On several occurrences each week without fail, sadly I get negative comments hurled at me from members of the public regarding what I do for a living. When I started my business (offering dog walking and other pet care services) I quite quickly realised that some people aren’t keen on professional dog walkers for several reasons; some reasons understandable and some a load of old hooey! The negative comments seem to have escalated lately in this hot weather, therefore I wanted to write this blog in an attempt to dispel some of the myths about professional dog walkers plus to offer you some tips on how to keep dogs cool during the hot summer months.
There is a myth that people who walk dogs for a living load 20 dogs into their van without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, unfortunately there are people out there like that, but I am certainly not one of them – here’s why…
A lot of work goes into preparing for a typical day at work with my furry canine clients, particularly in the warmer weather. I care more than people probably realise, taking my responsibility as a dog walker very seriously. My human clients trust me not only with one of their very precious family members but often also with the keys to their houses to care for their pets on a regular basis when they’re not there. This is not a responsibility I take lightly!
I am always thinking about ways to make my doggy clients more comfortable on their journey to, during and after their walkies, especially in the hotter weather we are experiencing.
I am always in touch with fellow dog walkers who work all over the country to share experiences, hints and tips on how we can make the dogs in our care more comfortable. A lot of other dog walkers put a blanket ban on walks during the summer and do not walk dogs in any kind of heat, offering pop-in visits to the dogs rather than their usual walkies. My approach is different…
I don’t have any firm rules set in stone each day in the summer and say “right today as the temperature is due to hit a certain degree centigrade I am not walking dogs”. This is mainly because I don’t trust the weather forecast (I’ve often started a long walk with 4% rain predicted then got absolutely soaked!) and also because some of my doggy clients don’t have gardens so still need to venture out in some shape or form to ‘do their business’.
Instead I assess each day, each walk and each group of dogs as we go. This doesn’t mean that I go off ‘willy-nilly’ walking the dogs without a care in the world, this means I monitor and log temperatures throughout the day, each day to ensure we aren’t going to get too hot whilst out and about and will enjoy our walkies safely which is what I’m paid to do. The safety and happiness of your dog is my priority.
The weather is a very interesting consideration to me in my job, as through the powers of social media we are led to believe that the hottest part of the day is midday when the pavements are at their hottest and therefore a time that we shouldn’t be walking dogs. However, at present the hottest part of the day has been at around 13.30 for 2 hours, therefore the pavements are actually at their hottest towards the end of the day when they have retained all of the day’s heat and are releasing it; the time when we are advised to take our dogs out for their daily walks! I find this very interesting as we are being led to believe one thing, which I guess may be why members of the public feel it necessary to shout negative comments at me about walking dogs in the heat, without knowing this key information. Sadly, I can’t help but take such comments on board and they have a massive impact on my working day when I care so much about what I do and the pets I care for.
So I thought you may find it useful for me to share some tips on how to keep your beloved dogs cool during the warmer summer months…
River walks with dogs
I feel so fortunate to live in Teignmouth, Devon where my doggy clients and I are lucky to be able to experience a range of amazing walks on our doorstep. One of the best walks I love to take dogs on is a river walk. At this time of year it’s a fantastic dog walking route, where they can sniff the walk away, investigating all the smells that they don’t usually get to experience along with enjoying a beautiful breeze and shady spots to keep them cool, plus of course the river to dip their paws in to keep their body temperatures down. The perfect summer walk for dogs!
No ball games allowed!
When we are out on our adventures at this time of year I don’t allow ball games and try to discourage rough play and chasing games so that we can keep our walks a little calmer which again regulates the dogs’ body temperatures ensuring they don’t over heat.
Keep off the pavements
We do as little pavement walking as possible, I’m not a great fan of pavement walking as it can be boring for the walker as well as the dog. Predominantly I plan and pick my daily walks in areas where my furry pals can get as much shade as possible and we can all get a cool breeze and if the tide times are working with us, we can also dip our feet in the sea/river which the dogs love!
Throughout each walk I keep a close eye on every dog individually to make sure they are happy and healthy whilst walking. I carry cold, fresh drinking water and a travel bowl and make sure we take as many drink pit-stops as possible plus take regular breaks in the shade. If I feel it’s getting too hot and the dogs are tiring I will cut the walk short – safety first!
Keep car journey times to a minimum
Whilst travelling I always plan pick-up routes and walks to make sure we aren’t in the van longer than we need to be. Whilst in the van, each dog has its own crate equipped with a water bowl and a cooling mat. Cooling mats are designed to automatically cool the dogs down when they sit on them. I would thoroughly recommend these even for in the home – my cat has one and loves it (contact me if you’d like info on where to purchase one).
Ice cold water
I fill and freeze water bottles each evening ready for the next morning to put into each of the dog’s crates, again to make sure the dogs feel nice and cool. I really love to see what each dog makes of them; some lick them, some spoon them and some lean on them!
Ice pop Kongs for dogs!
After every walk, on the way home, each dog’s water bowl is topped up with cold water that I carry in a cool bag with ice blocks. As a treat I also fill Kong toys with some yummy frozen recipes to ensure the dogs are occupied in the van with a tasty treat and again keep cool. Mine and the dogs’ favourites is mashed banana diluted with water or diluted dog friendly peanut butter that is made and frozen overnight, sometimes on a Friday we mix it up and have both!
I hope that you have found this blog post useful in dispelling some of the myths about professional dog walkers and most importantly helping you to keep your dog cool in summer.
Leanne Masters x