The demand for professional dog walkers has grown in recent years, largely due to the pressures of modern life such as long working hours, health problems, unpredictable schedules and other such reasons. In actual fact, a dog walking service will be of benefit to your pet as well as to you, the owner. While you are enjoying peace of mind, knowing that your dog is getting regular exercise and long walks whilst you are otherwise occupied, they will be far happier having fun and burning off some energy rather than being stuck at home.

We talked to Rachelle Jones who runs ‘Muddy Paws IOM’, a dog walking service on the Island of Man and asked her what it’s like to be a professional dog walker, where her favourite haunts are, and if she has any funny pooch stories.

Thank you Rachelle for chatting with us today.

So, first of all, can you tell me about ‘Muddy Paws IOM’ and its services?

Well, Muddy Paws is predominantly a pooch walking service but I also offer other assistance such as home cat visits, dog grooming, and the popular pet taxi for people who don’t drive. For example, I escort their dogs to groomers/kennels and also for vet trips.

Dog walks are an hour off-lead hike or run around at a beach, plantation, glen or a dog-friendly park. I pick up the dog from their home and usually their owner is at work. Despite the name ‘Muddy Paws’, I always try to ensure the dog isn’t too muddy on their return. We walk in all weather conditions as long as it’s safe to do so. Dog walking, of course, is easier in the spring months as the climate is perfect for us. The summer months are harder as we have to make sure we walk in shaded areas where the dogs can swim to cool off.

You will find all sorts of equipment in my van and in my pooch walking bag, I carry a whistle, treats, medical supplies, water, spare leads and many many poop bags!

Do you also offer pet sitting services for people away on holiday?

I mainly offer holidays services for cats, and this is great as the cats get to stay in their own homes. I will usually pop in once or twice a day to feed, play, change the litter tray, water plants and have snuggles etc.

What is it that you particularly love about dogs though?

I’ve always been smitten with dogs! From the moment I could speak, I begged my mum for a pup. I’ve always loved the close bond a human can have with their dog. I respect the unconditional love and loyalty our four-legged friends have for their owners, too.

How long have you been walking dogs?

I started dog walking in 2016 after getting Eddie, my Springer Spaniel. I hated the thought of leaving him to go to work so I decided to start a business where Eddie could come to work with me and so he does … all day every day.

Has the demand for dog walking grown on the Isle of Man in recent years? If so, why do you think that is?

The demand for dog walking on the Isle of Man is massive, there was a huge influx of puppies and young dogs needing my services after the Covid 19 lockdowns. Lots of people had the time to spend at home with their new puppies and once they went back to work, many of those dogs were not used to being alone. During the lockdowns, I was still able to work with restrictions in place so the demand for my services for people who were isolating was huge.

I also think that pet owners are finding it easier to own a dog now as a result of all the dog-friendly services on the island such as daycare centres, dog walkers, homestays etc.

Can you tell me who is a typical customer?

I don’t have a typical customer, my clients range from working couples with no children to families, to retired people. Every customer has their reasons for needing a dog walker – it can be because they just want their dog to socialise, or that they work long hours, or it can be because they themselves are physically unable to walk their own dog.

What is the maximum number of dogs you can walk at the same time by law?

On the Isle of Man, I can legally walk 6 dogs, although if I take all of them at once, I have to plan it carefully to make sure the pooches get on with each other and are in the right group.

How varied are the routes that you take with the dogs? Can you mention a few favourites?

There are so many great places to walk the dogs, but I tend to stick to my service area which is the eastern part of the island. One of our favourite places is Port Soderick Glen as it has a gorgeous, peaceful riverside amble amongst the trees and also along the beach too.

The Heritage Trail from Douglas to Peel is another favourite too. It’s great for walking or cycling and there are picnic benches along the 10-mile trail and places to stop for ice cream. The dogs love this walk as they can wade in and out of the river and have a run around in the off-lead dog area.

Does the Isle of Man have any recommended hiking trails for dog walkers?

There are a number of great trails for dog walkers but many of them require the dog to stay on a lead when they are near livestock. There are hikes such as the Millennium Way which is approximately 24 miles from Ramsey to Castletown. This is a great walk for experienced hikers who want to enjoy the island’s outstanding natural beauty with their dogs.

Another place that I’d recommend would be Conrhenny Plantation. This is a picturesque woodland walk (all year round) with spectacular unspoilt panoramic views over Douglas Bay. The dogs I walk love going here, especially to the lake in the middle. We visit at least twice a week and constantly find new routes.

Are you required to or do you provide updates to your customers regarding their dog’s behaviour or progress on their walks?

I usually send updates to owners after our walk, I think it’s nice for the owner to see that their dog is having fun and socialising. This isn’t a requirement, but just an extra I like to provide.

Do you get attached to the dogs that you walk and do they each have their own personalities?

The dogs I walk become my best friends! I have to have a good bond with each one to enable them to get the most out of their time with me. They are all different, some are lazy, some are ball mad, and some just want to do their own thing. Each of them is unique – which I love.

Can you recall any funny antics you’ve had with the dogs on your walks?

There is never a boring day when dog walking. I’ve been out with dogs who have opened my lunch box and helped themselves to my sandwiches. Plus, we have on numerous occasions had to focus our walk on helping someone else find their missing dog and, once, even a missing pet ferret!

I imagine you are an expert on canine behaviour so how do you prepare an anxious dog for his/her first walk with you?

I always do a ‘meet and greet’ the day before a first walk. I spend some time in the owner’s home getting to know the dog and for the dog to get acquainted with me.

On the first walk with a new mutt, I ensure I have a small quiet group and the new dog does not go off the lead until I’ve determined their personality. I need to see that they feel confident and that I am too. Lots of reassurance and treats go a long way on the first walk with a nervous dog.

Is it difficult to control or keep a dog safe from other influences on a walk?

The dogs are usually great. I only let them off the lead once I’ve assessed our surroundings. There are sometimes distractions such as other walkers and their dogs but it is important that the dogs with me all have a strong and reliable recall for these situations so I can remain in control.

Is the Isle of Man a good environment for dogs? Is it dog-friendly and safe for dog owners thinking of a holiday on the island?

In recent years the Isle of Man has become very dog-friendly! Lots of holiday homes, glamping pods, hotels and guest houses allow dogs to stay over, and most cafes and pubs are dog-friendly too.

What is the best thing about being a dog walker?

There are many things I like about being a dog walker. I love that I can spend every day with Eddie and the dogs exploring and being outdoors. It’s wonderful in the spring when I take them to the beach, watching them swim and play. Believe me, sometimes, it doesn’t really feel like work at all!

Thank you Rachelle for your time and the interesting lowdown on dog walking.

For more information on places mentioned in this interview:

Port Soderick Glen

The Heritage Trail

The Millennium Way

Conrhenny Plantation


For more information on Muddy Paws:

Muddy Paws – Facebook

Muddy Paws – Website