Posts Tagged ‘guides’

Dog Sitters: How Many Dogs Should You Have at One Time?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

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The dog sitting and walking business is currently booming particularly in metropolitan areas where owners spend long days at work or travel frequently. The process of hiring one of these professionals should be one that is well thought out and if possible, hired by word of mouth as there is a lot of valuable and reliable information a pet owner can get from referrals.

Although dog sitters made a decent living, committing to only one or two dogs is likely not going to pay the bills and this is why most have numerous clients at one time. It is common for sitters to also have to take care of several pooches all at once so that they can manage theirs and their client’s expectations as well as earn more money.

So how many dogs at one time are too much for the sitter? And as the pet owner, how many other dogs should you allow that sitter to supervise at the same time as yours? Here are some basic guidelines for both pet owners and sitters to follow so that the job remains through and manageable.

Laws of Dog Sitting

Though some regions such as the UK do have strict laws about how many dogs can be sat for or walked at one time, most US regions do not. The unwritten rule in the dog sitting community is that anyone, owner or sitter, can walk or sit for as many dogs as they can safely handle at one time.

Having said that, there will be differing definitions of ‘properly handling’ and the number of dogs in one’s care. It is a dog sitter’s responsibility to ensure that they are giving proper care and attention to each of their client’s pooches and just as with kids, at a certain point if that number is too great, something will be missed and the quality of care will naturally decrease.

Lots of things should be taken into consideration when deciding on how many dogs one should sit for at one time.

The Breed Matters

Just like people, dogs have their own quirks and personalities and not all of the different breeds will mesh well or get along. Some dogs are naturally more aggressive such as American Pit Bull Terriers and when put in the same areas as other breeds, it could be like mixing oil with water. Chances are if you are house sitting for several dogs at one time, the owners have already acclimated the different breeds to one another, but this may not always be case.

Sizing up the Situation

Regardless of how well the dogs in one given area get along, there are other factors that also need to be considered when accepting a dog sitting job. The first is the size and weight of all the dogs that you are expected to sit for.

Larger dogs that are weightier will be more difficult to handle and care for than if you are supervising a room full of poodles, whose average weight is about 5 to 9 pounds. The bigger canines will usually be more challenging unless they are aptly trained and this is especially the case when taking them out for walks.

running dogs

Each dog should have its own lease and take into consideration your own weight against that of the multiple dogs you are sitting for and walking. Even the best trained dogs can become startled or excitable and if they should decide to jet, if your weight isn’t enough to balance the weight of them trying for a fast getaway, you could easily lose control of one or all of them.

It is also important to acknowledge the size of the home in comparison to the number of dogs you will be sitting. Larger dogs should not be contained regularly in small spaces, while smaller, pint size dogs which don’t require as much roaming room or exercise may be perfectly content in an apartment.

Rambunctious dogs have the ability to hurt, even unknowingly, other smaller dogs as well as owners and dog sitters because of their sheer size and weight. If there are a mix of large and small dogs within one habitat they will need to be monitored closely and all should have enough space within the home to roam freely for at least part of the day.

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Musings on Professionalism in Dog Walking

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

In this era of austerity brought on by that pesky economic crisis, small businesses
everywhere are suffering the effects of tightened purse strings. As consumers pinch their
pennies, there is less money put towards those products and services which are deemed
to be inessential, and customers are being rightfully deliberate and conscientious about
those services they do engage. Unlike most specialist service providers trying to forge a
path in this variable climate, professional dog walkers are in the unique position of being
threatened by amateurs on their own turf. After all, with dog walking rates spanning
between £12 and £16 per walk, why wouldnʼt Mrs Wilson just toss a fiver to little Billy next
door in exchange for taking Monty to the park for an hour on Sunday afternoon so she can
have tea with the ladies? This is a question worth pondering for pet owners and dog
walkers alike!

In general terms, someone with the occasional commitment in their calendar that distracts
them from their dog walking duties isnʼt likely to need the services of a professional. We
“pros” provide a service which is geared toward those responsible pet owners who realize
their obligation to their petʼs health (and understand the significance of a daily long walk in
maintaining that health!) but who have demanding work schedules and daily commitments
that prohibit them from fulfilling that obligation. For such people, engaging the services of a
professional has numerous benefits: by spreading their responsibility, they can provide
their pooches with the vital exercise and stimulation they need – in a structured and
monitored fashion – while freeing up their schedules in order to meet their other
commitments. A professional dog walkerʼs clients are not simply trading a sum of money
for an hour-long stroll in the park, but are investing in the dogʼs health, their own personal
and professional time, and their peace of mind!

