Dog Walking

/Dog Walking

How to choose a dog walker

If you’re looking for a dog walker in Milton Keynes or Bedford you will be inundated with names of either businesses who offer this service or individuals who do a bit of walking on the side. You may even get some parents offering their child up for a fiver. There are almost too many options now which makes picking the right dog walker for you and your pooch tricky, if not a little stressful.

Pricing

To start with, you need to understand what it is you want out of the relationship and how much you want to pay. If you are pinching pennies and want the cheapest walker going then you need to understand how this will impact you and your dog; often the lowest price means lowest service. Not always but often. Dog walking is hard work, and a business who prices themselves appropriately in the market place will have taken the time to understand the logistics behind dog walking and will not just be bunging your dog in a van with twenty others because it’s easy money.

pricing

Reliability

Reliability is a huge factor too! We get so many clients coming to us because their previous walker let them down. It is often assumed in our line of work that walking is something that’s required 365 days of the year, but of course everyone needs a break. If you’re going for the cheapest rate then there is a good chance that your walker will be working on their own and therefore will be seemingly “letting you down” when taking a holiday. Do understand that a walker is just like you and I .. with the same need to rest and recoup after all that exercise and braving the elements. This may suit you ok, or you may need to use someone that has a cover system in place. Just something to think about before you choose your walker.

At Jog My Dog we have a team in place so when your usual walker takes a holiday, or is sick unexpectedly, one of the team will step in. This cover walker will have been shown the ropes already (usually when you sign up) so that they are ready and able to take up the reigns so to speak when it’s that time of year when you’re walker needs a break. The way we work is really unique I believe as we are able to offer you an individual walker who you and your dog can build up a relationship but provide cover so that you can have that all important dog walk every day of the year.

reliable dog walker

Transport

I’m always surprised how rarely (if ever) we are asked how the dogs will be transported to and from their walk. But people this is HUGE!! So so many dog walkers are cramming ten, twelve or sometimes twenty (yes you read that right) in a small van and then releasing them in a field together. Sure the dogs are usually fine, but what if it’s hot and a flat faced breed is struggling with the heat and proximity of other dogs and one time it’s not ok? What if some of the dogs have issues being this close to others and it starts to bring out the worst in them?

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, where dogs are travelling in cars loose and sat in foot wells, clambering over seats, moving around in the boot and generally distracting the driver. Your dog should be in a harness and then strapped in just like you or your child would be when driving in a car, it is against the law to have them loose and out of control. And what if the walker were to have an accident? It would be your dog flying through that windscreen faster than you can say bam!

Again this comes down to doing your research. Ask how the dogs will be transported and what systems are in place to ensure they are secure if travelling in a car not crate. At Jog My Dog we put dogs in their own individual crate unless they are from the same household (with owner agreement) or they are very well known to each other and small enough to still fit comfortably. If dogs are unhappy travelling in a crate – and some are – then we ask owners to leave out a harness so that we can strap them in with our doggy seat belts. Any dogs that are in the boots have a long leash attached to them which is in turn attached to the vehicle in some way, so that they do not bomb out of the car when the boot is opened.

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How many dogs will they walk with?

Every dog walking business is different and the first thing to highlight is that this is a very individual situation which comes down to the experience of a walker, the dog breed, temperament and age, along with the location of the walk.

An experienced walker can quite easily and safely manage 5 dogs if walking in a secluded wood, and if the dogs are known to each other, well behaved with good recall and a calm demeanor then this type of walk would be a delight and totally appropriate. You can, however, have 3 extremely wild and naughty dogs with poor recall and in this case 3 would be the max this walker should take out, with 2 probably being more appropriate.

A professional dog walking business will assess the dogs carefully before accepting them, through a detailed phone conversation and a trial walk during the meet and greet. We do this at Jog My Dog, however, sometimes this won’t show the full picture and we only start to see the real dog during their group play. Dogs that do not listen, have poor recall or ‘harass’ other dogs on their walks are not suitable for group walk sessions with us as we already have groups in place and no more room for solo dog walking.

Most of our group walks are with 3 or 4 well behaved dogs. We take them to safe areas such as the woods (Aspley and Woburn Sands being our favourite), enclosed fields (Woburn Sands or Wolverton Mill), rural areas along the North Bucks Way to name but a few. But of course there is a chance we will bump into other people or dogs so it is a must that yours is well behaved with reliable recall and presents with no aggression in order for them to join these types of walks.

Walkers often meet up as it gives us a chance to further assess the suitability of dog combinations so that last minute emergencies, holidays etc can be catered to. As the picture below shows, we look for good recall, a reliable ‘sit/stay’ and whether there is any reactivity around treats or toys. With two people present, and in fully enclosed fields, we are able to do these sort of checks which I believe is really key to stress free and safe walking.

dog walker woburn sands

So you want to be a dog walker

START YOUR NEW CAREER AS A DOG WALKER

If you have seen one of our adverts for a dog walker and think it might be something for you then this blog post is worth a read. It talks you through the services we offer, what sort of people we’re looking for to join the team, what you could earn and more!

