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Should You Hire A Dog Walker?
Many dog owners grapple with the question of whether or not to hire a dog walker. In the majority of cases, the answer is YES! Why? First and foremost, hiring a dog walker to relieve your pet once, twice or even three times a day helps put your mind at ease so you can focus on your busy day and know that your beloved pet is comfortable and well cared for.
Dogs, like humans, are social creatures, and crave interaction and stimulation. Even a quick walk around the block provides a welcome break in your dog's day during which he or she can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine along with the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood.
Many breeds like Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Shelties, just to name a few, need regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Dogs that do not get enough exercise and stimulation often begin to exhibit destructive behavior like problem barking, digging, chewing and even aggression. These behaviors are not because the dog is bad, it's because he or she is bored.
In addition to providing potty breaks and exercise, a visit from your daily dog walker can be an important second set of eyes on your pet. Often times, dog walkers are the first to notice that your dog might be sick or in distress and they can help make sure your pet gets the care he or she needs.
Here are the things you need to know when hiring a dog walker or dog walking service:
Analyze Your Schedule
Determine how often you will require the services of a dog walker. You may want your dog to get a lunch time walk, or if you work long hours, a lunch and evening walk might be appropriate.
Talk To Your Friends
Consult friends and family who've used a dog walker or dog walking service and get 2 or 3 recommendations before choosing a dog walker at random. If you don't know anyone with pets, ask your vet for a reference or go to your local dog park and strike up a conversation with other owners.
Set Up A Time To Meet
Any dog walker you hire should be ready and willing to come to your house to interview and meet you and your dog. First and foremost, you'll want to take note of how your dog interacts with the candidate. Is your dog comfortable? What about the candidate? How do you feel?
Outfit Your Dog Beforehand
Make sure your dog has a comfortable, dependable Dog Collar and/or Dog Harness, outfitted with a top quality Dog Tag for safety. Obviously a dependable Dog Leash will be needed as well.
The Nitty Gritty Details
When interviewing potential dog walkers ask them how long they will spend with your dog per visit. You will also want to know if they walk multiple dogs at one time. It's best to avoid multiple situations if at all possible. This will insure that your dog gets the full care and attention of the dog walker at all times.
Communication is key to a great relationship between you, your dog walker and your dog. Make sure any potential dog walker is willing to leave you notes each and every day regarding your pet's activities: did your pet go potty, how was the walk, did anything out of the ordinary happen, etc. And, it's important to have a phone number where you can reach the dog walker.
Ask about contingency plans. You'll want to make sure your dog walker has at least 2 back up walkers on call in case he or she is ill or has an emergency. And, it's a good idea to ask whether or not the dog walker can come out on short notice if you have an emergency.
Check references. In addition to entrusting your precious pet to a dog walker, you'll also be giving this person a set of keys to your home. It's very important to check and double check references. Speak to past and present clients and ask them about their experience. Determine whether or not the dog walker is a member of a professional organization like the National Association of Pet Sitters or the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
Trust your instincts. Just like dogs, people have instincts too! If you feel uncomfortable with any part of the process trust your gut. It may mean you'll have to interview a few more candidates but your dog's health and well being is the most important thing.