Derek Chambers, Finchley Dog Walker, provides expert advice below on how to choose your dog walker.
Anyone can set themselves up as a dog walker, but it’s up to you, as a responsible pet owner, to choose a qualified, competent person. The best way to tackle this is to begin by asking lots of questions. As Finchley Dog Walker, I’ve been in the dog walking business for many years and thought it an idea to share some of my hints to help your search.
Beginning Your Search
- One of the best places to look is on the Web, as many professional dog walkers do have a website. Many skilled dog walkers don’t necessarily advertise their services.
- Ask at your local veterinary surgery, or at your dog groomer’s salon. Many pet stores will be able to recommend local dog walkers, as will pet rescue centres. You may even find that some of the assistants that work in these areas may be part-time dog walkers.
- Some dog walkers advertise in the local press, or with their details written on a card in a shop window. We shouldn’t always assume that these are professional walkers, more probably students looking to make some extra cash.
- Social media plays a large part in media advertising these days, but once again, it’s very easy for anyone to create a Facebook page and begin to post, offering dog walking activities, without them being a professional business.
Things To Consider
I would suggest that you choose a dog walker that does this for a living, rather than a retired person, student or just the lad up the road that loves dogs. Professional dog walkers are generally trained and experienced with many dogs, especially when it comes to walking more than one dog. It also takes an enormous commitment each day, to arrive at someone’s home on a regular basis, regardless of how cold or rainy a day it is.
On the other hand, a company that has several employees might schedule different walkers on different days, so your dog has to become accustomed to new faces. You also need to ask them how many dogs they walk together, and if it’s not a solo dog walk, what other breeds and size of dogs will your dog be exercising with. A dog walker should be comfortable around all sizes of dogs, no matter the breed, the characteristics, strength or weaknesses of each individual pet. Of course, a dog walker also needs to be quite energetic and capable of physical exercise.
Do they have an alternative plan for when they are unable to walk your dog? It’s also advisable to know the locations where they usually walk, and if your dog will be allowed off the lead to run around for exercise.
Is My Dog Walker ‘Professional’?
Unfortunately, at present, dog walking is an unregulated market, and as such, no specialist qualifications or certifications are required. Of course, the majority of people could become a dog walker, but this business isn’t just about taking a dog once a day around the local park. A professional dog walker takes care of the canines entrusted to his or her care in an organised manner, paying special attention to any older or infirm dogs, and is capable of handling boisterous dogs too. Most professionals will be able to produce client references and a DBS background check. You will also find dog walkers will also hold canine first aid qualifications, to further satisfy client requirements and for added peace of mind.
The Importance of Insurance
Of course if you ask Johnny from next door to walk your dog while you are at work, he isn’t going to have insurance cover for any emergencies or accidents that may occur. A professional dog walker should certainly have a specialist policy to cover any incidents involving your pet plus a Public Liability policy to cover any occurrences that happen to a third party while your dog is being walked.
The Next Step – Introductions
- Expect a free home consultation, as a meet-and-greet your dog experience.
- Watch how your dog interacts with his new walker – I would expect an initial exuberant greeting, as dog walkers often have treats in their pockets and smell of other dogs. Similarly, the dog walker should be happy to meet any new dog.
- Remember that your dog may act differently when you are not at home – if you have a shy dog, they could well be quite bold when out walking with a stranger. Likewise, a bold, noisy dog may not be happy with an unknown person entering their home when you aren’t there.
- Tell your dog walker honestly, about any behaviour or medical issues your dog has, especially if your dog is aggressive towards other dogs and/or people. It’s a dog walker’s responsibility to know their limits and to make an informed decision about their own skill-level to work with your pet.
- A professional dog walker should offer you their references, liability insurance and clear details of their services, rates and policies. You need to understand their cancellation policy, and how to make payment to them. What time will they be coming to your home and exercising your dog, and importantly, if your dog is injured or has an accident while out walking, who will pay the vet’s bills?
At some point, once you’ve considered all of these points and made your decision to hire a person to walk your pooch, you just have to lock up your treasures, put your trust in them and hand over the key to your home. Over the years, I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have, after only 30 minutes of meeting me, handed over their house keys. A good dog walker will be honoured that you trust them in this way and will do everything within their power to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable with their skills and of course, to place your beloved dog into their care.
Derek Chambers, Finchley Dog Walker
Finchley Dog Walker provides bespoke dog-walking in the Finchley area. More than just a walk in the park, Derek specialises in one to one dog walks, taking dogs out on their own. This is particularly beneficial for nervous or older dogs. To find out about the services on offer from Finchley Dog Walker, please contact Derek on 07707 763 344, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Two By Two Veterinary Centre pet services directory to find more fantastic local businesses serving the North London pet-owning community.