When dog walkers take on the responsibility of a new client’s dog, they are agreeing to manage the animal’s needs while they are in their care. While you are walking a dog, though, should you let it off the lead?
Does the Dog Have a Sense of Recall?
Before you even think about letting a dog off the lead, you need to find out for sure whether it has a sense of recall. When you arrive and get the dog ready for its walk, does it respond to its name, make eye contact and then approach you? Will it come when you call the dog to your side? A dog that does not show such basic evidence of recall is unlikely to return to you in the park when you call it to your side.
Unless you do not mind spending all afternoon scaling the city trying to retrieve Fido, or worse, you should not allow yourself to be pressured into allowing a dog to run loose when he has absolutely no sense or recall.
Refer to Your Service Agreement
Dog walkers should have a service agreement in place that outlines how they will carry out their duties. This can help protect them in the event of a client trying to persuade them to go against their service agreement.
Remember that ignoring your own service agreement can render your pet insurance invalid if something goes wrong and you did not follow your own advice.
Does the Dog Have Aggressive Tendencies?
An aggressive dog should not be let off the lead, no matter how “sweet”, “playful” or “cute” a dog is in its owner’s eyes. If the dog has a history of getting into fights with other dogs, or attacking people as they are out walking or playing, then dog walkers should make sure they keep the dog under control at all times. That means not allowing the dog loose.
Ignoring your gut instinct about an aggressive dog (even if he is fine when with you) can lead to serious injury to others and legal action if the parents of a young child or dog owners press charges. It is not worth risking anyone’s safety or your reputation as a dog walker by walking an aggressive dog off the lead.
Alternatives, such as an extendable lead, can give the dog extra freedom without endangering other dogs or people that they come across. When it comes to letting a dog loose, speak to clients and find out exactly how well Fido does off the lead. But do not just go by what they tell you. See for yourself how the dog handles his lead and if it would be safe to let him off.
Dog walkers have a duty of care toward dogs in their care as well as their clients. As such, they should think very carefully about letting dogs loose. If the dog has no sense of recall and is aggressive, it is best to keep the dog under control by not allowing him the freedom to run loose. Refer to your service agreement and let clients know where you stand if they attempt to pressure you to let the dog run loose.
More from this contributor:
Are You a Considerate Dog Walker?
Dog Walkers: What to Include in a Service Agreement
How to Remain Positive as a Dog Walker