So what specifically can a client expect to gain from the services of a dog walker? It makes
sense to list some of the valued characteristics of professional dog walkers so that
potential clients can refer to them when investigating our services. And it canʼt hurt for us
“pros” to examine the benefits of the services we offer in order to improve on them.

Letʼs take a closer look at professionalism in dog walking by splitting the essential criteria
into distinct categories:

1. Knowledge and experience

• Familiarity with the characteristics and personalities of different breeds of dogs, and their
requirements for exercise, socialisation and mental stimulation (the latter being provided
through outdoor exploration, social interaction and games).

• Experience with leading a pack assertively. Dogs require a confident leader to follow and
this confidence in leadership only comes with practice!

• Knowledge of local neighbourhoods, the green spaces and dog-friendly areas. In other
words, dog walkers need to know a variety of places to go in order to provide their pack
with a safe, open space in which to exercise and play.

2. Organisation and preparation

• Professionals must be fully insured to cover any accidents that may happen on a walk,
and should be CRB checked to reassure the client whose home they have access to.

• Contracts are also a necessary requirement. This way the client understands the terms
and conditions of the dog walkerʼs services and fees. Even more importantly, the dog
owner officially gives written consent for the dog walker to access his property and for
the dog walker to take responsibility in case of an emergency.

• Pet information form – this is something I and other dog walkers I know enjoy using
during our initial consultation with a new client; itʼs essentially a questionnaire to gather
as much specific information about a pet as possible, from veterinary details to dietary
requirements, favourite toys and preferred hiding spots (in case we canʼt find Monty
when we come to pick him up!). Importantly, I also ask for the dogʼs medical history and
get written permission for walking off-lead.

• Dog diary – a daily diary used to facilitate communication between a walker and a client.
This can be a great asset to communicate everything from schedule changes to dog
behavioural issues.

3. Resources

I feel that many clients overlook this aspect of the dog walkerʼs cache; resources are very
important for the dog walk and involve regular expense to purchase and maintain (thus
contributing to the cost of the walk). The most important and expensive of the dog walkerʼs
resources is going to be the van!

• Dog-friendly van, to transport the pack from home to the nearest local green space.
Often these will have custom in-built kenneling for the comfort of the dogs, and air
conditioning for hot summer months.

• Toys, leads, poop bags (preferably biodegradable!) and healthy snacks to make the walk
go smoothly.

4. Responsibility and reliability

Dog walkers have an ingrained awareness that they are taking responsibility for the health,
well-being and happiness of their clientʼs beloved, four-legged family member. Not only
does the health of the dog come down to us, but in most cases the smooth functioning of
the clientʼs daily schedule does, too. To maintain both of these aspects, the most important
characteristic is consistency (which is why there are no “sickies” in the dog walking
business!)

• Never miss a day – good dog walkers always have a back-up plan for any contingency! If
a walker is unable to make a walk on a particular day, advance notice is required for the
client and a back-up walker should be arranged for them.

• Reliability in times of crisis – for example, pet illness or injury (and the knowledge,
experience and resources to be able to handle it).

• Flexibility – a very important characteristic, allowing the walker to be able to
accommodate the whims of a clientʼs busy schedule.

While there are doubtless further criteria to be considered (and if you have a suggestion, I
encourage you to leave a comment!), I hope the points raised above will provide a good
general overview of professional dog walking for potential new clients, while inspiring
those of us who walk dogs for a living.

In closing, Iʼd like to include one further important characteristic to bear in mind, which
applies to any successful business owner: the desire to improve! We dog walkers have a
duty of care towards our clientsʼ animals, and we should be striving to give the best service
and experience possible at all times.

Happy walking! Like this article? Please Share and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Tim Adams runs Big City Dog Walkers operating in London, UK. Click here for a Dog Walker and Pet Sitter in Stoke Newington and Hackney.

How To Clean a Dog Leash: Home of the Germs & Flea Eggs

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Leash cleanliness (or lack thereof) is undoubtedly one of the most overlooked aspects of health and well-being for you and your pup.  Whether you live in the big bustling city of New York or a small fishing village in Japan, attention to proper leash care can lead to more sanitary living conditions for you and your dog.

