As a pet sitter at Pawshake, you'll want to be a shining example. Those of you offering dog walking services in particular will need to be familiar with the manners that are expected in dog-friendly walking areas and off-lead zones. You might come across plenty of unleashed dogs - and their owners! - in such places. This can be a lot of fun, providing that you're all considerate of each another. In order for dogs and their owners or pet sitters to enjoy a pleasant walk, it's important to be aware of the unwritten 'rules' of walking your dog in public. Stick with these simple guidelines and you can be sure of fun and stress-free walkies with your four legged friend!
1) Leave leashed dogs well alone
That goes for both you and your furry sidekick. A dog is on a lead for a reason, maybe even a reason that you're not aware of. They might have a physical problem, be aggressive, timid or perhaps on heat, for example. Keep a suitable distance, unless the owner indicates that it's okay to approach.
2) Don't let dogs 'work things out for themselves'
This is a mistake. Avoid tense situations, as these can quickly get out of hand. If a dog doesn't appreciate the company of other dogs, then give them a wide berth. And never allow your four-legged friend to chase after other dogs that are unfamilar. You might think 'my dog never does any harm', but you don't know the effect it might be having on the other dog. It could be fearful, insecure or even traumatised. And you want to avoid a dog fight at all costs!
3) Make sure that your dog doesn't chase after runners / horse riders / cyclists
Even though you know your dog only wants to play, it can be extremely bothersome when they run after other people (yes, even in a off-lead area). After all, this area is intended as a place for humans and animals to come safely together, not as a haven for your dog to go crazy. Keep your faithful friend visibly under control and if you're unable to do so, keep them securely leashed instead.
4) Playing might be fun, but...
Always intervene if the other dog doesn't want to play, becomes fearful / angry, or the owner doesn't like it. If the owner asks you to keep a distance, then do so.
5) Clean up your dog's poop
Yep, it's not always pleasant, but do it anyway or you could be facing a hefty fine. This not only fosters goodwill with non-dog owners, it also enables you to benefit from clean, poo-free dog walking areas!
6) Treat each other with respect
So many people, so many dogs - all of whom are different. Be considerate and treat each other with respect. Be friendly and keep an eye on the body language of other dogs and humans. Don't know much about doggy body language? There are plenty of good books on this very topic so get reading!
7) Keep an eye on your dog and enjoy each other's company!
Finally: enjoy yourself and your dog will too! If you make the most of your dog's walk, then you'll both get a lot more out of it. Playing with your dog's favourite ball, running and generally frolicking around will increase your bond with your dog. Don't spend the entire walk glued to your mobile phone, but rather be present and look around. Always pay close attention to your pooch, so you can anticipate and swiftly react to any unexpected encounters. And, most importantly, make sure you have that next poo bag at the ready...