How to Start Your Own Dog Walking Group
Your dog is your best buddy, but sometimes your furry friend might not be the best conversation. One way to make dog walks more fun is to find some pals with pups and start your own dog walking group!
Dog walking groups don’t just turn your walk into a social event, they are also great for socializing your dog. The more interactions with people and other animals your dog has, the better. The best part about a dog walking group is that it is super simple to set up. Here’s how!
#1. Start Small:
Do you have dog owners you see regularly at the dog park? Do you have friends who have dogs that need a similar amount of exercise to your own dog? The best way to get organized and make sure your dogs are comfortable is to start with just a couple of pups and see what works best for your group.
#2. Set Guidelines:
What decisions need to be made so everyone feels comfortable with the dog walk? There are lots of ways to have a successful dog walking group, but guidelines can make sure everyone is getting the best and safest walk possible. Some examples of guidelines would be:
- The dog walk is not a free for all – Do not allow the pups to socialize and get out of control.
- Stick to dogs of a similar size if you’re worried about small pup’s safety.
- Don’t feed someone else’s dog without permission from their owner.
- Every dog must have a secure leash.
- Respect each owner’s individual training style.
- Dogs with reactivity, aggression, or in some cases, new dogs, can wear red bandanas so that the group members know to give those dogs extra space. You can learn more about the Bandana System here!
- Everyone is in charge of their own dog’s waste!
#3. Plan a Time/Route
Share your favourite dog-friendly hiking trail or a nice calm morning walk with your group! When setting a route you have to keep in mind that not everyone you’ll encounter on your walk is walking with you. It can help your dogs and everyone else to pick routes and times that are calmer. Organizing a time that works for everyone can be tricky, you can use a site like www.meetup.com to plan a time that accommodates everyone. You can use a site like www.plotaroute.com to build and share your routes with everyone before you start your dog walk.
#4. Once you have your group, set a pack order:
It can be tricky to know how dogs will get along. If someone in the group knows their dog is an alpha, you can let them lead the pack. If you have a dog in the group that gets along better with female or male dogs, or is picky about certain breeds (it happens!) you can adjust accordingly. Here is a quick summary of Dog Pack Hierarchy.
#5. Be Understanding, Take Your Time and Have an Open Mind
Some dogs behave differently in a group so it is important to allow every dog the time they need to get settled down. Some dogs may need to finish the walk early or follow behind and some dogs may want to join the walk midway through!
You may find that throughout a dog walk you need to reassess the pack order or the route. Things change and that’s A-OK! If all the owners stay calm and are flexible to changes it can help to keep your pups happy and calm as well.
#6. Enjoy Yourself!
Cherish this outside time with your pup and your pals! You can use your dog walk group as a way to make new friends that you might want to see while your dog stays home and your pup might make some new pals too!