I took a trip to the dog park at Magnuson on Sandpoint Way last week and ran into an old friend of mine named Joe. We started talking about the changes both good and bad that have come to our beloved park in the last few years. Though there have been many, one of the changes that stood out to both of us is the number of dog walkers that visit the park on a daily basis.
Joe estimated that one out of three people he encounters is a dog walker. That number is HUGE. I started to wonder how on earth the average dog owner decides who is going to care for one of their most precious family members. Perhaps walking a dog seems like an easy thing to do, but if you’ve ever taken a walk with your pooch on a summer day and found that every dog owner in the city of Seattle had exactly the same idea, you know how challenging it can be. In fact sometimes it’s downright daunting. Now pretend that you’re a professional D/W and add five other dogs that you’re responsible for. Don’t forget to take into account all the other dogs, people and random weird events that occasionally happen when visiting the park and you have the average day of an urban dog walker.
You need to be sure that the person who walks your dog is educated about dog behavior, schooled in body language and is striving to learn more by taking advanced education and certification programs. If you are walking your own dog, you need to educate yourself. Walking amidst lions is wonderful and thrilling but I would suggest it shouldn’t be done lightly. There are several websites like Dog Star Daily, Karen Pryor, and my personal favorite, Dr. Sophia Yin’s site and that can begin your education in short, interesting, and fun ways. You and your dog’s safety might depend on it.
To help peer more deeply into questions regarding assessing and choosing a dog walker who you can feel confident is trustworthy and up to date on training, please visit my article on this subject. Search the article section for, “Who’s Walking the Dog?”