Why Some Members Haven’t Attended Walks
Recently we had a poll across all the groups asking several questions aimed at members who had never attended a Doggie Dates walk. While the answers were interesting, they were also expected, based on what we have heard from talking to people previously. We thought we would share the results and then make some comments.
QUESTIONS (POLL) DDNSW GROUPS
|QUESTIONS||Central Coast||Newcastle||Hills District||Campbelltown Camden||TOTAL||%|
|Nervous about how your dog will behave||25||5||69||65||164||37.02||1|
|Days/times don’t suit you||39||4||19||6||68||15.35||2|
|Haven’t had opportunity yet/just joined group||26||34||4||64||14.45||3|
|Nervous about trying new things||12||3||11||26||5.87||6|
|Walks are too far away||10||3||5||2||20||4.51||7|
|Holding off until Covid crisis over||9||3||6||9||27||6.09||5|
|Physical or medical issues limiting your ability to participate||6||1||5||4||16||3.61||8|
|Concerned other dogs may not be well controlled||1||1||4||2||8||1.81||9|
|You do not enjoy socialising||1||1||.23||13|
|Nervous around bigger dogs||4||4||.90||10|
|Currently dogless or waiting for new dog to be old enough to join||3||3||.68||11|
|My dog is already nervous, and I don’t want to put them under more stress||3||3||.68||11|
|My dog is scared of the lead||2||2||.46||12|
|My dog is reactive, and I don’t want to cause stress on other dogs||2||2||.46||12|
|37.02||Nervous about how your dog will behave|
|15.35||Days/times don’t suit you|
|14.45||Haven’t had opportunity yet/just joined group|
|5.87||Nervous about trying new things|
|4.51||Walks are too far away|
|6.09||Holding off until Covid crisis over|
|3.61||Physical or medical issues limiting your ability to participate|
|1.81||Concerned other dogs may not be well controlled|
|.23||You do not enjoy socialising|
|.90||Nervous around bigger dogs|
|.68||Currently dogless or waiting for new dog to be old enough to join|
|.68||My dog is already nervous, and I don’t want to put them under more stress|
|.46||My dog is scared of the lead|
|.46||My dog is reactive, and I don’t want to cause stress on other dogs|
So let’s address some of these issues about why members don’t attend.
NERVOUS ABOUT HOW YOUR DOG WILL BEHAVE?
This was the most popular answer with 37% of members across all groups selecting this as the reason why they haven’t attended as yet. This is something natural that people fear before they go to a group activity with their dog but it is so unfounded with our group. As long as your dog is leashed and secure and as long as you have read our rules, then you have no reason to worry. We are not a training group and we do not expect perfect behaviour (or even close to it). We expect far more of the humans than the dogs. We have had a few people arrive over the years see the group of dogs and have their own dogs start barking and feel stressed and leave which is so disappointing as we just wish they had waited and got through the first walk. It is amazing how even the crankiest of dogs tends to settle while walking. Sure, there are some that like to bark and lunge a bit all the way through but just give the other dogs some space and they WILL generally get better. We have heard people say from time to time that all dogs are welcome as long as they are friendly and I correct this. Dogs do NOT have to be friendly. We are a friendly group but we do not expect friendly dogs. We remind people that they should not expect dogs to be friendly, some dogs are not dog-dogs and need space. Don’t expect that just because dogs are there that they enjoy socialising, many people come to help their dogs integrate often from a distance. RESPECT where each and every dog and owner is at. This is also the place where you as a person can say NO I don’t want to meet your dog, please keep your dog away from me.
Finally, your dog is not going to improve in your backyard at home or keeping them away from group situations. Why are you nervous about how they will behave? Do they bark at other dogs? Do they lunge? Do they cry? Did you dream of having the ‘perfect’ dog and instead you got a ‘crazy, howling, silly dog unable to regulate their emotions’? (That describes any of my dogs on different days of the week.) To be honest, our group prefers a bit of personality. If you want perfect dogs, go to a dog show or elsewhere but most people who know me know that I gravitate towards the loud, excited, happy, boisterous, nervous, anxious, dogs with attitude. We can always work on their training but we should never try to diminish their happiness. As long as your dog is safe in our group and you keep your dog on leash and give them sufficient space from the other dogs, no matter how vocal or silly they are, we’ll all be happy. If you feel our big group is just too much, post up on the page for mini-walks where you may feel more comfortable. The most important thing to remember is if you are anxious then your dog will be too.
The humans to have their dog securely leashed
The humans to ask before introducing their dog to another dog
The humans give their dog and other dogs space to get accustomed to other another
If their dog is an anxious or reactive dog then the humans give the dog some space for the duration of the activity (walking a little away etc)
Here are how some of our regulars felt coming for their first walk:
Regina Steadman I was nervous going to doggie dates the very first time and I remember it was a theme day a Hawaiian doggy dates but everyone was lovely and I relaxed straight away once I started walking with my husband Peter. And I haven’t looked back and I’m quite a shy person but wouldn’t think that now I think doggy date to help me with my confidence. And it certainly has and I’ve made some wonderful new friends so please come along.
Peter Steadman No need to to worry everyone in the group is non judgemental. And if you are still worried just wait until you meet our dogs and their antics 😜 Not to mention the humans as well 😂😂
Jenny Lamaro I was extremely nervous coming to Doggie dates as my beautiful Ebony can be a psycho. Even though she was quite crazy ,we were welcomed with open arms and definitely no judgement. It has been one of the best decisions that I have made as both Ebony and I have made some great friends and really look forward to the walks
Lana Harradence None of our fur pets are perfect but they all react in different ways when they first arrive but normally settle when walking as they get to feel confident. We welcome all.
