You may have seen me walking in the local country parks and trails, usually in groups of 4-5 dogs and one expression I hear often is ‘you’ve got a handful’ when; really; I haven’t!
This is because I carefully put groups of dogs together so they can enjoy each other’s company and the dynamics of the group has to be just right – to make it enjoyable for all the dogs; and for myself!
So, what factors do I consider for my dog walking groups?
It’s really important that all dogs get on, so I’d never put a bouncy pup in a group of older, chilled, dogs who don’t like other dogs getting in their faces
I don’t take aggressive dogs anyway as I only specialise in group walks, rather than solo walks (if you have a dog with reactive issues, let me know as I have some fantastic colleagues who specialise in this area and have worked wonders with dogs I’ve passed to them). It’s important that all my dogs in the dog walking groups get along well
There’s no point placing an elderly dog in a group with younger, energetic breeds; who require a more rigorous walk. So I ensure all dogs are matched, based on energy levels. This doesn’t mean I can’t walk a Great Dane with a Chihuahua – as I do – it’s surprising how some breeds walk so well together. When dogs are having fun, size is irrelevant.
How many dogs are on lead
To walk a dog off-lead, I need the owner’s written permission; it’s their dog after all. So this is something I need to consider, as it’s harder to walk 4 dogs on lead than it is to walk 1 or 2 on their leads. Obviously all dogs who are let off lead on my dog walks are only let off in secure areas and away from roads. I only let dogs off lead who I know will be good at recall, I’ve never lost a dog and don’t intend to!
Not necessarily about the dogs, but the area I walk is important too. Obviously some dogs prefer to run around, chase balls or Frisbees and others prefer to sniff around. So I find areas where dogs can enjoy the walk in their own way. It’s not uncommon to have 2 dogs playing and having a mad run around together whilst the other two and sniffing and snuffling every plant in sight. So I don’t just want to march around with the dogs following, enrichment is just as important as the miles covered.
Dogs experience the world through their noses and it’s important to let them take in everything and providing the mental stimulation a walk can provide.