DOG WALKING JOBS MILTON KEYNES with JOG MY DOG. 

Jog My Dog is a professional dog walking and pet sitting company. The pet care professionals contracted by Jog My Dog travel to our clients’ homes to perform the pet sitting duties requested by our customers.

Our clients are located in Milton Keynes and the surrounding villages of:

  • Bow Brickhill
  • Woburn Sands
  • Aspley Guise
  • Newport Pagnell
  • Wolverton

We currently need dog walkers in the West Milton Keynes area, Newport Pagnell or surrounding and Woburn Sands or surrounding. Anywhere within a 3 or so mile radius from these locations would be ideal. 

We provide five types of services:

  1. Dog Walking: one visit per day, typically Monday through Friday between the hours of 11am and 2:30pm, to walk dogs while their owners are at work;
  2. Doggy Day Care: dogs stay with us for the day and they are taken for at least two group walks
  3. Pet Visits: to help make our client’s lives and time away from home easier, we look after cats and other small animals in the comfort of their own home; we are also able to offer a variety of add-on, specialty services on request
  4. Home Boarding: the timeline for this service can range from a day anywhere up to three weeks; a client’s dog stays with a Jog My Dog pet sitter in their home where they will get at least two walks per day and not left alone longer than 3 hours
  5. House Sitting: a pet sitter stays in a clients home to look after their pets, who should not be left alone for longer than 3 hours at a time. No partners or friends/family allowed to stay.

What is essential to work with Jog My Dog?

You must:

  • Have a valid driver’s license and access to a reliable, insured vehicle (ideally hatchback or similar).
  • Have a Smart phone, daily access to the Internet and the ability to communicate effectively by returning emails and phone calls promptly.
  • Be familiar with the service area.
  • Commit to at least 12 months.
  • Be able to provide professional references.
  • Obtain and submit a DBS certificate (circa £25 and lasts 3 years)
  • You must be able to access our mobile phone application while performing duties. (Smartphone.)
  • Pet First Aid Training is advantageous
  • Knowledge of dog behavior is useful (the current walkers all receive ongoing training guidance from a behaviorist we use in Milton Keynes that JMD work with)

Positions with Jog My Dog

  • Mid Day Dog Walkers must be available to walk dogs Monday through Friday between the hours of 11 AM & 14:30 PM. The number of dogs you’ll walk on any given day will vary based upon the clients’ schedules and when they need pet care.  It is important for the business to be able to provide cover on all of these days and hours; therefore please specify if you are only available a few days per week or for only certain hours of the 11:00-14:30 time block.
  • Pet Sitters/ House Sitters visit our client’s home multiple times per day, and may need to be available for AM & PM visits. House Sitters will live in a clients home and the duration can span a weekend or two weeks.

Summary

Sitters contracted by Jog My Dog can either be classified as a Mid Day Dog Walker, a Pet Sitter, a House Sitter or any combination of the three positions. This is based on your availability and what services you’re interested in offering to our clients.

Walkers and sitters typically accept assignments as close to their “home base” as possible to increase their profits (i.e. reduce petrol costs). The usual travel distance is 2.5 to 5 miles with a max distance of 7 miles… unless they have agreed to travel further.

Note: For house sitting assignments, sitters can travel further because their “home base” is the client’s home.

Working as an Independent Contractor

Jog My Dog chooses to work with independent contractors (IC’s) to perform the pet care duties outlined by our customers. An independent contractor is someone who is classed as Self-Employed and is responsible for their own tax returns.

As an independent contractor you’re paid an amount per pet you look after rather than an hourly rate.

Group Dog Walks are kept to four at a time (unless the dogs are small/easy and the walker is extremely experienced in group walks). Independent Contractors working with Jog My Dog may walk one, two, three or four dogs at a time as determined by the needs of our customers, and their own confidence and experience with dogs.

Long-Term Relationship

Jog My Dog is interested in working with IC’s who want to build a long-term relationship with our company and its clients. It’s not a good position for those trying to find interim work while in-between jobs or trying to “figure-out” what their next step is. Our clients come to trust their assigned pet sitter and appreciate it when they’re able to grow a trusted relationship with that person.  

Dog walking with Jog My Dog is a lot of fun, but can sometimes be hard work too when it is raining, snowing or when the doggies are strong, pull, etc. The role offers a great work/life balance but is not suitable to those who need a set income each month as walks can fluctuate depending on when our clients need us (i.e. half term, Christmas can be quieter as clients are off with their dogs). However, if a walker is prepared to be patient and understands what pet care is – the importance of building strong relationships with customers and is willing to engage with local word of mouth advertising which helps business pick up and grow – it offers great potential for good earnings within the lunch time window.

