If you’re a pet parent, your day is probably filled to the brim with work, managing a household that may include spouse/partner and children, along with one more dogs. How do you manage it all, especially making sure your fur baby gets out for his daily walks? This is where a professional dog walker can help with your pup’s care.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why you might choose to hire a dog walker, how to hire the right person to walk your dog, problems you and they may encounter, etc.
Do I Need a Dog Walker Every Day?
Before hiring a dog walker, you’ll need to sit down and ask yourself a few questions. One of the first questions you’ll need to consider is whether or not you need a dog walker every day.
Regular walks are a great way for your fur baby to get his needed exercise, socialize and explore his world. Not only that, but walking regularly can also help with problem behaviors by releasing pent up energy and even anxiety.
Does your dog need a walk every day? This depends on your schedule, your dog’s overall health, age and activity level. Younger dogs, especially dogs from high energy breeds or working dogs, may need a walk every day. Dogs who are left alone for long hours during the work week also benefit from a daily walk. And dogs that have some behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, depression, etc. benefit from a daily walk. The distraction of the walk and the attention they receive from you or a dog walker could greatly ease their conditions, helping them to become happier dogs in the long run, while easing them out of unwanted behaviors.
Your pup would probably benefit from a daily walk—but be sure to keep in mind his age, health, etc. You don’t want to over-exercise a senior dog or one who’s recovering from an illness. And don’t forget to consider if he’s leash trained or not, as this can also make a difference when considering a dog walker.
Next, you’ll need to check your schedule and see if you can fit in a daily walk. Most weekdays may be busy, and even the weekends. Are you able to commit to talking your canine companion out each day?
A daily walk will do wonders for your pup, but if you’re not able to fit in the time, then hiring a dog walker could be great help for your dog’s health and mental wellbeing
Where to Begin the Search for a Dog Walker
One of the first places to begin searching for a professional dog walker is by asking friends and family if they have a dog walker they’d recommend. You could also ask your work colleagues for referrals—ask if they’ve worked with a great dog walker. Your vet may be another resource—he may know of some professional dog walkers in your area who may be a good fit for you and your pup.
You can also search online with Google or another search engine to find a dog walker near you. Just type “dog walker near me” or “dog walking service near me” into the search box, hit enter, and you should have several results to choose from.
Choosing a Dog Walker
You’ve decided to hire a dog walker…now what? How do you go about hiring a dog walker? What should you look for? There are some things to keep in mind when it comes to looking for the right dog walker.
Most states, cities and counties have no specific certifications or professional requirements for dog walkers. There’s no professional dog walker association to set up rules and guidelines for dog walkers. So, almost anyone can advertise themselves as a dog walker—when in fact they have no qualifications or experience.
The first thing to look for in a dog walker is professional credentials
Anyone working with animals needs specialized knowledge and skills. Not only that, but they also need to enjoy the animals they work with. So, when it comes to searching for a dog walker, here are a few questions to ask:
1. Do you have training in dog behavior, body language and working with multiple dogs at one time? Anyone working with your fur baby should have training in these areas, along with experience working with different types of breeds, personalities, etc. Look for dog walkers and dog walking services that use positive reinforcement and who can avoid the use of shock collars, hitting, etc. when it comes to controlling the dogs in their care.
2. How long have you been a dog walker: you’ll want to find someone who has experience working with dogs. The longer time someone’s worked as a dog walker, the higher the probability they have the experience necessary to keep your dog safe and healthy on his daily walks.
3. Do you have a license to walk dogs? Are you bonded and have insurance? A professional dog walker will have credentials and any necessary license to perform the services of a dog walker. In addition, they should be bonded and insured.
4. Can you provide references from clients? If so, then be sure to ask for the clients’ contact information so you can actually call them and talk with them about the dog walker. You’ll want to do more than just email. A real conversation will give you more information than any digital contact could do.
5. Are you certified and know how to perform pet first aid? Accidents happen—you’ll definitely want a dog walker who knows what to do in case of an emergency.
6. Do you walk several dogs at a time? Can you walk my dog by himself? Some cities and towns limit the number of dogs that can be walked at a time, while others have no limits. One thing to consider—several dogs walking together may work, but the more dogs you add to the “pack” the higher the probability of fights, aggressive behavior, etc. If your dog is not socialized, it might be a good idea to look for a dog walker who will walk your dog alone. On the other hand, if your dog is well-socialized and loves other dogs, then walking in a larger group may not be an issue.
Look for dog walkers who walk without human companions. Sometimes, dog walkers will join together to walk their “packs,” which may contain several dogs each. Dog walkers who work together may be busy chatting and not watching their dogs and the surrounding environment. Distracted dog walkers could lead to problems, such as dog fights, dogs biting passing humans, etc.
7. Do you walk dogs of different sizes together or do you group dogs together by size? When walking dogs of different sizes together, it’s possible a larger dog may view a smaller dog as a tasty snack. This is called predatory drift. One dog kills another dog—maybe not with the idea of having a snack, but just because the little dog is annoying or irritating in some way. It can happen. Not only that, but a small dog could easily be injured accidentally during play time with larger dogs.
Professionals recommend grouping dogs together by size when walking multiple dogs. Small dogs should be kept together, and large dogs kept in their own group. This way some accidents and aggressive behaviors can be avoided. So, look for dog walkers who group dogs by size, rather than mixing different size dogs together.
8. Where do you walk the dogs? You’ll want to know where your fur baby is, after all! Will it be necessary for the dog walker to take your dog by car to the walking site? Or will they walk your dog in your neighborhood? Do they use a dog park for walking? These are important questions—you’ll want to know where the dog walker takes your dog and if the environment is suitable for your dog’s health, etc.
9. How long will you walk my dog? What is the guaranteed walking time? You’ll need to know how long the walk will be for your dog and the dog walker should be able to give you a guaranteed walking time. You don’t want to pay for a car ride that’s included as part of the walking time!
10. Do you provide a trial period? A trial period of two weeks is generally a good idea. You’ll be able to see how your dog behaves with the person and if everything works the way it should. Many professional dog walkers will offer a trial period for their services—it’s just good business. Not only that, but you’ll be able to watch your fur baby for signs he’s not happy with the new arrangements.
11. What problems might a dog walker encounter? This is a great question to ask a potential dog walker. You’ll learn the types of problems they’ve dealt with, how they deal with issues, etc. You can learn quite a bit by asking this question.
Dog Walker Problems
Once you’ve found a dog walking service or a professional dog walker, the next step is to monitor your dog to see if he’s happy with the new dog walker and that everything is working as it should with schedules, etc.
Problems can arise if your pup and the dog walker’s personalities don’t mix well. Or maybe your dog doesn’t get along well with another dog that’s being walked in the same group.
During the trial period, be sure to observe your dog. Does he seem unhappy or depressed? Is he happier with the regular walks? Does he hide when the dog walker comes or is he raring to go with them? Just watch for any behaviors that are out of the ordinary.
If your pup’s not happy with the dog walker, then it’s time to find someone else to walk your dog. It’s not uncommon to have problems with professional dog walkers. It may just be a personality clash, but it could be something else about the person your dog just doesn’t like. Be sure to pay attention and “listen” to your fur baby and how he’s feeling.
We hope this guide will help you find the best professional dog walker for you and your fur baby. Hiring the right person for the job takes a bit of effort and research, but the benefits are worth it when it comes to having a healthy and happy dog!
Related Sources: NPR NYTimes NIH