Thursday, 26 November 2020

Professional dog walker shares joys, challenges, & true stories about the job

Guest blog: What it's really like to be a professional dog walker


Professional dog walker shares joys, challenges, & true stories about the job

Guest blog by Louise St-Pierre. So excited to welcome her to the Paws For Reaction extended family!


I have learned a lot from my experiences with dogs. I currently own two beautiful dogs and have been a dog owner for 25 years. I truly love dogs and being outside all day, in all types of weather. After working in the fitness and service industry for 20 years I wanted a change; a job that would incorporate the many things I love. Fast forward to now. I have been a professional dog walker for 11 years. I never imagined that I could make a living doing something I loved so much. What I love most about being a dog walker is that I work for myself and my clients. I'm my own boss, which is amazing.  


Becoming a dog walker


Working with dogs is not always easy. Like many jobs, it takes knowledge, patience, and passion. Being reasonably fit is an important aspect as well. I work mostly with large dogs and my days consist of picking up six to seven dogs with my van and going to the off-leash dog parks three times a day. What people should know is that dogs all have their own personalities. So when large groups from different packs come together there can be some conflicts and incidents. Understanding dogs is crucial in this line of work.

Professional dog walker shares joys, challenges, & true stories about the job

Photos provided by Louise

When I started dog walking in 2009 I owned four large breed rescue dogs. I was new as a dog walker but I had a lot of experience with my own dogs. In addition to what I learned from dogs I walk, my own dogs taught me so much. I owned two Pitbulls that fell under breed-specific legislation, a 110-pound Rottweiler and Labrador Retriever mix who was in a wheelchair, a Dogo Argentino who was deaf, and I currently own a senior Husky and Malamute mix and a young Husky. It’s not always easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Challenges of being a professional dog walker


It can sometimes be a challenge to keep the pack under control with recall. Sometimes I have to give time outs to dogs who get too excited and play rough. In my opinion, t
he most challenging thing in this job is encountering people who do not understand dogs. Some are overprotective, some do not understand that dogs are dogs. When you go to an off-leash dog park there can be 50 dogs there and sometimes conflicts can arise. Some dogs don’t get along. Most dogs work it out and move on. Sometimes as a walker you need to step in and give the dog a time out. I and many of my peers have a story or two about encountering aggressive dog owners. We have been threatened or called names. I've learned over the years to just walk away from these people. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often.

Professional dog walker shares joys, challenges, & true stories about the job


Stories of a dog walker

I have so many stories about my experiences, some very funny and some sad. I'll start with a funny one. I was at the beach with my pack of six dogs. It was windy, raining hard, and the beach was flooded. I had my rain boots and am always ready for inclement weather. One of my dogs walked into chest-high water toward the shore. This was very odd as she hated water. She was out far and not coming back. She was deaf so I could not call her. I quickly followed her with the other dogs. To my surprise, there was a huge deceased elk that washed up onshore. The dogs started to sniff it. I tried to tie up my dogs but one of them (a fairly new 120-pound dog) started guarding the elk and was growling at the other dogs like this was his food. I later learned that he was food aggressive around other dogs. It’s funny now, but I had to pull him off the elk, tie him up, and walk away. I had to keep the other dogs at a distance until we were far enough away for him to calm down and stop acting aggressively. It was quite an adventure. I had to think quickly to keep everyone safe. It’s amazing what innovative things you come up with when faced with an unexpected situation.


My worse experience was when a healthy, rambunctious six-year-old Boxer died suddenly in the park while running and enjoying life. Her heart stopped. It was awful. People came into the park to help. A fireman was there and performed CPR but she was gone. It happened so fast- I was in shock. We took her to the veterinarian and the owners came to see her and say goodbye. 

Professional dog walker shares joys, challenges, & true stories about the job


This experience taught me how short life can be and how quickly life can change. And that life is precious. This is what all dogs have taught me, and why I love them so much.


Louise St-Pierre is the owner and operator of Pinky’s Dog Walking Adventures in Ottawa. Her experience and passion for dogs resulted in a very successful career taking care of her client’s canine companions! Louise loves to hike, swim, jog, go to the gym, read a great book, and write. Look for her page on Facebook!




What it's really like to be a professional dog walker

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome Louise! Yes, we all have crazy stories. Miss you! XOXO

    ReplyDelete