Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ask Me: Dog walking

How did you become a dog walker? can you describe how you walk dogs? I'm assuming you have enough control so that they can't pull you as fast as they want in your chair (although I think I'd probably let them do so every now and then for the fun of it- sort of a dog chariot). I ask because when I walk them, I have a certain way of doing things because of my own disability, and I was curious about your technique.

Basically, I became a dog walker because nobody would hire me at doggy daycares. I love dogs and know a great deal about dog body language. So I just wanted to be one of those people that hangs out with the dogs and makes sure nobody fights (and help defuse situations that are tense). However, no doggy daycare would hire me because it was not "safe" (even after I explained I would have an aide). So I started my own business. I talk about how I get clients here. How I physically walk the dog is I strap the leash to my chair. My power chair weighs 300lbs so no dog can pull it. I actually teach them how to heel because as soon as I see/feel them pulling I stop and then wait until they have slack on the leash before I go. Most of my clients have what I call temper tantrums when I first walk them because they are kind of used to getting their way. But once they get over that, they love me and greet me with kisses. My aide accompanies me in case I need anything but usually I just do my thing and they hang out behind me. Here is one of my clients saying hello:

Do you think way you are affects your perception of animals? My personal opinion is that all beings are intelligent and have feelings, but just have different and often incompatible ways (to most humans) of communicating. Do you ever feel a certain connection with those beings who are, sadly, often not spared the time by the vast majority of humans to be listened to or understood? Do you ever wonder what they're thinking, or if they get frustrated at the way they're treated?

I do think being nonverbal helps me understand what dogs are thinking/feeling. I am certainly more in tune with non-verbal communication than most people. Yes, when I see animal cruelty, I get pissed (but that's more about being a dog lover than being nonverbal).

My question is about your career choice. I know that you have a college degree. So why did you choose to be a dog walker?

I'm not planning to be a dog walker for the rest of my life. I love it but I have other aspirations.


  1. Thanks for answering my questions about dog walking! I actually use the same method as you to teach dogs to walk politely (although it can take forever, since I work with shelter dogs who often have never had any training).

  2. That video is TOO MUCH. Happy dog!

  3. So what are your other aspirations?

    Thats pretty cool about how you made this work for yourself.

    So how do you communicate non-verbally with the dogs?

  4. "So how do you communicate non-verbally with the dogs?"

    She doesn't, or do you not watch her videos? Her aide does most of the physical work.

    "However, no doggy daycare would hire me because it was not "safe" (even after I explained I would have an aide)."

    Those doggy daycares were correct, because even a "300 pound" chair can be violently tipped over by a forceful dog. There is no verbal communication between handler and dog and at the very least a dog needs some kind, ANY kind of commands, verbal or physical (hand movements, gestures) in order for it to be able to understand what it is you want it to do. Dogs aren't mindreaders, but if they were, you'd be in real business.

    I got an idea. How about you get a job as a lifeguard? The same logic you use to "be a dog walker" applies, but you can have your aides move your arms/legs so you can "swim" to save people.

  5. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.
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