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Group Dog Walks - Does size matter?

Does size matter when it comes to the number of dogs taken on Group Walks?

As a Cheltenham dog walking and training company with over 9 years of experience and a qualified & experienced trainer in support, we wholeheartedly believe it does – here are some of the reasons why we have keep our walking numbers low and our introductions slow:


Manageability and attention to the walking environment:

Essentially we want all of our dogs and walkers to have fun on their walks – for the dogs this means time to sniff, time to play and a happy dog returned home satisfied, toileted, tired and towelled down if muddy😉 However, for that to happen, not only do the dogs we put together have to get on well. We have a thorough vetting and trial process for new dogs, plus the walkers need to make sure each individual dog is safe by being aware of their surroundings. A much, much easier task with a small pack!


On a rural off lead walk, even the best trained dog may be tempted to chase a deer in flight or get excited by the white flash of a rabbit’s tail. Our walkers may also come across livestock and need to quickly pop all the dogs on a lead. Plus there is how we manage the dogs around other dog owners, particularly those who are new to dog etiquette.


Behavioural factors

Small packs also mean we can focus in when something is a bit off with one of our regular dogs. Sometimes the signals that dog put out are subtle, sometimes more obvious but with smaller packs we can pick up more easily when a dog is showing a behaviour that is different to usual and call in our trainer Barnaby to assist/observe/provide assistance.


We can also keep overarousal in check and pop a dog on lead when they are about to go over threshold. While walks should be enriching and full of exercise, a dog that comes home wired and over-aroused will struggle to settle and problem behaviours are more likely.


Emergencies

Whilst our team are all canine first aiders and take every precaution to avoid any sort of harm of any description, dogs will be dogs and emergency protocols have to be in place.

Sometimes the play is quite high octane and the running fast and, occasionally accidents happen.


Thankfully we have only had to take dogs we are walking to the vets three times in 9 years; once for an adder bite, once for a cut stopper pad and once for a joint problem. But, when accidents happen it’s much better that the walker can respond quickly, gathering a small pack together and call in a wider team to assist, whilst the dog in need is being taken to the nearest vets. I can’t even imagine the chaos that would ensue if a walker was managing a huge pack alone...


Some dogs don’t do well in large packs

To compound our feelings about pack size, we are sadly seeing more and more dogs referred to us for training and behaviour who have been attacked, bitten or have become overly excited or reactive when walked in big groups or when taken en-masse to secure fields.


More time on walks – less time being driven:

The final point is a bit of an obvious one but essentially the less dogs we walk, the less time our four legged friends have to travel and more time to play!


We are getting more and more customers coming to us where their dogs are one of say 10 being picked up for either day care or a play in a secure area. This can mean that in some instances dogs are spending an hour in transport, in some cases feeling unwell or unsettled. Having more walkers with fewer dogs in a smaller catchment is an easy way round this.


To sum up – it’s all about the dog!

Cotswold Hound do a lot of hard work and training behind the scenes. Investing in the training of our staff being a high priority and one of the reasons why we are not the cheapest dog walking company in Cheltenham, but we believe we provide a fantastic service and great value!


If you were to bump into one of our walking team with their little contented packs you may think their job looks pretty easy but, in short, the harmony between their groups of dogs doesn’t just happen and is often the result of hours of meetings, trials, training discussions and interventions. We will always speak to our customers if their dogs aren’t 100 % happy and flag anything that is of concern.


Dogs and their individual temperaments are shaped by many things, their early months, their breed, personality, age, socialisation, their training and experiences to date and many environmental factors. Lockdown certainly didn’t help this process. This is why a robust way of assessing and trialling all new dogs is also key to happy packs.


Cotswold Hound is heading towards it’s 10 year Anniversary and we’ve changed our processes many, many times to make things better for both our walkers and our clients but one thing that hasn’t changed our view of pack sizes and desire to make sure the dogs in our care are well looked after and happy.


If you want to know more please feel free to contact us and discuss further.


Bryony

Managing Director and Owner






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