Dog Training & Behavior Modification
Beth Greenberg, co-owner of All Friends Pet Care in Herndon, believes this quality is of utmost importance. “We bring on people who desire to do this job because they truly love animals, and not because they are just looking for a paycheck,” she says.
More than Just a Walk
703-574-3383 n Puppy
and Dog Manners Class—at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington
Park Play—learn what good dog park play looks like and how to avoid the drama
Knows—teach your dog how to use his nose to hunt
n Treibball—play this fun game while
learning off-leash control and focus We also offer private, in-home training for dogs of all ages and needs To register for classes visit the KissAble Canine website:
Happy Dogs. Happy Homes. —KissAble Canine Voted Best Trainer two years in a row! Northern Virginia Magazine
Serving the Washington, DC Metro area
20 Northern Virginia Dog
| Winter 2014
Regular walks benefit all dogs, regardless of age, size, temperament or energy level. “The walk is a critical canine activity that establishes leadership roles, provides much-needed exercise, and stimulates our dogs’ senses and minds,” says Isabel Alvarez, owner of The Wag Pack. “There is nothing like a dog walk to cure behavioral issues, ease anxiety and prevent health problems,” she says. This is true even if your dog has access to a backyard during the day. “A backyard is simply an oversized crate,” Alvarez believes. “Allowing your dog to get out and sniff different areas and see different sites is important,” agrees Greenberg, who warns that boredom can lead to destructive behavior in some dogs. If you have a new puppy, hiring a dog walker is a good way to get started on the right foot. DogOn Fitness offers leash training for puppies during their first eight months. Alexandria Pet Care has no minimum age for its clients, but generally cares for puppies 12 weeks and older, starting with socialization and playtime visits before transitioning to short walks. “Later on, when dog owners begin concerted efforts of obedience training, we stay in close daily and weekly communication to reinforce the training lessons of the week,” says owner Elizabeth Legere. Behavior modification and reinforcement is important for older dogs as well, who may not have learned proper leash manners. If you and your dog are still trying to master the walk, a regular dog walker is a great way to enhance your efforts.
Not Just for Social Dogs A walking service is also the perfect solution for dogs who are not cut out for the daycare scene, or who are timid. “Working with a professional dog walker allows pets to stay in the environment they know best, and prevents them from experiencing the stress of new environments and unknown animals,” explains Becky O’Neil, founder of Becky’s Pet Care. O’Neil fondly remembers one of her toughest cases: a sweet but painfully shy rescue pup named Karma who would bark and hide from her. After speaking softly and leaving treats after each visit, O’Neil gained Karma’s trust
enough to go for a walk. “Karma was a client for over 10 years and will always hold a special place in my heart,” she says. Even antisocial dogs can be matched with the right walker. Sara Quattlebaum of Dog Paws ‘n Cat Claws Pet Care was able to take precautions to safely walk an aggressive dog deemed dangerous by Arlington County. Her team worked with the client, sitters, and client’s neighbors to educate them on dog body language and training techniques to minimize risk to all who were involved in caring for this dog.
How to Choose a Dog Walker Ready to find a dog walker? This person will be entering your house, caring for your beloved dog, and becoming a teammate in your family schedule. It’s important to choose wisely. We asked some experienced pet professionals to share the top criteria owners should look for when selecting a dog walker. Here are three they all agreed on:
Reliability and Responsibility. All Friends Pet Care does thorough screening and background checks on every employee, and encourages clients to use webcams, security systems or other measures to give themselves peace of mind that walkers and sitters are performing as requested. Once services start, clients can email, call, or text their pet sitter to check in on their pets, adjust their requested service, or ask any questions. The Wag Pack ensures that each client has a back-up pet walker or sitter in place in case the primary person cannot make it, and keeps two sets of keys in case of a lockout or emergency.
Training. Employee training varies by company. At Alexandria Pet Care, all employees are required to go through two weeks of comprehensive onboarding training. “We work hard in our new employee training, ongoing training and all-staff meetings so that we are 100 percent prepared for every situation,” says Legere. At Becky’s Pet Care, new hire trainings include working through scenarios that may happen in the field, practicing on-the-spot problem solving and shadowing a more senior pet care professional. At DogOn Fitness, owner Carol Brooks stresses that her employees know how to manage a wide variety of dog temperaments and personalities. Communication. Varghese says dog owners should expect their dog walker to learn about their dog’s preferences and communicate
The Ultimate Guide to Canine-Inspired Living in the DC Metro