How to Choose a Dog Walker


Because there are no credentials, certification or training that is absolutely needed to become a dog walker, nearly anyone can call themselves a professional in this field. However, some may not have a great deal of experience caring for all breeds of dogs which can be unsettling for you. When looking for someone to walk your four-legged friend when you can not do it yourself, it is important to make every effort possible in order to ensure the safety of your pet while in their care. Just as you would choose the best care-givers for your children, it is also essential to provide your pets with this same attention to the care that they receive. In order to find a trustworthy, professional dog walker that you are able to rely on, these tips and questions will help you to make a well-informed hiring decision.

Do you have any Qualifications?
While dog walking and pet care is an unregulated industry and qualifications are not needed to provide this type of service, your dog walkers may have taken it upon themselves to become certified with different organizations. This certification that they hold may give you more peace of mind when leaving your dog in their care for a period of time. Some professional animal organizations set different criteria that pet care-givers must meet in order to obtain certification through their highly recognized organization. Ask your potential dog walkers if they currently hold any certifications or qualifications that are up-to-date.

Do you have any references?
The overall reputation of your dog walker can say a lot about the services that they offer. First, you may choose to ask around in your community to see if others have used their dog walking services before and what they have to say about them whether it is negative or positive. You may also opt to ask them for a few references that you are able to contact if desired. In addition, some may want to observe their potential dog walker with other clients to see how they interact with animals and if they have a good work ethic.

Do they use certain types of equipment?
Depending on the dog walker that you hire, they may choose to use their own equipment rather than the collar and leash that you have provided them with. This may be due to different safety issues that certain leashes can cause when walking multiple dogs at one time. Some questions that you can ask include if they use choke chains, if they walk dogs off the leash and how many dogs they typically walk at the same time. These questions will help you to ensure the overalls safety of your dog while being walked.

Do you use rewards or enforce obedience?
Those who are trying to train their dogs may want a dog walker who is able to include obedience training during the walk. Be sure to ask about this service and the different ways that they try to enforce obedience. You may also want to ask about reward systems and if treats or other rewards are provided to the dogs for good behavior during the walk and with obedience.

Are you able to perform a background check?
Whether you are hiring an individual for your dog walking needs or are opting to go with a dog walking company, you will want to be able to perform a background check on the employee(s). While someone may seem like a great choice upon your first meeting, they may have things in their background and history that don't look so great on paper. You may also be able to use the internet in order to obtain more information on the company or individuals background in the pet care industry.

One of the most important factors in your decision making process while hiring a dog walker is if you and your pet both have chemistry with the pet care-giver. You will want your pet to be able to trust the person who is walking them and know that they are being cared for properly. By asking these questions to a potential employee, you are sure to make the best decision possible when hiring a dog walker.
Additional Resources
  • Insurance overview for pet sitters: http://petservices.insureon.com/professions/pet-sitters/164
  • National Association of Pet sitters: http://www.petsitters.org/
  • SPCA Pet Sitter Evaluation Guide: http://www.sfspca.org/sites/default/files/dog-walker-questionnaire.pdf

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