How to Clean A Dog Leash

Consider this: How many of us wash our hands before a dog walk?  During any given dog walk , we clip the leash to the harness or collar, open the front door (and/or push an elevator button), pick up poop, perhaps switch no matter how temporarily, the hand that we are using to hold the leash, and also handle our house keys, which are all major sources of germ transfer.  That’s at least six different germ transfers per walk.  It’s not an understatement that it’s slightly gross and disgusting when you think about how many other unwashed, germ invested hands have also interacted with those high use items.

The question remains- how can you break the cycle of all of these germs getting onto the dog leash?  For some of you it may be months of germ and dirt buildup. For others of you years.  Germs, dirt and bacteria left to fester can lead to the slow erosion of the leash, be breeding grounds for flea eggs to hatch, and also to can also be an accessory to the spreading of colds and the flu. Multiply this by the number of people that use the leash (the dog walker, your children, spouse) and the number of people they interact with on a weekly basis.

If you follow a few precautionary steps, you will see how simple it is. First off, start by sanitizing your cloth leash in the dish washer (or for New Yorkers, in a tub of hot water and dish soap) at least once per week at a temperature of 150 degrees which can kill many bacteria and germs and flea eggs.

If you have a flexi-leash, you can wipe it down with Clorox and water.  To make life easier,  my personal recommendation would be to have three leashes in rotation, so you can get into the flow of regularly washing the harnesses and/or sanitizing the collars at least once per week and also regularly  wash your hands before and after each walk.  When you are at home, take off your dogs harness and collar to reduce the amount of dirt and germ transfer between the harness/collar and the dog.  As for your keys, the door handles and your front door handle- bleach and water.  For a green alternative, you can always use Dr. Bronners diluted with water.

Remember a clean, sanitary leash and getting into the routine of washing your hands before and after a dog walk is a small step towards creating a healthier, happier living conditions for you and your pets.

How often do you clean your leash? And do you have any advice? Let us know in the comments! Like this article? Please Share! 

Cynthia Okimoto is the owner of New York Dog Nanny www.newyorkdognanny.com and has been professionally caring for dogs since 2010.

The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

10 Dog Twitter Feeds To Follow

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Do you use Twitter? If not, you should! It’s great for quick breaks from whatever you’re working on! Here at Dog Walkers City we ‘follow’ a load of Dog related accounts which provide us with photos, news, deals and tips. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone. We’ve decided to compile a top 10 list of our favourite Dog related twitter feeds for you to follow. If you’re not on twitter but love Dogs, sign up and follow these accounts – you’ll soon be hooked!

1. The Daily Puppy (@DailyPuppy)

The Daily Puppy publishes a feed of daily puppy and dog photos, along with the occasional information article.

2. Tails Pet Magazine (@tailsmagazines)

Tails Pet Magazine is a US dog magazine full of great stories, news, photos and more. Their twitter feed is always promoting great articles from the Tails Pet Magazine website.

3. K9 Magazine (UK) (@K9Magazine)

K9 Magazine is another great Dog magazine, this time from the UK. Wherever you are though, the feed is still full of great photos, news and articles.

4. Fetch Dog (@FetchDog)

If you’re in the US, Fetch Dog sells all sorts of Dog related products, including collars, bowls, leads etc. There Twitter feed usually informs you of the latest deal or discount.

5. Dog Milk (@dog_milk)

Ok, Dog Milk is one of our favourites! This blog is all about Dog related design and their feed shows off a load of cool products and designs. Well worth checking out.

6. The Kennel Club (@KCLovesDogs)

The Kennel Club are the U.K’s largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of Dogs. Their feed is always full of great information, especially if you’re from the UK.

7. The Dog Daily (@TheDogDaily)

The Dog Daily’s Twitter feed has quizzes, articles, photos, tips and news. An all round great feed to follow, wherever you are.

8. Dog Living Magazine (@DOGliving)

Another great magazine, this time based in North Carolina. Wherever you are though, their feed has great information, and a lot of entertaining posts.

9. Kelly Felstead (@kellyfelstead)

Kelly Felstead is a writer for ‘Your Dog’ magazine. She tweets about the magazine and about various Dog related topics.

10. Dogs Trust (@DogsTrust)

Tweets from one the UK best known Dog charities. Dogs Trust tweets about everything from Charitable events to Funny photos.

Which Dog related Twitter feeds do follow? Have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Advertising Your Dog Walking Business Online

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

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This weeks post is part of a two part series on advertising your business on a budget…

If you want to expand your dog walking business, there’s really only one way to go about it – get the word out. Depending on where you live, this can mean a few different things. In a village, this is as simple as spreading the word on the grapevine. In a large city you have room to be a little bit more creative – the potential clients are figuratively endless.

