Monday, January 27, 2014

SociaBulls: On Dogless Walkers

When we were first thinking of staring a dog walking group, we weren't sure if this is something that could work in such a crowded city; besides all of the planning we might do within our group, there are just so many external things we can't control.
While we were still figuring things out in the beginning, we quickly realized how important it was to have walkers in the group, walking without dogs. And the idea of the "Dogless Walker" emerged. Here are some things our Dogless Walkers do to keep the walks successful and low-key for all the dogs.

Keeping us Aware:
The Dogless Walkers help by keeping a lookout and making us aware of things that might frighten or alarm the pups. While our eyes might be on our pups to keep them focused, Dogless Walkers let us know if there are runners, bikers, or kids about to enter our path. They help us walk safely as a group giving us a heads up if we are getting too bunched up, remind us not to drift over on the path, helping us watch for broken glass, and serving as pseudo-crossing guards at intersections. They keep the group together by spreading out among the group helping the first dog navigate and staying with the last dog to make sure no one gets left behind.

Serving as Communicators:
So many people who see the group are curious about what we're doing. And since we all look so peaceful walking, people assume it's just ok to approach the group and allow their pups to meet our group. Our Dogless Walkers do a great job at intercepting curious onlookers before they approach us; this helps our dogs of differing socialization levels always feel comfortable. They will give them a simple hello, compliment their pup and strategically position themselves so they need to stop and talk and they can't just approach the group. This helps prevent dogs or people approaching the dogs in our group who might be shy or fearful.

Integrating the Group:
Since we have specific spots on our walk, and we're often so focused on our own dogs, it can be hard to have conversations and meet many of the other people in the group. Coming as a Dogless Walker allows people to meet and talk to people they may not have had the chance to talk to before which can be extra helpful if they have dogs working on similar things. These connections help build our community and keep our group connected.

Sharing the Responsibility:
Sometimes we have enough pairs or couples come that we have our Dogless Walker spots covered, though people do realize the importance of coming dog less to help the group. If we are low on dog less walkers for the week, we will send out an email and usually people will step up.

Also:
More thoughts on starting your own group.
The best benefit.
Appointment Walking.
Check our Two Pitties in the City Facebook page for further comments.
To learn more about our group, join our Chicago SociaBulls page for more photos and updates. 

3 comments:

Two French Bulldogs said...

I can't believe how your group had grown. Fascinating
Lily

adventuresofadogmom said...

Dogless walkers... a great idea!

Mina Bey said...

also a nice way for dogless (at the moment) walkers to observe the work-in-progress dogs for tips for when they get their own dogs.

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