Professional Dog Handler vs. Professional Dog Walker
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I recently read a very eloquent article written by a pet care business owner. He was illuminating the difference between a dog walker and a dog handler. His summation was clearly about the differences between the professional, that invests in their training and skill to build a career, vs. the person who isn't as serious, and thinks it would be an easy way to make a buck. Having owned a pet care business for more than twelve years, I can tell you we’ve seen our fair share of crappy dog walkers. Let’s refer to them as IDW (Irresponsible Dog Walkers).
Once, my husband and I were getting our dogs out of the truck to go for a trail walk. If you've seen our video, you know that we train our dogs. We call each dog out, one by one, and make them sit until we are ready to enter the trail calmly. Another dog walker was pulling up to the trail head. The hatch to the truck shell was unlocked or broken, so it was flapping open. "Woohoo," thought the dogs, and they started jumping out of the back of the truck. IDW was still backing up, so they could have easily squished a pup running amok. To make matters worse, the trail head was alongside a crazy-busy road. Needless to say, my husband and I are freaking out, and trying to get the person's attention.
When we got over to IDW, they jumped out of the truck in a huff, and totally blew us off. No explanations, no guilt, no "Oh my god!" statement because of what just happened. INCONCEIVABLE! We were stunned, upset, and thoroughly enraged that they could be so crass, and irresponsible. This was going to be the first of many incidents we would have with this particular person. Do you want to know the saddest part of this story? This person had been written up in the newspaper as a “fabulous trainer."
So how do you know who's good and who's not? Here are a few things to expect/demand from an excellent dog walker/handler:
-Safety absolutely first! This goes without saying that the dog walker is caring for another person’s beloved animal. You, as the client, should ask them about their safety protocol. How do they handle new dogs, puppies, etc? Go out on a dog walk with your prospective dog walker. What a great way to see them in action.
-A walker/handler should only handle what they can handle. I know it's tempting for new walkers to start immediately with big groups. However, handling large groups (3 to 6 dogs) takes lots of skill and technique. Ask about their experience and training.
-They should always be professional, conscientious, and reliable. These are the hallmark traits of any good pet care professional. You must do your research. You can check references, but better still, find out what professional services are referring them like; vet offices, pet stores, trainers, etc.
We always ask our prospective clients to come out on a walk with us. Many have, and have loved the experience, gained tremendous trust in us, and learned a few tricks. IDW’s may tell you what you want to hear, but the proof is in the dog food. This is how you'll know you're dealing with a professional.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether they're a dog walker or a dog handler. It's clearly about how they conduct themselves and their business, within the amazing world of animal care! Woof!
"You know you're successful in life when kids and dogs love you." LS