If you’re out at work during the day but still want your dog to enjoy their daily walk, then hiring a dog walker is a great compromise. But how do you go about picking the best person for the job? Here are the key questions to ask.
Professional dog walkers can give us the peace of mind that our dogs are safely getting exercised while we’re out of the house. But before you choose whom you will trust with your dog, you’ll want to make sure their services are going to suit your pup. From insurance, to first aid training, off-leash policies and more, we’ve outlined seven crucial questions to help you find the perfect dog walker.
Questions to ask your dog walker
1. Who will be walking my dog?
Some dog walking businesses employ multiple members of staff, so it’s important to find out if the same person will be walking your dog every time or not. Certain dogs can be wary of strangers and may take longer to feel confident around different staff members. Others will just be happy to go for their walk! You know your dog best, so if you’d prefer one person to be responsible for your dog during every walk, look for a service that can match those requirements. All dog walkers should have a Disclosure and Barring Service check and be happy to show you proof of this. When you meet potential dog walkers, think about whether you’re comfortable with them taking care of your dog and potentially having access to your home.
2. Are you insured?
Having insurance for your dog is hugely important and gives you complete peace of mind since you know that any injuries or medical conditions covered by your policy will be taken care of. It’s also a legal requirement that dog walkers have their own pet business insurance that includes public liability. As an example, Petplan’s business insurance covers:
- Property damage
- Loss or theft of keys
- The care, custody, and control of animals
Pet business insurance helps make sure your dog is kept safe and that you’re protected from any potential legal issues. Any dog walker should be happy to show you a copy of their policy.
3. Are you trained in canine first aid?
Even when we’re being our most careful, accidents can happen. From road traffic accidents, to injuries while playing or suffering from heatstroke, a dog walker should know how to administer canine first aid. Do they carry a basic first aid kit on walks, or keep one in their vehicle? Ideally, your dog walker will have been trained in administering first aid in addition to attending regular courses to keep their skills up to date. It’s also worth finding out what the dog walker's general approach would be if an accident did happen. Will they take your dog to your chosen vet if necessary, or wait for you to make an appointment?
4. What’s the policy for off-lead walks?
Some dog walkers will have a policy of keeping your dog on the lead at all times, while others may let your dog off for a run. For safety and legal purposes, it’s usually best to find a dog walker who keeps your dog on the lead, although this also depends on your personal preferences. Even if your dog has great recall training, they may not respond to a dog walker calling them back in the same way they respond to you.
5. How many other dogs will be on each walk?
Many dogs love the chance to play and interact with new dogs, but others prefer to spend time with dogs they already know and feel confident around. You know best how much attention your dog needs and how they react around larger groups of dogs, so look for a dog walker who can match your dog’s individual requirements.
6. Do any of the other dogs have behaviour issues?
Ideally, you want to find out about the other dogs that will be going for walks at the same time, and observe how they interact with each other, if possible. Any reputable dog walker will be happy to provide you with information about any behaviour issues or illnesses that could affect your decision. They’ll also be able to let you know how they deal with any anxious or defensive behaviour while integrating new dogs into their routine. If possible, try to find a dog walker who uses similar training techniques to those you use at home.
7. Can I join you for a trial walk?
After all your other questions have been answered, the final thing we recommend before signing up is to accompany your dog walker on a trial walk. This is a great way for you to see how they interact with, and manage, the dogs in their care. If you, and most importantly your dog, are happy during this walk then congratulations! You’ve found your new dog walker.
Remember that if a dog walker can’t answer your questions satisfactorily, or you don’t feel they’re the right match for you and your dog, it’s best to keep looking.
What questions would you ask a potential dog walker? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know.