WHAT KIND OF DOG WALKER DO YOU NEED?

I know what you are thinking, a big minivan pulls up to the local dog park and out jumps six, eight...no 10 dogs and the young dog walker in control of the pack strolls out of the driver's side with a Tim Horton's coffee in one hand and one leash in the other. The pack of dogs then runs willy-nilly throughout the dog park without any supervision, boundaries or control. This pack of marauding dogs then sets its eyes on your dog playing peacefully in one corner of the dog park with another dog and the chase begins. These pack walked dogs sure come home exhausted from their time at the dog park but their brains have not been engaged with positive human guidance and leadership.

Not a good scenario right? I agree. Dog walkers do provide a great service for those people who live busy lives and wish to have a dog in their lives but the dog walking pack mentally does nothing to improve your dog's respectful behaviour towards other dogs or maintain any level of human leadership and calm submissive behaviour. If all dog walkers were Cesar Millan, we would have it made but the majority of them seem to be more interested in finishing their coffee before it gets cold rather than making sure your dog is well behaved and respectful out on a walk.

One-on-one dog walking with an experienced professional personal dog walker is another story. Often these professional personal dog walkers are well educated in canine behaviour and have an extensive background in either training their own dogs or provide canine training.

During the personal or private dog walk, the dog is exercised and upon the request of the owner, basic obedience and leadership skills are practiced and implemented along the walk. The end result is an exercised dog that is still respectful, understands its boundaries and its brain is engaged with positive human guidance and leadership. Your professional personal dog walker ends up being an extension of your family pack - as a trusting bond develops between your dog and the dog walker. Knowing that this trust exists allows you as a dog owner to relax and know that your dog is in safe hands and that your dog will come back from a walk happy, loved and exercised just as if it was you...but with more time!

This article was written by Joan Klucha, columnist for the North Shore News and well known Vancouver, British Columbia based dog trainer who has been training dogs in tracking and obedience for more than 14 years. She has also worked with the Vancouver Police Dog Squad for 7 years.