18 Dec How to find a good dog walker
We all love spending time with our dogs, and as much as we wish we could hang out with them all day, life tends to get in the way. With work, social lives, holidays and the inevitable unexpected situations life throws our way, it can make having a regular walking routine with our dog difficult, especially if they need a good couple of hours outdoors a day.
Dogs need regular exercise, not only to keep them fit and healthy, but also for a toilet routine that doesn’t ruin the carpets! A good walk is great for burning off some energy and building social skills with other dogs – forget a chin wag, it’s all about a tail wag.
For those who need a little helping hand with getting their dog out, a dog walker might be for you! Dogs are a part of the family, and that means we won’t just leave them with anyone! We want our chosen dog walker to be trustworthy, safe, caring, knowledgeable and confident in handling dogs – especially if they care for multiple dogs at one time.
What should you look for in a good dog walker?
Your dog is a professional dog walker’s legal responsibility when they are in their care, so you need to find someone you can trust to keep your dog safe and happy. Here are a few things to consider when picking the right walker for you and your pooch.
- Training – what training do they have with handling dogs, especially groups of dogs with varying temperaments and needs? Do you want your dog walked solo or in a group? You know what works best for you and your pooch, make sure they can meet those needs.
- Insurance - does the dog walker have the correct insurance policy in place to cover any accidents that may happen? Does it cover the number of dogs on the walk and are emergency vet fees included? It’s better to be prepared in case something goes wrong!
- Travel – do they have suitable transport for getting your dog from A to B? The vehicle should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent any bugs or illnesses spreading. It should also be safe for your dog, with either harnesses or crates in place to make sure they’re secure when in the car.
- References - does the dog walker have any references from previous or existing clients and are you happy with them? This will give you a clear idea of their level of service and any issues you’d want to address before taking them on.
Where to find a good dog walker
Your veterinary surgery or local dog shelter is a good place to start as they usually promote the services of trusted local dog walkers. Alternatively, a quick internet search for ‘local dog walkers near me’ should bring up a whole host of services in your area. There are a number of sites to choose from that house hundreds of dog walkers’ profiles and provide reviews and rankings to ensure you get the right fit for you and your dog.
Important things to discuss with your dog walker
- Contract - make sure you get a contract in place outlining the schedule, insurance information, payment details and emergency protocols as well as what is in place in case they can’t make it. Do they have a replacement they can send that you’re happy with?
- Emergencies – make sure everyone involved is clear on what to do in an emergency, including your contact details and veterinary information. If your dog becomes sick or is injured in their care, you need to outline what degree of authority they have when making decisions that may impact your dog’s health and wellbeing.
- Security – what level of access do you want the dog walker to have to your home? Do you want them to have a key in their possession permanently or do you want to keep it in a safe space where they can access it when necessary? Do you want to give them access to your home or will you drop the dog off and they remain in their care for a period of time? Do what makes you feel comfortable.
- Cleaning – something that might affect the level of access a dog walker may have to your home is how you want them to handle cleaning your dog if they get wet and dirty out on a walk. Do you want them to clean the dog in the house, meaning they need access to a suitable wash room space? Or would you prefer it if they were cleaned at their home/business? Is there a certain shampoo your dog needs to use and what other grooming do they need, for example, do they need brushing?
- Harness vs collar - every dog is different, some prefer harnesses and others prefer collars. Make sure your dog walker knows which your dog prefers, and that you provide a suitably sized harness or collar that is secure enough they can’t escape but isn’t too tight that it restricts them on their walk.
- On or off the lead - once on the walk, do you want your dog to remain on or off the lead? Are you confident they will return to the dog walker if let off? You should also check with your dog walker about the area they are walking in, is it safe for your dog to be off the lead at all? Is it near a road, young children or any wildlife that may pose a threat to your dog?
- Solo or group walks – is your dog suitable for walking with a group of dogs, or is it better on it’s own? Some dogs get scared and feel threatened in groups, especially if
they’re a mix of sizes and breeds with different temperaments. Make sure your dog will feel safe and happy with other dogs if you choose for them to go with a group, not only for their own safety but for the safety of the other dogs and the walker.
- Length of walk – different breeds of dog need varying amounts of time exercising. Some require a few hours a day, usually larger breeds or those who are inherently working dogs, such as working cocker spaniels and sheep dogs. Smaller dogs may not need as long, so make sure your dog walker is clear on the length of time to be out with your dog with. This benefits both the dog and your wallet!
- Treats and food - make sure you agree with the dog walker what treats you allow your dog as well as how many they’re allowed. If your dog walker is dropping your dog off at home when you’re out, do you want them to feed the dog before they leave?
So that’s plenty to be thinking about and of course, we have lots more advice on care and consideration for your furry friend, plus all the insurance advice you need to keep you covered.