It's no secret that the pet industry is booming. Nowadays more and more people are choosing furry children over the human kind. This is great because it provides you as the consumer with the power of choice when it comes to who you have help you care for your four legged friends. You no longer have to rely on the kindness of a neighbor or family member as the pet service industry grows. However, since the growing industry is relatively young, there are no rules or regulations for becoming a dog walker. You can simply love dogs and make a flier! And there are tons of news stories where tragedy has occurred. So how do you know when you've found the right person for the job? What kinds of questions should you be asking? What should you be looking for?
I am a professional dog walker and pet sitter based in Robbinsdale, MN, serving the Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. Before I started my business, I was an animal lover and longtime animal rescue volunteer. These are just a few of my personal opinions and tips on how to choose the right dog walker. Your dog deserves to feel safe and happy on his walks.
The very first question you should ask is if they are bonded and insured. This is one very important piece that separates the hobby walker versus the industry professional. Pet service professionals will often be more expensive than the hobby walkers, but should always be fully covered by business insurance. Professional dog walkers have taken the steps to legitimize their business. If you think that hiring a professional is too expensive, I'd hate for you to see how expensive it may be when you hire an amateur. Professional dog walkers will have professional references available for consulting, and you should never hesitate to contact them to inquire about their experience.
Professional dog walkers will likely have some sort of training, certification or ongoing education. I'm trained in pet CPR and first aid. One of the greatest benefits to hiring a professional is their knowledge of what to do when an emergency occurs. They should also have knowledge of basic handling commands and be comfortable with all types of dogs and behaviors. If a dog is truly aggressive, a certified behaviorist should be recommended, and the professional should not agree to walk the dog in public. While I don't think it's necessary for a dog walker to be a certified trainer, they should have some basic training abilities. After all, dogs are their passion and they should want to understand how their brains work. A good dog walker will want to work with you on your dog's behavioral issues, not ignore them or place blame. An added bonus!
I personally think the very best dog walkers enjoy fitness. There are many reasons to hire a dog walker which may include simply needing a potty break during the day if you work long hours. And in that case, it may not particularly matter to you. But if you have a young dog, a working breed or you are looking for your dog to have 30 minutes of structured, focused walking, the walker's fitness level should be considered. Dog walking can actually be pretty physically demanding. Your dog waller should love dogs, fitness and the great outdoors. Particularly in Minnesota where temperatures can be extreme, you want someone who enjoys all seasons and elements.
Finding the right person for your family will enrich your dog's life and relieve some of the pressures off of you. The benefits will greatly outweigh the cost. Dogs need exercise just like humans and a healthy body creates a healthy mind. Your dog will be more relaxed and content when given a structured daily walk. And don't forget to take your dog for a walk yourself! Walking with your dog is a great way to bond and help your pet thrive.
Do you use a dog walker? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!