My name is Kirstie Alcantara. I love animals and the great outdoors.
Ever since I was a child I’ve always been drawn to animals and have always loved being outside experiencing nature's wonders all year round. My journey with animals started at the age of 5 when I first began to ride horses. Ever since then, I’ve always wanted animals to be a part of my life. When I was in grade six, my parents told me that if I got straight A’s I could get a puppy. I wanted a puppy so badly I worked hard all year and that is how my family got our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Hamish.
After going to University I desperately wanted to find a job that would let me be near animals or to work outside. So, in May 2011 I took a summer job as a doggy daycare attendant and dog walker and instantly fell in love. After working for two different dog walking companies I realized that I loved working with dogs so much I wanted to dedicate my life to it.
I started The Bark Rangers because I wanted to offer dogs and their owners a reliable, personal, professional, and transparent dog walking service. I put my heart and most of my free time into my work with the pets in my care and will always do my best to not only meet, but surpass your expectations of what a dog walking service can be.
My love of dogs and animals of all kinds has driven me to want to constantly learn new training techniques and to better understand animal behaviour. This includes reading books on different training styles and techniques, watching or attending seminars/webinars on dog behaviour and training, and talking to other professionals who work with animals for their opinions and experience. I want to take what I know and learn to make sure the pets in my care are as well taken care of as possible.
The Bark Rangers is fully bonded and insured, I have a valid dog walking permit as required by the City of Toronto, I am Pet First Aid Certified, and I carry a fully stocked first aid kit.
Who will be walking my dog?
Me! I own and operate the business on my own, so I am the only person who will be coming to walk your dog on a daily basis.
How long have you been walking dogs?
I have been walking dogs for eight years but only started the Bark Rangers in December of 2016.
can my dog Join your groups?
I am very selective about which dogs I accept into the packs. All dogs looking to join my group walks must be up-to-date on all vaccines (for puppies they must have had their 3rd round of vaccines), be well socialized (I will not walk an aggressive dog in a group), be licenced by the City of Toronto, and live in the same area as the rest of the pack. If you tick all those boxes, we do a meet and greet and then I take your dog on five free trial walks so I can make sure your dog is a good fit with the pack. This includes making sure they’re comfortable in the car and at the park with their new friends, and of course with me. I find that after a few walks most dogs are comfortable with the pack and that is when I get a better idea of whether or not they’re a good fit. If after the five walks I think everything is going well, your dog will be offered a permanent spot in our pack.
Do you take on occassional clients?
Sometimes. It depends on the dog, the location and what services you’re looking for. Unfortunately, if you do not schedule at least three walks per week I will not hold a spot in a group for your dog, which means I won’t always be able to walk your dog when you need it.
How many dogs do you walk in a group?
The city limit is six dogs per group, so that’s the maximum number of dogs I walk.
Will my dog be walked at the same time, with the same dogs?
Yes! I believe that a routine is good for a dog, so I try and keep my schedule as consistent as possible. Though the groups can vary, for the most part it’s the same dogs day after day, which means your dog will always be walking with friends.
How long are the walks?
All group walks go for at least an hour except in extreme weather, and the hour does not include pick up and drop off. If a walk has to be cut short I always try and make up for it on another day by staying out longer.
Are the dogs in the car for a long time?
No. I make sure my groups all live near each other so my pick up and drop offs don’t take too much time, though obviously traffic can cause delays.
Do you offer on leash or off leash walks?
My walks can be a combination of both, though I primarily walk my packs off leash. If your dog has questionable recall, I work with them on leash until I trust they will listen while off leash.
Where do you walk the dogs?
I try to walk in different parks so the dogs (and myself) don’t get bored. The parks I enjoy frequenting are Sherwood, Sunnybrook, Cherry Beach, the Don Valley, Rosedale Ravine, Brickworks and the Beltline Trail.
Are you a trainer?
I have over eight years of experience working with dogs, and have done a lot of research into animal training and behaviour, including reading books and attending/watching seminars and webinars. Though I am constantly working with my dogs on their on leash walking, off leash recall, as well as their behaviour and manners with other dogs and people, I do not have any official certification and do not offer any one-on-one training services. If you are looking to hire a trainer, make sure to ask for credentials and certification! There are many dog walkers in the city who claim to be trainers when they have no official certification. I am happy to offer recommendations on trainers I know and have worked with before.