You know how important regular walks and exercise are for your dog’s joint health, muscle strength, weight control, and mental health. However, some days it is more challenging than others to find the time to get out the door and take your beloved dog for a walk. Don’t hang your head in embarrassment – you’re not alone. So many of us are busy and with multiple responsibilities, some days, something has to give.
Enter a trustworthy and reliable dog walker. It’s amazing how much stress can be alleviated for both you and your dog with the help of a dog walker. Not only will your dog get his much needed exercise, but you’ll feel good knowing that your dog’s needs are being taken care of.
In this post, we suggest ways to find a dog walker, highlight key questions you should ask potential dog walkers, and what to expect from a dog walker. Do you use a dog walker? Share your dog walker experiences with our Leaps & Bounds Facebook community.
How to Find a Dog Walker
While the Internet is the logical choice for most searches, we recommend that when it comes to finding a dog walker, you rely more on the people you know.
- Talk to your dog-owning friends and extended family members. There’s a good chance someone in your social circle uses a dog walker or knows someone who does. Remember to ask any of these friends key questions about their dog walker, including, how they found their dog walker, how often the dog walker comes, the length of the walks, and how their dog is responding to the new routine.
- Talk to your veterinarian and the technicians in your veterinarian’s office. It’s highly likely your veterinarian has a resource of trusted animal (dog) professionals that they turn to when clients such as yourself ask for help in finding additional pet care.
- If you use a dog trainer or have in the past, contact your trainer and ask about dog walker recommendations.
Of course, there is also the Internet, but we suggest you be extra vigilant when interviewing dog walkers you find online. Because these people are not coming from a word-of-mouth recommendation, make sure you don’t rush in without asking key questions.
Questions You Should Ask Potential Dog Walkers
Don’t skip this key step, remember you’re trusting this person with caring for your dog. You need to be confident that your dog walker is the right person for you and your dog.
- Ask questions about the dog walker’s business. Ask for recommendations for other clients. Ask about insurance and licensing. Ask about medical training. Ask about the other dogs they walk and how this person will manage having another dog to care for. Find out what the dog walker does in the event he or she is sick or goes away on vacation.
- Ask as many question as you can think of about the dog walking routine. Find out how many dogs are walked at once. Enquire about having solo walks for your dog. Ask about the length of the walks and route. Find out if the dog walker will take your dog into the woods. Get firm details on the dog walker’s leash policy. If your dog really enjoys playing in the park, ask about this option. You need to know the dog walker’s policy when encountering aggressive dogs or owners. Ask about coming out on a walk with the dog walker and your dog – this gives you the best opportunity to see how your dog responds to a new person holding his leash.
- Ask about health and safety policies and practices. Is the dog walker familiar with the needs of senior dogs or dogs new to leash walking. Ask specific questions about your dog’s health and find out how the dog walker plans to care for these issues. Ask the dog walker if he or she is familiar with dog joint health issues such as hip problems, stiff joints, or muscle soreness. Find out what the dog walker will do if your dog is injured during a walk.
This is just a sampling of questions but what we want to highlight here is that there is no such thing as silly or bad question to ask. This is your dog and you need to be 100 per cent confident in your dog walker and his or her ability to care for your dog. If in doubt at all or if your dog is not responding well during trial walks, remember you have many options when it comes to choosing a dog walker – don’t feel limited or forced into choosing the first dog walker you meet.
What You Can Expect From Your Dog Walker
You obviously want to make sure you and your dog are getting what you paid for. So pay attention to how your dog is behaving at home with you before and after his walks with his new dog walker. Be aware of any behavioral changes, limping, discomfort, or other issues – these could all be indicators that there was a problem during a dog walk that you weren’t told about.
If your dog walker works for a company that employs multiple dog walkers, confirm that the person you interviewed is the person who will be walking your dog. Remember that just as you expect your dog walker to be honest with you, you must do the same. Don’t hide any health or joint issues your dog has for fear that the dog walker won’t take on your dog – this only hurts your dog.
Ask about the dog walking schedule, how your dog will be transported if the walking route isn’t nearby, find out about the cancellation policy, and ask any other questions that ensure you, your dog, and your dog walker are all comfortable and happy with the arrangement.