How to Find a Reliable Dog Walker

There are many reasons why you might want to hire a dog walker. Perhaps you’ve just gotten a new puppy and want to make sure that they aren’t left alone during the day. Perhaps you have a senior dog that needs more toilet breaks. Maybe your work means that you are away for longer some evenings and you want to ensure that your pooch doesn’t get lonely. Professional dog walkers and pet sitters are used with more and more regularity and can provide some amazing services, including walk training and administering medication.

Finding a reliable dog walker can be a challenge, however. How do you know that your pet is going to be cared for in the best possible way? 

What if your pet is a little nervous around new people, how will they cope with a stranger?

Let’s not forget, you are inviting this person into your home, so they need to be completely trustworthy.

If you require someone for dog sitting or dog walking, there are several different ways that you can go about finding them. The best way to find a dog walker is to sit down and consider exactly what type of pet care your dog requires. If your dog needs a lot of exercises, it may be a good idea to investigate dog running. These people are usually marathon or ultra-marathon runners, and they will make sure that your dog is left back tired and happy.

how to find a good dog walker

If your dog has any medical problems, or perhaps is a bit older and stiffer, one-on-one walking, or walking with only one other dog may be what you want. This means that your dog will set the pace, with more personal attention being given to them, providing them with the human interaction that is best suited for their needs.

Perhaps your pet is still a bit young and boisterous if so they might not be that comfortable walking on the lead and may require some professional dog training. Some dog walkers provide this service, including a meet and greet session with other dogs, so that your pooch will end up being the best behaved of the whole pack.

Recommendations

As with many things in life, sometimes it’s best to stop Googling and ask someone that you know. Friends, family, or work colleagues may all use a dog walking company or pet sitter, or perhaps a relative of theirs does. Not only can they recommend companies to work with, but they can also tell you the people to avoid. Just because there is a huge dog walking company in your area, doesn’t mean that they are automatically reliable.

Do your research

While recommendations in person are the best, look at the reviews for different services online. If you search for ‘dog walking business near me’ you may find that you have someone local to you that provides a dog walking service. Even if they are not part of a larger company, they may be very highly qualified, and have a lot of positive reviews from happy customers.

If you are looking at large companies, their websites can reassure you with regards to how they work. Paid dog walking is big business, what qualifications the walkers have, as well as in-depth reviews from customers.If you have some knowledge about dog walking, you can go with this tips that will make your walks more enjoyable with your four legged best friend.

Interviews

Once you have narrowed down the potential dog walkers that you are considering, make sure that you interview them. It is important that you meet the person that is going to walking your dog in person so that you can ask them any questions and see how your dog reacts to their presence. Some companies use multiple people, so it is best to find out if there will be one regular who deals with your area or type of dog, or if it could be any one of a group of people. Some dogs will react fine no matter who comes to walk them, while others will need to gain rapport and bond with one particular person.

What to Ask During Your Interview

Make sure that you explain to the interviewees what your dog is like, what their personality is like, and any medication they need to take. Listen to what the person says in response; it’s a chance for them to show off their expertise. They should be able to advise you on the best service for your dog, and that is a wonderful insight into how they work.

Start with some general but very important questions, such as how long they have been a dog walker. Not everyone needs to have ten years of experience, but if you have a big dog with an unstable temperament, it’s important that they have dealt with this type of dog before. If they are part of a company, ask them how long they’ve been with them and why they enjoy working there. Ask them if they are licensed, bonded, and insured (if they are with a company, this should be policy, but make sure that they can tell you the details of this).

What qualifications do they have? Dog walking isn’t regulated, but many popular dog walking companies ensure that they are trained in CPR, and some have specialist dog behavior qualifications. Ask your potential dog walker if they have any references, and make sure that you ring them. There is nothing like hearing first-hand about a reliable dog walker.

How Will They Walk Your Dog?

Finding a Reliable Dog Walker

How many dogs they walk at one time, where exactly they are going to walk your dog, and how long they spend with your dog on each walk, are all important facts that you need to know before choosing your dog walker. It is important to know if they group similar types of dogs together; the general rule is that no dog should be over half of the smallest dog’s weight. Some dogs also don’t deal well with pack-walking, so if your dog is one of these let your interviewee know that it’s not an option.

Do they have a policy on group walking dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered? 

This is more an issue with aggression, as it can cause fights to break out between the more boisterous animals.

Where Do They Go, and How Do They Get There?

Ask where exactly they go during the walks and make sure you get the amount of time that is actually walking your dog, not traveling. It is important that you see the pet sitter interact with your dog and pay close attention to their body language, particularly if your dog has a few behavioral issues. Your dog will let you know straight away if they are comfortable being around a new person, and sometimes you may need to leave it up to them to decide who they like!

If your dog is being transported to a park, how are they being transported?

In a car, all dogs should be crated up or secured with a car harness. It is also good to know if your dog will be off the leash at any stage during their walk.

What Would They Do in An Emergency?

While no one likes to think about it, injuries while out on a walk can happen, either to your dog or someone else’s. Knowing that your dog walker has a solid plan should something unexpected happen will put your mind at ease. If they know some basic medical care and have a plan for what to do with the other dogs in their care should one need to be taken to the vet shows forward thinking for any type of situation?

Is Your Dog Happy?

is your dog happy

How will the dog walker update you on how your dog is doing?

Some leave notes after every walk or send pictures to you. Some even leave a type of report card, which will inform you of your dogs’ mood and energy levels. If anything seems off with your dog on a walk, your walker should let you know. This as a sign of someone who really cares about the well-being of your pet. If you are worried if your dog will get bored check out our article.

Remember if you ever have any concerns about the care your dog is receiving, to talk to the person who is taking your do out. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a new dog that has been added to the group that your pet doesn’t get on with.

You’ve Chosen Your Perfect Dog Walker, Now What?

Before you leave your dog with a pet sitter or dog walker, you should make sure that they have your contact information, including all phone numbers and an email address. It is important of course that they have the information of your veterinarian, should anything go wrong on a walk. This is a precaution that all dog walkers should make.

Make sure that you leave any medication with in-depth instructions on how to use it. You should also inform your walker in person about this, whether it is emergency medication or regular.

Does your dog need to be fed after their walk? 

If so, make sure that they know how much food they are to get, and leave it in plain view. The same goes for your dog’s leash, although some companies prefer to use their own leashes.

Respect Your Dog Walker

Remember that once you have found a good dog walker that you are happy with then you want to hold onto them! Respect the time that they give you, especially when it comes to any last-minute requests. Don’t expect them to always be able to cover times with little notice, as much as they care for your pet, they also have a business to run. The same goes for last minute cancellations, expect to pay the full price if you are canceling late. Holiday times are busy for professional pet sitters and dog walkers, but it is also holiday time for them as well and they may be sacrificing time with their families to look after your pooches.

Having a dog walker that you can rely on will not only put your mind at ease, but it will be giving your dog the best life possible. Once you’ve found the perfect one, you’ll soon wonder how you and your pooch ever considered live without.

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Mike Stiven
 

I'm a pet owner, blogger, and writer from the Massachusetts. I've worked at the Alpha Dog Training Center, a dog boarding and training facility, and also shared the knowledge garnered over the years with a good number of pet sites. As a firm believer that great care has to be given to pets, beside sharing my whole experience in this blog I also work as volunteer at pet stores during the weekend.

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