Friday, 27 March 2009


If you have a puppy and are looking for a Puppy Package, I have at least one, and possibly two spaces opening after Easter, beginning 20th April. These do go quickly, so if you want a puppy walker/dog walker and are in Brentwood, Shenfield or Hutton please do let me know.

For older dogs, I have one weekly dog walking space open in the Brentwood station area, either for a solo or group walk. For other areas I do have a waiting list which you can join - there will be weekly spaces available from 20th April - so please contact me so I can log your details. Any earlier vacancies will be published via this blog.

For dogs not needing to be visited every day there are spaces Tuesday to Friday.

If you are at home and need your dog walked for you, I have space any day (or every day), if they can be walked in a group, at around 8am. I have group spaces around 4pm, and after 20th April there will be a solo space at this time. I do walk after dark where necessary, a reflective jacket is provided for your dog, but walks are limited to well-lit areas. I have spaces during the day Tuesday - Friday, but they will be at a slightly different time every day, please contact me for details.

Cat sitting, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, places are available.

Dog boarding - I can now take boarders in, but am limited to four toy/small breeds, otherwise only two and can only take in dogs from one family at a time. School holidays are extremely popular, May Whitsun half term is already booked, as well as the April Bank Holiday weekend. Please contact me sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Home Dog Boarding in Brentwood - Nutmeg

Nutmeg came to board this weekend, my first boarder, as well as being the first dog I walked when I started.

Here are some highlights of the weekend (click on images for a larger version), the weather was so lovely we went to the beach.

Kicking back her heels at Southend-on-Sea

Mingling well...

I did have two tennis balls, but they both wanted the same one (of course!)

This is what happens if you follow a terrier chasing a ball. You get wet. Look at the colour of that sky! How clear the water is (especially for Sawfend)! A really lovely day out. But I digress...

Nutmeg's fabulous impression of a seal.

Practising staying calm and NOT barking just because someone is not within touching distance.

Giving Teddy the Kiss of Life. Or possibly eating his head.

Please Aunty Linda, I'm asking nicely, just give the camera a rest. I really need some sleep!

Completely zonked out. Despite being inches from my smelly feet and a very noisy Xbox... (Oops, I uploaded that one the wrong way round. Tilt your head!)

I would recommend Linda to anyone needing help with their pet. She is completely reliable, flexible and seems to really enjoy what she does. Nutmeg can be a little terror sometimes but I feel that between us and Linda we're getting her under control!
Katherine B, Weimaraner

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Summer is Here!

From my vast experience as a Dog Walker (6 months now), I recommend the following for the sunny weather:

* Slimline backpack/water bladder carrier
* Bumbag for all those things normally stuffed in the (now discarded) coat pockets
* Water in the car, for me (there is always some for the dogs) as anything other than water means being in and out of the loo all day - something I learned when I was a cabbie!
* Silver screens to put up in car while out of it
* Factor 30 SPF
* Insect repellant
* Carabiners just in case
* Bit of nice lippy

I also recommend NOT throwing a ball (not matter how gently as it WILL bounce and go further than expected) for an enormous and powerful dog while he's on a lead.

That bruise has now developed into something two inches long. Ouch. Idiot!

Friday, 13 March 2009

My First Resignation

I have just 'lost' my first customer.

I was walking Patch for a young family who were finding him hard to cope with and were looking for a new home for him. He's a lovely little dog, absolutely gorgeous, but it was a bit of a mismatch.

He's now gone to Essex Police to hopefully join their Dog Unit.

Good luck Patch!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Gorgeous Dog

My local paper want to do a story on my 'interesting' job, so they sent a (rather gorgeous) photographer round to take some photos of me with some of 'my' dogs. He (Mr. Gorgeous) sent me a sneak preview, so, here is the wonderful Scarlet, showing off how fabulous she is.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Training a Reliable Recall for your Dog

Recall is one of the most important things to teach dogs, but often it's seen as difficult to train. You can get by without it, but with it, life with your dog becomes a joy, even if he can't do anything else.

Make sure you adjust your dog's dinner if you use food as a reward. How long this takes depends on how long your dog might have been playing 'chase me' every time you try to catch him!

Begin at Home

Recall training, as with most training, starts in the home.

Regularly call your dog to you, as many times as possible, using a high-pitched and interesting tone of voice. Pick a word to use and stick to it, making sure all members of the family are happy to use it. If time is hard to find, try doing it when the adverts come on during your favourite telly programme, or if you watch soaps and serials, call every time someone has a drink, an argument, or a snog! Don't try calling him if he's doing something far more rewarding, wait until he's lying down, or looking a bit bored and needing some attention. You want to start with success.

