Actually I've took puppies on for a while now but I haven't been very good at promoting the fact. It wasn't something I initially thought about and really I just wanted to focus on the dog walking side of things but pup visits and dog walking go hand in hand so really it was a bit of a no brainer. My first pup was 'Indy' who I took on about a year ago and since then I have had 2 other pups come into the gang, namely 'Maisy' and 'Luna' who will both make the leap from puppy school to proper pack walks in September.
All of the pups I have took on have needed a lot more attention that the grown up dogs I have been more accustomed to but I have enjoyed seeing them progress and find their place in the world.
Here's a picture of the new most recant puppies, Maisy with her broken leg and lovely Luna. Both of these dogs were about 12 weeks old in these pictures and I am pleased to say Maisy's leg is now healed and better than new and both dogs have a lovely nature and are full of beans!
As anyone with a pup will tell you looking after a new pup is way more time consuming than looking after an older dog, new pups demand much of of your time and attention but look at how cute they are! This means that my time is generally split over a couple of puppy visits per pup each day i have them, more often that not this will involve 2 half hour slots and each visit comprises of a short walk, once the vet says it's ok for them to be outside that is and some command training and of course playtime.
So if you have a new pup or are thinking of getting one then give us a shout as we're now looking out for our next puppy as both Maisy and Luna are almost ready to graduate into regular one hour pack walks.
I'm pleased to say we're expanding into Cullercoats and the Marden. For the past few years we've concentrated mainly on Tynemouth and the so called Tynemouth fringe (used to just be known as the part of Shields next to Northumberland Park in my day!) but feel that the time has come to spread our wings and take on new pooches outside of our normal zone.
The area we operate in now is very small compared to the majority of dog walking businesses so it's probably overdue that we expand our boundaries a little. Please give me a share on your Facebook page to help spread the word. Thanks, John. Coastal Dog Walkers :)
Good question because if you're looking for a North Shields Dog Walker then a quick Google will show you that there are other options out there.
On the face of it Coastal Dog Walkers and any other dog walking business may look the same. We both walk dogs right? Well, yes that is true but if you dig a little deeper there are a few key things that we do differently from most:
Every business should have a few USP's and the above points I think are the main ones that separate our dog walking business from the next one on the list. On a personal note I'm also pretty relaxed about things and I never tie anyone into any kind of contract or anything like that. Should your needs or circumstances change and we have to part ways then that's fine, after all we're here to fit around you, not the other way round!
Coastal Dog Walkers.
I often (just about every day) get the comment “you’ve got your hands full there!” when I'm out walking a small group of dogs around Tynemouth or North Shields – my insurance covers me to walk up to six dogs at a time but I much prefer a ratio of one human to three or four dogs and I only take on dogs who are good, or at least 'good enough' on the lead and are friendly with other dogs so although four dogs must look like a lot I’d rather have four well behaved dogs than have one who’s a bit of a nightmare.
I often see owners who cannot control their one dog. It's off the lead, running around 'being friendly' but really it’s being a bit of a nuisance racing up to other dogs and people regardless of the welcome it might get. The owner calls it back, the dog ignores the owner and eventually the owner comes over to retrieve it. I also see dogs straining and pulling on the lead as they want to come over to my group, while the owner has to drag them along to get them moving, all the while me and my pack stroll on by....so I wonder who really has their hands full?
Of course not all dogs are impeccably well behaved or good on the lead, I myself have a rescue dog who’s lovely but he pulls like an ox whilst being walked. With Coastal Dog Walkers I have found that even excitable dogs usually do settle into pack life – I suspect they learn from each other and if I introduce a flighty dog into a settled group I find the flighty dog adjusts into that calmer mindset. Take Lola for example, she’s a gorgeous Saluki that I have been walking for a month or so. She’s very friendly with people and dogs but is super excitable when I collect her but even after only a short time she’s starting to stabilise and learn from the pack that it’s way better to just relax and enjoy the walk...
I've been walking this gorgeous greyhound for about 9 months and she's one of my favourites to walk as I really do like a greyhound.
She's about 4 years old now and was recently retired from racing when her owners re-homed her last summer. She's a very gentle girl and is very used to being walked in a pack, like most dogs she's a little excitable when we first go out but soon settles down and walks very nicely on the lead.
She's definitely the clumsiest dog I walk and you can almost guarantee that April will get herself entangled in a lead on most walks and if she doesn't manage that then her other trick is to stop dead with no warning causing me to bump into her boney back end!
April for me is a real success story because initially she was walked with a muzzle as she could be very reactive to other dogs. After about 3 months the muzzle came off and we haven't looked back since, she's very friendly with the rest of the pack although to be fair she can still sometimes react to random dogs that get a little too close but she's finally worked out that not everything small and fluffy is a rabbit that needs chasing. Here's April out on a dog walk in North Shields with some of her doggy pals.
Well here we are in my 3rd year as a North Shields Dog Walker. I'm excited to start 2017 and feel very confident about the year ahead. A couple of regulars have moved on recently, one pair of dogs have relocated to Chester as the owners job changed and the move was necessary. Another mid length temporary contract came to an end but a new dog (Scooby) is joining the pack this week and other enquires are sure to come in as January is quite a busy time for new leads it seems. The dogs I do have are all very good and everyone is getting along fine so hopefully any new additions be be equally well behaved.
Being a North Shields dog walker most of my work is in my local area and today i'm off to one of my favourite dog walking routes from North Shields Fish Quay along to Tynemouth - it's a walk I never tire of doing even on a drizzly January day like today.
Must dash, dogs need walking!
