Have you ever considered hiring a dog walker? Our schedules are hectic! Sometimes, there isn’t time to exercise our beloved canine pals.
If you’re a dog owner who leaves for work early in the morning and returns home just before sunset, you need some extra help keeping your dog happy, exercised, and entertained.
Dog owners who live alone with their dogs are often left with two options to address their dog’s care and exercise needs:
- Hire a dog walker to pick up their dog for a midday stroll
- Send their dog off to a dog daycare facility to socialize and play with other dogs
If you’re considering hiring a dog walker, here are the things you should take into account.
What Are the Services Offered by Dog Walkers?
Dog walkers may offer an array of services – from private or semi-private on-leash walks to pack walks and outings, where your furry baby, along with other dogs, is taken to a local park for off-leash play time.
To state the obvious, a dog walker is someone who walks your dog. But, dog walkers do more than just this. A dog walker takes your dog out, so that he can get some fresh air, eliminate himself freely, interact with others, and explore their surroundings.
Dog walkers often walk their doggie clients near midday, but some of them provide services at other times too. Some also offer an “on-call” service on a short notice.
Flexible time options are helpful in many situations, such as when you get stuck in traffic and can’t get home in time.
Some dog walkers offer to train your dogs to help your pooch learn basic doggie manners.
What Are the Perks of Hiring a Dog Walker?
Hiring a dog walker offers a lot of benefits for you and your dog. Here are some:
- Your dog gets a one-hour walk, which helps him stay fit.
- Your furry buddy gets to meet with other dog friends, helping him socialize.
- Your pooch gets to enjoy a breath of fresh air, keeping him stimulated.
- Hiring a dog walker is less expensive than sending your dog to a doggie day care.
- Dog walkers adjust their services to match with your dog’s requirements, including:
- If your dog is too young or old and will have a hard time keeping up with other dogs.
- If your dog isn’t used to being around many dogs or tends to be aggressive toward other dogs.
- If your dog has a health condition that makes it hard for him to keep up with other dogs.
As a dog owner, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that:
- Your dog gets the exercise he needs
- You can expect no “accidents” or destroyed items inside your home
- Your dog is happy about his daily routine
What are the Cons of Hiring a Dog Walker?
Unfortunately, hiring a dog walker may not work for everyone. Here are some cons to consider before hiring a dog walker:
- Some dogs, especially young or highly energetic breeds, need far more exercise than a one-hour walk. Of course, one hour is better than no hour.
- Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety after their walk and become destructive when left alone, requiring longer periods of supervision and interaction.
- Some dogs get amped up by their midday walk. This makes it hard for them to calm down upon returning home. These dogs may show misbehavior when they get bored.
- You have to entrust your dog and your house key to a “stranger”.
Finding the Right Dog Walker
The best way to find a dog walker is to ask around and get referrals from dog owners who have had the experience having their dogs professionally walked.
Dog walkers are often dog lovers too. There are a number of caring, experienced, and reputable professional dog walkers who are more than willing to provide their services for you and your dog.
Horror stories about dog walkers may be few and far between, but you still need to be very careful who you can entrust with your dog and your home. Hiring a dog walker who has a reputation for being honest, experienced, compassionate, and responsible is very important, even if it costs a bit more.
Consider the following tips and you will surely reap the benefits.
- Find a Legitimate and Professional Dog Walking Business
Legitimate dog waking businesses have appropriate business licenses and permits. They are also often bonded and insured.
Most cities limit the number of dogs allowed under one person’s control at a time to six, and dog walking business owners make sure they abide by that rule.
There are advertisements on Craigslist offering a dog walking service. But while some of them are legit, you need to be careful when it comes to hiring a dog walker from the site. Your dog and your home deserve a dog walker who knows the responsibilities of his job and is completely committed to what he does.
- Before Hiring a Dog Walker, Ask Questions – Lots of Questions
Try to meet the actual dog walker and not a representative of the dog walking business or its owner.
Verify that the same person will be visiting your home each day as a dog walker for your furry baby.
Also ask the following questions:
- How long have you been walking dogs?
- How long are the walks?
- How many dogs do you have in your care at a time?
- Will my dog walk with the same dogs every day?
- Where will you walk my dog? Will he be walking in the same area every day?
- How do you group the dogs you walk at one time? Do you evaluate their temperament, energy level, and size?
- What if something happens to my dog in your care? What emergency vet do you use? Are you certified in pet first aid?
- Will you give me a post-walk report to notify me of anything unusual about my dog? This may include diarrhea, behavior issues, altercations, change in appetite, and ingestion of foreign objects?
- Have you ever had a dog get lost or injured in your care? What did you do?
- What happens when the walk is done and you drop my dog off? Will muddy paws be cleaned and wiped?
- A Good Dog Walker Will Ask You Questions Too
A professional dog walker will ask a lot of things about your dog. This may include:
- Your dog’s vaccinations
- Any behavioral problems or triggers
- Training undergone by your dog
- Any specific allergies or health conditions
- Social behavior of your dog – how does he behave and interact with other pets
Professional dog walkers will bring a “demo dog” to the introductory meeting, so they can evaluate how your dog reacts to other dogs.
Professional dog walkers will always want to ensure the safety of all dogs in their care. If they do not ask you important questions about your dogs – his health and behavior – and do not get you to sign a contract, then chances are they’re not a true professional.
- Start With a Trial Service and Keep in Touch With Your Dog Walker
If the business allows, start with a two-week trial period and take note of any changes in your dog’s behavior. During this period, take the time to be home sometimes when your dog walker is expected to be present and observe how your dog reacts.
Knowing that he’s going out for a walk, your dog should be happy and excited. The dog walker should be able to calm him down and control that excitement.
You can also consider joining the walk sometimes. A professional dog walker shouldn’t mind simply because they don’t have anything to hide.