21 Feb What Makes A Good Dog Walker?
What Makes a Good Dog Walker – Everything You Need to Know!
If you want to know what makes a good dog walker, this article will provide you with everything that you need to know. Dog walking services have increased dramatically over the last few years. In the United States, many dog owners have been using these types of services for some time. However, countries like the UK are starting to catch up with more and more people getting into the dog walking business, and more and more pet owners are starting to see the benefits of hiring a dog walker.
So What Makes a Good Dog Walker?
This is a question that many people will obviously need the answer to before they hire a dog walker. Let’s face it, your dog is close to your heart, and putting your pet into the hands of a stranger may not always be the easiest thing to do. This is entirely understandable when you think about it. There are not many circumstances in life where you would hand over something that you love so much to somebody you don’t know. It is only natural to have some doubts.
But, for whatever reason, you have come to the decision that you need to hire someone to walk your dog. If you’ve never been down this path before, you may not know what to look for in a dog walker. All the information that you need to make an informed decision as to what makes a good dog walker will be given to you in this article. After digesting this information, you will have the knowledge and the confidence to choose the right dog walker for you and your beloved pet. So, let’s get started.
How Can I Find a Dog Walker Near Me?
There are several ways that you can find a local dog-walking service in your area. Below are the options available to you.
Recommendations For Finding a Good Dog Walker
The first and probably the most effective way of finding a good dog walker will be through “Word of Mouth.” Who better to ask than somebody who has used or uses a particular dog walking service that they are happy with? They will have already done all the research for that dog walker so that you don’t have to.
Ask friends and family if they are using a dog walking service. Even if they aren’t, they may know somebody who is. Remember, most dog owners love their dogs just as much as you love your own. They are unlikely to use a sub-standard service as they will always want the best for their pet. In my opinion, this is probably the best method for hiring a dog walker.
Finding a Dog Walking Service Online
If you don’t know anybody using a professional dog walking service, your next step is to use your friend, Google. You type in a search term such as “Dog Walking Service” – “Dog Walkers” – “Dog Walkers Near Me” etc., adding your local area after the search term.
You will be provided with several options within your area. The results that you will see will depend on the size of your city or town. Also, the locality of these dog walking services will be visible to you through Google Maps, which will allow you to see how close they are based to you. To be honest, the location of a dog walking business shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
Any reputable dog walker will be happy to offer you their services if they live within a 5-10 miles radius. It is unlikely that any dog walking service will be interested in taking you on as a client if they are based 30 plus miles away.
I want to mention something quickly before we move on regarding what makes a good dog walker for your circumstances. When you are looking for dog walkers online, you will come across two different options. There will be individual dog walking services where an individual runs the business as a sole proprietor or a larger company that employs dog walkers themselves or contracts jobs out. Obviously, it is up to you to choose who you want, but just be aware that if you opt for a company, there is no guarantee that your dog will be walked by the same person every time. A sole proprietor will, on the whole, be the only person to walk your dog, which allows your pet to bond and be more comfortable with one person instead of the potential confusion of being walked by different people.
Okay, let’s continue; Choosing the right dog walker online will involve a little time and research. But this is a step that you really should take if you want the best outcome for you and your dog. I would suggest looking at the websites on the first couple of pages on Google and copying the name and URL (the bit in the address bar at the top) of each website into a notepad file and saving it.
Go through each dog walking website and carefully read through all the information. This should include the services they offer, prices, a brief history of themselves, possibly reviews from other clients, contact information, etc. See which ones stand out for you, and give them a tick in your notepad file and delete the others.
Now you will have a shorter list to look at and choose from. You may already have a preference that you are warming to, but if you haven’t, narrow your list down to about three or four. Keep in mind that you cannot always go by what you see and read on the site. Dog walkers have created their websites, so obviously, they are not going to put anything negative on the website. This means a little more research for you to do.
Some of these services will have Google Reviews, which can be a way to evaluate how good or bad a dog walking business is. Having lots of Google reviews will not always be a marker for how good a business is. You may find websites with no reviews but have an excellent service and reputation. Many dog owners who are happy with their dog walker may have no interest in leaving a review and are just glad that their dog is getting what it needs.
