Even if you’ve been around the block a time or two with your own dog, it’s important to know that walking someone else’s dog is a whole different ball game. We’re here to walk you through some dog safety tips that’ll help you make sure each walk goes well.
Get the Info You Need at the Meet & Greet
The best thing you can do is to get the information you need at the Meet & Greet. That way, you’ll set expectations with your client, and you’ll learn what to prepare for. Everyone wins, especially the dog in your care.
- Ask where the owner would like their dog to be when home alone. Most often, the dog will be home alone when you arrive.
- Ask your client if they leave their dog in a crate, let them roam freely, or stay in a specific room or gated area.
- Ask if they can provide you with a fixed-length leash. Flexi-leads can snap, and encourage dogs to pull, which is a dangerous combination.
- Ask if the dog’s tags are up-to-date.
- Ask if they have barriers you can put up around doorways to prevent dog escapes. Baby gates are our personal favorite, but whatever the pet parent has to keep the dog from bolting out the door after that squirrel will help.
- Always ask the client before bringing someone along to help with walks or drop-ins. Explain their relationship to you and their level of experience with dogs. If a client isn’t comfortable with it, respect that.
- Learn about the dog’s triggers. Many dogs have things that set them off when they’re on walks: skateboards, bikes, other dogs, people in hats, you name it. Ask the pet parent what their dog reacts to, and make sure you can cross the street safely if you encounter them on walks.
- If a client asks you to leave the dog in the yard (or their dog door open), make sure they’re aware that this heightens the risk of their dog escaping. Even if a dog is accustomed to staying in the yard when their parents are at work, it’s a different story when their parents are out of town. All it takes is one squirrel to send even the most docile dog on a chase.
Just Before the Walk
Your Rover dog may be herding you toward the door the second you walk in, but make sure you take five minutes to get ready before you head out for the happiest 30 minutes of their day.
- Block car and house doors when going in and out to prevent escapes. We just mentioned baby gates, but putting your body in front of the door will help too.
- Make sure their collar is tight enough. If the dog is walked just on a collar, you should only be able to fit two fingers underneath the collar, otherwise it is too loose and the dog may be able to slip backwards out of it.
During the Walk
It’s when we’re on walks with dogs that we see them at their most joyous. They never know what they’re going to see and smell—which is why it’s so exciting. Of course, the flipside of this is you should prepare for anything: a small critter dodging across the sidewalk, another dog running up to say hello, or a good smell coming from that food truck down the block.
- Don’t let the dogs greet other dogs on leash, or let them get close to small animals. Dogs behave differently when they’re on leashes, and they may see other dogs as a threat, especially if the other dog isn’t on a leash.
- If an unleashed dog or cat approaches you during a walk, don’t let your client dog interact with it. If a loose dog or cat approaches you during the walk, do what you can to prevent your dogs from interacting with it. If you live in an area where off-leash dogs are common, it may be wise to carry a dog-safe deterrent, like citronella spray or an automatic umbrella that you can aim at an oncoming aggressive dog.
- Don’t give leash-corrections unless specifically asked to by the owner.
- Don’t use any walk-assistance tools the owner didn’t provide. Follow the owner’s lead on the best way to walk their pet. Some owners use specific harnesses or training tactics during walks, and you should do the same. The only exceptions we suggest are asking the owner to consider providing a harness instead of just a collar, and using a fixed-length leash instead of a flexi-lead.
- Don’t walk dogs together that don’t know each other, without permission from both owners. Get permission from all of the dog owners before walking dogs that don’t know each other together. Need help with your growing client base? Let the dog owners know if you plan to bring someone along to help walk the dogs.
- Walking two dogs? Keep one on each side, and give them a relatively short (3ft or so) amount of leash so they don’t get tangled.
- Even if the owner says they let their dog off leash, don’t take the risk. Trust us on this one.
And remember, send a Rover Card! If you’re offering dog walking, day care, or drop-ins, you’ll send a Rover Card through the Rover app. Need a refresher? Here’s how to send Rover Cards.
Dog walking is a great way to expand your client base as you’re building your business. Taking a few extra steps during a Meet & Greet, before the walk, and during the walk will soon become routine. A little work now means a lot of reward later.