How not to lose motivation?

Recently my training programme is very high volume, which makes me tired and sometimes frustrated. Yesterday during my sessions, I keep saying in my head I need to write about this. So a short note on how to keep motivated on my own experience. It has been almost 15 weeks that I am doing Ben’s training programme and I haven’t missed a single session.

What exactly keeps me motivated? Here are few points.

Identify your goal

Dream big right? So before you start your hard training sessions, have a think what exactly you want to achieve by doing them. Firstly make a short-term goal, but also think about long-term goal and have a wider perspective to see your goals. The results of these perspective could be such as: feeling more confident, better health, happiness and better fitness.

Monitor your progress

Ok, I use Strava, but I also keep my diary after each session. I like to write down how I felt and come back to it, as it shows me that I do progress in all my training. I have three different diaries, one is for canicross (and really dogs’ training), second for my core body exercises, third is for my dogless running and progress there.

Be flexible

Be flexible with your goals, do some changes and make it a bit more challenging specially the short-term one. Remember the small steps will really keep you going if you will see the progress.

Nothing happens without hard work

Some folks think, progress can happen without hard training. Well you are wrong, you really need to put effort to achieve your goals. So remember there are no miracles in this! You need to work hard.

Timeline

Identify your timeline, when do you want to achieve your small goals, but also big goals.

Be happy

You need to work hard but remember have fun during the session too, and if it was bad sessions, remember tomorrow is a new day and it will be better.

Find a partner

Sounds so romantic, but I dont mean it this way! I found that having my dogs off lead is the best thing ever, and I treat them as my running buddies who keep me going.

Stick to your plan and good luck.

 

Cannock Chase Fur Nations weekend

To finish our season we have went all the way down to England to Cannock Chase for Fur Nations races at the weekend. 5h drive on a nice motorway feels like nothing compering to my trip to Poland. Services on the way are super dog-friendly! I tried to stop on different ones and already have few my favourites as some of them are fenced and you can dogs let off lead for a proper stretch.

Weekend away

Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/. This was our first time to Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase Country Park is one of the largest country parks in England. It is a local government district in England and it covers a large part of Cannock Chase forest and the towns of Cannock, Rugeley and Hednesford.

Unlucky this time the weather wasn’t the best. It was raining a bit and during night there were thunderstorms which was a bit scary even for myself.

As always dogs had a blast.

Surrounding

Cannock Chase is located between Cannock, Lichfield, Rugeley and Stafford. It comprises a mixture of natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry, such as coal mining. The landscape owes much to the underlying Triassic bunter formations. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on 16 September 1958 and is the smallest area so designated in mainland Britain, covering 68 km2 (26 sq mi). Much of the area is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Despite being relatively small in area, the chase provides a remarkable range of landscape and wildlife, including a herd of around 800 fallow deer and a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars. A feeding station at the Marquis Drive Visitors’ Centre, sponsored by the West Midland Bird Club, attracts many species, including brambling, yellowhammer and bullfinch.

 

Efforts are underway to increase the amount of heathland on the chase, reintroducing shrubs such as heather in some areas where bracken and birch forest have crowded out most other plants. The local flora also includes several species of Vaccinium, including the eponymous Cannock Chase berry (Vaccinium ×intermedium Ruthe). In January 2009, an outbreak of the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum was discovered on the chase, at Brocton Coppice. Various restrictions were put in place in an attempt to prevent its spread.

Races

So once again we had two days of racing, great finish to Laferra’s first season. The trails were just under 5km but surprisingly very tough (elevation only 91m). My greek rescue girl was very strong all around and did well by overtaking more people this time than being overtaken. Lovely mix terrain full of grass and forest trails made her go even more. It is very challenging to start in mass and then meet a lot of people out on trails. At the end of the day she is still very young dog and took it all without any problem. 3 weeks after Glamis, I felt once again stronger and really worked hard. Looking forward to part 2 of my programme with Ben Robinson. Time for summer and work even harder for next season. Fur Nations races are joining the list of race must attend next season.

 

Dog-friendly places to spend fantastic day out with your mutts

Another few place we visited during our holidays were less dog-friendly but still I was very impressed how dog-friendly they were actually.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction.

