Are you looking for quality pet care? First you have to know where to look for solid candidates. Next, you need to know what to ask when looking for a new dog walker. You must be sure that you can trust the potential walker with the proper care of your pet as well as your home and all access areas such as apartment/condo lobbies, hallways and elevators and underground parking lots. Whoever you choose should love dogs, be responsible, dependable and respectful.
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Here is a list of some things you should look for when screening a potential dog walker:
What kind of Training and Experience does the Dog Walker have?
Although there is no formal training needed to be a dog walker, you should find out what kind of background the candidate has with caring for dogs. Many will have years of experience working for themselves. Many have worked for other experienced walkers and have been shown some methods of operating and tricks of the trade to ensure that the dogs in their care are safe and having fun. Knowing that you would be handing over your pet to someone with knowledge and experience will help you to have confidence in their abilities.
Someone who has been working as a dog walker for a prolonged period of time also indicates that this is a permanent position for them. Someone who is new to the job or only works part time at it may not be in it for the long term.
Dog walking seems like an easy job, but many people learn quickly that it is physically demanding. Dogs can pull or need help walking. Some older puppies or dogs need help getting up and down stairs. It requires someone who is happy being outside in any weather. Many who feel that this is a quick and easy way to make money, don’t factor in the potential downpours, extreme heat waves and blizzards that they will be faced with. Someone with little experience may give up when faced with these challenges, leaving you without a walker.
This is not convenient for you, but also creates an unstable situation for your pup. Just when he gets used to his new friend coming to walk him daily, that friend disappears from his life. They do feel the loss and can act out of there is too frequent of a turnover.
I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
Will the same person be coming to walk your dog every day?
Some dog walking agencies or companies have multiple employees. The daily schedule for each employee changes with the bookings in various locations and the walkers are sent to different homes. It is important that your dog has a stable routine and a familiar face coming to the door every day. Make sure that, with the exception of illness or vacations, the walker coming to your door is the same every day. In the event of the occasional change to the schedule, be sure you are notified in advance. You should have the opportunity to meet or at least be informed of a new person who will be caring for your doggo as well as gaining access to your home. You wouldn’t want your key or access code to be handed to someone new without your knowledge or consent.
How many dogs your walker will be walking at once?
Many cities have laws restricting the number of dogs that can be walked at one time. Although the walker you are screening may abide by the legal guidelines, you or your dog may not be comfortable with larger groups. Some dogs don’t thrive in a pack setting. This becomes a challenge for all of the dogs and the dog walker. If you prefer only solo walks, or a maximum of 2 or 3 pups at a time, that is your preference. Be sure to make it clear in the interview so as not to waste your time or worse, wind up with your dog in an uncomfortable scenario.
How does the dog walker go about pick up and drop off?
I have seen many dog walkers with 5 or 6 dogs in their vehicle. They park in a driveway and leave the dogs unattended while picking up the next dog or dropping one off. There are a few minutes that they are away from the vehicle and in the client’s home. During this time the dogs are left unattended. I have also seen situations where there were two walkers in the vehicle. One walker remained in the vehicle while the second entered the client’s home. The dogs were never left alone. You need to know which approach is being taken and how comfortable you are with the practice being offered.
Will the dog be walked or taken to the dog park?
Many dog walkers pick up the clients and head off to the dog park. The allow them to run and play off leash for the 30 minutes or hour and then round them up and bring them home. There are many dog owners who are happy with this approach. Many are not comfortable with their dogs being off-leash surrounded by a number of unfamiliar dogs in a relatively uncontrolled environment. Neither is right or wrong, these are just concepts you need to be aware of when selecting a dog walker. If you prefer parks, walks in your neighborhood or just playtime in your own fenced in yard, you must be clear about your requirements. The walker you choose should be someone who can provide you with the services you desire.
How does the walker handle keys or entry code information?
When you are handing over access to your home, it is imperative that you know how the keys or access codes will be handled. Security and privacy practices should be followed.
Dog walkers will have many keys and codes to juggle on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there are a lot of walkers who label their keys or code lists using the client’s address, family name or even the dog’s name. This can be very dangerous should they lose their keys or drop their list or phone containing the information. This leaves your home and family vulnerable. Make sure your walker uses some form of color coding or undecipherable method of labeling this sensitive information.
What type of communication does the walker provide after each walk?
Your dog is going to be spending time with the walker on a regular basis. You may want to know what your dog is doing while he is away from home. You may also want to know things like whether or not he peed or pooped. Did he do well when crossing paths with other dogs? Was he socializing well with the group? These are ways an owner can be clear about your dog’s wellness as well as social happiness. If your dog has not relieved himself by a certain time in the day, you may not stop to get groceries on the way home. Chances are your pup will need to go out sooner than later.
A photo or two to show where your pup was and how he enjoyed his outing is also a nice touch. Many of my dog parents say that they enjoy receiving a couple of pictures after our walk. Pictures of their dog playing or rolling in the snow became the highlight of their day.
Does the dog walker know Pet CPR and First Aid?
There are a number of places that offer CPR/First Aid courses for pets. A dog walker who is trained in emergency care would be an asset. If you have a dog with medical issues, who is a senior or even a puppy who picks up and chews everything in its path, you may want to have someone who is capable of removing an object that is causing your dog to choke. Someone who can recognize an emergency situation and react accordingly would be beneficial. You might want someone who is able to administer medication should your dog become ill.
Does your dog walker have insurance?
A dog walking agency or company, will likely have proper insurance coverage. If you are hiring an individual, they may not. This is an important question to ask of anyone you are screening.
There are companies that provide insurance specific to dog walkers and pet care providers. They address everything from pet injury or death (hopefully this will never be needed!) to liability for the pet owner’s home and even lost keys.
A walker who has insurance coverage for their business indicates someone who offers responsible business practices and stability. Most fly-by-night walkers will not go so far as to invest in a 12-month insurance policy.
Hiring a dog walker or pet care provider is an important, long-term agreement that should not be taken lightly. You must ensure that your dog and your home will be left in the best hands possible. Take your time, have your list of questions ready and make an informed decision.
Your dog will love you for it!