Westside Dogs LA promises to keep canines and owners safe during pandemic
By Sara Edwards
As Los Angeles goes into another lockdown, businesses are struggling to find ways to stay afloat and keep their workers employed. Westside Dogs LA owner and founder Cary Tepper wanted to find a new way to continue his dog walking business while encouraging mindfulness for people and their pooches during a pandemic.
Tepper and Westside Dogs LA created the Obedience Dog Pledge in August for dogs and their humans with a set of 10 guidelines for how to be mindful while out on walks during COVID-19. The pledge items encourage social distancing of humans and their dogs when out on a walk, vowing to keep at least 6 feet apart between other dogs and their humans, not to share toys with other dogs or walk up to sniff and lick strangers.
“We were trying to do something fun and inviting that wouldn’t get everyone worried about taking their dogs out of the house,” Tepper says.
Westside Dogs LA has also started doing personal meet-and-greet session walks with clients and their pets that are socially distant while still allowing the dog walkers to get to know them. Tepper says these walks happen with 6 feet of social distancing in place (approximately two 3-foot leashes combined.)
“We wanted to change things up and stand out a little bit,” Tepper says. “And people really liked the idea of it so that they weren’t so worried about getting their dogs out of the house. We’re doing our part as well by wearing masks and gloves.”
Tepper says the pledge is their way of helping people “get back to business” by encouraging dog walkers and owners to be mindful while out with their dogs, like keeping one’s dog on a leash and walking them with social distance in mind.
“Keep your dog safe and avoid confrontations with other dogs so you don’t have to go up or be close to somebody,” he says.
According to Tepper, the pandemic has really hit Westside Dogs LA. While people are working from home or sheltering in place, they don’t have a need for dog walkers as much as they used to. However, the pandemic has also brought in new customers who are working from home but don’t have enough time in their work day to walk their dogs.
“A lot of people are getting puppies and rescues at this time,” Tepper points out. “The shelters are totally empty so we have a lot of clients that are working from home and settling in with their dogs and they realize, ‘Hey, I need a dog walker.’”
But the meet-and-greet approach has provided some form of opportunity because people are adopting more dogs and need help training them, which is where Westside Dogs LA comes in to help.
“You think, ‘What’s going to happen when you go back to work?” Tepper says. “Your dog is going to get social anxiety, so now is a good time to get your dog socialized and out of the house more.”
Another way that Westside Dogs LA is helping to socialize dogs is by holding what they call a “paw-venture,” where the dog walkers take dogs on an extra walk or hike to help them burn some calories or extra energy.
“The dogs are getting socialized and getting out and it’s like a big dog party,” Tepper shares. “The more your dog gets to go out of the house, the better.”
Westside Dogs LA serves Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Culver City, Venice, Santa Monica and Westchester areas.Visit westsidedogsla.com for more information.