One of the reasons being dog walker is great for me is that it is one of those jobs that fits in very well around our family life. We don't have a large family network close by so since we had our 2 boys we simply haven't had the on tap childcare that some are fortunate enough to have - I must stress that I'm in no way moaning on or playing the sympathy card here. We've paddled our own canoe for a long time now and we're well past caring about date nights or child free weekends. Our boys are 16 and 12 now so all that sort of stuff isn't too far away now anyway.
School holidays can be a balancing act for me but this summer has been easier than last summer and next summer will be easier again as Albie will be 13 by then. This summer he's accompanied me on 4 walks per week for the 1st few weeks of the school hols and I have to say he's been fantastic. He's not moaned on once and has thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the dogs and hopefully with me too.
here he is with Lewis and Islay. (Islay is his favourite dog I walk):
All the dogs love him and this has helped build his confidence and all the fresh air and exercise will be doing him the world of good. He's loving his step counter app on his phone and is more obsessed about his steps thsn I am!
Here's one more pic of him with Buzz from a little while ago:
For some time now I have been meaning to measure the distance I walk on my lunchtime dogs walks (ask any dog walker and they'll tell you that lunchtimes are the busiest part of the day). I usually fit in two back to back lunchtime dog walks so I'm on my feet for 3 to 3.5 hours depending on my route, number of pickups etc. Each dog is supposed to get an hour but it often works out that most dogs get more than an hour, some of them end up with an hour and a half but that's OK as that's great for the dogs.
I've had an App on my phone for ages but I kept forgetting to set it off as i started my walk but this week I used it twice. On Tuesday I walked 9 miles and yesterday I walked 11. I knew I put the miles in but 11 miles!! No wonder I'm starving to death by the time i get home. At the moment not every day is that busy; Wednesday and Friday are quieter and I generally only have 1 pack walk on those days and by my reckoning I'm currently walking about 40 miles a week.
Loving it though, especially as the weather seems to be improving week on week!
I am very sad to report that our dog, Elwood is no longer with us. He died peacefully yesterday lunchtime so as you can imagine yesterday was a difficult day all round. I just thought I'd pop a few thoughts down about the old boy and what he meant to us.
My two boys were 4 and 8 years old when we got Elwood 7 years ago and they were the reason we got a dog in the first place as they had both developed 'the fear' around dogs - that fear quickly disappeared with Elwood as a constant companion. My wife reminded me yesterday that when we brought him home the rescue centre had actually named him Tucker but as our youngest kept getting his T's and F's mixed up we thought a quick name change was in order and thus Tucker became Elwood.
We had him for a few months before we ever heard him bark, until then we just assumed that he couldn't bark but if you got him overly excited with a tennis ball he would occasionally get vocal but it really was a very rare occurrence - this often led to him getting locked out in the back garden after I fed him his tea. I'd put his tea out, close the door and often remember later on that he was outside! I was always forgetting he was there and when I would go to let him in he'd just be standing by the back door with a daft look on his face.
When he was younger he really loved to run and boy could he move, you had to be careful where you let him off the lead though. If he knew he was somewhere near a food source he'd sometimes bolt hoping to be fed. He once helped himself to a family's picnic and another time he shot off from the promenade behind Knotts Flats and I found him later being fed chips by someone parked in Spanish Battery Car Park.
In the past couple of years he started to slow down and began to develop arthritis in his back legs making it difficult for him to be as mobile as he used to be and in the past 6 months his walks were becoming more and more reduced and lately he never made it past the park at the bottom of our street. He always seemed to manage to get up if there was a small chance of food though as his next meal was always on his mind.
His constant pursuit of food led him into the life of a petty criminal. Leave the kitchen door ajar and he'd be straight in. If he got in without being seen you'd often go in later and the evidence of his crimes would be laid out before you...empty wrappers that previously contained tortilla wraps would give him away every time. As careful as we were (an we got much better as the years went by) he'd still occasionally accomplish his mission and sneak in for a pilfered snack. He nicked all sorts over the years....whole hams, a whole block of cheese, countless loaves of bread and then there was the time he ate loads of packets of mints....this had a tremendous effect on his bowels overnight and the result the next morning was simply horrendous.
His lifelong pursuit of food was just his way and telling him off did no good. As soon as his next chance came he'd be in like Flynn and damn the consequences.
He had a lovely nature an was a very gentle boy, everyone that met him immediately fell for him. He was laid back dog and never really got up to any mischief when left alone at home through they day (unless of course the kitchen door was left open).
Rest well Elwood. Hope you find a nice warm spot by the fire.
When I get a new enquiry for dog walking I am always eager to know about the dog, how well behaved they are, if they are sociable, how they are on the lead and that type of thing. If it seems that they might be a good fit then I'll visit the owners to meet the dog and this always results in me taking the dog for an short walk. On this first walk I can begin to asses for myself whether I think the dog is suitable and I have to say I haven't ever said no to a dog at this meet and greet stage.
If all is well the dog becomes part of the pack on a trial basis. This trial period lasts usually just a couple of weeks and it allows me to really see if the dog is suitable for group walks.
A few weeks ago I went to see a dog that was a real stunner and I very much liked him on the first visit and (bonus) he was really great on the lead and had a lovely nature about him too. However when I introduced him to a couple of dogs that I walk every day he turned out to be unsuitable for group walks. He wasn't in any way aggressive but he was, shall we say, very interested in the girl dog! He was a big, strong dog too and it was all I could do to keep him from pulling me over to get to her.
I let the owners know later that day but prior to doing this I spoke to another dog walker I know who was happy to walk him on a one to one basis which perhaps was the best thing for him. The owners, although disappointed were happy enough that I had found another walker for him. It was a shame as he was a lovely dog but I have to place more emphasis on my current dogs rather than taking on every enquiry no matter what. It's best for me, the pack and ultimately the new dog too.
Coastal Dog Walkers
Welcome to the occasional ramblings of a North Shields dog walker.