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-bodies.
As a dog walker or sitter, you can never really know in advance how a pooch you’re caring for is going to behave until you get out on that first walk!
For your first walk with a new dog to run as smoothly as possible, we recommend you follow these 6 tips:
1. Try meeting up with the dog before the play-date you’ve got scheduled, if you can
Whenever possible, we recommend you have an initial contact with the dog before you head out for your first walk. Whether it’s popping into the owner’s house for a cuppa, or meeting them at the end of the street on your way home from work, letting them have a good sniff of you when they’re in their comfort zone is a good way to bond.
Playing with the dog, or feeding them some little treats is a great way of building positive associations with you in the doggo’s mind. Once you’ve done this, they’ll be more likely to obey your commands during your first walk.
2. Ask the owner what to avoid, or what to look out for
There is no such thing as too much information, as far as doggies are concerned! Before taking them for their first walk, remember to ask the owner about their dog’s habits and routines, average walk time, favourite places, and anything to watch out for. Perhaps they have a particular fear of something that you’ll want to avoid, or maybe they have a tendency to sniff out discarded chicken bones.
The more you know about their dog, the more you will manage to anticipate problems and avoid any accidents.
Here are some common triggers to ask the owner about:
- Other dogs, cats, squirrels, birds etc.
- Other people, especially children
- Bicycles, skateboards, pushchairs, cars etc.
- Noises, such as sirens or revving engines
3. Ensure you’re well-equipped
The perfect dog walker’s kit should have:
- Poop bags – at least three for each walk
- A lead, harness, and possibly a muzzle – the owner will advise you
- Treats and toys – show the doggo early on that you have these to maintain their interest and obedience
- Water – not just in summer
- Your mobile phone – so you can send pupdates to the owner throughout your walk, or contact them if you have any questions
4. Pick a short route, familiar to the dog for your first walk
They’ll feel more settled if it’s an area they know and a route which they understand will be no longer than 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Learn their common commands
Before you get too far from the house, run some tests with the basics, “come”, “stay” or “sit”. Use treats to build rapport and trust, and make sure you’ve got plenty of treats spare in case you need them while you’re out and about.
6. Never let the dog off its lead
During your first walk with a new canine friend, only let them off their lead when you’re alone and in a fenced dog park. Let off their leads, they could fight with other dogs, get lost or run into the road. Until you’ve established a high level of trust this is the most important rule to follow.
If you are about to sit a new dog, follow those tips to form a healthy relationship them and make sure your first walk goes without a hitch!
And if you’re planning to drop into some dog-friendly places while you’re out and about, make sure you read Dog Furiendly’s great guide.
If you fancy getting paid to hang out with doggos, Gudog is the best way for you to get noticed by dog owners wanting to leave their pooches in good hands.