Wherever you live, advertising doesn’t have to mean spending money, and even if you do have to you can promote your business very effectively on a relatively small budget. With that in mind, I’m going to talk about a few advertising methods that are effective in this industry. These methods will suit those on a small budget, or no budget at all.

First of all, lets get the shameless plug out of the way – you can advertise your service on this very website for free! And if you haven’t done so yet you can by signing up here. We are continually promoting and expanding Dog Walkers City so we hope you’ll join us!

The internet is an invaluable tool for any small business owner. In the modern age, the web should be the starting point for any advertising campaign. In fact (although I’m a little biased) I’d almost go as far as saying that you can get all of the customers you need online. With that said, we’ll start off with the (2nd) biggest of the Internet’s websites – Facebook.

Facebook is the perfect tool for a Dog walker, as most customers come from friends of friends and of course, it’s free. I’m going to assume you have a Facebook account at this point, as you’ll need an active account to utilize it as a promotional tool. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a ‘Facebook Page’. To do this, go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the instructions.

Facebook grab

You can add details of your service and images, links, maps etc. Once you’ve set this up you can invite all your friends to ‘like’ your page and when they do, their friends will see that they’ve liked it and so on – viral advertising. You can also ask questions, post updates and post photos, which I recommend you do regularly as they appear on the news feed of whoever has liked your page.

Your next visit online should be to Google Places. This is another great free tool for free exposure. With Google Places, you can mark where your service is based on Google Maps and anyone searching Google in that area can see your listing. To get started head to http://www.google.com/places/ and follow the instructions.

Google screen grab

Another good place to advertise online are classified websites. These are country specific but in the UK – Gumtree is the industry leader (http://www.gumtree.com) and in the US – Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org). Both of these sites are free to post to and are searched on a lot. Simply browse to your local area and follow the instructions to place an advert. The older your advert gets the further down the list it will fall so I recommend posting regularly. You can also go super local by searching Google for terms like ‘my town+classifieds’. A real life search would be ‘New York Classifieds’. There will almost definitely be a local classified site for your area.

gumtree screen grab

If you have a bit of extra cash to spend on advertising, we highly recommend joining us as a premium member here at Dog Walkers City. For less than the price of a couple of cups of coffee you can upgrade your membership and reap the benefits of being a premium member. These benefits include being shot to the top of our results page, having your own profile page that can be found in Google and having a wealth of extras at your disposal: Contract templates, appointment software, advertising guides and more. If you get just one extra regular client as a result of the premium membership you’ll be making your money back.

To find out more log into the members are and click the ‘Upgrade’ tab. Next week we’ll talk a bit more about advertising on a budget and concentrate on more offline methods.

Do you have any advice for people looking to advertise cheaply? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Let us know in the comments…

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Female Dogs In Heat

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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What is ‘heat’?
Firstly, ‘heat’  or Estrus (from the greek ‘sexual desire’) is a recurring period of sexual receptivity and fertility in many female mammals, in this case,  dogs. At what time a female dog or bitch goes into heat can vary greatly from dog to dog. The youngest is about six months of age though sometimes a female will come into season younger. First heat can start as late as 12 or even 14 months of age or later in rare cases. Generally speaking, dogs that aren’t spayed go into season or into heat approximately every 6 months. Again, it can vary from dog to dog, but this is a good estimation as to when you can expect your dog to begin this cycle.

This can be a real annoyance to pet owners and to all other pets in the household, for a number of reasons. The purpose of this blog post is to raise awareness and bring up some important factors that both Dog owners and Dog Walkers & Sitters should be aware of if not already. From our experience, it is a big topic of discussion amongst those who care for other peoples dogs – some people outright refuse to look after dogs in heat, for obvious reasons. Equally, it sometimes goes unnoticed, and owners may be furious to find there dog has been returned to them, albeit pregnant!

Either way, you can understand the risk associated with this, and although sometimes it can’t be helped, remember, it is the owners choice and responsibility as to whether their dog should have puppies. If you suspect a dog you intend to look after is in this stage, it is important to verify with the owner as to how they wish to deal with the situation.

