Day in the life of a professional dog walker
- Credit: Archant
Joseph Hewison on how his affinity with dogs led to a full-time career working with them every day
Name: Joseph Hewison
Job title: Full-time dog walker, and owner of Embark Dog Walking
Based: Tunbridge Wells area
Tell us about you
My passion for dogs began, as it does for most dog walkers, from simply being constantly surrounded by dogs growing up. I always knew throughout school that I wanted to work with animals, and I've always felt a strong affinity with dogs. From school, I dove into an animal management course at Hadlow College, which further ignited my passion. Through Hadlow College I found a volunteering role at Battersea Dogs Home in Brands Hatch, where we'd care for, feed, exercise, enrich and socialise the dogs through a multitude of different and exciting methods - including things you might not expect, like aromatherapy. This was an emotional job, but one I knew my heart was truly in. I've now been running Embark and walking beautiful dogs since May 2017 and I absolutely adore it.
Do you need any qualifications?
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No qualifications necessary, but the right attitude and knowledge are essential in doing a good job. Myself and my two members of staff are pet first aid trained, are very experienced with handling groups of dogs both on the lead and off lead and understand the crucial elements that ensure not only are our dogs physically exercised, but also mentally stimulated and properly socialised in a safe environment. The hiring process for joining Embark is always lengthy and painstaking!
Where do I start! How many dogs do I walk at once? Do I walk them all off the lead? Do they fight? What happens when one runs off? It's a conversation I have every time I meet someone new, and I'm still not bored of talking about it. All dogs that join Embark have to meet a set of standards, and a consultation and trial period are carried out on every client, so essentially my walks are usually me going for a walk with five well-behaved dogs following me off the lead.
A typical working day
Our day consists of a morning, midday and afternoon walk. We spend an hour picking up the dogs, a minimum of an hour walking them in the forests in and around Tunbridge Wells, and then an hour dropping them back. It's basically that one, two or three times a day. More specifically, on the walk we hide treats for the dogs, the dogs swim, play and sometimes aimlessly sprint in circles for five-minute bouts - which we refer to as 'zoomies'.
We trot between 5,000 and 20,000 steps in one day, depending on how busy we are. In a single week, between all staff, we walk upwards of 100 dogs. Our most popular breed are labradoodles. We serve billions of cuddles daily! And from the previous statistics, you can guess how many dog poo bags we use.
Do you have a dog?
This is the first point in my life where I haven't had a dog of my own. My Staffy passed away a few years ago and I haven't been in the right position since then to have another. I even have a tattoo of him on my arm, which gets constant compliments.
Is social media useful?
Social media to me is crucial. It's a fantastic way for people to find us and enquire about our services, as well as a great platform to brag about the adorable dogs and beautiful scenery I spend my days in. It's brought me tons of business and I just really enjoy adding to it all the time; it's like a photo album of my day.
How do you relax?
I can lazily enjoy a vegetarian fry up on a weekend morning, or alternatively I can do some bouldering. Ensuring all admin is complete by Friday at 6pm is crucial for my relaxation.
Marks out of 10?
9.5. I've left out the 0.5 because I honestly want to take all of our dogs home with me. They're like my own dogs and I care for them just as much.