Explorer pass- Historic Scotland- an amazing historic tour with dogs

Last week was a bit different than usual as I was on holidays and we had a visitor. We have decided on explorer pass which gets you to over 70 attractions and therefore fast track to Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. We have bought 3 days pass which needed to be used within a 5 day period. Most of the attractions are apparently dog-friendly, so we tried to see what it is like to go and visit Castles with dogs.

Tantallon Castle, North Berwick

Set on the edge of the cliffs, looking out to the Bass Rock, this formidable castle was a stronghold of the Douglas family. Ascend Tantallon’s towers for spectacular views of the Bass Rock and to watch gannets plunge into the North Sea. Then descend into the depths of a particularly grim pit prison. The castle was home to the powerful Red Douglas dynasty, which often clashed with the Crown. It was besieged by both James IV and James V but was ultimately destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in a siege of 1651. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Amazing thing about this castle is that you can bring your dog (leashed) and explore the castle. Massive massive respect for being dog-friendly. Love that there were a lot of grass around to walk. Not many tourists too and a lot of place to stop and have a break with stunning views.

Dirleton Castle, Dirleton

A romantic castle often in the forefront of Scottish history since it was built in the 12th century. The renowned gardens include an Arts and Crafts herbaceous border and Victorian garden. The herbaceous border has been authenticated by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest. The two gardens and grounds are accessible to those using wheelchairs. Two steps lead to the inner courtyard. The castle interior is restricted for visitors using wheelchairs as are the gazebo and dovecote. Surfaces on all garden paths and those leading to the grounds are suitable for wheelchairs. The main garden has a selection of scented flowers and plants. Tickets: 6 GBP.

I think this one was my favourite, it had lovely garden to walk around the castle but also dogs were allowed inside. It was very quiet with tourists so we could enjoy it just to ourselves. The staff offered us the water for dogs and welcome them too. We even stood in a shop and Roger was taking all the teddy bears! Oops.

We could walk around the castle, but also inside the building in the Great Hall and so on. Dogs loved all the livestock around, we saw goats, cows and horses while walking in the gardens. Dogs were really keen on sniffing around and we could also take an amazing photos out and in. Loved it! I was very impressed with my first castle tour!

Linlithgow Palace

Inside one of the most spectacular ruins in Scotland you cannot help but walk in the footsteps of royalty. This royal pleasure palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and an iconic filming location in hit TV show Outlander.

Visit the great hall where monarchs hosted banquets, tour James IV’s suite of chambers or say a prayer in the private oratory of James V. Outlander fans will recognise the Palace gates and corridors as being those used in the scenes when Jamie was imprisoned.  You can see the elaborate, restored fountain in action every Sunday in July and August – it reputedly flowed with wine when Bonnie Prince Charlie visited.The high towers look down over the palace’s grounds –the Peel – and Linlithgow Loch, an important refuge for wildlife. You can explore both on well-surfaced paths. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Maybe actually this one is my favourite one?! You can walk around the Palace which has a Loch (dogs ran into it for a cool down), but also an amazing palace’s ground full of ground for playing fetch. A lot of walking around inside the Palace once again brought a lot of interesting smells for my two mutts. Laferra was in love with birds inside the castle as they were really teasing her.

Cragiemillar Castle

The castle of Craigmillar is one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Scotland. Even today, the castle retains the character of a medieval stronghold. Building began in the early 15th century, and over the next 250 years the castle became a comfortable residence surrounded by fine gardens and pastureland. The castles history is not only closely involved with the city of Edinburgh, but plays an important part in the story of Mary Queen of Scots who fled to Craigmillar Castle following the murder of Rizzio. It was in the castle where the plot was hatched to murder Marys husband, Lord Darnley. Built round an L-plan tower house of the early 15th Century, Craigmillar was much expanded in the 15th and 16th Centuries. It is a handsome ruin, including a range of private rooms linked to the hall of the old tower. Tickets: 6 GBP.

Once again a very quiet place to visit with friendly staff and a “make it yourself” wheel trolley so we made ourselves crowns! So much laugh as we knew it was just for kids. A cat welcome us which probably would be funny if Roger would spot it. Apart from that a nice building to walk in and out and literally noone there apart from the staff.

Blackness Castle

One of Scotland’s most impressive strongholds, Blackness Castle was built in the 15th century by one of Scotland’s most powerful families, the Crichtons.

This Castle is close to the beach so dogs could have a deep in the sea, but also on the other side there is grass grounds for them to run around and play. [Note: I actually realised this was a part of our training grounds, but from other side]. Absolutely lovely and tiny castle. Dogs are not permitted in roofed buildings.

