Everyone loves dogs. But not everyone knows the best way to train and walk them.
That’s why we’ve interviewed a professional dog walker in Singapore, Darren Yew, to share some effective dog walking tips.Darren’s journey as a dog walker started when he did part time at a dog day care facility.
Thereafter, he started “MyDogsAdventure” on social media to help to walk/train dogs and provide owners with the guidance they need. His calm and pleasant demeanour has seen his popularity rise among dogs and dog parents!
Apart from speaking to Darren, we’ve also gathered some tips from other expert trainers to bring you closer to becoming a professional dog walker!
Benefits of Walking Your Dog
Better Behaviour at Home
When dogs, especially high-energy ones, don’t get to go on regular walks, their pent-up energy creates anxiety in them. This leads to them being restless at home.
As a result, some dogs release this energy by chewing on furniture or barking excessively. In addition, they may also behave aggressively and hostile towards other dogs.
Walking your dog helps to release this energy and reduce anxiety to ensure better behaviour.
More Acclimatised to Outdoor Environments
Regular walks and socialising should be introduced from young. Otherwise, your dog will become fearful when they step outdoors at a later stage, making it hard to walk them.
In some cases, they might become aggressive towards other dogs and even humans.
Improves Physical and Emotional Health
On top of keeping your dog healthy and fighting obesity, regular walking also releases endorphins that make them feel happy.
Dog Walking Tips: How to Walk My Dog
Stay Calm During the Walk
It’s important for you to remain calm when walking your dog. This is because their excellent hearing and smell will be able to detect negative energy from the way you speak and behave.
Therefore, being able to control your energy during walks will improve interaction with your dog and his behaviour.
Lead Your Dog
According to Cesar Millan, rather than allowing your dog to lead you, walking in front of him allows you to be seen as their pack leader. Even when you get home, have your dog wait patiently while you put away his leash after taking off your shoes.
If you’re not sure how to start training your dog to listen, you can begin practicing by walking your dog in squares. Keep in mind to only take sharp turns; each time your dog gets ahead of you, stop or turn around and walk in the other direction. This trains your dog to be more aware of his handler. Zak George also recommends constant eye contact and making use of treats to encourage learning.
In addition, attaching a short leash to the top of his neck can help you guide and correct your dog with ease.
Allow Them to Sniff Around
It’s important to allow them some time in between training to sniff around. Sniffing boosts their mental stimulation and environmental awareness apart from just physical exercise, making walks much more beneficial.
A nice walking session with time allocated for them to sniff around drains more energy. This keeps them calm, focused, and better behaved for the remainder of the walk and when they get home.
Watch Out for Hot Pavements
Hot pavements can be uncomfortable and cause serious injuries to your dog’s paws. A quick rule of thumb is to place your bare hands on the pavement for 5 seconds. If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’ll be too hot for your dog.
Things you can do to counter this:
- Allow your dog to walk in the grass or in the park where it’s shaded
- Get dog shoes for your pet to protect his paws (if he’s comfortable with it)
- Walk your dog in the cooler timings of the day.
Use the Right Tools
Another reason you should spend time researching the right walking tools for your dog is their safety. Each dog behaves differently. While a flat collar might be useful for dogs who don’t pull, it will be harmful for one that does.
Understanding the root cause of their pulling goes a long way in choosing the right tool. A combination of proper training and the right tool will make walks more comfortable and fun for you and your paw friend.
Lastly but most importantly, have lots of patience with your dog! Losing your patience will not do any good in dog training. When you’re stressed, your dog will be too. And a stressed dog will seldom be on their best behaviour.
Instead, learn to manage your emotions. Try to understand why your dog does certain things:
- Are they trying to tell you something?
- Are you punishing your dog because you panicked?
Regardless of the reasons for your struggles, a dog’s behaviour can often be rectified by re-evaluating our own actions.
If you need more help with your dog, the internet’s a great place to start. Otherwise, there are professional dog training partners that can help you too.
Other Things to Take Note
Cleaning Up Your Dog’s Poop
There are many reasons why you should clean your dog’s poop. For one, unlike popular belief, dog poop isn’t a natural fertiliser because of their omnivorous diets. This means that they take almost a year to breakdown.
