Dogs love walks! Walks give them the chance to do a lot of their favourite things: explore, sniff, play and leave their mark. For dog parents, walks are a perfect opportunity to get fresh air, meet new people and bond with our dogs. For many of us, there are also times when we can’t be around for every walk. Dog daycare and dog walkers are a great way of ensuring our dogs receive the care, attention and exercise they need when we’re otherwise engaged.
So how do you pick someone you can trust? Keep reading - this advice will help you out.
Consider your dog’s personality
The best walkers are naturally caring and considerate towards all dogs and can adapt their approach to different doggy personalities. To find a good match for your dog, consider your dog’s personality and seek someone who has experience with similar dogs. “Let’s say your dog is lead-reactive. Ideally, you want to find someone who has experience walking dogs that get a little crazy on-lead, so you have confidence in their ability to manage the situation successfully,” says vet Dr. Elizabeth Shines. “It will also help ensure that the dog walker can continue with any training you already do with your dog to work through reactivity issues. Dogs need consistency; without it, they get confused, and their behaviour can regress.”
It’s also worth finding someone who’ll tailor walks to your dog’s needs. If your dog is athletic, find someone who can take your dog for a run or active play. Or, if your dog is uncomfortable around other dogs, look for someone who can walk them one-on-one instead of in a group.
Do your research
Make sure whoever you work with has both experience and insurance - either an individual policy or coverage through a dog walking company. If you’re going through a company, find out how they screen their walkers and if they do background checks. If you’re talking to an individual, ask them to provide references.
Most, if not all, dog walkers with experience will likely have reviews online - be sure to check them out once you’ve found a few options you feel good about. Remember that you know your dog better than anyone. Think about the qualities you know will be a good match for your dog and look for positive reviews that validate those qualities. When you find someone who sounds promising, schedule a meet-and-greet for you and your dog. This meeting will allow them to bond; if the rapport isn’t instant, try other walkers until you find someone your dog seems perfectly happy with.