If you have a dog, you will know the perils of trying to fit in enough exercise for them around your hectic schedule. As much as your dog loves walkies, it can be a chore and sometimes lonely for many of us.
So, this is where dog walking groups come into play, they are a popular choice among many dog owners, a great place to meet new people, and not to worry if the thought of spending time with strangers is off putting, as you instantly have one thing in common with many of the people there, YOU LOVE DOGS!
Turning this necessary task into a social occasion, a place to make friends, and share tips with other dog owners can make it all the more exciting. On weekends it can be made into a day trip, on the weekdays a quick meet up after work, or maybe for the more active of us, a run around the park in the morning. It is also a great way of trying out dog friendly cafes, parks and public spaces. So, if you are not welcome, you have other friends with you to share the disappointment/embarrassment.
Normally with these groups a half hour window of arrival is given. For example, meet at 10, departure at 10:30, this allows for people with slower dogs (more likely a late human) to join in and creates a relaxed atmosphere. This is a group, so teamwork is required, turning up after the set time will mean you miss out. People will not be prepared to wait, and what more, the dogs certainly won’t want to. Your dog has come to stretch their legs, run for a ball, or chase a Frisbee, not to stand waiting around.
You also need to plan a route to suit the dogs’ abilities as well as the fitness of the whole group. Do a trial run first, then agree the next meeting’s route in advance.
Invitation to the party
Usually, anyone is invited, your ticket to get into this party is your dog. If anyone does want to come but doesn’t own a dog, find one! That is a great way of helping out a friend by walking their dog and meeting new people for yourself.
Exercise your vocal chords
Socializing is what sets these groups apart from your usual walk with just you and your dog. People have come together to have a chat with other dog owners and animal lovers. You’ll hopefully find that there is loads to talk about besides the expected topics of vet bills, canine illnesses and scratched up furniture.
Some have been known to find romance within these groups. In an organic, casual setting, surrounded by a dozen four-legged friends, how could love not blossom?!
While many have sited it as a great form of therapy, talking away all the worries of the world, and hearing other people’s stories. Sharing many of our daily struggles with complete strangers can be a great reminder we are not alone.
Just like us humans, dogs don’t get on with everybody. Yes, personality clashes are a thing of the furry world too. The best way to diffuse a strained relationship between two dogs, is to talk to the owner. However, the golden rule of any dog walking group should be zero tolerance of bad behaviour.
It is also advisable to cater to the group’s needs, remember teamwork! The pace should be set at the slowest dog’s (and human) speed, this needs to be enjoyable for everyone and while your sprightly Greyhound may want to pull a Usain Bolt, the older and smaller dogs among the group may not quite agree.
Other potential stumbling blocks could be a dog not knowing when playtime is over. Just like children, dogs can protest home time too, slowing the group down.
Explore new places
We are all familiar with that nauseous anticipation before entering a public place with our dog. What if we are hurled out on the curb and socially scorned by society?! Let’s face it, the most likely outcome is we are asked to politely leave. But the fear is still alive, that is why being with a dog group is a great support system when trying out new places. Especially at winter time, cafes, restaurants and bars can all become safe havens for you and your walking group.
The decision is in your paws!
If you are convinced that dog walking groups are the best thing ever, then it’s time to join! Or if there isn’t one available in your local area, now is your time to shine. Set up your very own dog group and reap all the benefits for you and your pooch.
Or why not become a dog sitter with Gudog, apply now!