For people who have full-time jobs or highly energetic dogs, a dog walker can be a real godsend. A dog walker’s job is to stop by your house and take your pup out for a stroll, for anywhere from 15 minutes to a full hour.This time outside not only gives your dog a chance to relieve themselves, it also provides them with exercise and a break from the boredom that can set in during hours spent alone.
So to choose a good dog walker?
The first thing to remember is that because professional dog walking is a fairly new business, there are no regulations in place. What this means is that anyone can become a dog walker without any sort of training or certification, and it’s up to you find an individual who will keep your pal safe and be worth your money.Take a look at these tips for how to choose a dog walker.
#1 Ask Around
When beginning to choose a dog walker, start with the people you know. Ask your dog-owning friends and neighbors if they use a dog walker, and if so what they like or don’t like about them.Who knows -- you may just end up with a phone number for the perfect canine companion.
#2 Search the Web
The internet can be a great place to search for a dog walker (or dog walking company) in your area, and sites like Yelp make it easy to read reviews from real customers.Pay close to attention to any negative reviews, but give the positive reviews a glance too. This can be a good way to get an overall picture of the dog walker and their practices.RELATED STORY: How to Teach Your Dog to Heel
#3 Decide What Is Important to You
Some dog walkers are also obedience trainers. Some dog walkers take your dog to new locations every time, while others always stick to the same stroll around the block.Some dog walkers offer weekly or monthly report cards on your dog’s behavior and activities. Some dog walkers will take pictures of your dog and send them to you. Decide what is important to you, and go from there.
#4 Ask Questions!
Once you’ve zeroed in on a dog walker, it’s time to ask lots of questions. Here are some that you should be sure to ask:- What will you do with my dog when you’re with them?
(Walk? Play? Feed them?)- Where will you take my dog?
(Just the neighborhood? Outside of the neighborhood?)- How much time will my dog spend actually walking?
(Excluding any car time).- How many dogs do you walk at once?
(Fewer dogs means that your dog will get more attention and the risk of conflict or injury will be less than with a large group).- What sort of punishments or rewards do you use?
(If you use positive reinforcement training, for example, you’ll want to find a dog walker who does the same).- How do you handle emergencies
(Such as an injuries and natural disasters).- Do you have any professional training or certification, such as obedience training or pet first aid?- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
(Professional dog walkers should have a business license, carry insurance, and all employees should be bonded).- What are your rates?- Do you have references, and may I contact them?RELATED STORY: Which Type of Dog Behaviorist or Trainer Do You Need?
#5 Trust Your Instincts (and your dog’s, too!)You can often get a good feel for a person just by meeting with them, and if a little voice inside of your head is saying that something is not quite right, it’s a good idea to listen in order to choose a dog walker.Dogs can also be great judges of character, and seeing how your dog and a potential walker interact can be a good way to make the final decision.Do you like the way they are interacting with your dog? Does your dog seem comfortable?You may even want to pay the dog walker to take your pal for a stroll around the block and walk behind them to see how things go.Do you use a dog walker? What or what don’t you like about them? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.