Compensation

Jog My Dog offer fantastic rates for our services to the team of dog walkers, home boarders and sitters – paying the most of all businesses in Milton Keynes as we value our team. We also use a fantastic online system for managing the client info, diaries and invoicing is done by Jog My Dog so that our walking/sitting team do not have to worry about chasing money or getting paid.

  • Compensation information will be provided in email 
  • Walkers, Sitters and Boarders are paid every 2 weeks by direct deposit into their bank account.
    • We pay on the 1st and 16th of each month.

Earnings range from £400 – £1300 a month. What a person earns is very much dependent on their availability, experience with dogs, willingness to walk big dogs, engagement with clients and generating local word of mouth recommendations. The amount of time a walker has been with Jog My Dog also factors in to the amount earned, as areas can take some time to build up but once they do work continues to come in by word of mouth referrals.

Sound like something you’d like to do?

If after reading the above you feel this is something that you would love to do then please follow this link and complete the questionnaire form. We will only contact those who fit what we are looking for – thank you for your interest!

Why choose Jog My Dog?

There are lots of dog walkers in Milton Keynes and Bedford so why choose Jog My Dog? I have listed in this blog the top 6 reasons which are really the corner stones of our business and what sets us apart from the competition.

1. Professionalism: Our clients know that when they choose us their much loved pets are being looked after by a qualified, knowledgeable, insured and DBS checked business. We are members of The Pet Professionals Guild, The National Association of Registered Pet Sitters and The International Society of Animal Professionals. We are also registered volunteers with The Cinnamon Trust and Hula Animal Rescue.

2. Technology and Convenience: To help the business run smoothly we utilise a top-notch system. Clients can book, amend and cancel services, view their billing information and update their pet profiles online and keep in real-time contact with their pet sitter via GPS and picture messaging.

3. Education and Knowledge: We believe that the learning process never stops and as such we are constantly keeping up to date with the latest scientific research around animal behaviour, reward-based training methods, nutrition and pet first aid.

4. Feedback with Outstanding Communication: We encourage all our clients to speak to us about their experience with Jog My Dog so that we can continue to improve as a business. Happiness Surveys have just been launched which enables clients to provide live feedback after each walk, pop in or boarding service.

5. Huge Passion for Animals: Animal welfare and pet health – both physical and mental – is our number one priority; and as a business we promote continued education and learning so that we can give our clients, and their pets, the best possible service.

6. We were WINNERS of the Best Local Business Award 2017 and hugely proud to not only have been nominated by our clients but go on to win in this competitive category.

The Sign Up Process

So you’ve decided that you want to use Jog My Dog for walking your pooch. Now what?

This blog explores the sign up process for new dog walking clients and helps to shed light on what happens when so you can sit back and relax knowing we’ve got you covered!

  1. Provide us with your email address, home address and mobile number. This enables us to set you up on our scheduling system and generate the Welcome Email
  2. The Welcome Email has a link which needs to be clicked on. Once you have changed your password you’re in!
  3. Read the T&C on the scheduling system. The T&Cs are admittedly pretty long and detailed but they are in place to protect you, your pet and our walkers. Please pay special attention to the booking / cancellation terms and payment info as this is really important to understand at the start
  4. Click on the Details tab and complete the Personal Info page. Here is where you should add your Emergency person and their mobile number (think partner, local mum/dad, trusted friend with house access, etc). This is also where you add any home info that is relevant to us looking after your pet – so alarms, access restrictions and the like
  5. Click on the Pet tab and complete the Pet Info page by adding your Dog, their date of birth, breed and then as much information as possible in the free form fields at the bottom of the page. There are a number of tick boxes which are useful to be completed but we find the free form boxes excellent for clients getting the right space to explain their dogs likes/dislikes, where they should be left after a walk, etc
  6. Familiarize yourself with the scheduling tool. The system is really easy to use and we help you along the way
  7. Look out for the Meet & Greet confirmation email. Before you can schedule any walks for your dog we must come out and meet you and your pooch, see the home set up, go through the pet info tab and collect 2x keys (or obtain the code for your key box if you use one of these instead)
  8. Schedule your walks! If you are a client with set days each week then you can skip this step as it will be done for you automatically by the system (however, it is still your responsibility to notify us of any changes on a month by month basis). If you’re a client with adhoc days then all you need to do is go into the scheduler, select the dates and times and await confirmation that we can attend
  9. The business owner will be in contact with you after a few weeks to ensure you are happy with your walker. At this point you will be reminded of our referral scheme whereby you can get £25 in credit for every person you refer to us who takes out a contract in turn. You will also be asked if you’d like to leave a review on our Facebook and Google pages; although in terms of day-to-day feedback you can do this via Happiness Surveys or in the Private Message tab (these come only to the business owner and not the walker)

That’s it, couldn’t be simpler!

time to pet 2

 

time to pet 1

I hope you found this blog helpful and we look forward to walking your dog in Milton Keynes & Bedford soon.

