November 02, 2021
So you have a crazy work schedule or you work long hours which makes taking your furbaby on regular walks a challenge. Maybe you feel guilty for being away for so long each day, or perhaps your pooch is getting restless and needs more exercise. If this sounds like you -- or your pup -- it may be time to hire a professional dog walker. But where do you start?
You’ll need to decide how often you need services and how much your budget will allow. Check with your friends, family or your vet to see if there are any local dog walkers who they recommend. If you don’t find anyone through referral, then try looking online for a service near you.
You should create a sheet or folder with key information for the walker (and for your dog sitter). Include contact information for you and your neighbor, feeding instructions, vet information, alarm codes and locations of supplies like leashes, food and Ready Pet Go! treats, which will make the walker’s life and yours a little easier. You can also use a small white board to write down important numbers, so they are quick and easy to find.
It probably doesn’t have to be said, but it’s worth your time to invite the walker to your home for a brief in-person interview. Doing this will give you a chance to see how well your pup and the walker hit it off. Pay attention to how attentive the walker is to your dog so you can gauge how safe your furbaby will be on their watch.
Make sure to ask plenty of questions, like if the walker will be walking your dog in a group and whether they provide off-leash walking. You’ll also want to ask about contingency plans for a back-up walker in case of illness or emergency.
Once you have found a walker that you feel is trustworthy and is attentive to your dog’s overall health and safety needs, you’ll want to hammer out a walking schedule and payment details. Often, professional walking services, or walkers who are in business for themselves, will have a contract with the details that you can easily review and discuss the terms you’ll be agreeing to. Be sure to ask about any extra fees and services they may charge for and have it include in writing.
Local dog walkers may or may not cover the cost for a background check so it’s important to ask before signing any service agreements. Online and on-demand services like Wag say every one of their walkers has passed an enhanced background check and is insured, so they are a good option especially if you need someone quickly.
If you are busy, it’s easy to lose touch with the person who’s walking your dog because you just don’t have the time (or the need to) do weekly check-ins. But it’s important to keep the lines of communication open -- even if just a quick text -- so you know how things are going. Mobile apps such as Pet Check can help you keep in touch and stay up to date on schedule changes.
The app also provides real-time location information so you can have peace of mind knowing when your dog went for their walk and if the walker is adhering to your agreement. You can also see cute pictures they post of your pup while they are out.
Your dog’s trust and safety are super important, so once you find someone you and your pup really like, stick with them. Most importantly, you can relax knowing your baby is in good hands while you are busy.