How to Care For a Female Dog in Heat

Two Dogs

The heat cycle for a female dog lasts approximately 3 weeks. During that time her vulva will swell and she will have a bloody discharge. During this fertility period, your dog will be constantly releasing pheromones which is likely to attract male dogs in your neighbourhood. It is advised that you do not leave your dog outdoors on her own, when she is in heat. Male dogs are prone to becoming aggressive towards females in heat, and these behavioural changes need to be managed in order that there are no unwanted mishaps. One solution is to keep your dog inside, as this will help eliminate the fear of unwanted puppies or attacks by other dogs in the area.

However, keeping the female dog inside while she is in heat can also be inconvenient. The discharge can be not only messy but sometimes quite smelly. The best option is to keep your female indoors and confined to an area where the discharge won’t be a problem to clean up, like the bathroom, garage or kitchen – places where the floor is laminated and not carpeted. Baby gates are a cheap and convenient way to confine your dog without putting her behind a closed door.

If you put your dog in a cage while she is in heat, it is important to place it where she will be able to spend time with people familiar to her, as well as let her out for frequent exercise.  Being on heat should never be treated as a punishment, and you don’t want your dog to feel as though she is being unfairly treated or left out. Another common solution is to purchase the equivalent of a ‘nappy’ for dogs, which will contain any potential discharge, avoid mess, and act as a deterrent to curious males.

Your female dogs are also known to display aggressive behaviour, especially amongst other pets in the household, while in heat. This includes a pushy attitude, shouldering aside other pets and humping. As she will be highly hormonal, it is likely that you will encounter a great deal of assertive and dominating behaviour, especially towards other dogs. This should only be temporary, and will subside once she has finished the cycle. It is important to realise that this process is natural, animals interact and deal with each other in a number of ways to find their hierarchy within the ‘pack’, and you can either let them get on with it, or intervene if you feel as though it is necessary.

Other common symptoms of a dog in heat are general agitation, restlessness and often whimpering and panting, so it is important to give them as much love and attention as possible, to ease the nerves of going through this hormonal stage.

Remember, if she isn’t allowed to breed it can be very frustrating for  her and you! If you don’t plan to breed your dog, it is much better for her health and your sanity to have her spayed. Along side the prevention of unwanted puppies, getting your dog spayed can be beneficial for a number of other reasons. It can prevent uterine infections and other disease as well as ensuring consistent behaviour throughout the dog’s life.  You may have heard the myth ‘but I don’t want her to get fat’….this is nonsense, dogs get fat through poor diet and lack of exercise, not through getting spayed.

Making The Correct Decision

Remember, responsible dog owners will consider the options and make the correct decision based on what they feel is right. You could look at it in layman’s terms: do you want to breed your dog (for financial, genetic or any other purposes?), then you must deal with this responsibly. If you don’t think you want your dog to have puppies, then you may as well get it spayed, and eliminate any risk, rather than assuming that it will never happen…because as we all know, it can, and most likely will!

Getting your dog spayed is a pretty basic and routine procedure for modern day vets, even if it seems daunting for the owner! The process generally takes about half an hour, and afterwards, the incision os stitched up and will fully heal in a couple of weeks. It is advised to monitor her after the operation jus to ensure that the stitches are healing correctly, and she is eating and sleeping as normal. Also, it is wise to prevent any excessive jumping or bouncing around for a the first week, just to ensure the healing process isn’t hindered in any way.

For more information about the procedure itself and what it entails, we advise talking to your local vetinary practice to elevate any concerns and help you better your understanding.

This blog post is first in a two part discussion where we welcome any thoughts, comments and opinions our readers may have on the matter. Next time we will look into the pros and cons of neutering a male dog, and advice on how dog owners can deal with the scenario and make the best decision for them and their dog. Let us know what you think in the comments….

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Dog Nutritional Requirements – Size, Calories & Age

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

When it comes to Dogs dinners, making decisions about his or her diet is one of the most important considerations you can make. As you’ll probably already know, certain Dogs require varying diets, depending on their breed, size and age. Of course, you can get puppy food for puppies, adult food for adults and senior food for seniors, but it’s important to know a bit more about who’s bowl you’re putting what in.

Personally, I think your Dogs size and age are the two most important factor to determining his diet. For example, as puppies larger breeds can be prone to ailments and diseases that are result of too much energy, phosphorous and calcium in their diets (eg Hip Dysplasia). This means that because larger Dogs joints move slower than their smaller friends, a less energy dense diet is required. Compare this to smaller breed puppies, who generally move quickly and sharply, they can burn through energy and calories in a meal very quickly, meaning food with more energy in, in smaller amounts is usually more suitable.

