• Amelie Koury, Bon Chien Good Dog

4 Tips on Becoming a Dog Walker





You love dogs so you think that dog walking may be a fun and easy way to earn money, but is it?

The pet care industry is unregulated, which means, anyone can be a dog walker, a trainer, a groomer, etc. There's no rules or guidelines to follow, there are barely any welfare laws protecting the pets entrusted in your care. What does this mean? Yes, it is easy to become a dog walker as all you have to do is decide to be one and voila! Congrats. You're now a dog walker. However, if you truly are a dog lover, or an animal lover in general, you likely have the animal's best interest at heart. Pet owners are paying you to care for their beloved pets. They're putting their trust in you, and they assume that you know what you're doing, that you know a little something about dogs. Here are 4 tips on how to best care for dogs as a dog walker:

1- Speak (and listen) Dog

Learn about dog behaviour and stress signals. Learn the differences between happy and appeasement. This will ensure the dog is having a good time with you and keep you, the dog, and others, safe from potential bites. Bravo Dog has a very good intro course on dog language here for just $2. Set a yearly budget specifically for education, take at least one course a year. The more you learn about and understand dogs, the better your pet care services will be.

2- Think quality not quantity

It's tempting to want to take as many dogs as possible at once because you can make a lot of money in once shot. However, while you are trying to earn an income, it shouldn't be at the expense of the dogs in your care. The services you provide and care you give should benefit the dogs you walk. How is walking shoulder to shoulder with 5, 6, 7 others beneficial to a dog? What needs are being met and fulfilled? Most people think of a dog walk as physical exercise, but a walk should also meet a dogs emotional and mental needs as well.

3- Make friends with certified trainers

Meet educated and accredited trainers in your area. Their being educated in animal behaviour can be really helpful to you and the families who hire you. You'll have some qualified professionals to refer clients to and should you have any questions, you have an educated person to turn to. They, in turn, may also refer clients to you. You can find qualified trainers by looking through the Fear Free directory, the IAABC directory, the KPA directory, and others.

4- Volunteer

Volunteering at a local shelter will provide you with experience and ethically run shelters offer some form of training for their volunteers,. The Humane Society and the Montreal SPCA are excellent organisations to volunteer for. Look for shelters who are Fear Free certified, or who have completed the Shelter Playgroup Alliance course. You'll learn a lot and meet some fantastic people in the pet care world. Gaining this kind of experience, and having people see you working with animals will help get your dog walking business off the ground and provide you with enough information to start taking care of other people's pets.



These 4 steps are a great START to becoming a dog walker, but it doesn't end there. Continuing your education, practicing self care, avoiding or preventing compassion fatigue, setting boundaries, are all important factors as well. Follow the blog to learn more about being a pet care professional.



 

Amelie Koury is the owner and operator of Bon Chien Good Dog. She works as a dog walker and pet sitter and manages the Bon Chien Good Dog website and blog. She is responsible for bringing in guest bloggers and contributors to share their knowledge and expertise with readers. A self proclaimed "dog nerd" and "behaviour geek", she regularly is taking courses and attending workshops and seminars to further her knowledge and improve her work and relationship with the animals she works with. She is a member of the IAABC.. Amelie lives in Montreal, Quebec with her dog Boss.

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