If you're considering a career as a dog walker, you're probably wondering how you'll manage multiple dogs on one walk.
Controlling one dog and getting them to listen can be a challenge in itself, so the idea of managing three or four can be overwhelming.
Chances are the dogs you walk will at least have the basic obedience training and socialisation down pact. But that doesn't mean that walks with multiple dogs who aren't together 24/7 won't have its hurdles.
If you've had previous experience walking two plus dogs, you'll understand the difficulties. And why there are rules about how many you can walk at one time.
Too many excited and energetic dogs can mean the pulling and tangling up of leashes. While older, less active dogs may keep stopping and perhaps want to sniff everything in sight. So it's essential to know which dogs can or can not be successfully grouped. And off lead the wrong mix could mean you have dogs all over the place, making it difficult to supervise and care for your pups properly.
The wrong combinations of puppy personalities can be a nightmare for dog walkers. So understanding the different needs and having complete control of your dogs is vital.
But don't worry because we've got some top tips to help you manage your pack and give you the confidence to build your dog walking career.
If a client has a pooch yet to be taught basic obedience, walking this pup in a group could disrupt the whole pack. When walking multiple dogs, they all need to be able to follow basic commands such as heel, sit and stay.
Some dogs like to lead, but you must be slightly ahead of the group. Your dogs need to understand that you are driving the walk.
Of course, doggy treats can be great for managing behaviour, but extra treats need to be ok'd by the owners.
And to avoid any lousy behaviour spreading through the group, stop the first sign of disobedience immediately. The whole group should sit and wait for your word at this point. When they've shown they can listen, start the walk again.
Different dogs walk better on various leads. If you feel that a pup would be managed better on a gentle leader, for instance, it might be a good idea to mention this to the owner.
If you have a disobedient dog, it may be best to exercise on leash only. If the other dogs are off-leash, this may make walks even more challenging. Try to manage your dog-walking groups based on training. For instance, walking on leash dogs together when possible.
A coupler type leash is excellent for multiple dogs, but only when they are at the same training level.
Retractable leashes aren't great in group situations for many reasons. But mostly because they're generally too thin to give you proper control over a dog. Plus, they can break easily and tangle quickly when at full length.
Holding leashes in different hands may encourage tangling up too. On the other hand, holding leads in one hand and all the dogs on one side, again, only works if all the dogs are well behaved.
Even with well-behaved dogs, tangled leashes can happen. Stop immediately to fix the situation. This means all dogs need to understand the stop command, or it could make the situation even more chaotic.
Waiting for one dog to do its business when you're managing multiple canines and then picking up poop with numerous dogs in tow is another challenge.
Dogs will often wait until they get to the park or beach and are off lead, but you always get one that will do its business on the way there. Always carry spare bags and again make sure they all stop together, so you can deal with picking up the poop.
Only ever tie leashes to your leg if your dogs are likely to follow your command; this is not something we would recommend though.
The bottom line
We advise you to start your career slow. With one dog at a time. Once you get to know this dog's personality, you can consider adding more to the group. Dogs are usually creatures of habit, so you'll quickly figure out who will try to pull and who'll want to stop and pee or sniff. So you should be able to plan and direct any possible scenario reasonably soon.
Ensuring your dogs respond to your commands will be the difference between a fun walk and a stressful one. Obedience is paramount.
Understanding the different types of dog walking tools is helpful too. Harnesses, leashes, couplers and which does work well with each accessory will really help also.
Then, of course, there's experience and management skills. The more experience you have as a dog walker, the more you'll be able to manage and understand the dogs you exercise. So take it slow and build up your clientele. Grouping your dogs based on behaviour, age, energy levels and even size if you can.
It's also worth considering that choosing to walk multiple dogs also comes with the extra responsibility of requiring additional insurance.