t be completely aware of your surroundings if you are on your phone, so keep phone use to a minimum when walking a dog. It’s very easy not to notice a dog running off or disappearing under bush following a scent if you are not giving them your full attention.
Always pick up the poop
Make sure you carry plenty of bags as dogs often go to the toilet several times on a walk and you don’t want to be caught short. There is nothing worse than treading in dog poo and with the increase in the number of dogs it’s essential all dog owners pick up their dogs mess. Some parks and beaches have ended up banning dogs because some people fail to do this and this is a great shame for other dog walkers.
Greet other people
One of the great things about walking a dog is that it encourages people to talk to each other as your two dogs interact and have a good play together. For sitters on assignment this can be also be a great way to find out new things about the area and different walks you may not be aware of.