Your dog is your best friend, companion, and family member. You wouldn’t trust her with just anyone. If you have a 9 to 5 job, you likely need someone to walk her during the day. How do you go about finding an experienced, responsible, and caring dog walker?
Start by networking. Ask other dog owners, friends, and coworkers if they use a dog walking service. Go to the local dog park and get to know people. You may meet someone there who is a dog walker, and you can get to know them personally. Or you may meet another dog parent who uses a service and can recommend someone to you. Put an ad in your local newspaper or on Craigslist, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation, or look at online dog walking services. There are many. Perhaps a neighbor has a child who is old enough and responsible enough to walk your dog after school. If you feel comfortable, you can even talk to people walking their dog in the street and ask them.
Remember that you will be giving this person a key to your home and trusting her with your beloved pet. You will want to interview the potential walker. Go for a walk with her, letting her hold your dog’s leash. Pay attention to the way your dog responds to the person. Is your dog comfortable and at ease? Does she appear to trust the person? Is the person a “dog person?” Are they knowledgeable about dogs? Can they sense when something is wrong? Will they be walking other dogs at the same time? If yes, learn about the dogs – their breed, size, and temperament. Does the person understand pet behavior? Can she administer medication? Does she know dog CPR?
Get references and check them. An experienced dog walker should give you names of other clients as well as their own vet. They may have a business license, but remember that there are no professional licensing requirements for dog walkers.
Make sure the walker can come to your house at the same time every day to maintain your dog’s routine. Ask where she will walk your dog. Let her know if it’s okay to take your dog to the dog park. You may want to wait until your dog gets to know her, so she will come when called. Always give the dog walker your phone number at work, as well as your vet’s name, phone number, and address in case of emergency.
Hiring a dog walker to visit and walk your dog during the day while you are at work will give you peace of mind, and it also allows your pet to keep to its regular schedule. You may want your dog walked and fed more than once a day, so if something comes up and you want to go out after work, you won’t need to rush home.
Taking the time and due diligence to look for the right dog walker will comfort both you and your dog.
Photo: Courtesy of NinaZed via Flickr (CC by 2.0)