How do I choose a dog walker for my pup?
While choosing a dog walker may not seem like one of life’s big decisions, the process deserves serious consideration.
First and foremost, references are important. If your neighbors and friends have been satisfied with their dog walker’s service for a long time, there’s a good chance you will be, too. Find out if the dog walker is bonded and insured and for how long they’ve been in business. A true dog care professional is committed to their clients and doesn’t think of dog walking as a “temporary” occupation that anyone can do.
Second, not all dog walkers are created equal! Trainers often make ideal dog walkers in that they can handle the feistiest of Fidos in a variety of situations. They’ll likely be able to read other dogs in the vicinity for friendliness and expertly handle the leash, regardless of weather or distractions. That said, these professionals come from all walks of life, and many excellent dog walkers have no formal training background.
Conduct an interview
Take the time to interview several dog walkers to see what services are available and how your personalities fit together. Does your dog respond well to them? Do you trust them? How quickly did each candidate return your call and schedule an interview? Are the rates competitive? Do the references pan out?
It’s crucial to find out if the dog walker intends to let your dog off leash to play, and if so, whether the area is fenced. Is your dog reliable off-leash, even when running with other dogs? Remember, there’s no magic available to the dog walker that isn’t available to you. If your dog isn’t 100% reliable with you off-leash, they won’t be with the dog walker either.
Solo vs. group walks
Will the dog walker take your pup out alone or with other dogs? If it’s a group situation, are the other dogs friendly and does your dog interact with them well? It’s perfectly reasonable to ask to meet the other dogs. To see how the group interacts — and how the dog walker handles the gang — join them on a walk. If you’re not welcome to go along, you might want to rethink hiring that person or company.
Is your dog a puppy? If so, special consideration should be given to which dogs they’ll walk and play with. While puppies need to play with adult dogs as well as other puppies to ensure normal social development, impressionable young pups need expert supervision to ensure that no bullying is going on.
Length of walks
How long a walk will your dog get? How will you know that your pup really walks for that amount of time? Some dog walkers offer time sheets with brief reports of the day. Others do not. Either way, be sure to ask if the allotted time includes travel to and from a destination or from door to door.
Does the dog walker have a first-aid kit in their car, and do they provide water and treats when appropriate? How does the dog walker handle disciplining your dog if they bark, lunges, or pulls while in her care? Are you comfortable with those methods?
Policies and payment
Billing and fee structure is important so find out in advance what fees and services are available. How flexible is your dog walker if your pet becomes ill or has exercise restrictions? If your dog walker is sick or away, who will cover for them? Do they work alone, as part of a company, or with substitutes that they send in if they’re busy or unable to come? If so, you need to meet those people, too.
Finding the right dog walker is a process, but by the end of it, you will hopefully have a devoted and caring helper for your canine companion.