Thursday, 11 June 2009

Muliple Dog Handling

This week I have been walking four dogs during my morning walk, one was Fred, which is my maximum. I won't take out more than three 'paying customers' so if there are four, one is always Fred.

At the end of the walk, I always approach my van the same way. One dog on my right, lead in hand, and three attached, via their leads, to a lead I sling around my body and walk on my left. All walking reasonably well, no pulling, no barking - the dog on my right throws himself at the other dogs (in play) which can cause chaos, which is why he's on my right. My left hand is free to deal with anything that needs dealing with, which is usually to guide one of the dogs back to their 'place' if they've wandered off course a bit.

One day this week, I clearly heard a comment from one of the runners who gather in the car park at around the time I leave.

I don't know how you can control that many dogs like that.

Well, let me explain. This is my job. Something I do every day. It has taken time to build the small groups I go out with, and I train the dogs to behave in a way that makes walking them in a small group pleasureable and safe.

I've walked Greyhounds from a trainer's kennel, and a rescue kennel, in pairs or threes. I grew up in a house with six dogs (Mum now has seven) and my first job was at a boarding kennel at 14 where I walked dogs in pairs. I own two of my own dogs, but over the past three years often have an extra one or two here through fostering or boarding.

I was disappointed that someone watching four dogs, obviously under control, was more interested in loudly commenting that she didn't know how I could do my job, rather than observing that I could.

I wonder what she would have made of the dog walker I'd seen the week before, walking seven?

 NOTE: Since this blog post was written in 2009 I have gained experience and attended training courses and now consider one handler per four dogs a reasonable number to walk. I'll walk 6 if the extra dogs are mine.