Choosing the best dog walker can be difficult especially if you don't know what to look for.
We share some critical questions to ask when making your decision.
It really shouldn’t be about whether the walker can fit you in or how much they charge. You are choosing a dog walker for your beloved family dog. Consideration should be towards the quality of the service, whether the service they offer fits the needs of your dog, and how much knowledge and experience the dog walker has.
How to find the right dog walker for you and your dog
Review your dog’s needs
Whether it be group or solo, daycare, pop-ins, 30 mins, 1 hour, or more? Think about your dog’s needs.
Is your dog okay with other dogs?
Do they have any health concerns that limit walk duration?
Are they okay being left for periods during the day?
What does your dog need to be happy when you are not present?
A dog walker should be able to work with you and devise a walking plan to suit.
They should be asking you to complete paperwork on your dog's behaviour, allergies, medications, training, where they sleep, etc so they are aware of what your dog's needs are.
Sadly dog walkers are not regulated. It is really down to you to ensure the business looking after your dog is who they say they are.
Things you may want to ask:
Is the business insured?
Do they have canine first aid training?
What dog-related qualifications do they have?
Do they have any written working policies that you can review?
What are their terms and conditions?
Do they have a contract?
What are their reviews like - if no reviews ask if you can speak to an existing client?
Do they offer a meet and greet ?- for me as a dog walker the meet and greet is an essential part of my service and I will not walk a dog without this taking place. (Find out more about Pawsitive Steps and our services)
It opens up opportunities to see how the dog interacts with the walker, enables questions to be asked, and gives the walker time to do a quick assessment to ensure the dog in their care will be happy with the service the owner is requesting.
Word of warning - never trust a clean dog walker 🤣
How many dogs do they walk? - there is nothing wrong with a dog walker walking a lot of dogs at once, but please bear this in mind.
If your dog is being walked with 6 to 8 other dogs that will be 6 to 8 pickups and 6 -8 drop-offs! This means a lot of time transporting before getting their actual booked walked.
So ask how the walker accommodates this, hopefully, they will say that transport time is not included in bookings, so a dog booked in for an hour will get a full hour of walking with the time it takes to get to the exercise venue as extra to that hour.
Alternatively, they may do morning or afternoon treks so you pay for the full morning they are out.
"Be cautious you are not paying for your dog to be sat in a van"
Ask, what they base their group selection on?
Consider asking for a list of postcodes for the homes of dogs that your dog is grouped with. This way, if you know where they will be walking from you can work out how long your dog will be in transit.
How are they going to transport your dog?
Have a look at their set up, are the cages clean, safe, large enough for the dog to turn around in?
Can they see each other? - if they can what measures has the walker put in place in cases when dogs do not like traveling together?
If it’s a car what restraints are in place? It’s a legal requirement that all dogs transported in vehicles must be suitably restrained.
Is there enough ventilation?
A top priority in the checklist has to be time. Specifically, has the dog walker enough time to settle your dog back into the house after a walk?
Do they have enough time to put a harness on a dog that is fearful of wearing a harness?
Do they have time to help your dog confidently get into the van without using force?
Do they have time to give you updates on how your dog's walk went? Take photos and videos? Talk to you about your dog's walking plan and feedback on any concerns they may have?
Do they have time to ask you if you are happy with the service they are providing and actively seek feedback to improve their service?
"Anyone can walk a dog this is true, but a good dog walker will look at all the aspects mentioned above and much more"
There is so much more to consider. A good dog walker will confidently and efficiently run a great service. By doing so risks are reduced and standards are always maintained.
There are many wonderful dog walkers out there you just need to take time to find one. It is worth taking the time and doing your research because only the best will do for the furry family member you love.
Guest Blog author - Kate Nicholson @ pawsitive-steps
Instagram @pawsitive-steps www.pawsitive-steps.com
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