The size of the breed is still important as your Dog grows into adulthood. As with puppyhood, your Dogs metabolic rate is what’s important here. Smaller Dogs need to take in more calories per pound than their larger counterparts. This might sound contradictory but remember that smaller Dogs still need less food over all, just more per pound. We can look at an example to put this into practise.

It’s commonly accepted that a large breed Dog needs (on average) 22 calories of food per pound. Smaller Dogs on the other hand need a lot more; around 35 calories per pound. So, if we do a few sums we can see that a larger Dog that weighs 75 pounds needs around 1650 calories per day and a smaller Dog that weighs 20 pounds would need 700 calories per day. Remember, these weights and calories are only averages.

As your Dog reaches his senior years his or her diet becomes even more important. Smaller Dogs tend to live longer than their larger friends and a healthy diet with high levels of nutrients and antioxidants can help ward of illness. On the other hand, larger Dogs almost always suffer from some form of arthritis in their older years, and there are certain Dog foods that cater for this (look for Chondroitin and Glucosamine on the label).

For some Dogs, changing his or her diet can lead to problems. As we all know, most Dogs will eat almost anything! But sometimes a change in diet can lead to ailments including a loss of appetite and diarrhoea. When I switch my Dog to a new diet, I do it gradually so that he can adapt. To do this, start off on day one by mixing 20% of the new food with 80% of the old. Follow up on day two with 40% of the new food and 60% of the old, day three 60/40, day four 80/40 and day 5, 100% of the new food. I’ve found this to be the best way of adapting to a new diet, but if at any point your Dog develops sickness, diarrhoea or loss of appetite, don’t hesitate to visit your vet.

In fact, I think it’s important to stress that it’s always a good idea to consult a vet, no matter how small or insignificant your question is, especially when it comes to your Dog’s diet. Over the last couple of years, the American Animal Hospital Association has made nutritional checks a standard assessment of every patient, the organisation also admits that only 7% of Dogs that could benefit from specialized diets are actually recommended them. Most vets in the UK are also happy to provide nutritional advice.

Have you had any experience with specialized diets? Or do you own or look after an especially large or small Dog? Let us know your thoughts in the comments….

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

10 Basic Dog Health Checks

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Whether you’re a professional dog walker, a new dog owner, or even a seasoned dog lover, you should always be aware of the health of the dogs around you. As a professional Dog walker, knowing a few basic health checks and warning signs should be one of your moral obligations. If you’re a new Dog owner this is also true and you should familiarize yourself with the basics.

Keeping an eye out for basic health problems is one of the most important things you can do for your canine friends around you, and doing so can save you a lot of time, money and most importantly your Dogs health in the long run. Here’s my check-list of ailments to look out for on a regular basis.

  1. Eating & Drinking

One of the most basic problems to look out for; if your Dog goes off his/her food or drink for more than 24 hours it’s time to visit a vet, especially if they are usually a big eater. Remember you know your Dog better than anyone and if you think something is up then it probably is.

  1. Out On Walks

basic health checks for dogsAnother basic check is to watch the way your Dog moves when out on walks. How do they walk/run? Do they seem stiff? Overly tired? Have a limp? Coughing or excessive panting could also indicate a problem. Once again, if something seems out of the ordinary visit the vet.

3.  Body Check

A body check should be performed around once a week (on average). Gently run your hands over your Dogs body and check for any signs of discomfort, lumps, cuts or inflammation.

4.  Toilet Habits

Keeping an eye on your pooches poop is important! The four things to keep an eye out for are constipation, blood, mucus and diarrhoea. Also, if your Dogs urine looks dark, cloudy or bloody then a trip to the vets is in order. Regularity should also be a concern, along with making sure the stools appearance in consistent.

  1. Weight Check

Although it’s not necessary to be perform meticulous checks, keeping an eye on your Dogs weight is very important. Obesity is the cause of a huge range of health problems in Dogs and should of course be avoided. Keep your Dog on a steady, well balanced diet and if you start to see a problem act sooner rather than later.

  1. Eye Check

Once every week or so, check for ingrowing eyelashes and hair around the eyes that looks like it’s causing a problem – hair that is could be cut by you if your careful. Your Dogs eyes should be clear and his/her pupils should be the same size. Also, check for excessive discharge and signs of irritation.

  1. Mouth Check

Regularly check the mouth for signs of anything out of the ordinary. The gums should be pink and darker or redder patches could indicate a problem. Check for lumps and growths and make sure that the teeth are clear and none are obviously loose. Unusually bad breath can sometimes be an indication of digestive problems .