The other thing to be aware of about Google reviews is that you need a Google Account to write and post a review about a business. There will be a lot of people out there that do not have this. There will also be many people who will not want to go to the trouble of opening a Google account to write a review. So, in conclusion to this topic, While Google reviews can be helpful, it does not mean that a dog walking service without reviews should be dismissed out of hand.
Most dog walking businesses will have a social media platform. It is time well spent to look at their Facebook pages to see what kind of comments they have been receiving from other people. You could also try Twitter, but on the whole, it is Facebook where you will find the most helpful information in regards to how good or bad their dog walking services may be.
Other Ways of Connecting
Although the two options mentioned above are the best and most common ways that someone will look for dog walkers, there is another option. Sometimes you may see leaflets/flyers at your local vet or dog grooming services. It would be worth your time to ask the people there about the quality of the service.
Even if they recommend a service, always make sure that you do your due diligence and research the dog walking service following the steps outlined above in the “finding a dog walker online section.”
Once you have found someone you like the look of, it is time to take the next step. The quickest way to get in touch is just to give them a ring. There is no need to ask many questions over the phone; everything is always better face-to-face. Just ask if they offer a free introductory meeting, or a “Meet and Greet” as it’s known in the trade.
Every dog walker should offer this for free, but if you come across one that doesn’t, it is probably best to avoid them. If someone is not prepared to spend some time getting to know you and your dog without charging a fee for it, it is more about the money for them and less about your dog.
Arrange a suitable time and date for the meet and greet session to take place at your home. This meeting will be the deciding factor as to whether the person you have chosen will be the best dog walker for you and your pet. All the information below will provide you with everything you need to understand about what the makings of a good dog walker are.
The Meet and Greet Session
Your decision will rest on what you learn at this introductory meeting. At the start, you will probably have a lot of questions, but leave these until the end. You want to learn more about this person who will care for and be responsible for your dog. Let him or her do all the talking. A good professional dog walker should be able to tell you everything that you need to know about their dog walking service without too much input from you.
Your role at this point is to watch and listen and ask any direct questions that haven’t already been covered near the end of the meeting. Let’s get started on your strategy for this meet and greet session. It is a good idea to ask the odd open question, which encourages them to talk and provide further information.
First Impressions – You hear the knock on the door, and you go and open it inviting the dog walker in. As soon as the introductions have been made, the first thing that they should be looking for or looking at is your dog. While their potential relationship with you is important, the relationship between the dog walker and your dog is far more critical. After all, they are not going to be taking you for walks.
If that person’s first instinct is to make a fuss of your dog, and engage in a little play while you converse with each other, take it as a good sign. If, on the other hand, that person seems more interested in focusing their attention on you rather than your dog, then that points to the fact that they are more interested in impressing you instead of your dog.
The only caveat to this is if your dog is shy or nervous around strangers. Even if this is the case, your potential dog walker should be trying to coax your dog to come and make friends. You don’t have to say anything; just watch and see what kind of interaction is taking place.
Do They Seem Professional? The last thing that you will want is somebody with a scatter-brained approach. Keep a mental note of the following:
Did they arrive at the agreed time? First impressions count a great deal, and if someone is unable to stick to a time agreed by both parties when they are trying to obtain a new client, it’s not a great look. Obviously, if they turn up late at your home bloodied and bruised from being in an accident, then you can take it that their commitment to you and your dog is pretty solid.
Do they seem organized? What this means is that do they have all the paperwork that you may want to see. This can include proof of a background check, proof of insurance, References, or information on how you can get references, a license if it’s a requirement in the country or area that you live in, and a notebook in which they can write down all the information that they need about your dog.
Are They a Dog Lover? Asking any dog walker looking for new clients if they are a dog lover will always bring a vigorous nod of agreement. Nobody will be stupid enough to say that they are not really a dog person and prefer cats if they are running a dog walking business. So casually ask what kind of dog they have.
