Dog walkers do much more than provide a pet with exercise while their guardian is away from home.
All dogs require exercise to remain healthy, and the amount needed depends largely on their breed, size and age. In general, all dogs require at least one to two hours per day, however, older dogs and small breeds may need short periods of exercise periodically.
Living in an urban or suburban community, pets are more often found in condos, high-rises, and homes with small or non-existent yards. This lifestyle for dogs must be coupled with regular walks to ensure adequate exercise. If you often come home tired from work, walking your dog sometimes no longer seems enjoyable, but a chore. Your dog can sense this but can’t tell you in words, so their actions speak volumes. Chewed shoes, gnawed furniture, hyperactivity, incontinence and other behavioral problems are signs that your dog is not happy.
If your dog could speak to you, they would most likely say, “I am lonely”, “I need to play”, “I can’t relax and enjoy your company because I am alone all day”, or maybe “You don’t wait 10 hours to go pee, why should I have to?”
A good dog walker also spends quality time with the animal, provides ample exercise and knows how to tell if veterinary attention is needed. What’s more, dog walkers typically offer additional services, such as taking in mail and newspapers and watering plants. But just because someone calls herself a dog walker – doesn’t mean she’s qualified to do the job.
A dog walker – a professional, qualified individual paid to exercise and care for your pet; offers both you and your pet many benefits.
Your dog gets:
- the workout that he or she needs in order to be healthy and happy
- a regular routine
- mental stimulation to help your dog become better behaved
- a First Aid Trained dog walker to insure the best care for your four-legged friend
- time with someone who is attuned to your pet’s needs and educated in canine behaviors
- a needed break to help a dog relieve his or her bladder and break up their day
- a happier and calmer dog
- the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional
- someone who will come to your home so you don’t have to drive your pet to a dog park or walking location
- a Professional Dog Walker who is reliable and responsible
- a schedule to suit you and your pet’s needs
What should I look for?
It’s important to learn all you can about prospective dog walkers’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a dog walker, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home.
Find out the following:
- Can the dog walker provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a dog walker or her employees)?
- What training has the dog walker completed?
- Will the dog walker record notes about your pet – such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
- Is the dog walker associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
- What will happen if the dog walker experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
- Could the dog walker provide related services such as, pet sitting, and play time?
- Will the dog walker provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?
Even if you like what you hear from the dog walker and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective dog walker come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for the job. Watch how she interacts with your pet – does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If this visit goes well, start by hiring the dog walker to walk your pet during a short trip, such as an afternoon walk. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in the dog walker’s care for longer periods.
How can I help the pet sitter and my pet?
Of course, even the most trustworthy, experienced dog walker will have trouble if you haven’t also kept your end of the bargain.
Here are your responsibilities:
- Make reservations with your dog walker early, especially during holidays.
- Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle him. Clearly state any issues your dog may have of bad behaviors you have been working on.
- Affix current identification tags to your pet’s collar.
- Maintain current vaccinations for your pet.
- Leave clear instructions detailing specific pet-care responsibilities and emergency contact information, including how to reach you and your veterinarian.
Leave pet food and supplies in one place.
- Buy extra pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned.
- Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and give him and your dog walker each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.