What person with a dog doesn’t wish they could spend as much time as humanly possible with their furry four-legged friend? Not any that I know!
But the harsh reality is you work full-time, your dog is alone for hours on end resulting in overwhelming guilt on your part, concern about your pet’s well-being, and the question…Should I hire a dog walker? And how do I not suck at hiring a dog walker?
According to PetMD “Without activity, your dog will become bored, frustrated and unhealthy. Exercise tones the muscles, helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind. Anyone who has had a dog that suffers from lack of physical activity and mental stimulation will tell you that they will often turn to destructive behaviors — behaviors that magically disappear once the dog is getting out everyday.”
Step 1: Find a dog walker
- Word of mouth: ask friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you can think of for recommendations!
- Ask for recommendations from:
- veterinarians’ office
- local groomers
- pet stores
- animal shelters
Step 2: Schedule a “Meet & Greet”
The “Meet & Greet” is the initial meeting where you can determine if you’re both a match made in heaven or just not happening. The initial meeting should be free of charge, but if you ask for any subsequent meetings expect to pay for the dog walker’s time. Take note of the following:
- First impressions are usually right! Follow your gut!
- You should feel comfortable and at ease with your potential dog walker
- If your dog will be riding in the dog walker’s car note the condition of the car he/she is driving. Safety and dependability are a must!
Step 3: Does Your Dog “Dig” The Dog Walker?
Be sure to observe how your dog reacts to this new person and how this person in turn responds to your dog. Good qualities to look for is genuine excitement and joy at meeting your precious fur baby, a calm, confident demeanor, and someone who is not afraid to get down and dirty on the floor if need be to interact with your dog.
Step 4: Questions for the Dog Walker
- What are your rates?
- Do you have proof of insurance
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Where do you plan on walking with my dog?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- How will I know how the walk went?
The last question, “How will I know how the walk went?” serves two purposes. First, it gives you the peace of mind that (hopefully) things are going well and secondly, it is evidence that the dog walker was actually there! Usually they will leave some sort of report detailing how the walk went, whether your fur baby peed or pooped, and the length of the walk.
Step 5: Go for a walk with the dog walker and your dog.
- You will get a first hand look at how the dog walker handles any altercations or surprises along the way.
- Be sure to let the walker know of any behavioral issues or quirky things your dog may do so they are prepared and have an idea of what to expect such as my dog doesn’t like other dogs, hates the mailman, and will drag you to the next state if he sees a squirrel.
- Inform the dog walker of the correct terms to use with your dog such as “sit”, “stay” or “place” etc. There is nothing more annoying than saying “Down” when the dog actually understands “Off”.
Step 6: Provide Important Information
It helps to have your information prepared ahead of time so you can simply give a copy to your new dog walker which they can keep on hand should they need to reference it. Include the following plus anything else you may like to add:
- Numbers for you and an alternate contact so you can be reached in the event of an emergency.
- Name, phone number and address of both your regular veterinarian and an emergency veterinary hospital that you would want your pet taken if the need should arise.
- Keys to house and codes for alarms or lockbox
- Proof of current rabies vaccination.
In the end, when all is said and done, you really have to follow your intuition and trust that you have done all you can to make an informed decision.
It’s not a big deal if the dog walker doesn’t have fancy forms or business cards. What is important is that you and your dog are comfortable with the person and that you feel confident in their ability to keep your pet safe, not burn down your house, and not walk out with all your diamonds and pearls bequeathed to you from your third aunt twice removed.
Leave comments, please! I want to read them!
And, go not suck at hiring a dog walker!