Dog Friendly Walks in Milton Keynes: Simpson

I’m always on the look out for good walks where Grizzle can be off lead without me worrying he’ll run off after deer, rabbit, foxes or have encounters with too many other dogs – something which can be a bit hit and miss depending on his mood, the age and sex of the dog and importantly whether they are entire males or not.

The enclosed cattle fields in Simpson are perfect because it has everything a slightly wary dog owner might look for in a walk, yet is suitably stimulating for the dogs with an uneven landscape, trees, ponds which form in the dips of the ground, water from the old river bubbling underneath some trees, geese, ducks, sticks, grasses and more.

You can find this space if doing a circular walk of Caldecotte North but I usually drive straight to one of the two little parking lots, either on the right hand side as you enter Simpson (coming from Fenny) or further along opposite the church. At both these points you will find poo bins but none once you enter the fields so just something to bear in mind.

The fields are fully enclosed but with low mesh type fencing and along the edges small and otherwise persistent dogs can get out. If you have a dog who likes to swim then you will need to monitor the river as it is sometimes very quick moving and dogs have been known to get caught up in it.

dog walker milton keynes

There are a number of benches along the path which runs in the middle of the field and a picnic bench by the gate near the church end. It is a most delightful spot for a picnic in good weather and because the fields are so wide you can see people or other dogs coming from a mile off.

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Because the ground is so uneven it makes for a really interesting walk as sticks and balls thrown bounce off the hills and roll into little streams of water, with the dogs chasing happily behind. There are different types of grasses which make the perfect hiding spot for treats which means scentwork games are an absolute must here. Along with the grass there are also lots of cut down tree stumps, twigs, logs and dead leaves which make for fantastic sniffing opportunities.

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If your dog loves to swim then this is the place for you because for most of the wet spring and autumn months there are giant pools of water that form from the rain. The large water areas look pretty clean so if your pooch has been swamping in the more shallow areas of water which are in fact extremely muddy, then all you have to do is lure them into the larger water areas to clean off. I often throw sticks into the water for Grizzle to chase and he absolutely loves it, especially as it gets warmer.

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Speaking of which, this is not the spot for you to visit in summer as by then the sheep have arrived and following on from them we get cows. Total bummer but I suppose they do have to graze somewhere. With this in mind though, dog walkers do need to be mindful of their dogs if walking through the fields and keep them on lead so they don’t scare or injure the livestock. I personally don’t risk it and just find other fields or walks to take Grizzle on.

Although this field is pretty big you would get bored circling it for an hour so we usually mix it up by starting in the field for a bit of ball / stick games and then exit out of the gate near the church and turn right towards Walton Park. We enter back into Caldecotte just after the poo bin and circle back round with the lake on our left and the field to our right. This usually takes 10 or 15 min depending on the amount Grizzle sniffs and pees and it’s more for a change of scenery for me than anything else. Although he won’t poo in the field for the most part, so this is where that action happens. We then enter into the field from the top end and do another 20 min or so of ball and stick games before ending with a bit of scentwork before going home.

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This, for my dog anyways, is the PERFECT walk. Is it boring for me? Yeah kinda! But the whole point of us going out is for Grizzle to have a good time, it’s his walk not my exercise hour. He’s not the sort of dog who likes walking for the sake of walking. There has to be a point, either ‘work’ (in the form of chasing sticks, retrieving balls or scenting treats), or stalking deer (something we do in the woods together – albeit on lead!). At first I balked at this idea of doing the same thing every day. For the rest of my life. But it’s really not so bad and actually I far prefer to see him have a good walk and enjoy himself than drag him about some pavement where he’s bored and miserable.

What does your dog love to do on a walk? Does he love bombing up to other dogs or be chased by them? Or does he prefer a quiet sniffy stroll with just you? Does he like to play games and use his mind or just walk and see the world go by? A really important point to make is that each dog is different! They are unique like you and me; so once we start to see them that way they are less “annoying” and more interesting. Figure out what makes your dog happy and go out there and participate in more of that with them!

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New Dog Walking Clients: Start HERE!

Are you a prospective client wishing to have your dog walked by us? Or are you new and need a refresher about how we work? This is a really important blog post which highlights some of our most commonly asked questions and explores in detail how we work, what the sign up process is, who will walk  your dog if your normal sitter is on holiday and so much more!

  • How does a client go about getting started?

All are welcome to email the office with their requests. Our email is mary@jogmydog.co.uk  and at this point please provide as much relevant info about your dog, where you live, what times you need walks, etc as this enable us to assess whether we can assist with the request. When we have ascertained whether we can help, and a client is ready to get started, we have a very simple registration process that will be explained. We can get started as soon as the registration meeting has taken place.

