There are benefits of hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to take care of your pup but there are also a lot of things to keep in mind. If you’re like us, your dog is a family member and deserves only the highest level of care possible! There are numerous dog walking companies as well as individual walkers that work for themselves. How do you find a local dog walker that’s best for you and your beloved pup?
When Do You Need a Dog Walker?
First of all, we recommend determining what your needs are in terms of scheduling and if you want to go with a dog walking company or a solo dog walker who works on their own. There are pros and cons to both options so you need to figure out what works best for you. If your dog is very particular and takes time to warm up to new people, an individual dog walker who works for themselves might be the best option although oftentimes companies can accommodate those needs as well. If you are looking to hire a dog walker it’s important to ask upfront so you know if your dog will be able to have the same walker regularly. Also, if you require more flexibility and reliability a company with multiple walkers may be a better option.
Companies like Jordan’s Pet Care are available for dog walking and dog sitting services 365 days per year and often offer morning, evening, and weekend services, as well as availability for last-minute requests, should they arise. Given a solo walker works on their own, they may not have the type of flexibility you need if you think you’ll need extra help for your furry friend!
Things to Look for in a Potential Dog Walker
If you are certain finding a dog walker could make your life easier, then we suggest dog parents meet with the potential walker or company so you can spend time with them and see how they interact with your dog first and foremost. Are they comfortable with your dog? Do they understand the body language of a dog and general dog behavior? Are they attentive to your pup and his or her needs? Are they experienced with walking dogs in the city and all of the possible issues and distractions that can arise (i.e. other passing dogs, food or garbage on the street, small animals, loud noises that may be scary to a dog) and also, are they comfortable maintaining any basic training you’re working on with your pup while you’re gone?
Dog walkers don’t necessarily do dog training but consistency is key with training so it’s important that they can keep your dog on track while with them. Make sure your dog walker knows how to properly and safely use their harness, gentle leader, or any other equipment you use to walk your dog.
Trust and Safety
We recommend dog owners choose a dog walker or company who can provide references, whether online or personal, who is insured and bonded, and who conducts background checks on their employees (if using a dog walking company rather than an individual). It takes a high level of trust to let someone in your home to walk your beloved best friend so it’s important to make sure anyone who comes into your home is fully vetted and skilled in dog care so that both your home and your dog will be safe.
Another important thing to consider when thinking about how to hire a dog walker is how many dogs does the walker or company walk together at one time? While socialization can be really great for friendly pups when it’s done safely, walking too many dogs at one time can also be dangerous and prevent an individual dog’s needs from being met. If a dog walker has too many dogs at once they may not be aware if one dog needs to stop and go to the bathroom and may keep them walking in the pack causing them discomfort.
Also, if a dog in a large pack picks up something off the street it may be really difficult for the dog walker to remove it from the dog’s mouth while walking numerous dogs at once. If your dog enjoys street treats they may require a higher level of attention than can be given in a large pack walk. Keeping your furry friend happy and healthy needs to be a top priority!
Additionally, if the dogs are properly suited for the pack and one dog starts barking or lunging at another dog it may cause all the dogs in the pack to react which may make it more difficult for the dog walker to fully control the individual dogs. This can be dangerous and could cause the walker to lose control. Lastly, if you decide to get your dog group walks it’s really important to ask if your dog will ever be left outside unattended while picking up or dropping off dogs in the group. Unfortunately, dog thefts are not uncommon so it’s super important to make sure your dog is NEVER left outside of a building under any circumstances and that proper protocols are in place for pickups and drop offs of the pups.
Reliability and Choosing Your Dog Walker
It’s important to ask a company or individual how they conduct their pet sitting, including how they will cover your dog’s walk if the walker is sick or on vacation. Unless you will be home when the walker comes we suggest making sure that there is always a fill-in available so you have peace of mind knowing that your pup never has to be left home alone when they need to go out.
Hiring a dog walker is meant to eliminate stress in your life and finding out that no one is coming for your dog when you need and expect them can leave your dog uncomfortable and anxious. Make sure whomever you hire is reliable and has a contingency plan in case they are unavailable. Many companies like JPC work as a team so if a dog’s regular walker is out one of our other walkers will walk them instead and they will always have coverage when needed.
Lastly, go with your gut! If it doesn’t feel like a good fit or your dog doesn’t seem happy with the person, try someone else. The most important thing for all of us dog parents is to make sure our dog is happy, well-cared for, and gets plenty of exercise, love, and attention when we can’t be there to do it ourselves. Sure, technically anyone can walk a dog but only someone who genuinely cares, is an experienced professional dog walker, a true animal lover, and understands dogs can be a great dog walker.