I talk to a lot of dog owners when out walking in the countryside, and many of you feel that 6+ dogs is too many to walk at one time by one person. Of course this number makes sense financially, but at what cost? However good the dog handler is, I struggle to see how any one person can completely control and clean up after that many dogs at one time. The more dogs there are, the harder it becomes to give each dog the attention they require and the harder it becomes to quickly control any unexpected situation. I don't sacrifice any control with my own dog, and I'm not prepared to start with yours!
Because I specialise in dog walking and I don't do home boarding or prioritise other services, I have the time in my schedule to do more walks per day which makes it financially viable for me to walk smaller groups; ensuring complete control is never sacrificed. If you already have a dog walker we would recommend enquiring how many dogs are walked in a group and how many walkers are in place to keep full control.
When I started Playgroup Dog Activities, I knew that people would require peace of mind about their pets location and to have a level of transparancy that will build trust. I have made it possible for you to see my location during walk times with a map that is updated in real time using my phones GPS signal, allowing you to know where I am with your dog at any time. The map can be located directly to the right of this text and on the home page near the bottom.
-"Expired" underneath my picture means I'm not currently broadcasting my position.
-You can zoom in and out and select satellite view.
-If the map is not displayed correctly, please let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org!
Where am I with your dogs right now? This map will show you during walk times!
My policy on leads is quite simple; if the dog is controllable with recall, sociable and well behaved with me, they can enjoy off lead exercise. If however there are issues which stop me from trusting them 100%, they'll receive training to address the problems so they can eventually be walked off lead with me. If these issues cannot be addressed even after training and some time, they'll always be kept on lead or alternatively a long line (see the Long Line section below!).
There are other situations in which ALL dogs are put on leads:
-When passing other dogs that are on lead.
-When unloading from the car and walking through car parks or near roads.
-If the dog is nervous or prone to bolting.
-Possibly if not neutered or a female "on heat".
-If your dog requires a muzzle.
-If I don't have written permission from the owner to do so (insurance reasons).
As somebody who works with dogs and wants to keep them safe, I see it my responsibility to ensure that I keep a strong bond with all the dogs I look after; very much as I would have with my own. My aim is to create relationships with the dogs I walk that puts me in a "subsitute human" position, so that they don't just see me as a means of getting a walk but as a provider and someone they can trust. All the dogs I walk and look after recieve training in areas that could do with some work to not only improve their general behaviour but to build trust. All dogs are encouraged to stop at roads, not pull on their leads and come back when called. Remember that Playgroup Dog Activities does not believe in agressive training methods. Dogs are trained using rewards (small bits of cooked liver) and by creating engaging lessons. So far, I have helped stop dogs with aggressive anxieties towards cars, given dogs a near perfect recall and taught dogs how to approach other dogs calmly.
I believe that all dogs should be trusted to explore and play off lead, but what happens when your dog (who may be very good otherwise) has a bad habit of running up to dogs on leads, dissapearing for a while well out of sight or even chasing cars? How can we fully trust that your dog won't come to harms way or go missing if one of these habits causes a problem? Certain dog walkers may risk it and hope for the best, while I take a responsible approach and to try and break the behaviour with training. I also implement the use of "long lines" for unpredictable dogs that allow them to enjoy the freedom of being off lead when too much risk is envolved.
Essentially, a long line is a very long lead except it clips onto the collar and drags behind them. They can run and go where they please, but there will always be some length for me to grab in case they decide to shoot off unexpectedly. These leads prove very effective for training recall and getting a dog used to staying within their walkers radius.
This doesn't mean I don't let dogs off their leads, I just require the dog to be trusted with the freedom.
Potenial reasons for using longlines:
-A dog with no recall. Will recieve training to address but will enjoy longline freedom in the meantime!
-Easily spooked on a day forecasting thunder or potential gunfire/fireworks.
-Unsociable & a potential risk to other dogs.
-Dangerous habbits; e.g running after cars, Terriers going down rabbit holes, charging headfirst up to other dogs that are leashed. Will recieve training to address.
Bear bells are used in America to warn bears of your presence, thus avoiding confrontation. There are NO bears living in the locations I walk, but they do have another very handy use!
These velcro bells attach very easily to a dog's collar, allowing me to hear exactly where your dog is when they're running through trees or if they temporarily go out of sight. It's mostly for my own peace of mind, but also practically warns livestock, wildlife and other dogs and walkers about your dog approaching.
-These bells can be "silenced" by using the magnet provided on the bell.
-The ring of the bell is gentle and does not cause any audible discomfort.
-Not all dogs wear the bells, it depends on the character and behaviour of the dog.
All dogs are placed in spots in the vehicle that are safe from accidents and conflicts. Playgroup has bespoke steel cages to ensure your dogs that need their own space will always be able to sit up and turn around in their cage. There are no sharp bits for them to be injured on in transit, and no dog leaves the car without being secured first. There is also an "open area" between the cages and the drivers cab which is padded and floored with non-slip rubber matting which can be very comfortably shared between dogs of the same household and dogs that are solid friends. Playgroup's vehicle is a "Berlingo Multispace", which is a people carrier and NOT a van. I decided that a car designed for transporting living passengers is far better than a van designed for lugging paint and furniture, letting the dogs benefit from air circulation, light and space!
Let's be honest, we wouldn't like to be lugged around in the back of a dark van, would we?
There are many reasons why a non nuetered dog can be problematic. They are very prone to being attracted to females in season which can cause them to get themselves lost, and they can also be confrontational or overly boisterous with other non nuetered dogs.
For these reasons, I can only walk females in season on solo walks in secluded areas, and I can only walk non neutered males with a long line attached or lead. The latter however does also depend on the dog's personality.
Dog walkers need to be well prepared and equipped to ensure all sitations and scenarios can be delt with. My dog walking belt allows me to attach dogs to allow for hands free walking (ideal for unloading dogs in the car parks) and keeps my treats, water bottle, phone, leads, tennis balls and doggy bags all readily at hand!
For situations in which your dog may cut themsleves or suffer other minor injuries, I carry around a medical kit that includes the following:
- Pods of Saline - to wash away dirt and debris from your pet's eyes and other areas.
- Dressings with Ties - to cover any injury.
- Foil Blanket - to retain body warmth and help combat shock, used to wrap your pet on the journey to the vets.
- Gauze Swabs - To make a wet wipe or used for cleaning up fluid or saline.
- Microporous Tape - roll of paper tape for holding dressings or bandages in place.
- Conforming Bandage - used around a limb if a sprain is suspected.
- Vinyl Gloves - To keep myself clean and to insure I don't cross contaminate with the dog.
- Plastic Pouches - to cover foot injuries and help keep them clean.
- Alcohol Free Cleansing Wipes - to clean wounds prior to applying dressings.
- Scissors & Tweezers.
Every single dog Playgroup has on its books has a PDF form, or a "personal details form". These are the forms I fill in when I come to meet you and your dog for the first time that documents health issues, registered vetinarian, vital stats and behavioural tendancies. These PDF forms are stored electronically on mobile devices so I can reference them anytime, anywhere!
Regardless of Playgroup's seafety measures; dogs being bouncy, energetic, animals may hurt themselves. To keep your mind at ease Playgroup Dog Activities is fully insured with the pet industries leading insurer. Our insurance protects your pet from accidents and vet bills, the general public and your home from things such as breakages or loss of keys! For full insurance details, don't hesitate to ask to see the documents!
If the thought of letting me into your home while you're away is concerning you, don't worry. I'm DBS (CRB) checked and can produce the certificate whenever you wish!