One thing 10 years of pet sitting has taught me, expect the unexpected. Working with other peoples dogs is unpredictable. Having a good toolkit is a must. Depending on the area you service and the type of dog walking or pet sitting you do, there will be a few differences of opinion on what's essential. Make sure to let us know what dog walking tools you can't do without.
Carabiners aren't just for climbing. They are my most important tool and very versatile. I use mine every day to carry my keys. It's a double sided locking carabiner. I can take it on and off my belt without having to open the side that holds the keys. This is my favorite because my keys are never in danger of falling off during the key jockeying process. In addition to carrying keys effectively, it's also a great way to secure a broken crate door. If you've had enough Boston Terriers than you know they twilight as Houdini impersonators. At least once a year I encounter a prison break at a house. Luckily I have my carabiner on me at all times. Just clip it to the crate door and frame, and the popper won't be able to escape. I've used my carabiner to carry keys, repair broken equipment and even to crack open a beer after a long day. It's a versatile piece of equipment that should be in every dog walkers toolbox.
In addition to my Carabiner, my utility knife is the next most important dog walking tool. I have one of those Swiss Army jawns. It's not an everyday tool for me, but I've used it for so many reasons over the years, that I've lost track. Some of the more outstanding uses have been:
- Picking locks,
- Removing glass and splinters,
- Cutting off collars and harnesses,
- Removing ticks, and
- Cutting gum out of fur
This list could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. If you don't carry a utility knife, my advice is to start now.
A Pet Sitting App
Did you think I wasn't gonna go here? I did co-found a pet sitting app. In all seriousness, whether you're a solo walker or have staff, the dog walking tools Scout provides are invaluable. When I'm out doing walks, I have all my notes, client information and appointments all in one place. From a management perspective, Scout saves me hours and hours of administrative work every week. For my clients, it provides convenience and a sense of accountability. I've yet to hear a good reason for not having a pet sitting app. Just don't forget to carry a phone charger or portable battery pack.
An animal deterrent is important in any environment. In the city, I deal with a lot of off-leash dog issues and the occasional wildlife encounter. I wanted a safe, non-lethal way to deter these unwanted encounters. For my purposes, citronella spray has worked well on animal encounters. While I don't carry pepper spray, some of my pet sitters over the years have found it to be an excellent way to deter unwanted humans. In more rural areas, you may want to consider bear spray as well. If you're really, going into the wilderness, something a little more robust or lethal may be necessary.
As dog walkers, we are on our feet all day, doing what the name of the job implies, walking dogs. When you have a physical job, it's important to take proper care of your body. Dog walkers are susceptible to a number of common injuries like twisted ankles, joint pain, and foot fractures. I've had all of these ailments over the years. The easiest way to prevent them is good shoes with lots of impact resistance. In an industry where an injury can put you out of business, good shoes are an investment worth making
I can't be the only one who's had the police show up to a job. 99% of the time, its because of a faulty alarm panel, but I've also had to break into clients homes. In South Philly, that will almost guarantee a visit from the cops. It's not a bad thing, but you need to be prepared. The police are going to want your ID so they can make a record of it. Until I started having staff, I didn't even know that leaving one's house without ID was a thing, but alas, I learn something new every day.
One of my new favorite dog walking tools in the PopSocket®. I have dropped my phone at least 100 times while trying to take a fun picture out and about or while trying to do 3 things at once while looking up feeding instructions. The PopSocket® really helps me get a good grip so I can do things like operating the camera with one hand on a leash. It took me a minute to get used to having it stuck to the back of my phone, but I also haven't broken my screen since I started using one. The PopSocket® also works well as a stand. On overnights, it's nice to be able to set my phone up like an alarm clock. I also use it for non-dog walking activities like watching YouTube videos when I'm learning how to cook something new. It's the kind of thing you never knew you needed until you have one.