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About my job
I run Active Animals dog walking and pet care in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. I started my business about two years ago aged 20, after deciding university wasn’t for me. I realised that there was a huge demand for a reliable and experienced dog walker in the local area, which I felt I could fulfil. I mainly walk dogs in packs of up to six or seven dogs, who go out for an hour at a time when their owners are at work. This gives them the chance to socialise, stretch their legs in the local countryside, have some training but mainly to break up the day so they aren’t left alone for too long. I also take on a lot of reactive dogs (dogs that may react negatively to stimuli such as dogs or people), those with poor social skills, behavioural issues and those that are young and boisterous. As well as the dog walking I offer services such as home visits, small animal care and occasionally pet sitting as an alternative to kennels when owners go on holiday.
Best bits about my job
The best part about being a dog walker is that I am my own boss, I work to my rules and standards, choose when I work and what time off I have. But of course, the main reason is that I get to spend all day every day with between 15-20 dogs in the beautiful countryside. Where the only thing you can hear are tired happy dogs panting and their tag jingling on their collars. As well as this, you can never get fed up of the fantastic greetings you get when you pull up outside their house to collect them!
How Hartpury Helped
I started at Hartpury College in 2011 and took the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management. Hartpury gave me all of the basic understanding I needed about animal behaviour, nutrition, grooming, working dogs and much more! Studying a BTEC in Animal Management allowed me to undertake lots of practicals and go on trips to different animal related businesses. My tutor at Hartpury made me realise that I didn’t have to go to university to achieve what I wanted. Despite being offered a place at all five of the universities that I applied for, I turned them all down to work in an animal shelter which enabled me to gain experience and help to save funds to start my own business. During this time, I adopted a very naughty Border Collie who taught me a lot about behaviour and training in a hands on practical way.
As part of my diploma I had to do five weeks of work experience. For my first two weeks I worked in a riding stables and soon decided that a career with dogs was definitely for me! I spent my final three weeks at the animal shelter, where I had volunteered for 2 years previously. I wanted to do this to make sure that working full-time was for me. At the animal shelter, I was able to work with a huge range of dog breeds from Chihuahuas to Mastiffs and various other pet species. The animals I encountered had a range of behavioural and health needs. Working at the animal shelter allowed me to gain experience working in the boarding kennels. When I adopted my dog I attended every single type of training class; agility, obedience, tracking, reactive dog workshops and pet first aid. These courses gave me lots of additional information and techniques that I now use in my dog walking business today.
My advice to current students
My advice to current students would be to aim for your dream! If you have the drive and determination, you can achieve anything. I would also say that you don’t have to go to university to achieve what you want, with some jobs a degree is essential but there are other ways to get the job you want. High grades, confidence and experience is key!
Looking to the future, I would eventually like to run my own boarding kennels and dog day care. I would potentially like to get some dog training qualifications. I would love to branch Active Animals out into a franchise and have walkers all over the county. However, at the moment I am happy spending lots of time with my client dogs. It is very hard work especially in the cold, rain and snow! I’m only 22 so anything is possible!