When you are looking for a dog walker, where would you think to go? Are you a Facebook buff? Would you rather search on Google? Will you be scrolling through social media or scouring through different websites? If you prefer to go by recommendation, who do you turn to for advice and how do you choose who to follow?
When looking for a dog walker, there are many things to consider. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
First and foremost, check they have insurance. As a dog walker, it is likely they will come into contact with a large number of people (socially distanced now of course). Public Liability insurance for dog walkers covers them if a member of the public is injured as a result of their business’s actions for example a dog in their care trips someone up/knocks them over/they get in the middle of a fall out between dogs etc. Public Liability also includes damage caused to property. So if their actions or those of a member of their staff caused damage to a third party property, the legal defence and settlement are taken care of by their insurance for example if they back into your garage door, scrape the side of your car or break an ornament in your home.
Secondly, do they have a website, Facebook, Instagram, Google Business, any of which has recommendations and/or reviews for you to refer to. It is worth remembering that there is many a human on this planet who are mighty quick to complain but perhaps less inclined to take a moment to praise a business if they are happy with the work provided, so the number of reviews does not necessarily reflect on how customers actually feel about the business, but it’s a good place to start. Any clients who are happy with the service they receive will generally be happy to be contacted directly so it’s worth asking your potential dog walker for some references for an honest opinion of their service.
Next lets look at if they have animals of their own. Immanuel Kent said “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals,” and someone who has their own animals is more likely to understand the love and importance of your furbaby to you. That’s not to say someone who doesn’t have pets is any less capable or reliable, but as a dog owner, my guess is you would like your chosen caregiver to treat your dog just as you do, like part of the family, the same as you would if you were handing over your child. The priority is for your pet to be of upmost importance and for the attention showered on him or her to be not just adequate, but exceptional. I know that when I have trusted my own dogs into the care of others, I have only ever done so to people I have felt entirely comfortable with and to people whom I know will look after and love my dogs just the same as I would. There should be no such thing as Conveyor Belt Walking. One size most certainly does not fit all.
I am a huge fan of writing lists and this situation is no exception. Why not make a list of what you would like for your dog (and for you).
Here are a few questions to think about:
What do you expect of your dog when you are out on walks together?
What command words do you commonly use and would you like your dog walker to use the same?
What are your expectations of the walker with your dog?
Are you happy for them to travel in a vehicle?
How many dogs will they be walked with?
How long will your dog be in a vehicle versus how much time they are actually exercised?
Do you need to provide treats, toys and poo bags for your dogs walks?
Where would you like your dog left after they are dropped home?
Will your dog walker have access to a hose for when they come home after muddy walks and do you have a space you are happy for a damp dog to be left until you get home?
What are your dog walkers Terms and Conditions?
How is booking and payment made?
Is your new walker flexible on times and days they can walk your dog?
Do they require a regular slot booked and paid for or can you have your dog walked as and when you need the service?
Will there be a holding charge if you go on holiday and the dog goes with you or will your space be kept for when you return with no fee?
These are just a handful of relevant questions to ask when you meet your new potential dog walker and it’s important not to be shy in doing so.
Most importantly, when you hire a dog walker, you have to feel comfortable and able to trust them. You are likely to be giving this person a key to your home and trusting them with your furbaby, your extra child, your best friend. If you do not feel 100% comfortable with that person, it is likely your dog will feel the same. Of course it takes time to get to know someone, but in reality, we usually know how we feel about another human being within the first few minutes of meeting them. And if your gut feeling is that something is slightly off, chances are, they are not the walker for you, you are not the client for them, and I would advise you keep on looking until you find “The One.” Like most things, when you find them, you will know almost instantaneously so trust your gut, go with how that person makes you feel, do check their credentials but choose a walker who is going to love and care for your dog, just as much as you.
Paddywhack Dog Walkers