My Day - The Run Down Part 2

Continued (as promised from

After we finish the morning walk, we pause for a water break if necessary and I prepare all of the walk reports that are sent out upon drop off.

After that's all done, I begin the dropping off process which usually takes just over an hour. Depending on where in the city we end up and which clients I have booked that day, I might pick up a few of the afternoon crew while dropping off the morning crew.

Pick ups for the afternoon crew takes just over an hour. The area I cover for the afternoon in larger than the morning with a few longer car breaks in between.

For the afternoon walk, we are generally either in the mid southwest (somewhere between the reservoir and Anderson) or in the deep southeast (auburn bay/mahogany area). Because I do off leash in the afternoon group, we sometimes have to travel a little extra to get to our walking area where there's a place for the dogs to run around.

The afternoon walk consists of 3 major parts.

1. An on-leash walk

2. Off leash heeling or dropped leash.

3. Playtime

I realize that I use off leash heeling and dropped leash somewhat interchangeably and I'm pretty sure there are a few clients that raise their eyebrows and think "okay Holly, whatever you say". So let me take this opportunity to explain what I'm doing:


leash heeling. To me, this means that your dog is off leash (may or may not have a 6foot leash or a long lead attached, but otherwise not attached to a human) but is expected to walk beside or behind me.

Dropped leash is when there definitely is a leash attached and there is more walker-dog interaction to achieve the same results as above. To me this terminology means that I have to pay more attention to that dog and interrupt any attempt to run away more than in off leash heeling.

I do this for a couple of different reasons.

1. Gaining control of an off leash pack.

As many of you know, I started off only doing on-leash walks. This is because it is my first priority to have control of my pack. I've seen too many walkers have no control and I never wanted to do that. I've also been in situations where one of my dogs runs ahead to sniff or greet another dog or just for fun and is reluctant to come when called - or even worse, starts playing keep away. By doing these activities, I'm encouraging the pack to stay close, to pay attention to me, and to manage their impulse control among other things. It's a serious mental workout!

2. Recall. I have a number of pack members that have challenges with recall. By practicing off leash heeling and dropped leash, they are learning that being off leash doesn't necessarily mean "go crazy". It can also mean "exercise with a calm mental state". And when I purposefully keep them close to me, it is much easier to reinforce their recall with much deserved love and affection.

And then of course, there is play time. Depending on how well your dog manages exciting situations and how well his/her recall is, they may or may not be able to participate in the free play time. Remember, my first priority is control (and by having control, I can manage safety and everything else). This part of the walk is usually after we've practiced off leash heeling and I use it as a well deserved reward for the pack's hard work.

After we finish our afternoon walk, we pause for water (if needed) and I again prepare all of the walk reports.

In the report I like to communicate what we did on our walk - where we went, what we worked on, anything notable - and include any behaviour notes if I have any. My favourites is when I can share accomplishments or funny stories. Sometimes I have to put my big girl panties on and communicate difficulties that I may be having with a dog, or relate an event that wasn't ideal.

Historically I've had troubles communicating about difficult topics head on. (Sure made it tricky when I was managing trouble employees in my past work life!). What I've learned is that, if communicated correctly and without undue emotional content, the communication often leads to a better solution for everyone involved. Another lesson that has been added to the "grateful" list!

Next week we will come back and talk about all the "behind the scenes" things! (assuming there isn't a notable progression in the pet food fiasco that I will feel the need to comment on, sigh).

Until next week,

Holly, Duke, and Jax