How do you tell the great from the mediocre? How can you make sure the person you find will work day in, day out, no matter what the weather and really care for your dog the way you do?
I asked top Dog Walker Linda Ward from Boredom Busters to share her tips.
Finding a dog walker is easy. Check any online free ad site or pet directory and there will be plenty there, or ask your friends and family. A visit to your vet or local pet shop as well should mean you now have a list of dog walkers who cover your area
My top ten of things to look out for should make your life easier and your dog’s life more fulfilling.
- Love – do they love dogs? Will they kneel in the mud to check a sore paw? Will they not mind too much if their leg is mistaken for a lamppost? Great dog walkers do the job because they enjoy spending time with dogs and can’t help falling in love with each of them.
- ‘Can do’ attitude – dog walkers are there to make your life easier, to help you take care of your best friend, so you need someone who will work hard to make it happen for you. Need to change something? Dog not well and you want an update, a bandage rewrapped or medication given? You want to hear ‘yes’ and know it’s taken care of. If they really can’t help this time, you need to know that too.
- Safety & security– your walker should know how many dogs they can safely handle, both walking and in a vehicle. Is your key kept safe and your house locked up securely each time? For multiple pickups the van should be secured each and every time it is left.
- Paperwork – there is no national regulation for dog walkers but a great dog walker will be insured, as well as registered as a proper business or self-employment. If they take dogs in overnight and charge a fee they need a boarding licence. If they tell you they don’t, check with the licensing department of your local council, and if their insurance company covers them without a licence.
- Knowledge – A great dog walker will have great local knowledge. They’ll know all the great places to walk your dog and what bylaws or dog control orders may be in force (and obey them) , and will hold a Canine First Aid certificate. If your breed of dog is new to them, they’ll want to read up on it to do the best for your dog.
- Experience – everybody has to start somewhere, but have they ever owned a dog? A great dog walker will start small and build up as they gain experience. If their own dog never listens to them how will they manage your dog? A great dog walker will live with great dogs.
- Understanding – you are only human and might sometimes forget to book or cancel on time. Sometimes you need someone to talk to about your dog, or have what you might fear is a silly question. A great dog walker won’t mind if you text at 10pm because you’re worried about your dog and don’t know who else to turn to.
- Focus – are they concentrating on and committed to the dogs in their care, or doing something else such as chatting on the phone? Is this something they do for a living, or are they waiting for something better to come along? A great dog walker will see their work as a career.
- Value for money – are they offering a deal that seems too good to be true? They may be cutting corners or trying to undercut other walkers. A dog walker who is too cheap may walk lots of dogs at once, cut walks short, or give up unexpectedly when something better comes their way. Equally if they are charging a great deal more than other local dogs walkers, do they really offer a superior service, or are they more interested in the money?
- Reliability – Do they turn up when they say they will, and walk for as long as you expect? Do they give plenty of notice of time off? Does their vehicle break down on a regular basis? A great dog walker will maintain their vehicle well, and not use it as an excuse for a day off.
Every dog walker will have their own style, and only you can decide what is most important to you and your dog. These are the things I’ve found most useful to my customers over the years, so go now and find your great dog walker!
– Karen Wild