  • What is the registration meeting?

The registration meeting is a visit that allows the client to get to know our service prior to the start of their first walk or visit. Where possible the dedicated sitter will be in attendance but this may not always happen. During this visit we will introduce ourselves, spend some quality time with your pet, confirm and review the pertinent information about the home and pet care routine (e.g. vet information, emergency contact, special requests, etc.), and answer any additional questions the client may have. We do NOT provide service until this meeting has taken place.

  • So, after a client has completed their registration meeting can they schedule walks anytime?

Absolutely! All clients are provided with a unique login to their secured Jog My Dog account. From this gateway they are able to schedule walks, check their personal service calendar, update their billing information and also receive picture updates following our visits. All scheduling requests are confirmed during our regular business hours, which are 9AM-5PM Monday through Friday.

  •  Can a client schedule directly through their sitter?

No.  For the safety of our client’s pets all visits MUST be scheduled through the Jog My Dog portal. We use an online scheduling program which ensures that “no pet is left behind.” If a client schedules through their sitter and the sitter forgets to inform the office, that takes us out of the loop and therefore unable to follow-up with the sitter to make sure that the pet has been seen. Jog My Dog will not be held liable for visits scheduled without the offices knowledge.

  •  Can I text you or send a Facebook request to book your services?

No. All visits must be requested through the Jog My Dog portal, this ensures that the messages are not forgotten about.

  • What do I need to remember to do before you come for the first walk?

  1.         Pay your invoice
  2.         Ensure your dog has their ID tag on their collar
  3.         Leave out their lead, collar and towels for drying off
  4.         Ensure any alarm codes have been given to us, or alarms switched off
  5.         Provide us with 2x keys for your property, or the code to your key box
  • How do you accept payment?

We accept payment by BACs.

  •  So, you don’t accept checks? Can a client leave cash?

No, we don’t accept checks. The clients can leave a cash gratuity for their sitter if they so wish, but payment for services must be made by bank transfer. Payment is due prior to the start of service.

  •  What time do the sitters walk the dogs?

Our sitters visit our client homes a number of times each day. We have walks at the following times:

– The “Morning” time slot is between 9:30 AM & 10:30 AM.

– The “Mid Day” time slot is between 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM.

– The “Afternoon” time slot is between 4:00 & 6:00 PM.

  •  Are there extra costs for services which happen on a weekend or bank holiday?

Yes. You can read more about Services and Rates here.

  •  How about last-minute requests?

We’re more than happy to schedule pet care for last-minute needs, however we cannot guarantee that a sitter is going to be available on short notice, (so urge you to request your services as early as possible). We also only schedule service during our regular business hours (9AM-5PM Monday through Friday).

  • When do I need to pay you?

On confirmation of your service request you will get an email showing the list of services / walks and their associated cost. At this point you will be prompted to make payment.

You will also receive a PDF invoice a few days before the first service is due to commence. Within the invoice you will find our BACs details, a list of services and their cost.

Payment is due prior to the first service commencing and where a client is overdue by more than 7 days a late payment fee will be added. Clients who are consistently late in paying may be terminated.

  • What is the Jog My Dog cancellation policy?

Since we understand what it’s like to have a busy and ever-changing schedule we have implemented a cancellation policy which aims to be flexible for our clients yet workable for our team:

  • 100% of the Fees if cancellation occurs less than 48 hours of the scheduled service (Dog Walking, Cat & Small Animal Care, Pet/Dog Home Visits)
  • 100% of the Fees if cancellation occurs within the same week of the scheduled service (Day Care)

 

  • What happens if a client’s primary sitter is not available for a pet sitting request? Or they are on holiday / get sick?

 Our sitter roster is chock-full of excellent pet care providers that would love to care for a client’s pet if their primary sitter is unavailable. Since we have all of the client’s pet care information in our secure database it’s really not necessary for the client to meet with the alternate sitter, however; if the client feels more comfortable with having a meeting with the alternate sitter, we are more than happy to schedule another registration “Meet/Greet.” The cost of this meeting is £10, which covers the sitter’s time and expense for driving over to the client’s home.

  • Tell me about your hiring process of the pet sitters.

First, we employ ONLY dedicated pet care professionals. We work with sitters who have practical experience in pet care and view their time with Jog My Dog as part of their career path.

Second, we run an extensive screening process, which includes a face-to-face interview, followed by reference checks, followed by a complete background check (DBS). All sitters are then hired on a trial basis until we have followed up with enough clients to ensure that they are an excellent fit for Jog My Dog. All sitters who work with Jog My Dog promise to abide by and sign our code of ethics and processes and procedures.