Absolutely amazing time exploring! I would defo recommend a dog-friendly tour around Scottish Castles.

Glamis Castle Fur Nations weekend

Last weekend was very spontaneous, after few chats with friends, I have decided to sign for Fur Nations races at Glamis Castle as it wasn’t really far away from home. Oh boy! It was one of the best weekends.

Weekend away

We love the weekends away with dogs and even better with couple friends and their dogs too! Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/

Luckily for us the weather was just amazing! We now have much bigger tent, so there is a lot of space for everything really. Although dogs discovered how to escape from it!

Surroundings

Glamis Castle is a living, breathing monument to Scottish heritage, hospitality and enjoyment for all. The family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Glamis Castle is the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret.

Glamis Castle has evolved over the years to create a stunning architectural treasure that is full of vitality to this day. Once inside, every room has its own story and the evolution of the castle and its legendary tales and secrets are brought to life by your own enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides.

Every painting, every piece of furniture, every little detail along the way is a sharp reminder that this is not a museum but an incredible family home that has witnessed everything from Royal births to being the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are beautiful all year round. Walks have been created to take in a mixture of habitats ranging from park land and policies in the immediate vicinity of the castle to the formal Italian Garden, mixed woodland and Pinetum to the North East.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos of inside while we did our tour around the castle. However the staff was lovely saying hi to my dogs asking their stories.

Races

So we had two days of races, it was Laferra turn as Roger still building up for running in the harness. The trails were 5.2km and the start was at the small incline and then via water to then through the woods. Absolutely lovely soft and nice trails.

A lot of overtaking and being overtaken as the categories started in mass start and we were in 4th wave. Laferra loved the mass start and all the dogs around. We worked well together finishing 7th overall in our category (out of 42 runners). 9 weeks training with Ben Robinson proves it works, it made me stronger runner in head but also physically! Ben also supported me with preparation prior to the races (nutrition). We loved it so much I have decided we are going for English leg to Cannock chase in two weeks time!

I know Roger would have loved a run and he is very good with his commands, so he ran with our friend’s little girl (6) and loved it. I think she loved it too.

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Amazing time to be out with our dogs and friends. Chilling all days outside. Absolutely lovely atmosphere and zero politics. That what racing should be all about… fun with dogs 🙂 Looking forward to Cannock Chase!

 

 

“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.”- Training regime

Coming from a sport background didn’t really help me to know what to do with my running sessions. I definitely needed some guidance on how to improve and put the right programme out there. I have improved my running in 2 years quite well starting at 32minutes and being down to sub 20 (all with a dog). However now it is the time that I will work harder and get the right training. I have signed for Canicross Robinson Online Programme Coaching. If you ever wonder how it looks like and what mentally you go through here is my adventure over 6 weeks.

Week 1

I haven’t felt so excited about running in some time! Actually felt like back to those days where I want or needed to train every day. Ben discussed with me my goals and what I have been doing so far. He really tried to understand my idea of running. Week 0 we have done some testing (I had no clue what results they brought, but nevermind!) Finally my week 1 landed in my inbox. Super excited to see only one day rest! Training session really varied from what I have done before, so I was even more excited. I have hit all the sessions no problem but felt thankful for my recovery run session on Sunday. I also managed to discover that I use a lot of my shoulders during running (they are so sore). Week 1 accomplished without any problems, just feeling a bit tired which means I worked hard.

Week 2

I have made mistake this week and decided to do a session in the afternoon after work. Oh, never ever again. So many dog walkers out there and all those dogs that wanted to join me and dogs running around the park. I will defo stick to morning sessions. This week was a struggle, my legs felt tired and my body felt not well. I didn’t have a rest day in the programme, just recovery runs, which I am loving now. I am glad this week has passed now.

Week 3

Week 3 was way easier than before, I felt shit during sessions, but afterward, it looked like my runs are getting stronger and better. A week has been going better than last week, I can feel stronger, but my body suffers every week. Noone said it will be easy right. My recovery runs feel great and legs aren’t feeling like stones anymore. My running buddies are brilliant every time.

Week 4

Week 4 was tough, I was away for a business trip, which means training without dogs- my best running buddies. Ben planned session so I could fit it with my travels. Saturday canicross was mentally tough, as my legs were very tired. Overall I thought this week will be tougher than it actually was. I survived! Looking forward to next week already.