Lynn Whitehead I wasn’t nervous. However I was embarrassed by the way Gemma carried on until everyone saw that it’s just her letting everyone know she has arrived 😂. Now everyone knows and loves her. She doesn’t like other dogs in her face (and sometimes people) and everyone is great and respects that. We are all dog people and all love dogs no matter how they behave. If you feel someone is treating you badly because of your dog I’m sure Tj would help if you had a quiet word to her.
Melissa Owen I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but we ended our first walk feeling really comfortable with the people and other dogs. My dog can be a bit annoying with other dogs (barks at them as he wants to play) so I remember being worried that but its never been a problem.
Joe Smith I was nervous at first for Maple not for meeting other dog’s for meeting people but she has come along way now she is going over to some people and is enjoying it best thing I ever did was joining this group great people and dog’s
DAYS/TIMES/LOCATION DON’T SUIT YOU
This is a common complaint and this is a good opportunity for me to explain a little better. I run two groups, Campbelltown-Camden and Central Coast. I am quite involved in the Hills though thankfully Jackie does almost all the walks (I attend as many as I can as I love it). I have been trying to get Newcastle off the ground but am taking a little break from this for a while. We do get a lot of comments/complaints about location/days and times. Obviously to schedule in a formal walk it has to suit the host as well as life commitments, job and more. I find people also say that it isn’t close enough to them. I just can’t schedule every walk on people’s doorstep. While I understand it would be nice – I really encourage people to travel and see their amazing areas that they live. We have some amazing members who have joined more than one group and travel to different group walks and love seeing different areas. We have only lived on the Coast two years but have members who have lived there 30 years saying they have never seen this walk or that walk. I know this is my gig but people, just think of the big picture. I am trying to make it fair for all. Finally, if you can’t go or don’t intend to go PLEASE don’t put going or maybe, Just don’t respond. On some of our walks we have had 20 going and 20 maybe and 6 have turned up. It is frustrating and time wasting. If this seems harsh it certainly isn’t meant to. There are some things you can do if the places and times don’t suit you (instead of complaining):
- Put a post up for an informal walk in an area that suits you (must not clash on the days that we have formal walks).
- Put a post up for an informal walk on the days/times that suit you.
- Message the group with places that suit you to walk – don’t just put a suburb but actually include photos, location including arrival address, information, do your research first (you will be surprised how many people suggest places that dogs aren’t allowed), and any additional information and it may just be our next dog walk.
Well we can’t do much about that. This hit fairly high on the scale of reasons why people can’t come as well. Recently we have been trying some new things on the page to get others involved as well. Make sure you watch our events and upcoming initiatives. Jackie has been a huge help to the group and we can’t thank her enough. We having our second zoom on the 25th August and all are welcome. 40 minutes of your time, the opportunity to win prizes and meet other dog lovers face to face through technology without actually having to leave your home. Also, we welcome engagement on our pages, asking questions, posting pictures of your pets. So don’t feel you aren’t an important part of our group if you don’t come on walks, we still welcome you.
Here are some ideas of how to participate:
(This is also relevant to those who can’t attend because of physical or health issues)
Our zoom quiz
Organise mini walks at times and days that suit you
Engage on page – photos – questions – liking posts etc
If you have a business you might be able to offer some prizes etc as well
Other concerns that prevent people from participating:
There were many other things that people voted or added that were concerns to them. A few people did say they were nervous themselves about participating. We recognise that many people have anxiety. Will they be accepted into a group? Will people like them? Will they fit in? Generally the transition into Doggie Dates seems to be easy for most. As many people do know each other you have to give it time and persistence by keep coming and you will soon find your people and your dog will find their dogs. Here is something a couple of our group members said about feeling nervous:
Dennise Evans I wasn’t nervous bringing Ally to Doggie Dates as she loves everyone and I knew she would love it, I was nervous for myself as I am a quiet shy person and wasn’t sure how I would cope. The hoomans who attend are some of the nicest people I have met, and I have made some great friends through Doggie Dates, I am so glad I put my nerves aside and attended that first walk, we both really enjoy the walks catching up with all the doggies and hoomans too
Janet Hawker I was not nervous bringing Roger to Doggie Dates but I was nervous and thanks to little baby Roger with his high pitch vocal cords people started talking to me.
Some people are scared of big dogs
We find people tend to gravitate to the people and dogs they are comfortable with so hang out with the small dogs. All the dogs are on leash. If someone with a big dog approaches you just be honest and walk away. If you feel harassed let me know. You don’t need to be made to feel stupid because you are afraid and we respect that. However you also need to respect that all dogs are welcome at our group including big, vocal ones.
Your dog is already nervous and you don’t want to put it under more stress?
Someone added this on one group and it got a few votes. My question would be, how are you working on this anxiety? Avoidance will not improve your dogs anxiety. Maybe posting up some mini walks with calm dogs may work for you!
Your dog is scared of the lead?
The best place to challenge fear is our group walks. We have dogs scared of lead, surfaces, noises. They come to doggie dates and suddenly pack mentality kicks in and they can do it! You’ll be surprised! They can follow all the other dogs, it is amazing how quickly they reform. We have a few members who have dogs that actually only walk at our group so they have to get them walking outside of our group!!
Your dog is reactive and you don’t want to stress other dogs?
Hopefully we have covered this. ALL dogs are welcome. Please worry about your dog, not other dogs. As long as your dog is leashed securely and you give other dogs space, all will be okay.
We hope we have managed to answer some of your concerns. You are always welcome to text me 0422 354 798 and I will do my best to explain more how we operate. It really isn’t that hard or as scary as it sounds. The hardest part is the meet up but once we start walking it just works!
Hope to see you at a walk soon!