  1. Foot Check

Long nails should be regularly trimmed using Dog clippers or a file. This should only be performed if you feel confident in doing so as trimming can sometimes cause bleeding. Examine your Dogs feet for any growths, cuts or grazes.

  1. Nose Check

As usual, check your Dogs nose for any excessive discharge and make sure that your Dogs breathing is unobstructed. As a general rule your Dogs nose should be cool and moist.

  1. Ear Check

Your Dogs ears should also be regularly checked for the usual, discharge or discomfort. Keep an eye out for any excessive wax build up, which can be gently removed with cotton wall. Swelling or any bad odour can be a cause for concern.

These 10 checks should be performed on a regular basis, and doing so will ensure you catch a lot of medical problems sooner rather than later. The main thing to remember is that if anything looks out of the ordinary don’t hesitate to consult your vet.

Are there any other checks you can recommend? And how often do you perform the above checks? Let us know what you think in the comments below…

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

Catchy Dog Walking Business Name Ideas

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

dog walkers city mega
Having a catchy name
for your Dog walking business is a must if you want to stand out from the crowd when advertising. Of course in the long run it doesn’t make a difference to the quality of service that you offer, but remember; a catchy name will stick in potential customers head a lot more than a dull one. And if a name’s stuck in someone’s head they’re a lot more likely to think of you and your service in the future.

Running a dog walking directory we’ve seen a few funky and memorably names come through our digital doors. Let’s have a look at some that have stuck out the most…

  • Wiggles & Sniffs
  • Pawsitive Attention Pet Services
  • Unleashed
  • Pet Sit Pros
  • Pet Au Pair
  • Pampered Pets Co.
  • Pampered Pooches
  • The Urban Dog
  • Happy At Home Pet Sitting
  • Purrs & Woofs Pet Sitting
  • Critter Sitters
  • Pooch ‘n Pals
  • Purrrfect Pet Sitting
  • Lucky Paws Pet Care
  • Waggers Daycare
  • Fur-ever Friends
  • Creature Comforts
  • Furry Fella’s Pet Care
  • Paws ‘n Go
  • Happy Bones Pet Sitting
  • Paws On Palm Beach
  • Roll Over Rover

And the list goes on! I hope this gives you some inspiration to come up with something witty and imaginative. If you’re still stuck for ideas you could have a look through our directory at our members names.

You may of noticed that your full name rather than your business name appears on your Dog Walkers City listing at the moment. We’re in the process of amending this at the moment so soon you’ll have the option to choose between your name and your business name.

Got your own ideas or seen some others you want to add to the list? Let us know in the comments…

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.

An Interview With A Dog Walker

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Sleeping DogClarissa Dent is a professional dog walker and dog sitter based in South London. With a number of years experience, she has a wealth of knowledge about the industry, and tells us how she made the transition from a part-time dog walker, to a fully functioning, profitable business owner in the space of 12 months. 

Clarissa’s goal is to provide your pets with loving and attentive care and she strives everyday to succeed in providing her human and pet clients with the best quality, stress-free service possible. Clarissa believes in systems and routines to make sure the dogs are safe and secure in their surroundings, her pet care expertise will ensure that your loved ones receive the best care possible while you are away!

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What prompted you to start a dog walking and dog sitting business?

My brother in law runs a veterinary practice in Kensington, and from visiting from time to time with my own dog, I became aware of the huge demand for professional dog walkers and dog sitters. I was amazed at how many people require someone to look after their pet, for whatever reason it be, and saw the potential in turning a hobby, into something I could make a living from. As an avid dog lover, I have always been fond of dogs and have a dog myself, an Affenpinscher called Archie, who I walk everyday. So the transition into looking after somebody else’s dog seemed to come naturally, as I already had experience. I thought ‘how hard can it be’? From here, I started looking after friend’s dogs from time to time, and then later started to get recommendations from my brother in law, when people would ask him if he knew anyone to look after their dog. It naturally progressed to the point where I started to build up a client base and gain more and more confidence, and it occurred to me that this wasn’t just something I could do part time, if I focussed all of my attention to this, I could make serious money from doing something I love! And now, I couldn’t be happier, it has changed my life considerably.

What do you enjoy most about dog walking / sitting?

Well, what is there not to love about walking dogs through a grassy field on a summers day, with smiling faces looking up at you?! I enjoy the freedom it gives me, the outdoor lifestyle, but most importantly, the array of characters and personalities I get to deal with on a daily basis. Every dog is unique, every dog has it’s own quirks and nuances, and to be honest, I have a lot of fun, and I hope the dogs do too!

