Dogs need regular walks to keep them happy and healthy. But sometimes our busy lives mean there isn't time to give our canines as much exercise and attention as we'd like. To solve this, a growing number of dog owners have begun using a pet sitting and dog walker service. Professional dog walkers will ensure your pet is getting enough attention, exercise and opportunities for a toilet break even though you can't be there.
But before you hand your beloved canine companion over, make sure you know how to find a good dog walker that you can trust. Check out our pawfect guide to using a professional dog walker.
Why use a professional dog walker?
If you are finding that there's not enough time in the day to walk your dog, perhaps your work schedule has changed, you are ill or have too many other commitments, then it's a good idea to look into using a professional dog walking service. As animal lovers themselves, dog walkers are experienced in animal care and can make sure your dog gets their daily exercise, the opportunity to go to the toilet and get plenty of cuddles and strokes, even when you aren't there.
Can you trust dog walkers?
Choosing a dog walker is more than just finding someone to take your dog out for walkies. You will be trusting them to spend time in your home and take proper care of your four-legged baby. Most professional dog walkers are trustworthy and reliable animal lovers who will take good care of your dog as if it was their own pet. However, before you hire a dog walker, do your research and make sure you meet the person before handing over your pup. You should also:
- Ask friends for recommendations
- Meet the person before you let them take your dog
- Ask about their training, experience and background
- Have the dog walker do a practice walk with you and your dog
- Make sure there is a contract between you and the dog walker
Where to look for a dog walker?
Ideally, the dog walker you use would be someone who has come highly recommended from a dog owner you know who has used their service. However, you can also:
- Check at your vets for adverts for dog walking services or ask the staff for recommendations
- Ask your dog groomer
- If you use a dog trainer, find out if they offer training walks as an extra service
- Use a trusted alternative, like a borrower, through BorrowMyDoggy
What should you look for in a good dog walker?
The number of people becoming professional dog walkers has soared in recent years as dog lovers decide to turn their love of cats and dogs into a pet sitting and dog walking business. But a professional dog walker also needs to have a specialised skill set and knowledge to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the dogs in their care.
Before you choose a dog walker, you should meet them in person. Any good dog walker should want to meet your dog before they take them on. Watch how they interact with your pup and how comfortable your dog is in their company. Remember, you want your dog to feel excited about their walks, not anxious, so let them help you choose the right person for the job.
What questions should you ask a dog walker before you hire them?
As you will be entrusting the dog walker with the responsibility for your beloved pet, there are important things to discuss with your canine carer. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, so you know your dog is in good hands. For example:
- What training have you received?
- Are you trained in pet first aid?
- Do you have references?
- Where would you walk my dog and at what times?
- Do you walk a group of dogs? If so, what are the breeds and sizes?
- Can you accommodate special needs or dogs with medical issues?
- Will you be walking my dog, or will it be someone else?
- Are you fully insured?
- Do you intend to transport my dog in your car?
- Do you have a backup if you can't take care of my dog?
- What will you do if there's an emergency?
- Do you use positive reinforcement training?
How do you prepare for a dog walker?
Before the dog walker takes care of your precious pooch, here is a checklist of the things you will need to get ready.
- Put your dog's lead, harness, treats and anything else they might need in an easy to find place.
- Get a copy of your key made for the dog walker.
- Set out your expectations in advance, so the walker knows your wants and needs for your dog.
- Leave out detailed instructions covering things like parking, getting the key, accessing your home, where your dog will be, whether you expect the walker to feed your dog and any allergies your dog has.
- Have an emergency plan in place, so the dog walker knows who to contact and which vet to take your dog to if necessary. It's also a good idea to provide a second contact if they cannot reach you.
If you are worried about not having enough time to walk your dog, then hiring a professional dog walker could be the answer. There are plenty of fantastic dog walkers out there who will give your canine companion the exercise they need to help them stay happy and healthy.