Selecting someone to trust with the care of your dog – even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day – is akin to choosing a responsible babysitter for your child. Knowing how to search for a dog walker and what questions to ask are essential to finding the right one.
- How to Begin
The best way to find a reliable, well-trained dog walker is through word-of-mouth. Ask friends and family who have used one. Consult your neighbors. Talk to your veterinarian. Professional associations list local dog walkers, but you should still research them, as paying to belong to the association doesn’t guarantee they are a quality business.
- What to Ask
First and foremost, ask if the dog walker is bonded and insured. The insurance covers both parties and is specially configured for the pet business. Only trust a bonded walker with a key to your home to walk your dog when you aren’t there.
Ask about the walker’s training background. Is she certified in dog first aid and CPR? Does she have any obedience training experience? If so, what methods does she use? How long has she been walking dogs?
Discuss logistics. Who will be walking your dog? If it won’t always be the person you’re meeting with, ask to meet the other walkers. Where will she take your dog? If she’s going to drive him to a park or trail, ask for a driving record and to see the car. Will she be walking other dogs at the same time? If so, does she have socialization experience? How long is the walk itself, not including the time it takes her to prepare the dog?
- Use Your Gut
If you get a bad feeling in your initial meeting with the walker, trust yourself. If your dog seems hesitant or unhappy around her, trust your dog. Ask to accompany candidates on a “test walk” with your dog and, if possible, observe them with another client. Any worthwhile dog walker will provide references. A contract detailing the agreement is another sign of responsibility and reliability.
Finding and paying for a worthy dog walker to get your dog the exercise he needs and deserves demonstrates your commitment to the health of your dog.