Lately we’ve been getting a lot of emails from people interested in starting their own responsible dog-walking group.We loved getting advice from our mentor group HikeaBull in California, and we’re still learning as go along. We categorize all of our SociaBulls related posts on the icon to the right, and here are some of our FAQ’s:
Setting Rules and Structure:
The most important thing is to have a positive structure everyone understands which creates a safe and comfortable place for dogs of all socialization levels. HikeaBulls wrote this really great guest post about the key rules to setting a positive structure. And here are some things we’ve learned about creating a positive structure within a densely populated city.
All of our members complete a new member application where they initial that they understand all of the rules.
We have also had some questions about the importance of no dog-to-dog greetings;here is our stance on it.
The locations are just as key to creating a positive space for the pooches to walk. We don’t publicize any of our locations or walking times on the Internet because we only want the members involved in the walk to be at that location (you can never be too careful with the information people know about you on the Internet!).
We’ve tested a lot of spots in the city, and this is what we learned about finding good locations to walk.
Integrate Dogs Slowly:
We have found that it’s easiest to start with a small group (we only had 6 of us on our first walk!) then add dogs slowly. All of our new members attend their first walk dogless. It’s this type of “orientation” that allows them to fully understand the structure of the group without the excitement of their own pooch. Here is how we work on integrating dogs into the pack. This post specifically explains how we manage our growing group.
Some other helpful posts:
Using bandanas to communicate
What Really Happens on Water Breaks
The Importance of Dogless Walkers
Great things that have come from the group
When Miss M and Mr B were the only Members of the Group
We would love to hear from anyone who has started a new group or is thinking of starting a group. What is your best advice, or biggest questions?
Plus, read about all the different types of dogs who walk with our group and why they walk: Honor (The Gift of Learning to Relax), Maria (Not Letting Age be a Limitation), Sophie (Finding a Safe Place and Building Confidence), Torre (From Learning about Pitbulls to Developing an Ambassadog), Estelle (Waiting to Be Noticed), Franklin (A Small Dog in a Big Dog Group), Gordon (Learning to Be Social and Have Dog Friends), Nabi (A Shy Dog Making Sense of a “People World”) Sprocket (Teaching a Dog When it’s not Time to Play), Lola (Living in the City with a Dog who Fears Strangers), Zoe (The Dog who “Loves Too Hard”), Izzy (Being a good pitbull ambassador while working with an energetic dog) and Maize (Being social with an unsocial pup).
Plus, join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and information about group walks. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking and this link from the DINOs (Dogs in Need of Space) group to read the discussion and see if there is a group in your area.