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Why It’s Important To Choose  The Right Dog Walker

As a responsible dog owner, you may need a dog walker for various reasons: maybe you are going away on vacation for a week, going out of town on business, or just need someone to take your dog for a midday walk. There comes a time in almost all pet owners lives when a professional canine care provider is a necessity




Whether or not to hire a professional dog walker is an important decision, whether you need weekly mid-day walks or perhaps even a little more specialized care. If you are going to be away, will your friend or family member be able to come by to take your dog for a walk? If so, will they be responsible for the dog's safety, do they have experience in dealing with your type of dog and are they completely dependable? A professional dog walker is your best option. 

No matter what your needs are in regard to your dog, there are some important issues that you should consider carefully when choosing a caregiver for your dog. Here are just a few questions you should investigate prior to hiring any dog walker:

  1. Does the dog walker have experience and references?
    An experienced dog walker will be able to provide references which you can easily verify. Don't be afraid to ask for references. Your pet is a member of your family - you are right to be cautious in regard to trusting your pet's care to someone else.
  2. Is the business licensed and/or bonded?
    Insurance and bonding are important for your own peace of mind. Although many professional dog walkers do not have bonding, they typically do carry insurance which will cover items that might be broken due his or her negligence, or items that may come up missing. When letting a stranger into your home, use common sense by insuring that all of your valuables are securely kept in a hidden area where only you have access. This is important whether you are hiring a dog walker or a cleaning service. If a dog walker is responsible enough to have obtained insurance and bonding, they are usually going to be a trust-worthy partner for your pet. Your dog walker should be able to show you documentation of his/her policy upon request
  3. Does the dog walker provide a back-up plan in the event of illness or emergency where he/she cannot attend to your dog?
    Dog walkers who have membership in a major organization for other pet care providers often network with other dog walkers in his/her area. In the event that your dog walker is unavailable for a visit, who would he or she send in replacement? Is that other person insured and/or bonded? The dog walker should also ask you for an emergency contact. Who can your walker call in the event of a weather-related emergency? Always provide a contact person in the event that your dog walker cannot reach you, especially if you are going out of town.
  4. Does the dog walker provide a written contract that outlines your specific needs and includes definite fees in regard to his/her services?
    A well-written contact is essential for both you and your dog walker. Your walker should provide a form for you to fill out in regard to specific needs and services. The contract should also include information regarding the walker's services in regard to the times/dates of visits, the length of the dog walk, etc.
  5. What kinds of additional services does the dog walker offer in regard to general duties such as bringing in your mail, newspaper, etc.?
    If you need other services, be specific in what you need. Most dog walkers will provide additional services such as bringing in your mail, newspaper and other safety issues at no additional cost. However, always inquire about these services so you will be aware of any extra charges, if applicable.
  6. Will the dog walker meet you for a prearranged meeting so that you may interview him/her and give you a chance to see how you and/or your dog interact with him/her?
    It is important for your dog walker to make a visit to your home prior to your departure. This allows you to meet the walker one-on-one and see how he or she reacts with your dog. In addition, you can get a feel for the dog's true personality and confidence in handling your dog. Pay attention to your dog's reaction to the walker. Does the pet care provider's voice irritate the dog? Does the walker seem genuinely concerned about your dog.?
  7. Does the dog walker provide a check-in number so that you can check in on your dog from time to time if your contract includes an out-of-town visit?
    A dog walker should have a contact number where you can at least leave a message during the normal business day. Many dog walkers carry cell phones for client check-ins while others use voice mail and paging services. Your dog walker should be available to answer your questions or concerns while you are away.

Does the dog walker provide you with a veterinary release form so that he/she may seek emergency medical care if you cannot be reached? Does the walker have a back-up veterinarian in case your vet is unavailable?
No one knows when an emergency might arise. Therefore, your dog walker should have an emergency plan for getting medical attention even if your veterinarian is unavailable. Be sure to provide a release form and notify your veterinarian of your arrangement with your dog walker.


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