WALK HIKE PLAY LLC is licensed, bonded, insured and solely owned and operated by Nicole Rathje. Nicole believes in building a connection with every member of the pack. She honors them as individuals and feels it is her responsibility as a pack leader to help each animal in her care to grow and thrive. For eleven years, Nicole has been working professionally with dogs. She got her start hiking packs of dogs off leash on the trails of Los Angeles for her incredible mentor, Teresa Apollo. Prior to working with dogs, Nicole worked as an elementary school educator. She holds a BA in English and a MA in Education. Nicole's years as a teacher carry over into her work with the pack. She believes in clear communication and consistency, but also having the flexibility to differentiate her approach to meet each dog where they are. In October 2015, Nicole relocated to Kirkland, Washington with her husband and their rescue dog, Abby, who is the love of their life and an integral member of the pack. Now in its sixth year of operation, Walk Hike Play is thrilled to be part of the Kirkland community. Thank you for supporting a small, local business.
Nicole is a professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and has a Dog Trainer Foundation Certification from the IACP. Additionally, she is certified in the Fear Free Pet and Shelter Program. Nicole is Pet first aid/CPR certified. She has attended the Oregon Tails in person 3 day workshop on leash handling, Joel Connor's in person horsemanship clinic at SAFE, Pack Life LA's webinar on loose leash walking, Tyler Muto's webinar on working with reactive dogs, and Michael Shikashios' webinar on understanding dog aggression. Nicole is certified by Pet Sitters International in Covid-19 safe business practices and is fully vaccinated.
"Walk Hike Play provides exceptionally personal and loving pet service...Nicole, a.k.a the dog whisperer, is a wonderfully calm pack leader who inspires Murphy to be on his best behavior always." - Yelp review from Murphy's mom
"...She is the most reliable and patient dog lover out there. My dog is a challenge...but Nicole continues to work to improve her confidence. She's the best." - Yelp review from Cece's mom
"Reliable, caring, competent...she is very careful to socialize the dogs in a thoughtful way..." - Yelp review from Captain's mom