Like a lot of dog parents out there my sister and her boyfriend use an awesome dog walker for their fur babies, Athos and Baxter, when they cannot be home right after work. The search for the perfect dog walker isn’t easy and there are many factors to consider, especially whether or not your dogs liked the person that would be walking them. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you find the best dog walker for your furry pals.
You could start by searching the internet for a dog walker, but why start shooting arrows in the dark when you have so many potential reputable resources available to you? Ask your vet tech, groomer, trainer, local shelter, and friends if they know of any reliable and trustworthy dog walkers.
Not all great dog walkers are advertising openly so ask around. You might even find that people your dog knows well have side gigs as dog walkers.
Although I personally prefer to look for referred dog walkers, sometimes that is not always possible. In this case I turn to the internet to find a dog walker. There are great apps out there like Rover or Wag that provide these services from genuine dog lovers, but you can also try out posting your dog walking needs on social media sites such as Nextdoor which can help you find dog walkers in your neighborhood.
Questions to Ask a Dog Walker Before Hiring Them
Once you have identified a few potential dog walkers for your pooches there are important questions to consider before hiring. It is important that you not only trust them with your dog’s health and activity, but with their safety as well.
Plus, in many cases your dog walker will need access to your home, so as odd as it may seem these interviews are perhaps one the most important parts of selecting the right dog walker for you and your pups. Below I have sorted some pertinent questions into different categories you will want to consider asking during the interviews.
- How long have you been in business? What is your experience with dogs? (You’ll want someone who loved dogs, but also understands them).
- Are you licensed? Bonded? Insured?
- Can you provide a couple of references?
- What are your rates and payment schedule?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
- If you are sick or on vacation is there a dog walker who can cover you?
- Do you walk more than one dog at a time? If yes, how many do you walk at once?
- Are you able to walk my dog at the time he/she needs to be walked? What will your route be and what will you do during the walks?
- Do you do any training work and reinforcement when on walks?
- Do you ever go to the dog park or other off-leash areas? (If you have a puppy under 17 weeks old and haven’t had all of their puppy shots yet, then they should stay out of dog parks and other dog dense areas).
- Will you send pictures and updates during the walk? Can you provide information about my dog’s energy level, mood, and eliminations at the end of each walk?
Health and Safety
- Do you know dog first aid, including CPR? Are you familiar with signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke?
- Do you know how to break up a dogfight if there is a problem?
- What’s your approach to training and correction on walks? (It is important that you and the dog walker are on the same page. Make sure your dog walker only uses positive reinforcement).
- Do you know the local animal ER? (Make sure to leave your dog walker with your dog’s vet contact information).
- Can you accommodate all of my dog’s needs? (This is an especially important question if your dog has any sort of special needs like a medical condition, behavioral issues, or simply special challenges of specific dog breeds).
Try Out Dog Walkers
A lot of people don’t know this, but you can always ask if your potential hires are willing to do a trial walk with your dog so you can observe. You’ll likely have to pay for these trial walks, but it is well worth it! This is an extremely important part of the process as it allows you to really know whether you have ultimately found the right fit for you and your pup. This is often the only way to know that your dog and you are comfortable with your choice.
On the trial walk(s) pay attention to how the dog walker and your dog interact. Does the dog walker seem natural with your dog? Does the dog walker read your dog well and does your dog respond positively to the cues given by the walker? Does your dog seem at ease with the dog walker and vice versa? Pay attention to your dog’s body language and your intuition as both of these signals will help you make the right decision for everybody!
Get What You Paid For
Like a lot of relationships things can change. Selecting a dog walker is not necessarily a “set it and forget it” type of situation. It’s always a good idea to keep a watchful eye on your dog walker and check in to see how things are going. Although the majority of professional dog walkers out there are trustworthy and maintain a high standard there are unfortunately those that don’t. So make sure that your pets are in good hands and you’re getting what you paid for. Keep in mind the following precautions and checks:
- Watch your dog carefully for behavioral or physical changes and continue to keep an eye on their comfort level with the dog walker.
- Ask neighbors (if they are home during the day) to keep an eye out and not hesitate and let you know when they see anything suspicious.
- You can put an activity monitor or GPS tracker on your dog. It is a great way to track your pooch’s exercise, but also be sure that your dog is actually being taken for the walks and distance or time you are paying for.
- Also try setting up a web-connected pet cam like the Petcube which is designed specifically for pets. We personally own two Petcubes and love them! Not only will be you be able to keep an eye on your pup at home, but you’ll be able to see when your dog walker arrives if it is pointed at the front door.
Taking Care of Your Dog Walker
Once you’ve found the perfect dog walker you’ll want to hold on to them, so make sure you take care of them too.
It’s not just about being kind to them and paying them well. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your dog walker feels appreciated:
- As simple as it may be, respect their schedule. Make every effort to avoid last minute cancellations and book as far in advance as possible if you don’t them walk your dog regularly.
- Know their birthday (if they are willing to share) and give them a card and even a small gift as a token of your appreciation. For an extra nice touch try also giving them a card from your dog too!
- When the holidays roll around include them on your holiday card list. Also consider a small bonus or gift.
- If your dog walker has a website, Facebook, or other promotional page leave them a great review. This will not only help grow their business, but also help other dog parents looking for a great dog walker some guidance.
- Make sure to always say “thank you.” These two little words can surprisingly go a long way in maintaining a healthy and vibrant relationship with your awesome dog walker.
**The Woof Warehouse is not a paid sponsor of companies or products mentioned in this blog post.**