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trinity bellwoods dog walker

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Lost Dog Prevention

I wish I could find all the missing dogs. Since I can't, I'm trying to help raise awareness. Almost every incident is preventable. They spook/bolt for many different reasons, dart through opening doors, jump out of car windows, break out of their collars/off their leashes, lose sight of their owner on a walk & panic (I could go on). And sometimes, under many different circumstances, for all kinds of reasons, they're stolen. Arm yourself and protect your best friend. Check out this Facebook page dedicated to lost pets in the GTA alone. Heart-wrenching.

If you're part of a rescue organization, veterinary clinic, etc., and would like copies of this postcard to distribute, please email the Toronto Dog Walkers Association.

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Langley

It was a somber day for dog walkers today. We were all thinking about Langley. As we bumped into our friends and colleagues on the trails and in the parks, we all knew what the other was thinking. Public scrutiny was heavier than usual. Understandable, I suppose. When the story first came out that the dogs had been stolen from the dog walker’s truck, my heart ached for the owners and the dog walker. Then last night, the news broke that all 6 dogs (including the dog walker’s own) had perished due to negligence. Like you, I was reeling. Never in the 11 years I’ve been professionally walking dogs, have I heard a more horrific story involving another professional. How could this happen? How to find a good dog walker? Many media outlets responded by asking pet care professionals how one choses a good dog walker. Many of answers are fairly generic – dog walkers should have a permit, insurance and references. All true. But any dog walker can provide you with an insurance certificate and a permit, because all it takes to obtain these things is money. If you are looking for a good dog walker, don’t stop there.

Listen to your gut. I can’t count the number of calls I’ve taken over the years from new clients who are finally parting ways with their old dog walker over an incident that was, in their words, “the last straw.” There’s a common element to all of these stories – the client always had a “weird feeling” that something was amiss with their walker. All I can say is this: one of the most important aspects of choosing a good dog walker is paying attention to your intuition about the person.

I often ask people why they waited so long to sack a bad dog walker. Their answers almost always have something to do with feeling badly, and not being really sure if their weird feelings were justified. Listen to your gut. You need to have a dog walker who you trust completely.

Healthy Fear. I am paid to keep dogs happy and safe. Every good dog walker puts the safety of their dogs above everything else during a walk - above fun, above how we look to people in the park, and above our pride. Yes, if I have to swim into a freezing lake to rescue a dog that looks like he’s having trouble, I’m doing it. If we’ve been at the park for only 30 minutes, and an aggressive dog arrives, we’re leaving. I love my job and most of the time it’s happy and joyful. But make no mistake, when you see us at the beach or on the trails, tossing balls and running around and having a great time, I’m always on guard. Because at any second, something could change. I’m constantly counting heads (and tails) and keeping a watchful eye the horizon. Anyone who doesn’t have a healthy fear of the things that might go wrong is not cut out for professional dog walking.

You can find out if your dog walker has this instinct by asking the right questions. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you want to discuss it further.

Relationships with you and your dog. Here at OMD, we’re always in contact with our clients. We bond with the humans as well as their dogs. I know everything about my dogs - what they like, what they’re afraid of, how to recall them, what they eat, where they don’t like to be touched, what kinds of people make them uncomfortable, etc... . Your dog walker should have an active, ongoing relationship with you and with your dogs.

To me, those are the most important factors for choosing a dog walker, and/or staying with your current one.

R.I.P. Mia, Buddy, Oscar, Teemo, Salty and Molly

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The TDWA's First Community Event!

Last week the TDWA held its first community event - Spring Clean in Trinity Bellwoods Park. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Our members worked hard to create an event that would help shine a positive light on the dog walking industry and help make a difference at the same time. We were touched by the support we received:

Our next event will be a bit of a sneak attack, so watch out for us! In the meantime, thanks to everyone who came out. And for those of you who dug into your pockets for change and bills, we raised $145 for T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue! Your support means the world.

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Dog Walker Safety Tips

Recently a few professional dog walkers from Toronto submitted our top safety tips and checks to the Toronto Dog Walkers Association. The result was a blog post that compiled all of our information. I would urge anyone who ever has a dog in their care (owners and professionals) to give it a read. I'm overwhelmed everyday by the number of missing dogs, and most of the time these tragedies can be avoided.