Week 5

It is already over a month I am doing the training, I feel the legs are stronger, splits shows I am getting a bit faster, but I don’t feel like it. This week is a race week, so training programme has been adjusted so I have some rest prior… To finish up the week 5 Laferra and I had fantastic run at SDAS Ford races. Two very consistent runs. Super happy.

Week 6

Halfway through the programme and I really managed to surprise myself this week as I could feel that I am getting stronger as sessions feel like I am doing better and more. I also manage to do 2 hilly loops instead of only one, and still feel strong and breath in! (yes I pushed and work hard). Never thought I will look forward as much to my recovery runs.

 

I always run around, but this tailored programme really builds my strength not only in body but also in my head! I never ever thought I will go out there in the morning and do hills runs! The whole morning training keeps me buzzing for the day but also it makes my dogs very happy as they run with me, and pretty much do the same training! 🙂 well makes them snoring dogs.

 

Happy traning everyone. If you missed my post about early starts have a read here.

Why am I so motivated to start my day so early in the morning?

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As you may know, I am not a big fan of running and in past, I really used to hate it. However recently things changed and I am more into it, even train every day. A few folks asked me how do I do it that I am so motivated to wake up early and just go out there in the dark and do my training. So here are my thoughts on that:

Why early morning

I am an individual that likes to be on her own, a lot of people make me tired 🙂 Recently also a lot of people started asking me how I trained my dogs that they are so well behaved. During training I don’t have time for chatting, I like to go out there and smash my training in 30min! Early morning it is usually me and the dogs, which means I can totally focus on training and don’t need to shout after Laferra to not approach other dogs and of course no people keen for chat. Easy life for everyone: I can run, dogs can run!

Stunning morning

Usually, in the morning I can see the sunrise, which in Scotland is just stunning.

Food fuel

In the morning I can also feel I can go quickly do the training without worrying about food, I can just fuel my body straight after the run and during the day at work. I am always worried to get a stitch if I run after work due to that when I finish work I am hungry for light dinner already. The only minus of this is that if you work hard (most of the time for me) you will get a headache after a good training session and you feel like you can eat the whole fridge 😀

Consistent morning and increases discipline

I am always up early in the morning even at the weekends, so keeping the consistency in waking up makes it easy for the whole week. Also, it means training is done and nothing interrupted it as it the is always the same time. If I decided to do it in the afternoon, my workout time frequently ends up at the bottom of my to-do list and by day’s end, I might not even do it. So I rather hit the trails first thing in the morning and I am able to enjoy it and be fully focused on training. This also means I have a free evening and can spend it on catching up on tv shows or reading books.

Metabolism

I have noticed that morning start helps keep metabolism elevated for hours. Why not get your engines running as soon as possible- the earliest the better hehe?! In this way, my increased metabolism will be working — and burning more calories — while I am, instead of when my body is at rest. If you are like many people who sit at a desk all day, you know that this is reason enough to train in the morning.

Clears your mind

We all know that training really helps clear our head and put us in a healthy mindset. According to literature training before your day officially begins allows you to start each day with a fresh perspective as you destroy the stresses of the previous day with a run on the trails. It would help you to decrease the chance to become stressed or upset during the day. Of course, it also depends on individuals but it defo works for me.

Energy for the day

Early morning… yes it is hard to move from nice and cozy bed when it rains outside. The weather and accumulated fatigue can make you feel a bit lazy, however, if I go out and do the training first thing in the morning I am buzzing for the day. Doing so will release endorphins and other hormones to give you a much-appreciated boost that often lasts all day. In other words, it’ll give you the required energy to work all day and party all night if you desire.

 Sleep better and increase mental awareness

I have noticed that I feel more alert and ready to take on whatever challenge or curveball life throws my way after a good workout. I am ready for the day. As my body learns the pattern I started to sleep very well too. My sleeping patterns are consistent and I feel like I am resting/recovering much better and quicker.

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So stay focused and disciplined yourself! Get your “ass” out of bed early morning and enjoy the rest of the day. Happy training.

 

 

 

Hiking with dogs

Summer approaches (well maybe not here in the UK). This is the time of the year that we all go more often hiking with our dogs. Here are some rules and information you should remember before planning your hiking.

