Just like human beings, every dog is unique. Some are very quiet while some are boisterous. Some love a good walk while some are home lovers. What makes animals all the more endearing and sweet is precisely this uniqueness.
This is also why being a dog sitter can turn out to be more tricky than one would think. You can never know in advance how dogs will behave until you get to know them well. On the first walk with a strange dog, we thus tend to be on the lookout for its every reaction to different commands and stimuli.
For your first walk to run as smoothly as possible, we recommend you follow these 6 tips and make this adventure a pleasant and bump-free ride for you both!
1. Try having an initial contact with the dog beforehand, if you can
Whenever possible, we recommend you have an initial contact with the dog before you head out for your first walk. Even repeat the encounter if you can. That way, you will get to know your future canine companion a bit better and can start bonding beforehand. The dog will be more comfortable in your presence and you will find out more about its personality and behaviour.
During this first encounter, why don’t you try and play with the dog? That way it will think of you positively and will be all the more likely to obey your commands during the walk.
2. Ask the owner what to avoid/look out for
There is no such thing as too much information, as far as doggies are concerned! Ask the owner about their dog’s habits and routines, average walk time, its favourite places, but most of all, what you should look out for when you’re outside!
The neighbour’s dog for instance… Indeed some dogs have little to no education and can turn out to be aggressive, run or react negatively at the sight of other dogs.
It could also be that the dog has a particular fear of something that you want to know about and avoid.
This is why you should always ask the right questions to the owner. The more you know about their dog, the more you will manage to anticipate problems and solve them.
Every dog has its compulsions and buttons waiting to be pushed.
The elements most likely to trigger reactions from dogs during a walk are:
- Other dogs
- People, and especially children
- Cats and other animals
- Bicycles, skateboards, roller blades and cars
- Noise pollution such as car traffic in cities
The best you can do is to stay away from anything likely to be a source of stress for the dog. That way, you won’t have any nasty surprise!
3. Be well-equipped
Have you armed yourself accordingly for the smoothest possible walk? The perfect dog walker’s kit should have:
- Dog waste bags – at least three for each walk
- A harness and/or a muzzle – some dogs must wear them outside. Ask the owner!
- Treats and/or toys – let the dog know that you’ve brought its favourite treat or toy to maintain interest
- Water – if you plan for a long walk, remember to carry water for the dog to stay hydrated
- Your mobile phone – you never know what can happen during a walk with a dog, especially if it’s your first. You may need to call the owner with a question. The phone will be of great help should the dog get away (better safe than sorry!). But also it will enable you to take pictures of the happy pooch during its first walk, which you can then send to the owner or upload onto your Gudog sitter profile.
4. Pick a short and enjoyable route for the first walk with a dog
The first walk with a strange dog can turn out to be a great challenge for the both of you.
Choose a short route rather than a long walk. The dog will thus be less likely to feel stressed, tired or on edge. Best keep to your area – our furry friend will feel more relaxed in familiar surroundings.
Always have a plan B, should you have to cut the walk short and bring the dog back home quickly.
5. Stay on top of things at all times
Remember to keep things under control and have the dog obey your commands throughout the walk. Run some tests with the basics, “come”, “stay” or “sit”. You will reduce the risks for the dog to have an accident or run away when it is with you.
6. Never let the dog off its lead
This last tip is certainly the most crucial of them all. During your first walk with a canine friend, you must never let it off its lead (except maybe when in fenced-in spaces). Dogs can be unpredictable, we cannot anticipate their every reaction. Let off their leads, they could fight with other dogs, get lost or be run over by a car.
If you are about to sit a new dog, do follow those tips carefully for your first walk.They will be the basis of a healthy relationship with each dog you will sit and they will help you get positive reviews on your profile from dog owners.
If you are a prospective dog sitter or a dog walker, you have come to the right place! Gudog is the best way for you to get noticed by dog owners wanting to leave their pooches in good hands.
Text translated from: Adiestramiento Canino.