  • Jog My Dog have quite a few pet sitters. How is it possible to ensure that they are all keeping up with the standards of Jog My Dog?

All Jog My Dog sitters attend an orientation where they learn about the standards of Jog My Dog and the procedures that we follow to put our Client Peace of Mind System into action. They then work very closely with the owner of the business (Mary) and long serving sitters during the first month to ensure that they understand the way we work and that they are following proper protocol. The sitters also have daily communication with the office and their clients, and are required to check off their visits on our secure database at the completion of each visit. This allows the office to confirm that each pet was visited by their pet care provider. We always follow-up with our clients to make sure that their pet sitter is up to snuff.

The sitters are monitored each month to ensure standards are maintained. This is done via client surveys, joint walks and randomized time keeping spot checks. We also meet up once a month for team meetings to go over important pet issues, planning strategies, behaviour training tips and much more.

 

  • How long do you walk for?

During our lunch time window of 10:30am and 2:30pm we only offer 60 minute group walks in Milton Keynes and Bedford.

In Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise and surrounding, we offer both 45 min and 60 min walks within the lunch time window.

If you require a shorter walk for your very young pup, senior dog or reactive pooch we may be able to offer you a 30 minute dog pop-in visit / walk but this will not be during the lunch time block which is reserved for our 60 min group walks.

 

  • Where do you walk the dogs?

The majority of our clients have opted for our most popular dog walk duration of 1 hour. This gives the sitters ample time to take the dogs to fields or the woods for safe off lead play.

Some clients with small or elderly dogs will have 30 min walks scheduled and these often take place local to the client home. If there are safe areas to allow them to walk off lead then this will happen; if not the dogs will get a stimulating on lead walk, plenty of love and attention along with the chance to have a comfort break.

  • Will my dog get dirty on walks?

Yes, possibly! We live in the UK and that means that rain, mud, snow and dirt are very real possibilities. The only way to ensure dogs are kept perfectly clean is to keep them on lead and walked around the neighbourhood.

Dogs joining our group sessions will need to have reliable recall and be allowed off lead; and clients must be prepared for some dirt. We have a number of solutions in place for wet winter walking which are:

  • Buy your dog a Equafleece Dog Suit. These keep dogs dry, clean and warm. You can buy them here
  • Show us where the outside tap is and provide towels for post walk/shower drying off
  • Specify where we should leave the dog if still wet or slightly dirty so your home is not affected

If your dog is joining our off lead group sessions, or you have requested they be walked off lead or in fields (as opposed to the paths outside your home) then please be prepared to accept some dirt, it comes with having a dog.

  • Are the dogs you walk up to date with their flea / worming meds?

Yes. However, please note that it is very rare for a flea to jump off a host dog in the open field and jump onto another dog.

  • My situation changed and I don’t need your services anymore. How much notice do I need to give you?

In accordance with our terms and conditions we need 28 days notice for regular pet sitting services. This should be in writing via the portal.

Snow Snow Snow

Snow has once again descended upon Milton Keynes, and there’s no doubt about it — snow is fun for most dogs! It’s always important to stay safe when walking your dog in the snow or ice; so here are a couple top tips that are worth bearing in mind when going out in these low temperatures:

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t dehydrate. It can be easy to forget about this when it’s so cold outside, but dogs can get quite dehydrated very quickly regardless of the temperature. So it’s important you make sure they drink lots of water before they go out for a walk and again when they get back home.
  • Picking up their poop is still a must. Just because there’s lots of the white stuff on the ground doesn’t mean that it’s ok to leave your dogs poop without picking it up. When the snow melts – and of course it will – their poop will have probably been trodden in which will spread the mess all over the ground. Gross.
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t eat snow. Ice and snow can harbor bacteria and make your pet sick. It’s quite tempting for some dogs to crunch down on bits of ice and snow, but unless you know it’s fresh (i.e. snow flakes falling from the sky), try to stop them.
  • Keep clean, dry towels by the door. It’s important to wash and dry your dog’s paws once you return home to remove any little ‘snow balls’ which can be uncomfortable for them, along with salt. If your dog has been frolicking as much as my little Grizzle has, then they will appreciate getting all toasty warm after their outing.

We love taking pictures of the dogs we walk, but in really low temperatures it can be hard to keep our hands out in the elements. But despite the freeeeeezing weather and endless sleety snow, our fabulous team of walkers not only braved the wind but managed to capture some fabulous pictures. There were too many to choose from but these are a couple of my favourites. Which one do you like best? Comment below or over on Facebook 🙂

(the cover photo is Bella, a dog we have in day care, and the picture was taken by her mum Rebecca who has her own photography business and takes some amazing pictures!)

lulu in the snow

woody

amber

bella 2

hugo

leah

missy

nala

skyla

shadow

tyler

Dunstable Downs New Years Walk

We rung in the new year with a lovely day trip to Dunstable Downs. Only 40 minutes from our home in Milton Keynes, this is a perfectly do-able day out if you have dogs, kids or just enjoy a wander in the fresh air. There are a number of different planned walks you can take, but I just like to park up in our usual free parking area and set off. I let Grizzle choose where we were going because if I try and set the pace or direction of any of our walks it usually ends in a frustrating stale mate (he’s extremely stubborn)!