Right trails

Make sure you look at nice trails that are suitable for your doggies such as soft and not with many cliffs around, so dogs can be off lead all the time. Depending on how fit you and your dogs are, check how steep and how many drops there are on the route. If it is nice sunny day check if there are any water stops for dogs to cool down.

You and your dog

Make sure if you choose the trails that are suitable for both of you! Check if your dog is fit to actually go for a long adventure. Your vet will be able to advise you. Also, don’t feed a massive meal before hiking too.

Check rules and regulations

Check your local rules and regulations, as for example in Scotland dogs must be always on a lead during lambing.

  • During the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.

After hiking check your dog

  • Eyes – check for grass seeds.
  • Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects.
  • Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks.
  • Tail – foreign objects caught in fur.
  • “Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to bed in they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later and could result in a costly trip to the vets to have them removed.
  • Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, and cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with pieces of fallen branches as they can cause untold damage to the throat and/or mouth.
  • Body-  check overall for ticks.

Items to take along with you

So it is important you pack everything for your hiking adventure, I put a list together what I always have with me:

  • treats- high quality treats to reward and encourage good behavior.
  • favorite toy- we always find time to play and have some fun.
  • doggies first aid kit- cuts and strains could happen so be prepared.
  • spare collars and leads
  • poo bags- always clean waste
  • whistle- to call them back
  • animal-friendly wipes
  • water bottle and collapsible drinking bowl

 

Enjoy your adventures with dogs and stay safe.

 

Parkrunning

What is it?

Parkrun is free organized 5km timed run around the world. They are very popular in the UK and are open to everyone, allow kids and runners with dogs. However they are known in other coutnries too, around 18 countries over 5 continents at the moment have parkruns running. It is great as the route has marshalls around so people know which way to run and also it is safe and really for everyone. The events try to encourage people to run and also welcome anyone (even if you are just starting with running). You can even walk it if you struggle with distance. The parkruns in the UK are at 9.30am every Saturday.

Falkirk Parkrun

I never thought I will say it but I think this one is my favoruite parkrun so far. Although I haven’t been too many, it is challenging ever time I go there.

The trails have a bit of tarmac in two places, but it can be easily avoided. The course is in Callendar park and run on mixed surfaces, including forest paths. Some sections of the course may accumulate mud, leaves and puddles after rain.

The Falkirk parkrun course is an undulating, picturesque route within Callendar Park. The course starts on gravel at Callendar House, then moves to trail paths through woods, then on to tarmac through a golf course, finally coming back onto trail paths, up a wee hill and through the woods back to the gravel and the start. It is always a great way to start Saturday with that heartbreak hill! 🙂

I must say it is very dog-friendly parkrun as if you ask the Race Director and you have proven they will allow you to start to the front, which I think is safer rather than me passing all the people. If you are around and can join go and try it! So worth it.

Vogrie Country Park

Another great parkrun, there is only tiny 100-150m of tarmac at the start. The rest is just nice soft trails. This parkrun is more sceptic about runners with dogs, but I always ask if I can run and start in front and they are fine with it. They know we are kind of fast.

The course comprises of a start section and two laps, run anti-clockwise.
Runners will head down the main access road towards Vogrie House, and take the ‘blue’ route past the pond and play park. They will follow this trail and take the pathway highlighted for the car park, they will continue along this path, crossing over the small concrete bridge. Runners will continue on this path until they reach the main car park. At this point they will turn left and follow the path parallel to the events field. At the end of the path they will turn left then immediately right along a short path and enter the events field at the top end. Keeping to the field perimeter on your left follow it to the second field until directed right to the BBQ area 1. Past the BBQ hut turn left on to the path and then right along the pond to Vogrie House. They will then complete a second loop of the above route and at the end of the second loop, they will finish just beyond the pond on the left.

Dog walker or home boarding? Why do I feel like I want to become a stalker!

Do you feel sometimes like you wish to stalk your dog walker?! Unfortunately, my trust towards people that I pay a lot of money to look after has been broken some time ago. Since then I have a very low level of trust to folks when they look after my dogs. Ok. I know strange as I have a dog walker and home Home boarding while I am away, but….

Beginning…

Let’s me start from the beginning. To make myself a bit calmer and more secure, before signing any contracts I do a detailed research but also interview with the person, if they are really capable of looking after my two dogs. I am also honest with them, that my trust was broken before and this is very hard for me.