Here's a link to the post. I hope you find it helpful.

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Is Fido in Your Will? He Should Be

Working in rescue I come across so many people trying to re-home pets that once belonged to family members. I'm sure the folks who left them behind assumed they would be cared for. Don't take this for granted. Read this article, have open communication with family and friends and get it all in writing. On a lighter note, here are some new pictures.

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#WoofMeowTweet

In 2009 I started a Twitter account, and since then have not tweeted even once. That is, until today.

I "get" social media and the role it plays in the world of business, but the thought of learning Twitter and maintaining it gave me a headache. I mean if you're a big business dog walker (several employees and an office manger), you might have the time and energy. But I'm not. So between dog walking, replying to messages and emails from clients, caring for my own dogs, nutrition work, maintaining Facebook, and the rest of life (all things I love, btw), there was no way I could add Twitter.
Then along came Katie. In addition to being one of the most wonderful, conscientious dog walkers I've ever met, she loves social media. She graciously accepted the @oh_my_dog password (promptly changed it) and is making this Tweeting thing finally happen.
Sure it's a long-winded way to say, "we tweet now so please follow us." But it's not like I buried the lead. :)
Follow oh my dog! nutrition too!

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How to Choose a Great Dog Walker - Some Stuff You Might Not Think Of

It's come to this: Many dog owners are being duped.

A responsible dog owner tries to do right by employing a walking service for their pooch. Sadly, what some don't realize is the service they're hiring isn't all sunshine and rainbows. What you hope for is a group of dogs frolicking in the park, playing chase, resting in the shade of a tree, fetching, wrestling, etc... . Sure, it can be that way. It should be that way. And in many cases, it is that way. But more often than not, it isn't. I could regale you for hours about the crappy dogs walkers I see day-after-day, but that's a different story for a different day.

With this post I want to help unsuspecting owners realize that dog walking has it's duds, just like every other profession. So how do you do your due diligence when hiring a dog walker? Here is a start:

1. Ask the other dog owners in your dog park who they use. Ask if they are happy with the service. I'm amazed at how many people are using a service they have "weird feelings" about.
2. Read your potential dog walker's website thoroughly to see if it feels like a good match.
3. Ask for references and CHECK them.
4. Potential dog walkers should want to set up a meeting in your home to meet you and your dog. During this time make sure your dog and the walker seem comfortable together. Listen to your gut.
5. If you’re considering a service that has employees, ask the owner of the company to bring the employee who will be responsible for your dog’s care to the first meeting. Also insist that you always be informed when staff changes occur. Make sure you will be allowed to contact your walker directly, instead of only having a manager's contact info.
6. Be sure your potential walker has a Dog Walker License form the City of Toronto. This means not only that they are bonded and insured, but also that they must adhere to city by-laws. (Dog walkers who do not use city green space however, are not obliged to have a license. These are dog walkers who use city sidewalks rather than parks.) I'm concerned about dog walkers who don't use public spaces (i.e.: rented hidden, private lockups). I personally feel your dog walker should be comfortable with, and encourage public scrutiny. I also know for a fact that dogs become bored when they visit the same place every single day.
7. Be clear about what type of service you are receiving. If your dog is not supposed to go off-leash, don’t leave this information out. If you want leash-free time in the park, make sure your new walker uses safe, legal off-leash parks.
8. Disclose any and all behaviour issues and personality quirks your pooch may have. When you meet with the potential walker, they should have plenty of questions in this area. If they don't, then likely they don't know much about dogs. Moving forward, stay in touch with him/her regarding any new issues, and positive changes also.
9. You want someone who is certified in PET first aid.
10. Can’t stress it enough: listen to your gut.
11. Especially if you have a puppy, ask your walker if he/she is going to work with your dog on some training basics. If they intend to work with your dog, ask them what training methods they believe in. If the answer doesn't involve the word "positive" (see my post), and instead uses words like "alpha, dominance, Cesar, etc... " then don't hand over your key. 

More on this subject from a local dog trainer. 

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