Have you ever considered hiring a dog walker? Our schedules are hectic! Sometimes there isn’t time to exercise our beloved canine pals.
Photo: Ryan for Dogs
If you’re a dog owner who leaves for work early in the morning and gets home just before sunset, you really need some extra help keeping your dog happy, exercised, and entertained.
Dog owners who live alone with their dogs are often left 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 dog daycare to enjoy playing with other dogs.
If you’re considering hiring a dog walker, here are the things you should take into account.
What do dog walkers do?
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Dog walkers may also offer different services – from private or semi-private on-leash walks to pack walks and outings, where your dog, together with other dogs, are 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 gets your dog out and about giving them a chance to potty, get some fresh air, 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 at 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?
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Hiring a dog walker offers a lot of benefits for you and your dog and here are some:
- Your dog gets a one-hour walk, keeping him fit.
- Your dog gets to meet other dog friends, helping him socialize.
- Your dog gets to enjoy the fresh air and sniff interesting and exciting scents, 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 fit your dog. Like in the following situations:
- 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 towards other dogs,
- If your dog has a health condition that makes it hard for him to keep up with other dogs’,
- And more.
- As a dog owner, you’ll also 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 dogs, need far more exercise than a one-hour walk.That said, 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
Photo: Ryan for Dogs
The best way to find a dog walker is to ask around and get referrals from dog owners who have experience having their dogs professionally walked.
Dog walkers are often dog lovers, too. There are a lot of caring, experienced, and reputable professional dog walkers who are more than willing provide their services to 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 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 and your dog will surely reap the benefits.
1. Find a legitimate and professional dog walking business.
Legitimate dog waking businesses have appropriate business licenses and permits. They are also oftenbonded 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 to 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 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.
2. Before hiring a dog walker, ask questions – lots of questions
Make sure to meet the actual dog walker and not just a representative of the dog walking business or its owner.
Verify that the same person will becoming in your home each day.
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?
- In what areas 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 like diarrhea, behavior issues, altercations, change in appetite, ingesting 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? Willmuddy paws be cleaned and wiped?
3. A good dog walker will ask you questions too
A good and professional dog walker will ask a lot of things about your dog like:
- Your dog’s vaccinations,
- If your dog has any behavior problems or triggers,
- If your dog is trained,
- If your dog has allergies or any health conditions,
- How your dog behaves and interacts with other dogs.
Professional dog walkers will bring a “demo dog” to the introductory meeting so they can evaluate how your dog reacts with other dogs.
Professional dog walkers will always want to ensure that your dog and the other dogs in their care are safe. If they do not ask you important questions about your dogs – his health and behavior – and didn’t get you to sign a contract, then chances are they’re not a true professional.
4. Start with a trial service and keep in touch with your dog walker
If the business will allow it, start with a two-week trial period and take note of any changes in your dog’s behavior. During this period, take time to be home sometimes when your dog walker comes by 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 calm him down and help to 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.