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Ask The Dog Walker - Let Me Introduce Myself...

Informational and entertaining blog posts relating to dogs and dog owners while geared to all "Pet Parents", potential, new and experienced.

When I was recently presented with the opportunity to write a Blog here on Rye Patch I jumped at the chance because I have a lot of good and useful information that I'd like to share with the local pet loving community.

As a Professional Dog Walker/Pet Sitter since 2003, I've logged thousands and thousands of hours doing hands on pet care. I'd say I've seen everything, but just when I think that, something new comes along that I've never encountered before...and thus yet another learning experience. Clients and non-clients alike often come to me with questions and problems or concerns, and because of my extensive background I am often able to help them or steer them in the right direction to find answers and solutions.

In early 2003 I decided that I needed to get out of the Corporate rat race and spend my days at work doing something that brought me joy. I hadn't been able to have a dog of my own for 13 years at that point due to my living situation as an apartment renter. I sorely missed having dogs in my life in a daily basis and when I sat down to ask myself, "What brings me joy?" the immediate response in my heart and head was "DOGS! DOGS bring me joy!" So I set out to explore avenues of employment that would get me closer to dogs. I didn't have the time or funds to go to Vet school or even go through a dog training class, but I found a help wanted ad online posted by a service in White Plains that was looking for dog walkers.  "Dog Walkers?" I thought, "You can get paid to walk dogs??" I had been on the cusp of signing up for a Real Estate course, and had even gotten the support of a Broker who felt I had potential and was ready to pay for my course and take me under her wing. But at the last minute, I decided that I really needed to do something I knew I'd love - and that was to be with dogs all day.

Six months into that job I realized that the woman running the service I worked for was not a pleasant boss to have, and that I could branch out on my own in the area closer to where I lived, run my own business and keep all the money for myself rather than hand over to her an enormous percentage of what I earned.  So that's what I did. It was the best life decision I have ever made.

I spent the next several years building the local business and quickly realized that in order to do my job well and have it be as safe and easy as possible (and it is never "easy"), I needed to learn as much as I could about dog behavior and training in order to get the dogs behaving well for me.  And I made a stern promise to myself that I would allow this divergence into something that seemed like a frivolous pursuit of "loving what you do" only if I used it as a learning opportunity and sought to learn as much as I possibly could from the experience.

To that end, I've spent a lot of personal time reading any number of books on dog behavior, training, health and nutrition, I've attended quite a number of lectures, seminars and workshops and I've worked with any number of clients and their dog trainers in trying to solve problems.  I've racked up a solid base of knowledge and experience as well as a great pipeline of informational resources by communicating with other more knowledgeable animal care experts.  This is an ongoing quest of mine to continue learning as much as I can. And the more I learn the more it enables me to asssit my clients and other members of the dog loving community.

I look forward to posting informational as well as entertaining entries in the hope that I can be of assistance to pet parents who may be struggling with issues, and especially for people considering making the leap into Pet Parenthood either for the very first time, or for the first time in a long time.  It gets tricky, and I can help you navigate it to the best possible, happiest and most successful outcome for you, your family and the dog (or cat!).

Feel free to visit my web site at www.curranspets.com.

Have a question for "Ask The Dog Walker"?  Email it to:

