Helping with Dogshare

Helping with Dogshare

Dog lovers unite! At Dogshare we have made having a part-time pooch possible with our 'helper' feature which connects the “desperate and dog-less” with dog owners, to provide a helping paw. Those longing for puppy love can get their pet-fix by providing walks or dog sitting for time-poor dog owners in their local area. Once you've paid your membership fees, no money exchanges hands, simply the companionship of man’s best friend.

Dogshare was initially launched to connect like-minded and caring dog owners with one another to assist in the daily care of their respective pets, but we soon expanded our community to include any pup aficionado. Time-poor dog owners now have an even larger network of doggy day (or night) carers, looking to share the unconditional love (and responsibility) of their canine companion.

The benefits of having a dog in your life go further than on demand furry snuggles, according to a 2015 Harvard Medical School report called “Get Healthy, Get a Dog”, which found that people who have dogs in their lives are healthier overall. Not only are they more physically active, but they’ve also been seen to have better cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower levels of stress.

But despite this, we understand that not everyone in Australia is in the position to own a dog, lack of space, time constraints, and limited finances are enough to interfere with full time dog ownership but are easy obstacles to overcome in short term care.

We found that there are so many people out there who genuinely love dogs and have experience caring for them, but are unable to commit to owning one for a variety of reasons, but with so much love to give, we really wanted to offer these people the opportunity to care for a dog, at least some of the time.

Dogshare works much like online dating. Simple to use, dog owners create a profile about themselves and their prior dog experience and indicate the services they’re happy to provide. Helpers can offer to cover dog walking, overnight or vacation stays, assist with dog appointments or simply check in on the dog while its owners are at work.

Helper profiles are then made available to Dogshare’s dog-owning community who can connect with suitable ‘matches’ and arrange a local park meet-up. Everyone can test the chemistry and see whether the relationship has legs. Pardon the pun. The helper gets access to a dog and all the benefits that go with it, while the owner has someone to love and care for their pet when they can’t. It's a real win win situation!

How to be the Best Helper

You’ve found Dogshare, you think it’s perfect for you, you’ve signed up and had your profile verified, you’re up and running, the hard work is over. Then why aren’t the offers of puppy hang outs rolling in? Why aren’t people replying to your messages?

Simply having a profile on Dogshare doesn’t instantly make you a great Helper, so what does? We have put some quick easy pointers together to help you be the best Helper you can be, which will hopefully mean you get to meet the pooch(es) you want but more importantly the dogs have a great time when they’re with you and the dog owners feel confident about your relationship. After all, Dogshare works as the initial connecting tool but like all relationships they take time and effort to build trust and flourish.

1. Remember the number 1 rule: DOGS COME FIRST Dogshare exists to help dog owners build a support network of people that can assist them from time-to-time with their dog. Be that helping to better socialise a dog, to provide some additional physical or mental stimulation, or providing human or dog companionship. Your purpose as a Dog Helper is to assist dog owners provide the very best care and attention for their dog. The value our helpers get in this arrangement is getting to build a relationship with a local dog, whom you become a "fairy god mother/father" to as your relationship grows. The joy you will get from spending time in the companionship of a dog will be immense! Please remember that some situations can be stressful for dogs, particularly spending time with new people in new places and exposed to new things.

2. Are you qualified to help? It's an unfortunatley common myth that dog care is easy, or comes naturally to us as humans. They are after all an entirely different species which means many dog behaviours aren't read or understood by us naturally unless you've spent significant time with dogs or have read-up and educated yourself on dog behaviour. If you are a novice to the dog scene, we would recommend that you start by getting a base understanding on understanding dogs body language and basic dog care. There are some great resources available - we've listed a couple below:

3. Personalise your message to each dog owner you connect with. Spend some time looking at the dogs profile, where they are, why they are on the Dogshare platform. Think of what might appeal to you if someone was applying to mind your dog. Start with a friendly introduction and explain why it is that you are here - why you love dogs, what previous experience you have and what would make you a wonderful, trustworthy volunteer.

4. Build a relationship - Our Helper subscription is not designed for 'one off' arrangements. There is virtually no benefit at all to spend time with a dog for a one-off occasion. Dogs are valued family members of our community and it's highly unlikely that any dog owner would trust you to spend time with their dog (particularly alone!) in a one-time only arrangement. So if you are thinking you can join Dogshare today, walk a dog tomorrow, think again. You'll need to make real friendships first and show your local dog owners that you plan to be around to become a permanent fixture in their dogs life.

5. Respond to all messages. Dogshare sends you an email if you ever miss a message online, even a quick reply to say you no longer have time or have found another dog to help, means everyone has a nice experience on the platform. No one likes to be left hanging! By responding politely, you are leaving the door open to future arrangements should that become suitable in the future. It's polite to reply!

6. Have a complete profile. Include a description in the ‘About me’ section. Put yourself on the other side, what would you want to read? Would you approach someone to look after your dog that you knew very little about? Think about it like a job advertisement that you are applying for and really go to the extra effort of explaining what makes you an ideal candidate to be considered for the VERY important position of meeting someone's dog for the first time with a view to ongoing arrangements.

7. A picture says a thousand words. It’s great to be able to put a face to the messages, plus if you are going to meet up it helps with the logistics of being able to recognise each other.

8. Suggest a first meet up - get to know each other and see if you’re a good fit. We often see people jumping straight in and asking if they can walk a dog at a particular time and place. We suggest you starting your conversations with an introduction, covering off on why you joined the website and how you are hoping to be able to help. When it comes time to meet, meeting up on neutral territory (dog parks work best!) to learn about the dog, see how the owner interacts with their dog and what they expect from you. This is the 'sniffing out' stage for all parties, it's important that you feel you will be able to effectively read the dogs behaviour and manage that dog just as it's important for the owner to feel you are going to be competent and trustworthy. We recommend a few of these meet-ups take place before further arrangements are made. A walking meet-up where you get to practice any techniques the owner recommends when walking their dog on lead is a great idea and whilst you are walking you can be talking about all aspects of the dogs personality and owners preferred tips to caring for the dog.

9. Ask the key questions. When you have chatted, met-up and you are a the stage you are going to take the dog on your own. Make sure you have already discussed things that may crop up to avoid making the ‘wrong’ decision about things. How are they on-lead? How are they with other dogs? How are they with children? Are they ok in the car? Is there anything you don’t want them eating? What should be done in the case of any emergency such as veterinary care? Have you equipped yourself with 'next-of-kin' contact details should you not be able to reach the owner?