As the North East braces for one of the biggest storms it has seen in years, I feel it is always a good time to remember that our furry friends are not invincible to the elements. O.k. maybe the northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes can take it, but most other breeds cannot.
I hope you have already let your clients know when and if you will be cancelling service. If you haven’t heard from a client yet, be sure to call them and confirm. Many I suspect are already calling you to cancel.
If you absolutely MUST go out, be sure to be prepared with all-wheel drive, chains, a sleeping bag or very warm blanket in your car, a space blanket, energy bars, a full tank of gas, jumper cables, and LOTS of warm clothes!
If you can’t go out prepared, don’t go out at all! This storm is looking pretty bad.
Also, I hope you spelled out in your agreements your inclement weather policy 😀
Stay safe, warm, and happy!
There it is. You could hardly expect a blog about dog walking NOT to include a post about poop, could you? Of course not!
Well, aside from those sub-zero days where a bag of poop doubles as a temporary hand-warmer, it isn’t much fun to carry around poop. Also, if you have more than one pooch to manage, having a handful of poop (in the bag of course!) can be a little awkward. Well, finally some inventive folks have come up with the perfect solution and I have to say, I’m impressed, both by the simplicity of the idea, and the utility. The product is called DoggieDid and it is almost as good as having a 3rd hand.
Well, a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll let this one speak for itself. If you are a professional dog walker having one of these is an absolute MUST.
Also, if you are thinking of gifts for your clients this Christmas (you should be, it was in my book!) then this one fits the bill. Your clients will love it as much as you do, and will think of YOU every time they use it. Maybe you can get these nifty little buggers imprinted with your company name?? For bulk orders you’ll want to visit Doggiedid.com and for single orders, Amazon has them in stock here Doggiedid.
Alas, it’s winter. After seeing a December storm batter the mid-west with very cold temperatures, snow and ice, I feel compelled to remind everyone of taking your safety, and that of your employees, seriously. I mentioned this in my book, but it deserves it’s own blog post. Please do not walk on icy streets without some kind of traction control for your feet!
Perhaps the most dangerous part of the job besides crossing busy streets is walking on ice. If you live in an area of the country where freezing temperatures are common you will need to be prepared. Dogs are unpredictable and may lunge or pull suddenly, taking you off your feet, even on dry pavement! When on ice, it’s ten times more likely to happen.
Not to scare you, but I knew a woman who was so badly injured by being pulled down by her dog, that she spent over a year in rehabilitation. She was pulled forward by her large-breed dog on an icy sidewalk. The momentum created by her dog, and sliding forward uncontrollably, was enough to do serious damage. She tried to prevent her fall with her arm as she collided with a telephone pole, breaking her arm in several places and fracturing her leg and hip… not pretty. If you’re walking more than one dog you can multiply your chances of being taken down exponentially. This doesn’t have to be the case. Like any other kind of safety measure (wearing a life-vest, seat-belt, etc) when employed, it will help prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Invest in a traction control device such as Yaktrax®. You basically slip these on over your boots. They are made of wire wrapped rubber and help you gain traction by biting into the ice in the same way tire chains do. There are two basic styles: the Yaktrax Walker® and Yaktrax Pro®. I used the walker version because when I bought mine, they didn’t have the pro version yet! The pro version is more durable and stays in place better than the walker version. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a pair today. Don’t put it off, include them with your Christmas shopping from Amazon. You can’t walk dogs if you’re stuck in a hospital bed or wearing a cast on your leg.
It’s time to have some fun! After your schedule has filled up, you’ll become keenly aware of the fact that you’ve never walked so much in your entire life. Dog walker’s who’ve been at it for more than six months know exactly what I’m talking about. Besides investing in a very good pair of walking shoes (for urban environments) or boots (for the trail) you might want to pick up something that’s just plain fun.
Sportline 360 Total Fitness Pedometer
I think you’ll be shocked when you see how many miles you log each week. The following Pedometers are fairly inexpensive and accurate: This model records distance, strides, and calories, Hj-113 Pocket Pedometer or this inexpensive one which comes in a lots of different colors but only counts mileage DMC-03 Multi-Function Pedometer (color: BLACK) or for the truly hard-core, check this one out Sportline 360 Total Fitness Pedometer.
An added benefit of taking a pedometer around with you is that you can calculate how many miles each of your client’s pets log per week. It’s just another bit of information their owners will appreciate knowing. At the end of the year send them a card with a note thanking them for their business and then tell them how many miles you logged with their pup for that year! You can bet they’ll be talking about it to their friends and family, and you know what happens when people are talking about your business. It GROWS!
They make great stocking suffers too. You don’t really have to wear it all the time. If you have a fairly consistent schedule then wear it for one week then multiply that mileage by 4 for a monthly estimate or by the weeks you will work in a year. I think you’ll be surprised how many calories you’re burning (or are going to burn) in your new profession!
Along the theme of winter related gear and equipment, something you may not have considered is tire chains. Yes, they are a pain in the rear to put on, particularly in the snow. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re going to have to go out and walk dogs, even in storms.
If you don’t own an all wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, chains will be your best friend. For the first 5 years of my business I owned a Honda Civic. Great car, decent in the snow, but if I had to climb a snowy hill, forget it. I got stuck numerous times and wound up having to shovel a client’s driveway just to get out. Do yourself a favor and buy a set of chains for the winter, trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Merrel Snowmotion 8
I have to rave about these boots, I’ve had them for a year and I love them. They are simply the warmest, driest, and most comfortable boot I’ve used for dog walking.
This boot has some beefy traction for mud and snow and features back-stays which will help secure Yaktrax Traction Cleats to your soles for walking on icy streets (a must) as well as d-rings for use with Gaiters.
Did I mention they are warm and dry? These boots feature Waterproof leather as well as thermoplastic urethane uppers. Without listing all the technical terms they are loaded with the latest insulating technology. They are also very comfortable and secure on your feet, helping to give you the support you need in wintry conditions.
They are listed as a -40F boot, I’ve never tested them in temperatures that low… I really don’t think you’ll be walking dogs in temperatures that cold unless you live in Alaska or Canada and your mushing Huskies.
Top it off with a zip up lace which is great for popping them off and on quickly when entering a client’s home!
At $140.00 they are pricey, but a better boot you will not find.
Merrel has a similar boot for women called the Women’s Merrell Winterlude 6 Waterproof. I’m not sure they are quite as hard-core as the men’s boot and I’m not seeing any back-stay for holding a Yaktrax in place? I’m sorry I’m not able to field-test women’s products. If anyone has a lead on a comparable women’s boot, please let me know!