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The need for training and professionalism in Dog Walking

Although dogs these days have very much become part of the family and are no longer viewed as just a pet, we do however still have a long way to go before we rid ourselves of “just the dog” mentality. 
What do I mean by this? Well read on and let me explain…
Back in 2009 when I first set up my business, dog walking was not considered a career. 
I remember telling my family that I was giving up my good paying career and 7 years of university studies to go and retrain in all things dog and they actually thought I was having some sort of breakdown! 
I’d been disillusioned with the corporate world for a couple of years and I’d got to that stage where I dreaded Monday morning and rolling into the office. 
Dogs had long been a passion and I longed not only to work with them but also to learn all I could, dogs are just fascinating right? 
So, I gave in my notice and set about learning all I could about dogs, if I was gonna do this dog walking thing, I needed to do it right. I wanted to give the best service I could and know what I was doing. 
I did my training properly. I learned all about dog behaviour, I took courses in animal handling, canine welfare, first aid, aromatherapy, animal massage, animal reiki and I also went to business school to learn how to run the best business possible. 
I employed a team of professionals such as a solicitor, an accountant, several business mentors, a marketing company, an admin assistant and I brought in outside agencies to teach me how to create and write policies and procedures to keep myself, the dogs I worked with and the public safe. 
All of this took several years of hard work to put into place and I still live by all of the principles and professionalism I learned today. 
I also regularly update my training, the dog world changes all the time, so I have a mentor who advise and teaches me all things dog training related and I also have 2 spiritual advisers whom I meet with regularly to ensure my holistic practices are as good as they can be. 
When we have a human baby and the time comes for them to go to nursery or school, we do our due diligence and research on nurseries and schools to ensure that our babies are receiving the very best care and education and above all else that they will be safe. 
We weigh up all sorts of things like reputation, experience and qualifications of the staff. We insist on meeting the staff who will be working with our children and we visit the facilities, often several times. 
Yet, when it comes to our furry babies the “just the dog” mentality very often comes into play, how many of us diligently check the experience and qualifications of those we seek to employ to look after our beloved furbabies? 
Do we ask for references and check their business credentials?
More often than not the answer is no.
When booking a holiday, often care for the dog is a last minute dash as we’ve forgotten that the dog can’t come to Spain with us. 
Many dog walking/ dog care companies are set up because the owner loves dogs but beyond that there’s not much else. 
There’s few of us out there with credible experience, qualifications and training deemed adequate to walk our family dogs, never mind operate a business looking after other’s dogs. 
Ziggy Dog with Lisa McCabe Stardust Doggy Care Holistic therapies
So, this is why as dog parents we need to start banishing the “just the dog” mentality. We need to actively demand and seek out those who are fully qualified and experienced. 
Working with dogs day in day out is a privilege and as such those “professionals” seeking to do so, should make sure that we are the best we can be. 
We owe it to our puppers to give them the very best as they give us everything they have during their short lives with us. 
So, next time you are looking for some help with your dog, seek those who are 100% transparent in regard to their experience, training and qualifications. See it as a job application or approach it just as you would looking for care for your human babies. 
On the next Blog, I will be continuing with this theme where I will be detailing my own quest to ensure the professionalism of the next generation of dog walkers through the launch of the Stardust Academy.

Whoever you listen with make sure you are listening to…

Stardust Doggy Chat


with Lisa McCabe