. Table of contents
- Tips to help you choose the correct Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
- Initial research when choosing a dog walker
- The initial meeting with your Dog Walker
- Don’t forget to ask the potential person questions
- Related Articles
Tips to help you choose the correct Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
Of course, we all love our dogs. We wish to spend as much quality time with them as is achievable, but given that the majority of us work, not to mention the unexpected events that sometimes pop up in our busy lives, means that many of us will at some time, need to consider help to care for our dogs now and then. Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters provide varied services, such as offering companionship for your dog when you’re at work, perhaps feeding and watering your pet, or walking your dog when your unable to do so yourself. Be fully aware that anyone can call themselves a dog walker, and therefore it’s vitally important that you know how to choose a capable, experienced person to hire.
If, like me, your dog is an important family member, you will, of course, want to ensure that you find an exceptional person to care for your dog; obviously, someone who will care for your pet as much as you do, who is knowledgeable about animals, is competent and confident. How do you go about sourcing this perfect person?
Initial research when choosing a dog walker
One of the best sources of information can be from other pet owners who already use the services of a friendly, capable dog walker. Ask at your Vet’s surgery; they may keep a database of recommended dog walkers for their local area. These days, many dog walkers maintain their own website, so carry out a web search for your local area. Are there references on their website or google that you can read and maybe even follow up? To get an idea of how long they have been running, then you can do a who.is on the website.
It’s a huge commitment to turn up at someone’s house every day to walk and care for your pets for maybe months, possibly years, so always choose someone who does this for his living, rather than a retired person, a student or a child that loves dogs. Ask them how long they have been a pet sitter or a dog walker?
The initial meeting with your Dog Walker
There should be an initial meeting to allow your dog to meet and greet this new person, to see how they interact. A professional dog walker will smell of other dogs and most likely have a healthy dog treat in his pocket. If your dog has behaviour or medical issues or is afraid of loud noises, speak about them honestly; you need to know if your dog walker has the necessary skills to cope with any eventuality. If possible, let the dog walker go on a trial run with your pet, see how he handles your dog on and off the lead, notice how they interact with each other and that it is a positive experience for your dog.
Before you go ahead and hire their services, you will want to know at what time they will be coming every day. What are their daily and weekly rates, and how do you pay them? What about their cancellation policy if you don’t require their services or your plans change? If the dog gets hurt while out playing, who will pay the Vet’s bill? Do you do the walking? (Most dog walking companies are very small – the sole proprietor is the only walker. However, it is always worth checking)
Don’t forget to ask the potential person questions
It is important to make sure you ask the right questions – write them down before the meeting to ensure you make the right decision about who will be looking after your dog – the same way as choosing a nanny for your kids
One of the most important aspects is choosing a dog walker or pet sitter with the necessary insurance cover. Remember this person will be directly responsible for your dog when out walking or coming into your home. You need to ensure that they are covered for any unfortunate, unexpected situations, such as your dog having an injury or causing damage to another dog or another person.
A competent dog walker will similarly ask you about your pet insurance policy, what circumstances and incidents it will cover. They should also request authorisation in writing to act in your name if veterinary assistance is required if they are unable to contact you immediately.
A DBS check
As with insurance, it is important you know the person coming into your home whilst you are out or away can be trusted. Do they have a DBS check (this replaced the old CRB), and how old is it?
If possible, request references from the dog walker’s other clients, and follow these up for confirmation. If they say they walk other dogs, ask to see photographs of them in the picture with the actual dog. Be as scrupulous as if you were investigating care for your child.
Do they have any training?
At a minimum, they should have a canine first-aid certificate. A professional pet carer will also be updating their CPD hours regularly, so their knowledge of dog behaviour and wellbeing is up to date and constantly being refreshed.
How many dogs do they walk at a time?
Would your dog prefer one-to-one walks, or it happy walking with other dogs? How do they choose which dogs to walk together and what is the maximum number of dogs they would be comfortable walking and caring for in their care? I would recommend that in order to be able to properly care for and control the dogs they are walking, that no more than 4 dogs are walked together at any one time. Are dogs from different households mixed together, and do they use caging for the dogs in their care?. Does their insurance cover the number of dogs they walk?
Check to make sure that the dogs that are walking with yours are up to date with vaccinations, and of course, their worming and flea regime. The last thing you want is for your dog to bring home unexpected guests after his play date.
How are the dogs transported?
Does your dog walker have transport to collect your dogs and take them to the park? Are they secure? Will, your dog, be sharing a crate, or will they have their own crate? How long are they left in the van?
What plans do they have when it is cold or hot? Remember, dogs die in hot cars. Have they contingency plans? Will they offer visits instead, or are they able to adjust times and locations? Do they have an extreme weather plan
What treats do they use?
It is important to discuss and agree on what treats can be given. After all, if your dog is sensitive to chicken, then you don’t want them to have lovely high-value chicken morsels as a treat.
What procedures are in place should an emergency occur?
How would the dog walker react if your dog becomes injured or sick whilst in their care? Are they clear with their answers about how they would manage any emergency incident, and would it be dealt with in an effective, required way? Is the person fully trained in first aid to cover any eventualities?
Where will they take your dog?
It’s a good idea to query where your walker will exercise your dog. Is it an appropriate location and a stimulating and safe environment? Is it secure where they may be allowed off the lead. If necessary, are they happy to walk your dog on either a lead or a long line if required? Ask if there have ever been circumstances where they have lost a client’s dog when out walking, off the lead. It’s also a good idea to establish some ground rules if your dog is brought home after rolling in something unmentionable or is soaking wet and muddy, as you will expect your dog walker to dry your dog’s paws and coat to at least make sure he is comfortable before he is left in your home.
There are a lot of great professional dog walkers out there; do your research, ask questions but above all – trust your gut and your dog. After all, if your dog does not like them, then they are not the person for you.
Finally, once you’ve found the right person for your dog, please be honest with them. Please tell them about your dogs’ character and behaviour. This enables the dog walker to tailor the walk.
Finally, If you are looking for a professional that offers one 2 one walks for shy, nervous, reactive, or older dogs, then why not call Derek on 077 077 6 33 44 to discuss your needs or check out our pet care services.