Dog Walkers – What to Look For

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walk-your-dog-hop-button_thumbWe’re happy to be joining the Walk Your Dog Blog Hop again this month. We read lots of really great information shared over the past month by our hosts and fellow hoppers on walking your dog and how to make it fun, challenging and a real workout, Be sure and check out all the previous posts.

This month I thought I’d write about something pretty important when thinking about walking your dog and making sure they get the proper exercise and that’s using a dog walker. We have had a dog walker for many years to help ensure our dogs get the proper amount of exercise on a daily basis.

In the past, we have both had pretty busy jobs – sometimes working 10-12 hours per day. While we always walked or ran the dogs in the morning before work, being gone from home that long was tough on them so we always had a dog walker who would come by during the day and take the dogs out for a nice long walk and then provide some nice treats so they didn’t starve (like that could happen).

Luckily we were always able to find responsible dog walkers who took our dogs alone, not with a whole pack at once so they got some individual attention and ones who didn’t charge an arm and a leg. It was well worth the $25-50/week to give us piece of mind that my dogs were okay while we were gone and were getting much needed exercise break in the middle of their day.

We have both worked at home now for many years, but we still have a dog walker that comes and takes Jack & Maggie out 3-4 times each week. She doubles as our house sitter when we go away so it’s a great relationship. The dogs love her and Jack sits at the back door waiting for her to come.

This may not be a good choice for a dog walker.

This may not be a good choice for a dog walker.

But how do you find a good reputable dog walker? Finding someone you trust with your dogs can be a scary proposition for some of us. The first thing I did was ask my vet. Many dog walkers work closely with area vets and I feel that at least they’ve passed muster with the vet or they wouldn’t be recommending them. I’ve also resorted to the internet, but I very carefully interviewed them, asked for references and then made sure I was around the first several times they came to the house and took my dogs. I also watched my dogs for clues – if they were anxious or didn’t want to go for a walk, then I’d know that something was up.

Karen has been our dog walker for about 8 years now. She’s known all of our dogs and is just wonderful with them. It’s important that your dog walker share the same dog training philosophy as you. When we first got Jack and were working through some initial issues with him, we enlisted our dog trainer to work with Karen as well as us so that she would be as versed in managing him and keeping him on point as we were. That consistency of treatment is pretty critical, not just amongst mom & dad, but anyone who regularly interacts with the dog.

A few questions to ask a potential dog walker:

  1. How many years have you been a dog walker?
  2. How many dogs are you currently walking?
  3. Do you have any special schooling or training in dog behavior?
  4. Do you have an association with a local vet?
  5. What types of dog behaviors do you have experience with? (Fear, aggression, leash pulling)

Be sure and ask for references – at least two current clients that you can call and speak with.

How about you readers – any other thoughts on selecting a dog walker?

 

We are also joining the Walk Your Dog Hop Sponsored by Boingy Dog, Paws and Pedals & Gizmo Terrier Torrent – three of our favorite Blogs and FitDog Friday regulars!

 

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18 Comments

  1. We interviewed a local dog walking service and loved their presentation, felt confident in their answers, etc. But the enthusiasm stopped with the two owners, and we didn’t feel we got the service we desired with the one who ended up walking our dogs. I would say the main problem was lack of communication.
    Peggy Frezon recently posted…Our Vacation without DogsMy Profile

    • That’s too bad. Most of the ones we’ve used are ‘independent’ and not through a service – it’s their own business, so they seemed more dedicated.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Walkers – What to Look ForMy Profile

  2. That’s so nice that you have developed such a great relationship with someone! We haven’t looked into a dog walker since my schedule is so flexible. I always feel so awful on those rare 10 hour days though. I understand how it could easily be worth the money to avoid that feeling!
    Jessica recently posted…National Mutt DayMy Profile

    • Yep, i know it’s just too long for them to be alone – it’s kind of silly to have one when we are both here most days, but it’s insurance on those busy days, or someone I can count on for those days I’m not around.
      mkob recently posted…PetsMove Senior Winners!My Profile