Furthermore, poop contains countless viruses and bacteria such as salmonella, and worms. These harmful elements not only harm humans and dogs who get too near, they linger in the soil for years.
Thus, it’s only considerate to clear up your pet’s waste.
Visiting a Dog Run
Image Source: Dog Run in Singapore
If you’re planning to take your dog to a dog run to socialise, always remember to drain off some of his energy before entering so he learns to play nice. On the other hand, if your dog is shy, let him take all the time necessary.
Pay attention to how your dog interacts with other dogs, and look out for any behavioural flags. A well-trained and socialised dog with no reactivity issues is most suited for an off-leash experience in the dog run.
We Interviewed a Dog Walker in Singapore: Darren Yew (@MyDogsAdventure)
We sat down with Darren to talk about his journey as a dog walker.
Q: Hi Darren! Could you let us know what got you into dog walking professionally, and was it always your dream?
A: Hello! My friends and I first started bringing our dogs out to the park together. That was my first taste of walking with a pack of dogs and I really enjoyed it! Few years back, while I was waiting for University to start, I took on a part-time job at a dog day care facility. My role there was to walk a pack of dogs daily.
It was challenging, but extremely fulfilling at the same time. It was also where I began to learn more about interacting with different dogs. Fast forward to when university started, I realised that a career in finance wasn’t what I wanted. So, I quit (university) and decided to pursue dog walking full-time.
In a way, yes. I’ve always loved dogs and being around them makes me happy, but never thought that it could actually be a job. I’m glad that I chose this path and have not looked back since.
Q: Where did you pick up knowledge and skills when it comes to dog walking?
A: Since young, I’ve always been fascinated by Cesar Millan’s dog training show on TV. What inspired me most was how he never failed to improve the relationship between owners and their dogs through careful adjustment in their training methods. I would then apply his tips and techniques at home and started getting really positive results with my own dog.
Through my experience working with more dogs, I learnt even more through my observations and interactions with them. I’ll always spend time understanding each of them before thinking of different methods to help them. It’s a constant learning process because each dog is unique in terms of their temperament and behaviour.
Nowadays, there are many tips available on the internet regardless of the struggles you may have. The important thing is to be patient and never give up.
Q: How did you find dogs to walk?
A: It started with a few clients that contacted me through my Instagram account and through word-of-mouth. I think I’m extremely blessed to have awesome clients who supported me constantly, and introduced me to their circle of friends!
Q: What’s a typical day in your job as a dog walker like, and what else does it entail?
A: I wake up around 6am to prepare for each day, before picking up the dogs for either pack walks or solo walks.
My van is actually like a mini school bus for dogs! It’s really cute when they get all excited whenever they spot the van or me. They know it’s time for an adventure!
Naturally, my job includes keeping the dogs safe too. I make sure they have plenty of water and enough rest, especially on a really hot day. Keeping head count is important during pack walks too, as I sometimes have up to 10-12 dogs.
I also train them to be disciplined while walking. I tackle issues such as leash pulling, dogs who are reactive towards other dogs as well as timid dogs who have a fear of loud noises and vehicles, etc. I’d also update the owners about their walks and health based on the quality of their poop!
Q: We think the group photos you shared on your social channels are really cool! How did you manage to get the dogs to pose like that?
A: It’s usually easier when the dogs and I are in a calm state, like after walking for quite some time. I don’t use treats during photo taking. Basic commands like “sit” and “stay” would suffice.
Q: I’m sure you have many interesting and memorable experiences! Can you share one with us?
A: Sure! One time during a pack walk, I turned back to do a quick head count as usual, to account for all my dogs. I panicked when I found out I was a dog short!
Turns out, the “missing” dog was behind the butt of another bigger dog. The smaller dog was a dachshund. That was definitely a hilarious and memorable experience for me.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I believe in the phrase “Happy Dog, Happy Owner”.
I wish to help as much as I can in the dog community, and guide as many people as I can, especially first-time owners.
There’s so much more to caring for your dog than just basic obedience – sit, stay and lie down etc. At the end of the day, your dog is your best friend. When he/she is happy, you will be too!