He took off to the left, interestingly not along the cliff like hills but towards the lane leading to the tree cathedral. You first pass a number of beautiful  homes, the sort I dream of living in. As we meandered along I daydreamed of lazy summer afternoons lost in one of the large gardens which backed on to endless fields and green as far as the eye could see. The tree cathedral is of course not a construction in the traditional sense, but rather a natural thing of beauty – trees of different heights and ages. You wander through its paths feeling in another world if but for a moment. This isn’t a vast area really, but a small garden of sorts within the park grounds. Still, it is very pretty and we enjoyed the crisp air in our faces and the sun on our backs. Snow was still covering some of the ground and it crunched underfoot as we made our way through the little paths.

whipsnade tree cathedral

tree cathedral ivinghoe beacon

Quiet as it was, we still had to dodge the odd rogue dog whose owners felt had no need for a lead, despite the fact Grizzle and Mandy were on theirs. However, we navigated the space with ease because I am accustomed to this dog dance as we have been at it for years. For readers of this post who don’t know the back history .. Grizzle has a fierce dislike for all entire male dogs, it doesn’t matter their age, breed or size – he hates them all. Alongside this, he has lead aggression and seemingly lashes out at most dogs on a lead prior to smelling and sussing out whether they are fine or not. Because of this, I find it easier to avoid other dogs when out walking, as on the whole, he’s not keen on greeting or “saying hello” to other dogs; and these meetings can tend to take him over threshold and ruin the rest of the walk.

Having come out the other end of the tree cathedral we came to rather lovely Chute Wood. It was another small space and seemed to be created for children but as dogs were allowed I figured we would have a look. This little wood was in fact a sniffy dogs paradise! With tyres, logs, climbing frames and piles of autumn leaves, Grizzle and Mandy spent a blissful twenty minutes scenting dried liver treats I scattered about the area. Even without a pocket full of treats, finding a little location like this can be of huge interest for your dog – allowing them to clamber over logs, jump across tyres and navigate tree stumps gives them a mental workout and challenges all of their doggy senses.

chute wood

chute wood 2

chute wood 3

chute wood 4

We were nearing the end of our morning outing so decided to pay the cliffs a visit – after all, you can’t come to Dunstable Downs and not admire the view! It was super windy at this point and bitterly cold; but the little dogs forged on, spurred into motion by smells of wildlife shooting through the air. Their little noses were glued to the floor and we covered quite a distance in under thirty minutes.

cliffs 3

cliffs 5

By the end of our long march across the winding hills I was very much looking forward to treating myself to a warm cuppa and cake from the (supposedly dog friendly) cafe; only to find that it is not, in fact, dog friendly. You can sit outside with your dog but cannot enter the shop or cafe with them. If you are in a group or couple situation this would not be a problem; but of course if you fly solo with your dog (as I now do) it was a most frustrating and disappointing find. Still, we had a good morning out and managed to dodge the heavy down pour which started as soon as we drove out of the parking lot. Result 😉

Till next time …

cliffs

Walking Your Dogs in Wet Weather

The UK is blessed with some delightfully wet weather, and while most dogs will happily go out come rain or shine, dog owners are not always quite as excited to find their dogs coat constantly damp, dirty and matted, or covered with leaves, bramles and twigs!

Some dogs are ‘lucky’ and have sleek almost oily coats, and when they get muddy or wet on a walk it’s fairly simple to brush over with a dry towel and a bit of rubbing action. However, your doggies with poodle esque hair (think popular breeds such as cockapoo’s, labradoodles, westipoo’s, etc), along with your high actions spaniels, suffer much more with the old messy bed hair.

As dog walkers, we want your pooch to have the best walk, and for most dogs that means off lead play with their other doggy pals. They also find great enjoyment in scurrying in hedges, plonking themselves on a sandy patch to “dry off” or wallow in mud like pigs … often attempting to swim in the most disgusting of puddles. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get them back on lead before this happens. Dogs are opportunistic and very quick when it suits them, often knowing where they are headed long before we spot the same. Therefore, in poor weather the only way your dog will come back clean is if they are kept on lead and walked along the pavement.

Our main priority is the safety of your dogs, so when we choose our walking locations we aim for enclosed paddocks, empty tracks with no vehicular use, disused farmers fields or the woods. We choose these over popular parks in Milton Keynes because we are less likely to run into other people, children or dogs (remember, not everyone loves dogs running about off lead). The flip side? These walking locations are also wet and muddy!