askthedogwalker@gmail.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leslie Yager February 01, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Any advice for me? When I walk my black lab (adopted a year ago) she walks beautifully on the leash alongside her (senior) pit bull brother.When she sees ANY other dog she goes berserk - pulling, lunging, snarling. I think she just wants to play but she's knocked me over a couple times. she doesn't do this when my husband walks her. Hmmm.
Ken McQuade February 01, 2013 at 07:49 PM
It is possible your dog senses the need to protect you from other dogs. You are probably showing signs of stress when another dog approaches and your dog is picking up the vibe. Stop your dog and make her sit pet her and reassure that all is good.
Sami February 01, 2013 at 08:17 PM
I had a similar issue and would keep special treats with me (ones that he normally doesnt get) or chicken. As soon as I would see another dog approaching, I would redirect the attention to the treat. Make him sit and give him small pieces of the treat while praising him. Eventually he realized that it wasnt a huge deal anymore- but it takes time!
Leslie Yager February 01, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Okay, I am heading out NOW for a walk and will try both your tips Ken and Sami!
Leslie Yager February 01, 2013 at 09:00 PM
wow, that helped a lot. I squatted down and did a straightjacket-hug. She didn't bark and relaxed (a little) and then got the treat. Thanks!
Deirdre Curran February 02, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Hi Leslie, thanks for the question, sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner (I was out walking dogs all day..). I LOVE that you asked this (and that you got two responses!!) because this is actually a very common issue for many of my clients and other dog owners I talk to. Sometimes it's more easily solvable than others depending on the severity. The one thing I will say (and always reiterate) is that while I know a lot about dog behavior and training, I have not gone through a formal "dog training course" and I am not technically a certified trainer, so the advice I give here is not a substitute for that. I like the suggestions you got from Ken and Sami, they are on the right track, but it may be a little more complicated than that. Lunging, snarling and growling is reactivity and not so much a sign that she "wants to play" as simply that there is something about the situation that she finds stressful and is causing her to have this reaction. I am not sure I would suggest hugging the dog or trying to restrain her in that manner while this is going on. I have to go walk my own dog now, but your question is significant enough that it has given me the topic for my next blog, which I will write a bit later in the day and post a link to here. Too complicated for just a response here and deserves its own space. Thanks again, glad to see I've got some readers already!
Leslie Yager February 02, 2013 at 02:00 PM
looking forward to your next blog! PS the one time she yanked the leash out of my hand and ran across the park toward a dog she did just play with her (til I caught up).
Glen K Dunbar February 02, 2013 at 04:22 PM
hi. We have 2 dog. We never walk them. We use the pads which sometimes work OR my WIFE will pick up after them. Anyhow, we have talked about it. We hired someone at somepoint to help w/training. All she did was tell us what to do instead of just doing it and training the dogs. I love my dogs and want to be a good Daddy to them. But, nobody will help me. I am dirt poor. But, could maybe pay a modest fee if I could be guaranteed results and not just be told what I already know or have been told. I would be willing to pay more BUT, Mom money is almost gone. We are sunk and I am in deep SH**** Need the Govt to bail me out so my chid and dogs do not suffer poverty which in ineveitable. I make very little at my job BUT, I LOVE it there Glen
Ann Fanizzi February 02, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Hope you don't live in Hunters Glen in the Town of Southeast. They are trying to enact a rule where a homeowner can only have one pet and must register the pet/s by March 2013 and if they don't they will incur a fine of $40. If they have more than one pet, they have to pay $125 and if the pet dies and they have more than one, they cannot replace it. Shameful in these times when pets are so needy as are people for companionship.
Deirdre Curran February 02, 2013 at 05:07 PM
To Ann: Gladly I don't live in that Hunters Glen condo complex. I was relieved to look it up and find out it's not the TOWN of Southeast trying to enact these pet limitation measures. Sadly, that's the way a lot of condo, co-op and homeowners associations work, and you are right it does NOT help with the homeless pet issue. If you live there I hope you can work with other members of your community to fight this to something more reasonable (at least a two pet policy perhaps?), but as it's a private entity, there isn't much to be done any other way. And thank you for this comment, because THIS is another issue I want to address more fully at a later date. Many folks move into these types of places thinking they are "pet friendly" and find out afterwards that they really aren't so much. Very disappointing.
Deirdre Curran February 02, 2013 at 05:08 PM
To Glen, I've got to get my own dog out for a while as it's sunny and somewhat warm, but you again raise some interesting points I'd like to address and will do so more fully with another blog post. So thank YOU also for your contribution!

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