Reward your dog every time he comes with a treat, a game, throwing a toy, or just a lot of love and attention. If at first he won't come, split his dinner into small amounts, and call him for his dinner. Wait until he's given up hope of any more and has wandered off, and call him for the next 'course', and so on. Once he's had his treat or other reward, send him away, again pick one word or short phrase and stick to it, make it flat and a bit dull. He won't know what it means at first, but if you ignore him once you've said it he'll get the point and wander off after a while. This word shouldn't be another command, so don't tell him to go and lie down, it's just to make him leave you - what he does once he's gone is up to him. He doesn't get a reward for leaving you, he should be reasonably happy to go, but leaving his owners will hopefully mean things get a bit less fun once you are out on a walk.

Once he's understood this new game and is nice and reliable, drop the treats or games to every other time, then one in three, then randomly until finally you are rewarding only the very best, super quickest returns - aim for the 'whiplash' effect where your dog's head swivels to you when you call no matter what he's doing – his body should be following!

In the Garden

Now is the time to move into the garden, where there are more distractions – be prepared to start from the very beginning if necessary, and treats should be back to every time at the beginning. It shouldn't take long to get his attention back to what it was indoors, but if it does, persevere. Some dogs are more distractable or just more independant that others, while others still have to spend some time learning that fun comes from being with people. Once his recall is good in the garden, leave some distractions about, his toys, perhaps ask another family member to lurk around the garden, even a family friend. If it goes well, get the other person to play with your dog and work on calling him back from there. Don't take that step too soon though, you want to set yourself and your dog up to suceed. If you have one, you can use a long line in the garden, to encourage your dog back to you to start with.

Don't drag him - if you have to drag him you have gone too far too soon. If you don't have a garden, see if you can find an unused tennis court - early in the morning can be a good time.

Out and About

Once you're feeling confident, take your dog out for some practise in public. Try not to think of this as 'a walk', but recall training with some walking about. That way you won't get so frustrated if you don't get anywhere, and if your dog is being really hard work and you are not getting anywhere you can come home.

The scariest time might be taking your dog off the lead in a public place for the first time. Try to find somewhere safe, away from roads, and quiet without too many distractions – a country park just before lunchtime on a Sunday is probably not going to give you the results you are looking for. Don't do this just after dinner either. You want your dog to come back for food, if nothing else! You can use your long line to start with if you feel you need it.

Take some high value treats or a toy your dog loves with you. If you can keep this toy ONLY for walks from now on this will help a great deal. 'Tune' him into it with some very short, exciting games that finish before he wants to stop, and you always get to keep the toy at the end of the game.

Don't take the long line off until you are successful on a regular basis. Some dogs may never be able to be let off lead, but the vast majority will be fine.

Take your dog's (short) lead off. Then walk in the opposite direction a short way. If properly prepared at home your dog should stay quite close to you, or he may decide to scamper off, but as you are in a safe area, don't panic. Don't chase him either. Or call, unless you think he really will come back, callling fruitlessly encourages him to stay away as he knows you are still with him. Run further away, or make sounds as if you are. Sit down, lie down. Make noises as if you've just found the most wonderful thing in the world, and his natural curiosity should bring him to you.

Don't try to catch him. Go away again. He'll think this is a wonderful new game and follow. If he comes close enough, give him a treat and tell him to go away, ideally before he's gone, but while he's going will do nearly as well. Repeat this a few times, making sure to send him away again each time, and then begin calling him back to you - when he is already on his way to start with. After a while you may find it difficult to get your dog to leave you (possibly unbelievable, but true).

Now is the time to make contact, a pat on the head, flap his ears, if you can, stroke his collar, or even grasp it briefly if you can. Send him away again. Your eventual aim is to be able to call him to you and put his lead on. Once you've done that, walk a few steps, take the lead off, and send him away. This will stop any silliness where the dog sees the lead come out and knows it means the end of the walk and won't come to you.

While you're walking, occasionally hide behind a tree. Your dog will wonder where you are. Give them a few seconds, and call them (you don't want them thinking you've gone home and trying to run off home by themselves so don't leave it too long). Try to vary your route, or suddenly turn and go back the way you came, without telling your dog. Give him a chance to realise you've changed direction (without obviously waiting for him) and he will learn to watch where you are going, rather than going his own sweet way.

If you leave the area by the same gate, or always end up at your car, do the same thing there if it's safe to do so – call the dog, send him away, call, send away, on lead, off lead, send away. If there is a distraction your dog will not leave, try to call before he gets there, or even before he's made one pawstep in that direction. Keep your eye out, and sometimes you can call before he even spots it. If you have to put him on a lead to walk him past the distraction, he should be quite happy with this by now because he will know there is off-lead time coming again.