The first thing that you should notice is a smile appearing on their face. People love their dogs; dogs make them happy. So nine times out of ten, the natural reaction of a dog owner will be to grin when their dog comes into the conversation. If this is the reaction that you see, it’s another good sign.
However, if a dog walker does not own a dog, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is not a dog lover. There may be reasons behind that. They may feel that work commitments don’t allow them to give the time, love, and care required where a dog is concerned. Although, in many cases, most dog walkers will also be dog owners, so listen to whatever response that you get and go by your gut feeling.
Is dog walking a Passion or Just a Job? Being a dog owner myself, I know how important your dog is to you. You are putting your trust and your dog’s welfare into the hands of someone who is currently a stranger to you. You need to know as much as you possibly can that this person will ensure that your dog is going to be treated in the best way possible.
An excellent way to gauge this is to casually ask them, “what made them choose this line of work?” The answer that you get will be a good measure of this person’s motivations.
I mentioned earlier about dog walking companies that hire people to walk dogs. By no means am I saying that the people who work for these companies do not like dogs. Many of these employees are very professional in their approach and love what they do. But, there is no denying that a certain number of people may be doing this because it is just a job, and nothing else is currently available to them.
This is not a bad thing; it’s just that if they were offered a slightly better-paying job in a different field, they would probably take it. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing; I mean, we all have to work.
If a dog walker is a sole proprietor who runs their own small dog walking business, they would have put a lot of work into getting to where they are. This is not something that someone would do if they didn’t like dogs. They are combining something that they love with a method to earn a living. This shows commitment, motivation, and passion.
Becoming a professional dog walker takes time, planning, and the right attitude. You don’t just wake up one morning and think, “Dogs are sort of okay; I might make some easy money if I start walking them.”
You wander off to some pet store/shop, buy a cheap leash and start knocking on doors and giving your sales pitch, “Hey, mister, you want me to take your dog for a walk for 20 bucks? It looks fat, probably could do with some exercise.”
This is just my opinion, but I don’t think that this will be a successful business strategy for anybody who wants to become a dog walker, although I could be wrong.
The truth is that there is a fair amount of work involved for anyone thinking of starting a dog walking business. You have to research the area that you live in to see if it is a service that people in your locality are looking for. You have to check who else is offering dog walking services locally to see if there is space for you to enter into this line of business.
If they feel that they can provide a good reliable service, the next step is to make themselves visible to potential clients. This will involve a variety of measures after registering with the appropriate authority for becoming self-employed.
They will have to pay somebody to build a dog walking website
Have flyers/leaflets printed that advertise their service
Get business cards
Cover the cost of advertising in local newspapers
Talk to local vets, dog groomers, kennels, etc. to see if they will accept business advertising or provide referrals for a dog walking business
Pay for a background check and dog walking insurance
This is by no means the end of the list. There is more involved, but this is just an example of some of the things that a dog walker has to cover. It’s clear that any good, reliable dog walker should offer you a service that you will be happy with.
A dog walker’s reputation is everything, so it would be incredibly counter-productive for someone to offer you anything but their best, after working so hard to get to where they are.
Hopefully, this has given you an insight into what to look for in a dog walker before hiring them. Let’s continue to see what else will be essential factors in choosing a dog walker.
Questions a Good Dog Walker Should be Asking You
As I have previously stated, you will have questions for your dog walker. However, far more critical will be the questions that any potential dog walker will have for you. A good dog walker should want to know everything that they can about your dog. If someone asks you a few inane questions such as:
Why does it smell funny?
Does it like walking?
Does it poop a lot when it’s out?
Do I have to buy my own treats?
Do you give tips?
It’s pretty much time to bring out the “I’ll be in touch” line and show them the door.
The fact that someone will spend time asking a lot of questions about your dog is an excellent sign. The more that they know about your pet, the better the insight and knowledge they will have about your dog’s requirements, likes and dislikes, temperament, personality, and characteristics. This will allow them to bond with your dog more easily.
