By Denise Mazzola, former Dog Walking Academy Instructor and Owner of Everything Dog

Jack Russell Terrier dog laying down with his leash wrapped in front of him.Imagine walking into a classroom to find your instructor wearing a sloppy set of sweat pants and sweat shirt and disheveled, just-rolled-out-of-bed hair. Class has started late and the instructor struggles to locate his PowerPoint Presentation. You’ve likely formed an immediately judgment about the instructor’s lack of professionalism. Now, ask yourself this: what tone did the instructor just set for the class?

Just as humans naturally judge others through their actions or lack thereof it is important to remember that dogs do the same. Dogs are learning all the time. It’s up to you, the professional, to teach them what you want them to learn at every encounter. Think about common dog interactions as a dog walker. Do you want that ninety-pound German shepherd dog jumping on you every day when you pick her up? How about the seventy-pound exuberant Labrador spinning in circles while you attempt to leash her?

Setting the tone can be as simple as requiring each dog to sit during leashing, before going out the door, before getting into your car (for those transporting dogs), before getting in the elevator, and while people walk past as you venture in and out of apartment buildings. The dogs in your care will learn very quickly that the fastest way to get what they want is to sit patiently when asked.

Setting the tone will take some extra time on the front end to train, but will prove very rewarding for the long haul. Spending the time on tone setting ensures a more enjoyable walk for you and a safer, calmer, more relaxing walk for the dogs in your care. Your clients sure won’t mind the extra manners practice, either!