For dog owners in urban areas, it can be difficult to exercise a dog during the day. Larger breeds especially require more activity. A few lucky folks may be able to return home during the day to let the dog out for a walk. Others cannot. Dog who do not receive enough exercise can become destructive, chewing household items and making messes in the house.
To prevent the creeping guilt of a sad dog at home all day – here are some ways to select a reputable dog walking service.
What Kind of Dog Walking is Needed
The first step is to determine what kind of walks the dog needs (i.e., group or solo) and how often. Some families only need a dog walker once or twice per week. Work schedules can vary widely — and some are irregular from week to week. Dog walking services may require a minimum number of walks per week. Read carefully and consider the financial implications.
Finding a Dog Walking Service
To find a dog walking company, begin by asking friends or acquaintances who have animals. What services do they use or recommend? The family veterinarian is also a great resource. Make a list of the names suggested, and research each company to narrow it down.
Look for companies that have insurance, licensed and/or bonded employees, and that seem organized. Absent-minded animal handlers are not a good idea! Consider experience and training of employees, as well. The best walkers will be those who have some knowledge and understanding of dog behavior both alone and in groups.
What to Ask Potential Dog Walkers
Once the list of possible dog walking services has been narrowed down, it’s time to schedule interviews. An in-person interview with the dog walker, family, and the dog, is the best way to make sure the service is a good fit.
Watch how the dog walker interacts with the dog. Does he or she seem comfortable with the pet? Does the pet seem comfortable with the dog walker?
A sit-down interview should include questions about a typical day of service: when the dog walker will arrive, how they will gain access to the home, how many animals will be included in a group walk, and how long the walks last. This is also the time to provide information about the dog’s behavioral issues, feeding requirements, normal schedule, and special medications, if any. Ask about payment methods, scheduling, and minimum walk requirements.
Selecting a Dog Walker or Dog Walking Service
If possible, commit to a small number of walks for the first month. That way the dog can get used to having a dog walker, and owners can see if the service fits with the family schedule. Watch for changes in the dog’s behavior – both positive and negative. Review the costs and benefits. If things go well, congratulations – the family now has a new friend for Fido!