Now, we’ll have a look at the kind of questions that your dog walker should be asking you. Now, don’t feel discouraged if they miss out on the odd question. As long as they obtain the bulk of the information from you, you’re good to go!
How often and how long does your dog like to walk? – This is important because not every dog is the same. Some dogs need more exercise than others. For example, a Husky will require more outdoor activity than a Yorkshire terrier. In this example, a dog walker may take a smaller dog for a shorter walk, but spend time providing the dog with a period of play with a ball or a stick. When a dog comes back from a walk, it should feel exhilarated, not limping and completely worn out.
Is your dog friendly with other dogs? – The simple truth is that some dogs will not like other dogs. This could be due to a lack of socialization when it was a puppy. Or it could be because of the temperament of the breed. Knowing this will allow the dog walker to make the right decisions as far as other dogs are concerned.
What is your dog like around people? – Again, another critical piece of information. Some dogs can be nervous around strangers, and in some cases, even aggressive. This is something that a responsible dog walker should ask. The last thing that you will want is your dog to latch its teeth onto a stranger’s leg because your dog walker didn’t ask you the question.
Where is your dog walked? – There may be a particular place that your dog likes and is familiar with. If this place is your preference, your dog walker should have no problem accommodating you. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to take your dog somewhere different to experience new sights, smells, and sounds.
Is there a particular time that your dog likes to walk? – You may want your dog to walk at a specific time of the day, but often this might mean a little compromise on your part. The dog walker may already have those hours booked. However, a good dog walker will do their best to be flexible.
What is your dog like when it comes to car travel? – In many cases, this will not be an issue. But, if you want your dog to walk in a particular area or park that may involve a short car journey, it’s crucial for the dog walker to know that your dog is comfortable in a vehicle.
Does your dog have any health issues? – This may include medications or allergies, which you should make the dog walker aware of.
Is there anything that might trigger your dog while walking? – This can be cats, children, rabbits, squirrels, cyclists, or anything else that might lead to inappropriate behavior while out on a walk.
Emergency contacts – Although they will have your contact number, it is advisable to provide them with the contact details of your vet and someone else that you know if they cannot contact you for some reason.
Does the dog have any behavioral issues? – It’s a good idea for the walker to beware of any problems that might arise while out walking so that they know in advance the best way to handle a situation if it arises.
What commands does the dog know? – If your dog is already used to specific commands, then they can be used by the walker where necessary.
Does your dog walk off the leash? – If your dog is comfortable walking off the leash, or not, the dog walker needs to know. If walking off the leash is not a problem, a responsible dog walker will probably not do this for the first few walks. They will generally wait until the dog has bonded with them and feels comfortable around them.
What are your dog’s likes/dislikes? – This is pretty self-explanatory.
Is anything I have missed? – If you feel there is something that you need to make them aware of, tell them at this point.
So, in conclusion, the more information your dog walker has, the better it is for all concerned.
Now You Know What Makes a Good Dog Walker – What Next?
So, the person sitting in your room seems to tick all the boxes. You have a conversation about how many times a week you would like your dog walked and what the cost will be. You would think that should be the end of the process, but there is one more step to seal the deal. Ask them if they offer a free test walk?
Some dog walking services will offer a test walk where they may charge for the walk—others will provide it for free. The best dog walkers will not only provide you an obligation-free test walk, but they will encourage you to accompany them. This allows you to see how your dog and walker interact with each other. If your dog seems happy on this walk, then you have found a good dog walker.
Below is a basic summary of everything I have covered and what you need to look for if you want to know what makes a good dog walker.
What Makes a Good Dog Walker?
- They should be professional and organized
- They should be fully insured
- Have proof of a background check
- Offer a free meet and greet
- Offer a free test walk, accompanied by you
- They should show more interest in your dog than you
- They should ask lots of questions about your dog
- They should have good references
- Their passion for dogs should shine through
- Does your dog like them?
- They are flexible
I hope you have found this information helpful and that it has given you a fuller understanding of what makes a good dog walker. If you think this information might prove helpful to others, I would be eternally grateful if you could share this on your social media.