The reality is: the only way to guarantee your dog will come back nearly as clean as they set out is to keep them on lead and walk along the pavement, but this is honestly NO fun for your dog and we certainly don’t advise it as the best way of tiring them out physically or stimulating them mentally.

Our suggestions below may take a bit of investment in terms of time, installation and money; but you will reap the rewards for many years to come and probably find that you are enjoying your wet weather walks more too. And of course, you’ll be helping your dog walker out no end whilst allowing your dog to fully enjoy their walks.

  1. Install a tap outside your property. You can keep it as simple as a tap and hose, or as fancy as adding warm water, building a shelf to house their doggy shampoo, towels etc.
  2. Purchase a Dog Onesie. If your not able to have a tap installed, then the next best option is a dog onesie. These head to toe outfits may appear silly, but really do provide full body coverage, only leaving their feet to be cleaned at the end of the walk (and tail / head if they have serious mud rolling issues). MUCH more manageable and leaves you with a dry, clean dog at the end of most any walk. There are cheaper alternatives on ebay and other pet sites.
  3. Buy a Dog Drying Bag. This clever purchase would need to be left out on the counter so your dog walker can put your dog in it after the walk on the drive home. Made from quality, highly absorbent fabric, your pooch will be at least 50% drier/cleaner by the time they enter the house, leaving a smaller task for the dog walker and a cleaner home for you!
  4. Let us know where we should leave your Less Than Sparkly Clean Pooch. If your dog usually has free run of the house with access to carpets, beds, couches, etc then you might like to revisit this in wet weather. We advise keeping your dog contained in a utility room, kitchen or hallway area which has tiled or wooden floors. If you lay towels down and keep them within a hard floor area, then any dirt and mud will dry and fall off during the course of the day and when you get home it makes a light task of clearing up.

If you have any other tips to share do comment below. Happy Wet Walking!

dog walking milton keynes

6 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods

There is something deeply magical about walking in the woods: it is tranquil, quiet, peaceful and mind-clearing; so it’s no wonder the Japanese coiled the term Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” to describe the practice of spending more time in the forest to improve their health and sense of well-being. This is something we should all do more of because walking in the woods boasts a number of health benefits for us and our four-legged friends.

dog walk bow brickhill

In Milton Keynes we are really spoiled for choice with woods dotted across the city within easy reach of all of us. I often take the dogs we walk to Shenley, Hazely, Linford, Howe Park, Salcey Forest and Marston Vale ; however, my personal favourite for weekend dog walks with my own little guy (Grizzle) is Bow Brickhill / Aspley Wood.

Although popular with the locals, these woods always feel empty. Perhaps that’s because you can access them from different points which means you get a new view and empty trails almost every time.

My Top 6 Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods

  1. Lower your blood pressure. Japanese researchers measured the blood pressure of a group of busy city workers before and after a 2 hour walk in the woods. The result? The group had lower blood pressure after walking through nature than before.
  2. Help your brain work better. Walking through a green area with trees has been found to aid learning and memory, so much so that kindergartens are beginning to pop up across Europe and the US as teachers slowly begin to appreciate what nature can do to boost their curriculum and student learning and engagement. In fact, if you are based in Milton Keynes, Northampton or any of the surrounding villages you will want to check out Fire & Air – in a nutshell they explore learning and well-being using the forest as their school, really amazing work!
  3. It may help with depression. How many times have you felt a bit rubbish before heading out for a long walk only to come home at the end of it feeling far better than when you set out: more alert, fresher and positive. In fact, studies suggest that city dwellers living near trees were found to have better mental health, with lower rates of prescriptions for antidepressants, than those with no greenery around them.
  4. Getting your dog back to nature. Is a stroll through the neighborhood, endless games of ‘fetch’ or hanging around a park what your dog would do in the wild? When looking at keeping your dog in tip top health you should always try to mimic nature where possible (and safe to do so). Hiking and walking on trails is an excellent form of activity for your dog because it is similar to what they would do in nature.
  5. Walking up hills to keep strong. Just like us, our dogs fitness levels can plateau so to keep them strong and healthy into old age we need to keep challenging our dogs and ensuring they engage in lots of stimulating walks and hikes in varied surroundings, which will also keep them mentally active too! All dogs should walk up hill regular to keep strong, even your senior pooch.
  6. Moving on uneven terrains (rocks, logs and dodging other obstacles found in the woods) is my final important tip for maintaining strength and balance – for both you and your dog. When you discover a new walk there is a sense of excitement as you set out to explore the unknown and the health benefits are real here too: think unused muscles, balance, coordination and concentration.

So go on and get out to your local woods more often. Grab your dog and clamber over hills, splash in streams, stumble over rocks and trip yourself up over a log – I guarantee you both will love it!

aspley woods