And Finally

Hopefully by now you will have a dog you can trust to let off the lead. Be realistic - for some dogs there are distractions simply too great for them to ignore in favour of you alone. This is where your toy comes in, or you may just have to accept that you need to keep your dog on a lead for a time. As your dog grows older, or gets more used to coming back it might be that one day the conditioning to return to you will override any impulse of his own, so keep up the work. Once he's learnt this, he should have a solid, reliable recall. But there's no harm in recalling him for no particular reason during walks all through his life.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Not Really Business but Definitely Work Related

Since I was 'Trinnied' I've wept at some of the things in my wardrobe, so, clutching some of my dog walker earnings in hand, last month I took the plunge and went into Basildon (Brentwood shops are rubbish!) and raided the shops for some new clothes, especially trousers, that are in my own size and not baggy, as that's what Trinny was mainly complaining about.

I came home with a nice little haul, tried everything on, it all fit wonderfully, I was happy. I wore one pair of jeans on and off (mostly off as I didn't want to get them muddy), then yesterday I put on a different pair. Hmm. A bit loose. I must have tried them on after a MacDonald's or something (Jacob has to eat junk food at least once a week, the dietician said so!), but okay, I'll stick with it.

This morning they seem even looser, and it is defeating the object of buying new clothes, so I tried on the third pair of jeans I bought, and they are too big too!

Admittedly it's a weekend when Jacob is with his dad, so I don't really eat such big meals as I don't cook and haven't been to Freezer in Farm (my equivalent of Meals on Wheels) for a decent meal. So I got the tape measure out. I seem to have mislaid a couple of inches all over. And not just on my waist, so it can't be put down to a simple empty belly. I only bought these clothes two weeks and two days ago, and I thought I'd measured myself before I went to make sure I got the right size!

I'm going to eat some more pies. Can't waste the money... Professional Dog Walking - the new jogging/yoga/whatever weird thing Madonna does.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

36 Claws

That's how many I clipped this morning. I guess I must be good, the dogs travelled 234 miles for their appointment!

They are two Jack Russels who are owned by my son's aunt and uncle, who happened to move to Yorkshire some time ago and I clipped them on a visit to see family here. Sounds good though, all that travelling just to have me attend to them!

I've always clipped my dogs claws (except for Fred, as he'd rather chew his own leg off), so now I know I can be trusted not to take a 'strange' dog's foot off I think I'll offer it as a service.

I think I'll offer furminating too. I love using mine, but don't really have a breed to get the best out of it. I don't think I'll ever stop wishing I could try it on Buster - who I could brush for hours and still have fur coming out.

The Search for the Perfect Van Continues

I still don't want to give up my hijet, because I think that with careful crate/divider design I can get all the dogs I need to in it in comfort, but there is the sticking point that then I won't be get to the engine due to the seats needing to be tipped back.

I've been nosing in van windows to see what crates they've squeezed in, and did have a nice chat with another dog walker, who let me see around her smallish van and its custom built crate. It looked fine to me, but she is thinking of getting a bigger van anyway, so I'll take note of that lesson!

I am considering something the size of a Peugeot Expert/Fiat Skudo/Citreon Dispatch, but I'm not in a hurry and hope to spend some of my next week off at van sales and auctions. I would prefer something Japanese, but haven't been able to identify a similar size van. Much better than European rubbish!

I will miss the 'park anywhere' aspect of my baby. :(

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Gruesome Remains

With the rain the fields are quite marshy again, so I've been covered in mud for the last few days. I really must get in the habit of wearing my waterproofs even when it's not raining to cut down on laundry!

Nutmeg was so magnificently bouncy today she managed to cover my face in mud. Oh well. Don't people pay a fortune for a mudpack in these posh spas? I'll have a face like a baby's bottom if I can get her to do it every day.

She managed to find something lovely for me today.

Can't see what it is? Take a closer look...

Yes, that's right. I think once that might have been a fox. Amazingly, her recall is so good I managed to get her away from it with the first shoulder drop. Then I ruined it by taking a photo and she tried to bring it home to show Mum. I didn't think Mum would be impressed so I made her leave it alone. Which she also did the first time I told her!

My son thinks I should have brought the skull home for a trophy. 14 year old boys - what can you do with them!?

Monday, 2 March 2009

Great Achievement!

No, not mine! One of the pups I look after goes to training classes on a regular basis, and both his owners work very hard with him. Last Sunday all that hard work paid off as he came 1st in his puppy class Progress Test!

Well done Bingley!