  3. Thanks SlimDoggy – great advice! A big plus to my training apprenticeship is that the trainers I work with are all walkers as well. I’ve learned so much from them, especially since most of their clients went through the training program so nearly all of them have histories of having bitten, having anxiety or other aggression. Learning to balance and work with dogs like that is pretty incredible. I think asking about their experience with dogs is a great one. I think a walker’s energy is vital – they’re calm and your dog responds to them. I see lots of anxious walkers out there that yell constantly at the dogs. I also see some walkers who promise an hour’s walk but don’t provide that. The trainers/walkers that I work with all recommend that people “spy” on their walkers occasionally to make sure their dogs are getting the best care. I think a good walker also has an intuitiveness about dogs and what they’re communicating – harder to gauge that but I think it’s important especially if the walker will handle multiple dogs at once. I’ve gone on too long – thank you SO much for joining the hop!
    BoingyDog recently posted…The All-Terrain Dog WalkMy Profile

    • Excellent insights Boingy – thanks for chiming in. I like the idea of ‘spying’ on them, but it’s really an important thing to do – they have ‘nanny cams’ for the same reason!
      mkob recently posted…PetsMove Senior Winners!My Profile

  4. Some great points here & love that you recommend watching the dog’s reaction too. After all that’s the one who gets to spend their time with the ‘walker’. Thanks for joining up on the Walk your Dog BlogHop & Happy FitDogging
    Paws and Pedals (Kate & Scooter) recently posted…5 Ways to Walk a Dog – When you don’t even own one!My Profile

  5. Since I mostly work from home and in the neighborhood, I have the advantage of seeing all of our local dog walkers at work. I know which ones ignore the dogs and talk on their phones, which ones skip walks on rainy days and which ones actually work hard. The moral of this would be check your dog walkers references carefully and then check them again!! And to me any good dog walker will tell you that a walk or two with them is likely not enough exercise for your dog for the day and does not count as training. Your dog needs quality time with you. Ask them!
    Bethany recently posted…Black & White Sunday: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot LikeMy Profile

    • Great question…if they are that knowledgeable that’s a good sign.
      mkob recently posted…PetsMove Senior Winners!My Profile

  6. Fantastic article and great blog hop!

    We have some local dog walkers that will work with us to put together exercise plans for patients looking to lose weight. A joint exercise plan helps keep pets safe, not doing too much too fast, but also makes sure pet gets more exercise than the owners might be able to provide.

    I went through this same struggle picking a dog walker for my own dog Riley. I learned a lot during the process including some of the complexities of dog walking contracts.

    I also learned the importance of working with a professional pet sitter. Most will be affiliated with the National Association of Pet Sitters, or (my favorite) Pet Sitters International. These groups offer resources including Pet First Aid, background checks, and certification based on continuing education for pet sitters. Both organizations have web searches to help you find pet sitters and dog walkers in your area.

    Thanks again for posting and hope this helps some folks too!
    VetChangesWorld recently posted…3 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Pet SitterMy Profile

    • Great idea – I’ve never used those agencies, but it’s great to start with them.
      mkob recently posted…PetsMove Senior Winners!My Profile

      • A lot of folks I’ve talked to have found out after the fact that their pet sitters were actually part of these organizations and have been glad to realize it.

  7. Great advice. I am a dog walker, and I am surprised when people don’t ask for references. This is a totally reasonable request.

    As you said, I think it’s also important to just have an open discussion about the dog walker’s experience and comfort level with different types of dogs. You also want to be on the same page as far as training and what is allowed from the dog, as you said. For example, some people don’t mind if their dogs to walk out in front. Others want their dogs to walk in a formal heel position.

    It makes me happy to hear you have such a great relationship with your dog walker. I’m sure your dogs look forward to their walks with her during the week.
    Lindsay recently posted…WagAware CharmsMy Profile

    • They can’t wait for her to come. She’s been away for the holiday, so I know she’ll get a good greeting today. Thanks for adding your professional input to the discussion.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: NiacinMy Profile

  8. That is great advice. We have not had occasion to need a dog walker. But if we ever do, I will definitely keep these tips in mind.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  9. I know nothing about walking dogs, but wish that we could hire a dog walker. We tried when Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies, but everyone flaked on us so we eventually gave up (or I gave up). Today, I would love to have some help with the dogs during the day. I just want to make sure that it doesn’t replace a walk, it just gets the dogs out. I think they would love it too.

    Thank for the suggestions. I’m going to start looking again in the Spring.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Wag More, Bark Less | An Accidental Litter for Christmas #3TrueDogsMy Profile

  10. I liked your idea of using dog walker and found it helpful so this year I am thinking to buy this one for my Tommy.

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