Dogs need daily exercise to stay mentally and physically healthy, and depending on the breed, some need more exercise than others. As responsible pet owners, we make a commitment to provide our dogs with the best care, but this can often be difficult for one reason or another.
Some dog owners may not be able to give their pup enough exercise due to frequent changes in their schedule, long work hours, or health limitations. If this is true for you, then you might want to consider hiring a dog walker.
Anyone can advertise himself as a dog walker, but just because he claims to be dog-obsessed doesn't automatically make him a good fit.
"It's easy for people to say they love animals," says Bethany Stevens, owner of
On the Move Pet Care
in Rochester, N.Y. "But to be a professional dog walker, you have to have experience working with animals of all types, breeds, sizes, and personalities. It takes more than having grown up with a dog to know the various nuances that make a sitter exceptional."
1. Tap into your network.
A great place to start is through recommendations. Talk to friends and other dog owners to see if they can suggest someone. There are also websites that can assist in helping you find a dog walker in your area.
2. Ask the right questions.
Once you find a few potential dog walkers, interview all of them and ask some important and specific questions, such as (but not limited to):
- Where will you walk my dog?
- Do you walk multiple dogs together or one at a time?
- How long will you spend with my dog on each walk?
- Are you experienced with dogs similar to mine?
- How long have you been a dog walker?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
- Can you provide client references?
- Have you participated in any pet-care training, such as pet first aid?
- What's your cancellation policy, and what happens if you are sick and unable to come on a scheduled day?
3. Set up meet and greets.
Once you weed out the dog walkers you are uncomfortable with, it's time to arrange a meeting with the ones you like. It's important to see how your dog interacts with them, as well. Candy Pilar Godoy, a New York City blogger who runs the site, Boogie the Pug, says a great way to make sure you've found a good dog walker is to observe how your dog reacts to the person when they first meet. "Is your dog happy/excited or does he cower?" says Godoy. As humans, we can learn a lot from a dog's signals.
4. Share necessary information.
Once you find the right person, make sure to provide him with all the necessary information needed when it comes to caring for your dog. Things such as
- Your contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses.
- Veterinary information.
- If your dog takes any medication, make sure your walker is informed as to what it is for, and if there's a chance he might have to administer it, leave exact instructions on how to do so.
- Feeding instructions in the event he will be the one to give your dog a meal.
- Alarm code and instructions. Some alarm companies have remote access via a smartphone. If yours offers this feature, take advantage of it - that way you won't have to share your code.
- Location of supplies (leashes, treats, cleaners, pee pads, etc.).