Finding the Right Dog Walker

If you don’t always have the time to get your dog out for fresh air and exercise, using a dog walker is a much better alternative to keeping the dog cooped up all day for days on end. Dog walkers are responsible picking up their client’s dog from the home and providing exercise for the dog. The exercise is typically a 30-minute to one-hour walk, but some walkers will offer running or playtime as well. Dog walkers are also often responsible for checking the dog’s food and water supply to make sure basic needs are met after their exercise.While many (I hope all) dog walkers love dogs, there is a little more too it being a professional walker. Is the dog walker you plan to use a good choice for you?

Hiring A Dog WalkerWhile many (I hope all) dog walkers love dogs, there is a little more to being a professional walker. Is the dog walker you plan to use a good choice for you?

Look for dog walking services or dog walkers who:
  • Evaluate their canine client before taking them on. Not only should the dog walker know the dog’s health conditions and behaviors, but an evaluation will let the walker know if that dog will be a good fit for the service and with the other dogs who walk. And from that evaluation, the walker should be able to tailor a walking plan for your dog’s needs.
  • Is certified. There are actually several associations that provide guidance to and certify dog walkers. Two of the larger, respected national associations are the National Association of Dog Walkers and the Professional Dog Walkers Association International. In addition, there are many other reputable professional groups as well at the state and local level that serve dog walkers in their specific communities. So how do you know if the certification means anything? Check into the group that sponsors certification or membership and see it they are affiliated with other well-known dog groups or associations or even with local lawmakers. Call or check their site and see what certification requirements are or the type of training they require.
  • Carry insurance and are bonded. Liability insurance helps protects the walker, your dog, and you from financial and legal burdens from unforeseen incidents. A bonded walker means a company has found this person reliable enough to insure them. These seem like minor issues, but you do want to protect yourself and your dog against unfortunate situations as much as possible.
  • Is willing to work with training your dog to walk on a lead  and sit-stay if your dog needs it. Lessons may cost a little more, but will be needed for your dog to walk well. Many dog walkers are willing to work one-on-one with a dog that needs more training.
  • Have a training style that you are comfortable with. If you are not sure, ask if the walker uses a force-free method (techniques that look more like play or games or pack cooperation, working with the dog’s natural behavior, instead of leading by force).
  • Has been in business for a few years or have previous professional experience working with dogs.
  • Has dogs of their own. Dogs sense non-dog people and may not be comfortable with the person who is leading them. On the other hand, a professional who owns dogs is constantly practiced in dog behavior, training, and dog body language.
  • Is able to walk multiple dogs well. A person who knows what he or she is doing can maintain calm control of multiple dogs without leashes tangling or being dragged around. Of course it is easier for a walker to walk more than one dog at a time, but this also teaches dogs cooperation.

Dog walkers can be found in just about any community and provide a critical service for many dog owners who have hectic schedules. In places where professional dog walking is common, it is really important to find a service that knows what it is doing.