Another important factor for me is what Roger thinks and shows me. The longer I have him the longer I believe he is right about people. I know funny right, but seriously if Roger likes someone it always ends as being a good person. He also proved to me that not liking someone was right, as I ended up realizing it wasn’t best of choice. Yes, Roger is the main factor when I choose people to look after them, Laferra will just follow him.

The Dogwalker

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When the dog walker walked into my flat… I knew straight away Roger loves Kris, I didn’t even properly introduce us to Kris and Roger started bringing him toys and everything what possible so he would notice him and totally focus on him rather than have a chat with me. That time Laferra was still too young for joining the group walks.

It has been a year now that Kris is walking dogs! I am super happy and love getting updates on how they were today. I am happy!

Home Boarding

Home boarding…. Another tough decision and I have been unlucky. It took me some time to finally find somewhere to be their second home. So this is how we chose it or Roger did. Roger is taught to bring balls to me, not to strangers. Walking around playing the ball and chatting with boarders I could see Roger looks towards me for assurance. I allow him to play ball with them. He chose Jenni. Happy boy.

I know silly right, but I trust Roger, in both cases if he is happy. Later on, we chatted, we talked and I told everything that I would expect from them. I like to keep my dogs routine with walks, meals and so on. Yes, all good for home boarding. Next questions is about the house where they will have access, are they allowed on the sofa, where they will be fed. Unfortunately, I have a bad experience when Laferra, as she was separated daycare are for feeding… why?! No idea, but she came back home and didn’t want to eat and showed signs of stress during meal. I found out later on that place was separating them almost like to crate for feeding, which in case of Laferra was the worst scenario as she doesn’t like crate at all.

Vet

On the other side, recently I discovered that dog walker and home boarding is very important with your trust, but also the vet. Yes, you go to the vet with your dog, however recently I needed to leave Roger for few hours there for some tests. I was nervous as I know how much stress it would bring to Roger. I got brilliant reassurance from the vet, as he talked me through what will happen to Roger and afterward how great he is as they spent time with him. I have never been so excited to go there and pick him up. He was a very sleepy boy who just wanted to cuddle in. Laferra was super excited to see him.

 

Questions to ask

So here are a couple of questions to ask anyone who you leave your dog with (my dear friend shared them with me some time ago):

  • Are they insured? For how many dogs? What are the terms of the policy regarding injury to your dog while in their care? Who pays vet bill? Are they covered for public liability should your dog be involved in an incident?
  • Are they registered with their local council’s dog walkers scheme? While many of these are voluntary codes of conduct, a responsible dog walker will adhere to these regulations.
  • Do they have Scottish Disclosure? A dog walker will usually have keys to your house and be alone while there. It is important you know you can trust them. Will you be able to meet them while they are out walking dogs to see how they operate and interact with their dogs?
  • What type of transport they use for their work…Ideally, dogs should have separate cages which are securely fixed. Failing that, if the dogs are transported in a car, each dog should be “harnessed” in on a seat belt or other acceptable way to ensure a dog’s safety. It is NOT acceptable to secure a dog by a collar…and it is extremely dangerous to have dogs loose in a car or van.
  • How long are dogs in the van? Is it ventilated? Heated for winter?
  • How long do they walk for? If your dog walker says they get an hr, then they should have that hour out of the van and actually be walking.
  • What would they do in an emergency?
  • Are they First Aid certified?
  • Do they know how to break up a dog fight..and more importantly, do they know how to avoid getting dogs into these situations?
  • PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ask them about their experience with dogs. While many dog walkers have vast experience and know-how, the ease with which anyone can become a dog walker makes it a precarious business trying to find a good one.
  • Do they reward dogs for good behavior (treats, praise, playing with them) This is the ideal
  • Are they able to walk your dog on his own until he is ready to join a group?
  • Are they totally aware of canine body language?

Important! Watch your dog

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOUR DOG GOES OUT WITH HIS WALKER Your dog should be relaxed and eager to go out on his walk. If he is reluctant, hides, shows signs of distress he is obviously not happy about going out with the walker. On return, he should be happy and relaxed. If your dog comes back and looks stressed, overly tired or shows any deterioration in his behavior, check what is happening on walks Is he being bullied by the other dogs? Is he okay in transit? Has your dog walker taken the time to integrate him with her group and get him used to the transport?

 

A good dog walker/Home boarding is worth their weight in gold.