Saratoga Dog Walkers Guide in a Happier, Healthier Direction

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Every weekday morning, a pack of about 30 dogs can be seen happily strolling down North Broadway. Each dog varies in size, appearance and breed – and in addition to their canine counterparts, they come with a handful of humans.

They are known as the Saratoga Dog Walkersa professional dog walking service that provides spa town dogs the exercise, socialization and structure they need to thrive.

“I started this program to help as many dogs as possible in the way owners tend to struggle to help them,” pack leader Tim Pink, 37, said. “A lot of owners struggle with helping their dog socialize, helping their dog on walks, and providing structure for their dog’s life.”

Focusing on these areas during walks can encourage behavioral transformations, Pink said, turning a dog with poor impulse control into a calmer, more settled dog. The certified trainer said it’s less about distance than method, adding that walkers use a loose leash strategy that forces dogs to walk alongside them rather than in front and prevents them from pulling on the leash during the two miles. long walk.

Tim Pink, creator of Saratoga Dog Walkers, leads the pack walk Tuesday, October 4 on North Broadway Street in Saratoga Springs.


Melissa Manno/Times Union.
Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers poses 29 of his loads for a Congressional Spring group photo at Congress Park on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, New York.  (John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)
Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers poses 29 of his loads for a Congressional Spring group photo at Congress Park on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, New York. (John Carl D’Annibale/Times Union)
John Carl D’Annibale/Times Union


Melissa Manno, Times Union. John Carl D’Annibale, Times Union.

The group is made up of five human walkers who separate the pack daily by size, usually leaving each with a group of five to seven dogs to guide – but the handful of full-time staff, as well as the number of dogs maintained, are expected . increase significantly in the future.

A farm in Gansevoort will soon become Saratoga Dog Walkers’ home base, allowing the company to transition from its midday walking program to boarding and training services. The five-acre farm on Route 50 is still under construction but is expected to open by the end of the year. Pink said the new space will allow them to launch both a puppy and senior dog program, as well as other pet-friendly events and activities.

“We have this beautiful farmhouse that we renovated, and we will have a ton of outdoor and indoor space, different yards for activities, hobbies and training,” he said.

To meet the demands of expansion, the group is currently looking to hire at least 15-20 new employees, who will receive training before working with the pack. Potential recruits must have a love for dogs and a positive attitude, but most importantly, an understanding of animal behavior.

“If you can look at a dog and know if he’s happy, or if he’s nervous, or about to panic, that’s one of the biggest parts of the job because we have to be able to look at our dogs and instantly know how to act on it,” Pink explained.

Pink himself is a lifelong dog lover. In 2011, when he adopted Bluff, his now deceased Doberman, he was faced with a decision: take a regular job and pay someone to watch Bluff or start his own business taking care of other people’s pets as well. than his own.

Saratoga Dog Walkers was born. It’s been more than a decade since Pink walked around town posting fliers about his service, and he now has a busy schedule filled with canine clients, including two of his own, Duke and Leila, as well as an Instagram account of more than 40,000 users.

Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers loads up on a walk down Union Street for some sun and exercise on Monday, March 19, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, NY (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)
Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers loads up on a walk down Union Street for some sun and exercise on Monday, March 19, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, NY (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)
PASS DICKSTEIN
Tim Pink, creator of Saratoga Dog Walkers, leads the pack walk Tuesday, October 4 on North Broadway Street in Saratoga Springs.

Tim Pink, creator of Saratoga Dog Walkers, leads the pack walk Tuesday, October 4 on North Broadway Street in Saratoga Springs.


Melissa Manno/Times Union.


Skip Dickstein, Times Union. Melissa Manno, Times Union.

The walks take place every day from Monday to Friday, rain or shine. Around 9 a.m., the excited puppies are collected from vans equipped with crates and taken to the location for the walk for at least 30 minutes. The sessions are structured to stimulate the dogs both physically and mentally, so that they return home to their owners returned and ready for a nap.

Surprisingly, only around 10 poop bags are needed for each walk – although walkers stock up to avoid going empty-handed.

Adding a new furry face to the pack isn’t as easy as it looks. A walker must first work directly with the dog to build rapport, establish respect, and create a basis for communication. Then the new client is introduced to the other dogs usually via the service vans which allow a barrier between them in case the introduction ends on the rough side (no pun intended).

Pink pointed out that time is the most effective strategy, adding that a common mistake made when introducing new dogs is rushing a connection. Often, he explained, this happens at animal pace and can sometimes require one dog to set boundaries with the other. (Pink was about to explain what it was like, when one of the older dogs decided to show up barking and growling at a pup who wouldn’t leave her alone.)

In nearly 12 years, Pink said he’s never had to turn down a dog. Even those that come with warnings of aggression turn out to be nervous or under-socialized – characteristics the pack leader is able to work with to improve.

Dogs in the care of Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers pose for a group photo on N. Broadway during a midday walk Wednesday, September 28, 2022 in Saratoga Springs, NY
Dogs in the care of Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers pose for a group photo on N. Broadway during a midday walk Wednesday, September 28, 2022 in Saratoga Springs, NY
Will Waldron/Times Union
Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers poses 29 of his loads for a Congressional Spring group photo at Congress Park on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, New York.  (John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)
Tim Pink of Saratoga Dog Walkers poses 29 of his loads for a Congressional Spring group photo at Congress Park on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, New York. (John Carl D’Annibale/Times Union)
Jean-Carl d’Annibale


Will Waldron, Times Union. John Carl D’Annibale, Times Union.

The pack differs from small to large, puppies to seniors and all with distinct personalities. Tara, a charming gray-faced Plott dog, is the oldest and has been part of the pack for over a decade. Keshi, the energetic one-year-old puppy mix, is the youngest. Several were in the running for the most awkward, although Sophie, a young Samoyed with a fluffy white coat, could take the cake. But of course, the one thing Pink couldn’t choose was a favorite.

“A lot of what we do is relationship, we have to have a really good relationship with the dogs and that comes naturally to me,” Pink said. “It’s crazy how fast this can happen, and if you lose one of the dogs, it hurts like losing yours. So, it’s difficult but it’s super rewarding to spend every day with them.