Welcome to the first installment of Mike’s Walkers – Pup of the week! Our first honoree is named Willow. She’s a sweet, beautiful English Springer Spaniel, and we love her to pieces.
This photo was taken by her Chelsea dog walker Justine.
I’m not officially adding a service to our list, but I did transport long-time client Logan from the office in Manhattan to his groomer in Brooklyn yesterday. His human had asked if one of the walkers would be able to take him there in a care service, but I offered to do it myself. I have a car, it was fun, and I had the time…AND I couldn’t resist snapping a selfie! We’ve been taking care of this stately, bearded fellow for more than a decade now, and it was awesome to get to spend a little time with him yesterday. He’s such good company that I wasn’t even bothered by NYC traffic! BTW, I was not driving when I took this photo!! Hands-free all the way, folks.
So, you got a new puppy, and you’re really in love, right?! Of course you are. How could you not be? Just look at that face. So what do you do as soon as you get home to him? You squeal with excitement and really get him going! What do you do before you leave? You talk to him in a very sweet voice, and tell him you’ll see him really soon and to be a good boy and that you LOOOOOOVE him!!
All of that is highly likely and totally understandable. All of that is also a good way to foster separation anxiety in your pup. You’re doing what makes sense to you and what feels right. The thing is, your dog doesn’t speak or understand the same language you do. When you get him super excited upon getting home, you make a giant event of your presence. You make your entrance very important, and he will certainly respond. Your excitement will feed his. It seems harmless, but this can easily lead to everyone’s coming into your apartment being met with too much dog. If during his entire puppyhood he was encouraged to engage you exuberantly each time you entered your home and rewarded with sweet sounds, loving touch and affection, he will continue as an adult. If this behavior is not desired as he gets older it will be much harder to break than to simply avoid. If on the other hand you come in and ignore him for the first 5-10 minutes, you’re not denying him your love. You’re simply sending the message that it’s not a big deal for you to come in. You will be able to enter without it being the Doggie Show for the first 5 minutes every time you get home.
On the other end of this is your departure. If each time you leave, you make a big deal of letting him know how much you love and will miss him, you’re making an event of your departure and drawing attention to it. You are also getting him worked up and excited and then abandoning him in that state. Now he is excited and alone, acutely aware of your sudden absence. This often leads to the dog that barks and howls when you leave. You may not mind (as you are not there), but your neighbors do. Your pooch isn’t thrilled either. Once again, a good approach to avoiding this starting while he’s a puppy is to ignore him for 5 to 10 minutes before you leave. If he is crate training, put him in before you go, wait until he is calm, do not engage him again, and just go. He will be relaxed upon your exit, and it will not be an event at all. This will lead to a well adjusted adult dog who can handle you coming and going.
Obviously, nothing is fool-proof, but barring a special case of a very needy dog, these good habits can really help you avoid your puppy developing separation anxiety down the road.
Hope that helps!
So, this evening I’m going to write about a safety concern I have. It’s something I run across almost every single day that I’m out walking dogs. It’s dogs tied up outside of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. It’s never a good idea, but as owners it is our choice to make. Apparently it is still legal in NYC as long as it is not for an extended period. However, the picture you see to the left is of three dogs tied up outside Rite Aid at the corner of 20th street and 8th Ave in Chelsea…by their walker. I saw him tether them and then go in. Since I had no dogs with me, I went in behind him to see whether he’d even be able to see them from where he was in the store. Sadly, he went deep into the aisles. He would have no way of knowing whether they were involved in a scuffle or stolen. I waited to see how long he would be. It was well over 10 minutes. I feel quite confident the owners of these dogs don’t mean to pay this walker to shop while their dogs are completely unattended. In fact, I have 2 dogs, and I hire someone completely independent from my service to walk them each day. If I saw my dogs tied up outside a store in this fashion, there is no explanation that would stop me from firing her immediately. Literally anything could happen. This is New York City, you know.
Some of you may remember seeing this flier around Chelsea and the surrounding hoods. I spoke to witnesses, and though the flier says otherwise, the dog was tied up outside while the owner was inside. That’s how this happens. It’s a tragedy, and it is very easily avoided. In fact there is only one thing you have to do…don’t let go of the leash. That’s it. I know we are busy people in a busy city. I know we think we have the best behaved dog in the world. Unfortunately, when we are not holding the leash, there is nothing we can do to keep our dog safe. When our back is turned, we cannot prevent a tragedy because we don’t know it’s happening. I am addressing this to dog owners (like myself). This should go entirely without saying for professional dog walkers (LIKE MYSELF), but I have seen it so many times.
I’ve seen walkers, as with the previous example, tie dogs up while going in to shop…we should shop on our own time. I’ve seen walkers who tie dogs up outside buildings while they go in to get another…if the building doesn’t allow non-resident dogs to enter, then we have to make some other arrangement. I’ve seen walkers tie dogs up while entering a coffee shop to get a coffee…this is obviously not OK.
So, what’s my point? My point is this: as owners we have a responsibility to our dogs. As walkers we have a responsibility to our clients and to their dogs. We can’t be so naive as to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, and we can’t be so lazy as to think ‘I know it could happen to me, but I’m really pressed for time/I’m really in the mood for a coffee now/I really need to buy some toothpaste now’. It’s not worth the risk.
Please don’t tie your dogs up outside in NYC. It just isn’t safe.
I have a group of dogs I walk every week day between 1 and 2pm. There are 5 of them, all around the same size, and they walk beautifully together. Honestly, I’m a pretty good dogwalker, but these guys make me look like the best. Perhaps I am…who’s to say? This group has been together for years now, and every time I’m out with them I get quite a lot of attention from passersby on the street. Tourists and locals alike take photographs of us literally every day. Some people ask whether it’s OK, some just shoot, and many try to be sneaky. I think I always notice because I really stay aware of my surroundings when I’m walking the pooches. Anyway, I have always wondered whether the photos come out well. Are there scrapbooks all over the country, perhaps the world, filled with photos from trips to New York with pictures of me and these same 5 dogs in them? I tend to think people return home from their trips, look through their photos, choose the best ones of themselves in front of all the iconic awesomeness NYC has to offer, and completely discard the ones of me and my furry friends. However, I’ve often wished I had a copy of every one of them. How cool would that be to see so many different perspectives on something considered by many to be a novelty worth photographing and by me to be Wednesday afternoon? So, today I made a decision. From now on, every time I see someone shoot me while I’m out with the Dream Team (a name given to this group by my former walker Charlotte) I will give my contact info to the photographer and ask them to send me a copy. Then I will post it to an album on my FaceBook page dedicated to these photos. Sure enough, it happened. I was photographed today at the corner of 23rd street and 10th avenue. I asked and the photographer delivered. That’s the photo you see attached above, and I think it’s pretty good! My thanks to John-Francis Bourke. Please follow my progress with this little project at http://www.facebook.com/MikesWalkers in the photo album called “Mike and the DREAM TEAM”. I hope you enjoy it!!