For folks with a busy schedule, a dog walker can be a godsend. But choosing a dog walker you can trust can take time and effort. Here’s everything you need to know about finding a dog walker that you can be sure will do right by your pooch.
Ask around for recommendations
First thing’s first, you need to cast a broad net to find where all the good dog walkers are. Next time you’re at the dog park, ask other owners if they’ve ever hired a walker or dog walking service. Chances are there will be a couple of good local recommendations for you to get started. If it’s your local dog park, your pooch might even end up walking with their friends!
Surf the web
With location services turned on, Google search is great at refining a simple search like ‘Dog walkers near me’ into accurate, localised information about dog walkers in your area. You can also try websites like Pet Butler, which specialise in helping find local walkers for your dog. As with anything online, you’ll want to be sure to thoroughly interview any prospective walkers before committing to a service.
Go social with your search
Many dog walkers and companies use Instagram to share their dog walking adventures with the world. Search tags like #dogwalker in your local area and use the social media service to follow prospective dog walkers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day. Once you’ve decided on a potential candidate, social media is a good tool for checking up on their history, before formalising your working arrangement.
Use a professional service
Reaching out to professional dog walking services is one way to reduce the risk of a negative experience for your pooch. Good dog walking companies will screen and interview prospective candidates for you so you don’t have to. They are also likely to have better resources, insurance, and a pool of candidates in case your primary dog walker is ill.
Do a meet and greet
Just like any job interview, once you’ve narrowed down your talent pool, it’s time for a meet and greet. This should consist of three parts:
- The interview
- A trial walk
The interview is the best time to find out everything you want to know about the candidate, who they are and their history with dog walking. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, including:
- Do you have insurance?
- What’s the maximum number of dogs you will walk at a time?
- What’s the pick up / drop off schedule?
- My dog has the following issue / temperament. Do you have experience with it?
- WIll it be only you walking my dog?
- If not, what is your vetting process for other dog walkers?
- How would you handle a behavioural issue with a dog?
- What prior experience do you have with dog walking?
A good dog walker will have already developed great relationships with other dogs and their owners. Ask for referees and contact them to gauge their opinion (you can do this after the interview). Ask questions like:
- How long did they walk your dog?
- What size / age / temperament is your dog?
- Were there any problems during the relationship?
If the owner is acting as a referee for the walker, they’ll usually be more than happy to answer any questions about their dog’s relationship with the candidate.
Go on a test walk
The final test for your prospective dog walker should be a test walk. Seeing your pooch in action with the walker will give you a good idea how confident they will be walking your dog. It also gives the walker a chance to bond with your dog in your presence, and for your dog to become comfortable with the transition.
Sometimes, no matter how good the walker, and how well behaved the dog, the relationship just doesn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world. While most good walkers are patient enough to work through any issues, if it doesn’t look right to you, don’t be afraid to trial another walker or two before making a decision.
Seal the relationship
Once you’ve decided on a particular dog walker, it’s time to formalise the relationship and seal the deal. Agree on a fixed price, walking schedule, and any particular exercises or games you want for your pooch. You might also want to request regular photos or short videos to be sent to you as a way of keeping tabs.
Dog walkers take on a lot of responsibility in caring for your pet, so it’s only right that you take every precaution to see they are well cared for. If you or your dog walker doesn’t have pet insurance, contact PetSecure to find out how we can give you and your pooch peace of mind.