Taking your dog out for an early morning walk or an evening stroll is one of the most rewarding parts of having a pet – but sometimes time constraints or other factors mean it’s just not possible.
While professional dog walkers used to be something only LA film stars would consider, they are increasingly becoming an option for many people who, for various reasons, are unable to give their dog the exercise they need.
But what makes a good dog walker? And how do you go about picking one? Here are six key questions that Petplan thinks you should be asking…
Who exactly will be walking my dog?
When researching potential people or companies, it’s important to find out exactly who will be walking your dog. Will it be the same person every time? Are you comfortable with that person taking care of your dog and, potentially, having access to your home?
Make sure you do a thorough check of any company or individual and, where possible, ask friends or family members for recommendations.
Does your dog walker have insurance?
Having insurance for your dog is hugely important – it gives you complete peace of mind and means that any medical conditions or injuries covered by the policy will be treated.
However, you should also check that any potential dog walker has pet business insurance. Unlike pet insurance it’s a legal requirement for any pet business to have adequate liability insurance. Petplan has a comprehensive pet business insurance offering that also covers:
- Property damage
- Lost or theft of keys
- Care, custody and control of animals
Ensuring your dog walker is covered is vital to ensuring your pet is safe and that you are safe from any potential legal issues.
How many other dogs do they walk?
Allowing your pet to go out with other dogs is a great way to get them comfortable around other animals and lets them socialise.
However, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Ask any potential dog walker how many dogs they take out with them at one time and, if you feel the group is too big, then look elsewhere – you know how much attention your dog needs and how they react around large groups so make sure you do what is best for your pet.
Do any of the other dogs they walk have behaviour issues?
Similarly, you should find out about the other dogs that will be taken out for walks and observe them where possible.
Do they have any behaviour issues? Any history of illness? Any good dog walker will know all about the pets they look after and be able to provide you with plenty of information to help you make up your mind.
Do they have any experience in canine first aid?
Taking a dog out for a walk will always have some risks attached to it.
Hundreds of dogs in the UK are involved in road accidents, suffer from heat stroke or swallow poisonous substances. Blue Cross offer some excellent advice on how to administer basic first aid but your dog walker should have more than a passing acquaintance with canine first aid.
Anyone who walks dogs professionally really should understand dog first aid - there are plenty of first aid courses that pet owners or pet business owners can attend. A quick Google will show all the available courses in your area.
Can you go for trial walk with the dog walker?
While asking questions is vitally important, there is no substitute for actually getting out with the dog walker and seeing how they interact with the pets in their care.
Ask any potential dog walker if you are able to go along with them for a trial walk and get a feel for how they are and whether or not your dog would feel comfortable with them and the other dogs they look after.
If you feel they are not right for you, then you can start looking elsewhere for the perfect match.
What are the questions you would ask a potential dog walker? Let us know your story below...