What to Expect with Group Dog Walking?

happy dog running at the beach

For the purposes of this post, we are discussing group dog walks.  This could be either for on leash or off leash groups.

Ok, so you’ve hired a walker……now, what to expect?

  1. Expect that there will be some variance in your pick up and drop off times. Sometimes we change the order of pickups, which might make your pup first, or maybe last in the route.  We might be going to a park further away and come earlier to allow for more driving time.
  2. Expect that if there is inclement weather, that the walks may be shortened. Walks are supposed to be fun, not torture.  If it’s very cold or very hot, thundering, hailing, down pouring, we may choose, for the dogs’ safety or well being, to shorten a walk.  Expect to be notified, if walks are being changed to potty breaks or cancelled all together.  Expect to be billed for the full amount of the walk, unless the walk is officially shorted to a potty break.  Once the nice weather rolls around again, we will make up the time, because enjoy being out on those days, too.
  3. We normally suggest a three hour window is necessary to fulfill a service. One hour for pickups.  One hour of the walk.  One hour for drop offs.
  4. Expect that injuries happen. Usually they are minor: bumps, scratches, scrapes, bruises.  But more serious ones, broken legs, bites, broken toe nails, large scrapes, can also happen.  Fights can happen when the dogs are on leash or off leash.  Dogs can step on glass or large holes in the ground both on and off leash.  See our post about Will my Dog get Hurt, here.  Expect to be notified if an injury occurs on the walk.  Find out more, here.
  5. Expect that diarrhea and upset stomachs will happen. When you have six dogs in your care, you can’t possibly be watching them all, all the time.  It only takes a second for them to snatch up a dirty Kleenex or a rotten piece of food off the ground.   Or they drink out of a dirty puddle.  This is true whether they are on leash of off.  Expect to be notified if your dog eats something they shouldn’t, like a chicken bone.
  6. Expect that your dog will come home wet and dirty, on occasion. If it’s pouring rain out, we can’t do much about dogs getting wet.  It’s going to happen.  Leave a towel at the door, so the dog can be dried off.  If your dog is going on off leash walks to parks or other areas, expect that they may go swimming, get sandy or get covered in mud.  Have a towel at the door for the walker to use.  If a wet or dirty dog is a real problem, have a place for the dog to go when he’s wet or dirty.  This could be a crate, a bathroom, a basement or laundry room.  Or anywhere in the house that they can be so they can dry, or just to contain the dirt.   Note:  when you send your dog out for off leash walks, they will get dirty.  The parks are muddy when it has rained.  The group might go to the beach and get sandy and wet.  If this is the type of walk you want for your dog, you should have a place in the house that the dog can go when they come home wet and dirty.  We understand your home is your castle, and we don’t want to ruin it.  We want to fulfill our job of providing great off leash walks, without the worry of a destroyed couch, and so do you.  Having that space for them to go after the walk helps us and you.
  7. Expect that your dog will get burrs in their fur, on occasion. Burrs are very much a part of the late Summer/Fall park scene.  As much as we avoid them, they will happen.  We do our best to get them out, but they will likely go home with a couple embedded in their fur.  Expect that your walker will let you know that this has happened.
  8. Expect that your dog may get sick from the other dogs. Kennel Cough, Bordetella, can spread like wildfire through a group of dogs.  While super irritating, it does happen.  Expect that your walker will let you know when dogs have been exposed to it.
  9. Expect that your walker goes on holiday. If you use a walker who works for himself, expect that there may be days you’re not getting a walk.  Expect that the walker will give you notice of his holidays, so you can plan accordingly.  If you use a company with multiple walkers, expect that you will have someone else covering those days.  Expect to be notified when this is happening.
  10. Expect there to be some adjustments to your dog’s walks. Over time, groups change, dogs get older.   Your dog may start walks on the daily mid-day group at 2 years old, and the group is young and active.  But in 5 years, your dog is 7, and now the walk is full of puppies and your dog isn’t enjoying the group the same way anymore.  Your walker may recommend a change in group to a less active group, or a group with no puppies.  Your walker may even recommend a change in walking companies.  Or it could be that your dog gets bullied in one group, so they may recommend a change to another group for your dog.  These types of adjustments are natural, and not a reflection of your dog.  We want your dog to be happy and successful in group walks.
  11. Expect there to be an adjustment period when your dog starts group walks. Lots of dogs go home tired after their first group walk, especially if they are not used to having a walk in the middle of the day.  They will gradually get used to the increase in exercise.   However, some dogs go home “amped” after their first walks.  Group walks are very stimulating for both their mind and their bodies.  It can be overwhelming for some of the dogs. This is also normal.  This will also gradually decrease as they become accustomed to their new routine.  If it doesn’t, expect your walker to discuss options with you.
  12. Expect your walker may use their own equipment (harnesses) with your dog. Some dogs pull on leash in a group setting, even though they don’t with you.  Using harnesses protect the dog, so they don’t damage their trachea from pulling.  And it protects the walker from back, shoulder or neck injuries.  Expect that a walker will discuss the use the prong collars, e-collars and the like, prior to using them on your dog.
  13. Expect to pay more for off-hour services. Dog walkers are entitled to down time.  Walks in the evenings, mornings or on the weekends, require us to give up our free time.  Expect to pay a surcharge for walks or visits during this time.
  14. Expect to be billed the full amount of the service if you cancel the walk late or your dog’s not home when the walker gets there, or if you live in a condo building and the walker can’t get in. Once a spot in a group is allocated and saved especially for your dog, it’s yours. Expect your walker will let you know that they came by, but your dog was not home or they couldn’t get into the building.
  15. Expect that accidents will happen. Keys get misplaced.  Dogs get forgotten.  A tag falls off.  These types of things happen.  Not every day, but every once in a while.
  16. Expect that your walker really does care for your dog.  They do have your dog’s best interest at heart, and they don’t want anything bad to happen to your dog.

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