Where to look for a Good Dog Walker
There are ads all over social media, Kijiji, newspapers and even flyers in your mailbox. But how do you know where to look for a good dog walker. How do you trust a total stranger with your furry family member? Although you may get lucky and find the best dog walker in the world posted on a telephone pole, the process of choosing a good, safe and reliable pet care provider can be made easier by starting with these three options.
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Word of Mouth
Start with friends and family. If you have people who are close to you who are dog owners, perhaps they have been in your situation in the past. They may know someone who is perfect for you. Having someone who has had first hand experience with a dog walker is comforting. If your dog parenting practices are similar to the friend’s, you will have a lot more confidence in someone they are recommending than someone you find in a random ad.
Unfortunately, the walker may not have the availability that you require or may not be in your area. In this instance it would be a good idea for you to has him/her for a recommendation of someone that they know who also does pet care. Most dog walkers know someone else and most would not recommend anyone who was not reputable. Any walker who has a good reputation would likely only recommend someone who would enhance that reputation, so would not just pass on any name unless they were familiar with the referee’s practices. It would still be wise to ask if they have ever worked together or how they know each other. This will give you an idea of how much the two know about each other’s methods. It would be advisable to look at the walker’s website and check the references posted there as well.
Many vets will have a bulletin board in the waiting room of their office. Have a look and see if there are any advertisements. Many dog walkers will leave advertisements or business cards posted on the bulletin board. Often, the staff in the vet’s office are familiar with the dog walker. If you do find a posting, ask the vet staff if they know or would recommend the dog walker. Although they are not affiliated with or responsible for the actions of the dog walker, they may be able to provide some insight.
Pet Care Agencies
There are many pet care agencies that will provide you with a listing of dog walkers in your area. When selecting a pet care registry, investigate the company’s reputation. Do some leg work to be sure they have a solid history and that they offer the services you need. An example of an established network would be Rover.com. Rover offers pet care options in the United States, Canada and Europe. They require a criminal background check from all of their pet care providers, and provide insured pet care for all bookings through the agency. I have worked with Rover for almost 2 years and I have met many clients who swear by Rover’s services because of their history, reputation and practices.
If you decide to go through an agency, look for a company in your area that offers biographies and client ratings for their providers. Many of my pet parents say that the reason they chose me was not only because of my five-star reviews, but because of the number of repeat bookings I have had. They told me that they felt that having the same clients request my services repeatedly was an indication that I was good with their pets as well as reliable. The more statistics and details you know about a potential walker, the better chance you will find the best care for your pet.
After looking, researching and narrowing down the best candidates, you are ready to call and book an interview. Although you think you have chosen the most perfect candidate, it is wise to call and book an interview with the top 3 or 4 candidates. A potential walker may look great on paper but you may not be happy with the person that arrives at your door. This may be due to many reasons including changes in availability since booking your interview, personality conflicts or maybe even a poor reaction by your pup.
Checklist for Finding a Good Dog Walker
- Investigate word of mouth referrals, bulletin board posts in trustworthy places (vet’s office) or reputable agencies.
- Narrow down your search to 3 to 4 potential walkers.
- Take your time and interview all of the finalists.
- Have questions ready.
- Make notes.
- Ask for references and actually call the references to get a feel for their perspective about pet care.
- Review your notes after meeting with all of the walkers.
- Compare all references, written and verbal.
- Make your decision.
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.
If you follow all of these steps your chances of finding someone you are happy with (and more importantly who your doggo is happy with) is pretty strong. Having said that, be sure to monitor any changes in your pups behavior to be sure all is well. I also recommend checking in with neighbors to see if they have seen the interaction between your dog and the new walker. As a pet care provider I also love seeing some form of security system or a FURBO Camera to keep an eye on what goes on inside your home when the walker/sitter is caring for your fur baby. You can never be too safe!