Are there any negatives of being a professional dog walker / sitter?

To be perfectly honest, I can’t say that there are many negatives at all! The only thing that I personally find is that I often get attached to other people’s dogs, and am sad to see them leave! Luckily for me, the majority of my clients are regular, so I get to see them all again!

Where are your favourite places to take dogs around the London area?

I generally tend to alternate between Battersea Park and Wandsworth common, both of which have large open spaces, but are also more than just a ‘patch of grass’ – the dogs can roam around and follow all of the natural smells and rummage around in the undergrowth, rather than just running around a field.

The pet sitting industry is growing immensely, do you think it will continue to grow and what will that growth mean to the industry?

I see and meet more and more people every day who are doing this for a living. I used to be one of the only ‘dog walkers’ on the common (apart from dog owners, of course!), but now there are many people who are profiting from this line of work. So, yes, I have seen the growth first hand, and it is a real boost to the economy, and a boost to general self esteem, as more and more people have the ‘get up and go’ to make money in a tough financial climate. This consequently results in more competition, but the industry itself is quite personal and friendly, not corporate and cut-throat, so I think people generally just get on with it. I never feel as though someone will ‘steal’ my clients, and it’s always a pleasure to stop and talk to other dog walkers and sitters and share experiences with them. 

How does a dog walker / sitter manage different dogs, all with different characters and temperaments?

I don’t think there’s a definite answer to this question, as no two dogs are alike. From my experience, structure is paramount, I believe routine and consistency when caring for any pet is really important, so the dogs familiarise themselves and feel comfortable from the start. I tend to ask the owners details about feeding times and walk times, and generally try to stick to what the dog is used to, therefore preventing the likelihood of any abnormal behaviour due to changing the dog’s routine. Remember, no two dogs are the same, so never presume you know how the dog will behave, try to get as much information from the owner as possible, as they know their dog better than anyone. 

What sets you apart from other dog walkers / sitters?

Well, I think my years of experience definitely work in my favour, as I have built strong working relationships with my clients, and trust is the most important thing in this industry. People feel safe leaving their dog with me, and I feel confident that I will take good care of them and return them safely and happily to their owners. Also, I feel the family connections with the Veterinary Practice give added security to my clients, as if anything did happen, I have a professional to turn to – thank god it has never come to that but it’s good to know!

What advice do you have for dog owners who are using a dog walker / sitter for the first time?

Ask, ask and ask again! Never feel embarrassed to ask as many questions about the person who is looking after your dog. Ask for references, whether they have insurance and speak to their previous clients in person, as this is the best way to find out about their experience. Don’t always go for the cheapest option, as this may not always be the best. Think about WHAT kind of person and environment you want your dog to be in…some sitters board many dogs at a time, others offer a more personal, private service where your dog may get more one-on-one time. This is up to you, so think about it and try to find the appropriate person for your dog.

What advice can you give to people thinking about starting their own dog walking / sitting business?

I would say go for it, you have nothing to loose! But remember, it’s a full time job that requires skill, patience and commitment. Not everybody can do it, you may think ‘looking after dogs is easy’, which to a certain extent, it can be, but there is a difference in walking someone’s dog as a one off, and running a professional business. There is no room for complacency, you have to be attentive and confident that people can rely on you. You have to give each and every dog the same amount of love and care, unconditionally. After all, the success of your business is down to your reputation, if you start to get slack, this will affect your ability to care for a dog and will show through. People will not feel comfortable leaving their beloved pet in your care. Lastly, enjoy it and have fun! Not everyone gets the opportunity to care for such amazing animals, so respect that and get the most out of it as you can. My philosophy is “I’m doing something I love, and the money comes second”, not the other way around.

Lastly, please can you share a story from your dog walking career?

There are so many to choose from! One story, however, seems to stick with me – I was looking after a small Jack Russell for a week, and took her out to the countryside with my own dog to visit family, who happen to have chickens. After a glorious walk, we returned back and the dog somehow found her way through the chicken fencing to the horror of my sister! Unfortunately, she made the most of this experience and killed one of the chickens! Lets just say my sister was not best pleased….not as pleased as the dog anyway! 

Visit Clarissa’s profile on Dog Walkers City here, or visit her website at: www.dogsittingsouthwestlondon.com

Would you answer any of these questions differently? Or do you have anymore questions you’d like us to ask Clarissa? Let us know in the comments…

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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.