If you are in a situation where you need to employ someone, then do your homework first. Dog walking is now big business, so be sure to choose companies that are reputable. If you are older or have illness, see where to find volunteer dog walkers. Good questions to ask dog walking companies include:
- Can you give references?
- Do you have insurance?
- Do you have first aid training?
- Where do you take dogs?
- How many dogs do you walk at one time?
- Is your vehicle air-conditioned?
- What are your emergency plans?
- Do you clean and dry dogs after work?
- What is your cancellation policy?
Some companies offer short walks and ‘pee breaks and cuddles’ walks for older pets who just want a a quick potter, and a bit of fuss. Other companies offer more extensive services like house-sitting and pet taxi services. Although sites that list independent dog walkers like Tailster and Pawshake offer safety checks and take references, do your own checks too.
If using a house sitter like Barking Mad (people live in your house to look after pets and water plants, if you are away), do your own checks again. Many plants are toxic to pets (including houseplants and herbs), so learn about ones to avoid to make homes pet-friendly.
If you use services like Borrow My Doggy (people who would like dogs but don’t have space or time, pay a membership fee to walk dogs of those who need them), read important safety info. A great idea for those on a budget, but could be abused by dog thieves or illegal puppy mills. Always ask for multiple references (and follow them up), and ensure you have full contact details.
Want to Be a Dog Walker?
This is a good job if you like dogs and walking, and are of a calm disposition. See where to find good dog walks and train in pet first aid. Get a Dog Walker Certificate and take Canine First Aid and Dog Law courses. Visit Association for Pet Sitters & Dog Walkers and Dog Walkers Association for more info.
If considering a dog-walking career, read the following books:
It’s good to know the 10 hazards to avoid near dogs:
- Over-the-counter medications
- Human food
- Human prescriptions
- Household toxics (paint etc)
- Veterinary products
- Rodenticide exposure
- Garden products