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Do you find yourself wracked with guilt every time you leave home without your dog? As much as you love your pup, you have to make time for work and social commitments, too. With a professional dog walker, you can have the best of both worlds!
Even stay-at-home dog parents like myself need a bit of extra help from time to time. In fact, my dog walkers Bridgett and Larry of Ultimate Pet Services recently helped my family through a crisis.
My husband was hospitalized with appendicitis, throwing my three dogs way off schedule. Bridgett and Larry made sure our fur kids had food, water, potty breaks, and a bit of special attention until life went back to normal.
What Does A Professional Dog Walker Do?
While the main function of a dog walker is obviously to walk your dog, there is much more to it. These animal professionals must deal with a variety of canine personalities – not to mention the humans!
They must know how to safely greet dogs of all ages, sizes, and behaviors inside the home, and confidently navigate whatever comes their way outside.
For these reasons, professional dog walkers often offer both private and group walks to suit each dog’s personality. Private walks are best for shy pups, seniors, and those with impaired mobility.
Younger, more active dogs may prefer the energy and camaraderie of group walking.
Many dog walkers also offer additional services such as pet sitting, waste clean up, pet supply delivery, and much more. Some will even drive your pooch to veterinary visits.
Should You Hire A Dog Walker?
If you are on the fence about hiring a professional dog walker for your pooch, ask yourself the following questions:
- How many hours do you spend outside the home? Even if your dog can “hold it” for eight hours, should they really have to?
- How social is your pooch? Dogs are pack animals, and while some may be more timid than others, spending the majority of their time alone is very stressful.
- Does your dog get enough exercise? Dogs need regular exercise and play sessions to keep their bodies and minds healthy. Daily walks help stave off obesity as well as many health and behavior problems.
- Are you seeing signs of behavior problems? A tired dog is a well-behaved dog! If your pooch is noisy, hyper, destructive, etc., it may mean they need more activity.
- Do you worry about your dog when you are not home? Having a trustworthy dog walker to care for your BFF can provide the peace of mind you need to get through your day guilt-free.
How To Find A Trustworthy Professional Dog Walker:
Unfortunately the dog walking business does not have strict regulations to protect you or your pet. While anyone can call themselves a dog walker and place an ad on Craigslist, there are ways to recognize the professionals among the impostors.
- Choose a business that is fully licensed, bonded and insured. This shows that the individual or company is serious about their business and protecting their clients.
- Ask about experience, safety, background checks and anything else you may want to know! Don’t be shy. You will be entrusting this person with your home and your precious pup. Make sure you’re comfortable with their level of training and professionalism.
- Collect references from past and current clients. Are there vets, groomers, or other animal professionals in the area who recommend them? Be sure to follow up and contact these folks!
Questions to ask when interviewing potential dog walkers:
- Will the same person walk your dog each time? Once you find a trustworthy dog walker, can you rely on them to consistently care for your dog? If other employees will tend to your pup, are they equally professional and reliable?
- When will your dog be walked? Will this be consistent each time? When I am out of town I ask the dog walkers to come over between 12 PM and 2 PM. This is about halfway between when my husband leaves for work and when he gets home. Make sure you hire someone who can consistently accommodate your schedule.
- Are they willing to run your dog or just walk? Some dogs enjoy a leisurely walk, but others need more vigorous exercise. If you have a high-energy pooch, hire a professional dog walker who can provide the activity level your dog requires.
- Do they offer additional services like training, play sessions, feeding and watering, etc? If you work long hours, look for a dog professional who offers additional services. Perhaps your puppy needs basic obedience lessons or extra socialization. Maybe you need someone to give your dog their dinner on certain evenings. Hiring a multi-tasker can save you time and money.
- Do they have experience with special needs pets? Seniors? Dogs with behavioral issues? Some dog walkers are only comfortable caring for average, healthy dogs, and that’s okay! If your pooch has special physical or emotional needs, be sure the person you hire is equipped to handle them.
- Are they trained in canine CPR? Several organizations including Pet Tech and the American Red Cross offer pet first aid courses that cover everything from CPR to snake bites. Watching YouTube videos isn’t enough! Make sure you entrust your dog to a caregiver certified in pet first aid.
- What is their protocol if your dog becomes lost, sick, or injured? Dog forbid an accident occurs, does the walker/company have a plan in place? When a dog is lost, sick, or hurt, every second counts. Make sure the people you entrust with your pooch are prepared for anything.
- Do they provide photos or reports of their sessions with your dog? My dog walkers text me photos of my dogs walking, playing, eating, and enjoying treats. They also leave a written report of who did what on their walk. These simple gestures let me know my fur kids are safe, happy and well taken care of in my absence.
You should never have to choose work and social commitments over your dog. With a professional dog walker, you can have it all – and so can your pup!