Exercise, play, mental stimulation and socialisation are important for your dog’s wellbeing, health and development. These activities also minimizes boredom, destructive and unwanted behavior such as chewing furniture and barking when alone.
However, our hectic lives make it hard to juggle the demands of work, running a household, raising a family and other time pressures we experience. Allocating time for your dog’s daily exercise can be impossible. And sometimes, life throws you a curve ball in the form of illness, temporary incapacity and immobility or busy periods and you may need a short-term solution.
Dogs are social animals and do not like to be left alone for hours. This is unavoidable as we need to make a living after all. If you live in an apartment, it’s unlikely your dog is exercising at all during the day. Even if you have a backyard, your dog may be exercising but may not be getting the level of socialisation and interaction required.
If you are away for most of the day, know your dog is not getting the exercise or stimulation it needs, have neighbours complaining about barking and whining, are coming home to toilet mess or chewed furniture, or are noticing changes in the behavior of your dog, then It might be time to consider hiring a dog walker.
Choosing a dog walker Hiring a service is never cheap and you should take it seriously as you will be leaving the care of your beloved pet in the hands of another and will also need to trust them in your home.
You should ask potential walkers a range of questions and consider the needs of both you and your dog. Your dog’s age, breed, temperament, health, energy level and exercise preference will influence who is the right dog walker for you. The best place to start is to seek advice from your vet, local pet store, trainers or friends and family who can recommend a dog walker.
Request the walker provide referrals and client testimonials.
How long have they been operating and have there been any problems, injuries or dog deaths, client complaints, legal suits?
Do they have insurance and what type do they have, when does it expire and what does it cover?
Ask about their qualifications, certification, experience or if they are members of any relevant pet associations. This information will indicate their dedication, professionalism and the likelihood they can manage any possible behavioural or health issues. A good dog walker should be knowledgeable about dog training, behavior and even first aid.
Outline what you expect and any special needs, health or safety concerns for your dog.
Have the walker meet your dog and all go on a walk together. Observe how your dog responds to them and how they interact and handle your dog.
Some dogs love to play with others and will happily run around once at the dog park. Others prefer to be walked. Find out what the walker has planned and whether it suits your dog and what you want.
With large companies you may not get the same walker each time. Find out how they arrange their bookings and exactly who will be walking your dog. If you have hired an individual or are using a small company, ask who the back-up person will be in case your walker becomes ill or is unavailable. You should also check the any additional walker’s or back-up walker’s experience and references.
How many dogs do they take at a time and how do they group the dogs – by age, size, breed? How well does your dog socialise with others? Will this be problematic or beneficial for your dog?
Will your dog be in a car? For how long? How are dogs restrained in the car?
What training techniques do they use? Will they adhere to your training preference and commands? How do they handle aggresssion or other behavioural issues.
Where will they walk your dog and which park will they go to? How long will they be exercised for, not total time in the walker’s care but actual time exercising? Are they aware of local council rules about leash compliance and cleaning up?
What will happen if it rains or very hot or cold days?
Once you have your dog walker
Provide treats, lead, collar and back-up lead, collar and ID tag for your dog. Your dog’s identification tag should have your current contact details.
Make sure your walker has your contact details and the address and phone number of your vet. You may need to inform your vet that the walker has your permission to seek treatment for your dog in an emergency.
Have regular catch-ups to make sure there are no problems and that they, and more importantly your dog, are happy.