Tips for finding the best dog walking prices and services in Melbourne
What are dog walkers low and high fees like in Melbourne?In Melbourne it seems that mostly middle-class people want their dog walked. Poorer people don’t have spare funds, and it seems rich people would rather their dogs die of boredom than risk them walking outside of their property, in the real world. This is not of course always the case, but from all of my own clients and every other walker I meet in the park, its about 99% right.
LOW COST DOG WALKING $15 This is usually done by a primary school kid for pocket money or a retired older lady who is taking cash in hand. It wont involve insurance or any major safety guards. In the first case you are seeing your dog walked on lead around the block with close to zero socialisation involved. And most dogs wont get the exercise they need either. Some dogs also want have run around enough even to do a poo, which for many owners is almost the sole purpose they hire a dog walker.
The little old lady walker or older man walker taking less money for cash in hand, is probably not paying tax. They also probably don’t have dog public liability insurance, don’t maintain their car well, and if they take a dog to an off-lead dog park, are unlikely to be able to protect the dog if a dog fight breaks out.Yes, you get what you don’t pay for.
Dog Walkers $25 - $40 per hour. We actually advertise walking a dog for 45 minutes, because that is the bare amount of time we will do in the park. If it is drizzly, extremely cold or on the edge of being hot we don’t want dogs in the park for any longer than that.We usually walk dogs for about an hour, with a fair proportion of that time including stopping in one place when we meet another pack, so dogs can engage meaningfully with other dogs.
This amount of fee and time tends to be the sweet spot. If we walk a dog for an hour (Plus time for pick up and drop off and resizing photos and sending detailed emails), the services is really worth more like $50 a dog. But since we know that most people won’t pay that kind of money, and we like to stay in business, we just over service them and deal with the loss ourselves.
Dog Walkers at $40 - $60 PLUS per hour.This is probably fine for some people in rich areas where money isn’t as tight as in many suburbs. But also you should note that many of the companies charging this are either over charging for what they provide OR you are paying for their big advertising budget, or you are paying the premium that they pay to online directories so that they get noticed.This kind of money rarely goes into added experience or fun for your dogIf you are being charged this fee, just keep comparing services and work out what extra value you are getting.
Why include photos of your dog’s day out?In the day of social media, many people now expect everyone to be connected to social media and the web.In fact its often one of the major ways that dog walking companies connect people to their services. This is not a bad thing, it’s a relatively low-cost new client funnel.What I take exception to is the KIND of photos that people expect of their dogs BECAUSE most people don’t walk their dogs in off lead dog parks.I am probably one of the exceptions in the dog walking industry, being male and large, putting all of the safety mechanisms in place, like car harnesses etc, and taking MANY Photos of the whole pack during the outing, so that the owners can get the best highlights of their dog, and their dogs interaction with other dogs in the pack, and other dogs in the park, in their daily email report. A large number of quality photos that some clients let me know that they have shared with their friends and family.
HOW our dog photos are different.I learned early on by my social media posts on our dog walker facebook page, that the photos that get the most likes are ones that usually include just one dog, passively sitting or standing in place. The kind that you could take inside your house or on the nature strip.People seem to like these the most because they are extremely passive. No one gets scared from looking at them. There is no hint that the dog is about to or will ever engage in play with another dog. THEY ARE SAFE.
And this is where a large part of my job comes into play. Educating new clients that its ok for their dog to be off lead (with good recall skills) and to PLAY (heaven forbid) with other dogs. To even run with them, and occasionally bear wrestle or puppy mouth. Consensually.And yes, if you have never been to an off-lead dog park, other dogs scare you, or you have ever had a scary experience with a dog or a dog park, that you have never overcome, owners can bring a strong prejudice into what activities their dogs get up to.But the reality is that many dogs that start of timid or anxious on their first walks with us, do so because they haven’t been sufficiently socialised before off lead. And roaming off lead is in fact a dogs natural state.
And this is just not rescue dogs.Only once a dog has visited the park enough and seen how other dogs naturally relate, explore and play, will they usually come out of their shell and want to engage in any kind of running or playing in the park. That is, the new-found confidence and miracle of dog walking. As we see dogs and owners push through this ‘play’ barrier.Some of our pack run around manically in the first five minutes in the park, others continue to do so for the entire time.
Others reserve their play for our end of laps play session.Dogs are profoundly clever on their walks, and share a very primal simulated hunt experience with the other dogs and the human guardians. That is why our walks find that much of a dog’s energy is actually expended mentally as they catalogue smells and make sense of the world through memories and exploring as they do through actual exercise.
What about doggy day care?Amazingly many dogs now days are dumped at dog day-care places by their owners rather than allowing their dog to have any kind of real exercise or natural experience.Here is a direct comparison of why many dogs get much more value from a shorter professional dog walking experience (with individual operators) than a day long day care stay.DOG WALKING Benefit
The dog transportation time
In dog walking your dog only gets a brief time enclosed in the car with the pack. It gets to know them and trust them, which is a great bond for when they hit the park, but they are NOT forced to stare at each other all day long in a small pen.
The exploration time
This is what it really is about. Almost every dog in our pack, spends a large proportion of their time on the park laps, sniffing trees, bushes and other dogs we come across. They can freely make their own decisions and grow in confidence. They don’t have a lead around their neck, nor do they have a small pen fence forcing them together with other dogs they would prefer not being with long term.
The ideal dog time together
In every pack, leaders and submissive(s) will have their roles. The leader doesn’t always want to lead, but naturally, through evolution, a pack leader usually emerges. All of the dogs in the pack have a role. Some are look outs, some bring up the end of the dog pack bravely or less bravely, but they all find their chosen place.The dogs also enjoy their interactions with other dogs that our directional walk comes across, and if the owners decide that both packs and dogs are mixing well together, we may linger longer. But this is all CHOICE.
IN a doggy day care, we have seen the trick where they walk a dog for five to ten minutes down the road on lead, because it’s becoming troublesome. Or they want to use it to advertise their business on a busy road. But in general, most of the dogs spend most of their time penned in like rabbits.The dogs don’t get a choice of which dogs they associate with, and unlike a proper off lead dog walk experience, where they have total freedom of association, then are returned home to blissfully sleep.
“Doggy day care” dogs often have high stress levels that are very unhealthy for them.Proper dog walked dogs have the time of their life out in the park expending all of their energy in a burst, then come home to their FAMILILAR place and rest knowing that no dog is going to challenge them. They don’t have to keep one eye open in case a penned dog wants that play or a worse kind of challenge. I say worse, because many dogs at doggy day care places are NOT SOCIAL. T
They are just dropped off and the owner flees, because the dog happens to be in one pen with a bunch of dog’s which forces them to get along in very close proximity to each other, with often an undercurrent of hostilities brewing.The lack of social skills is because many of the doggy day care dogs are not regularly off lead walked and they have not, at their own pace, learned how to be social in an OPEN environment.
This mini guide might help you understand what price you would be paying in Melbourne and a little about what value you are going to get from a good dog walker.
Particularly in comparison to the ‘convenience’ of doggy day care, that often is more detrimental to a dog, than if they were just staying at home.Dog day care might have stopped them from barking at home, but its not always the most fun for every dog that their brochures pretend it to be.