When my pup, Riggins, was young he had to be exercised for at least an hour every day. If you didn’t take him for a walk, he had endless energy. My co-workers and friends knew I wasn’t joining them for happy hour since that was when Riggins and I would hit the neighborhood for our daily dog-walking adventure. I loved it. Owning a dog is a lifestyle and walking a dog is part of the commitment you made when you brought a pup into your family. But, there are times when it’s just not possible for you to dedicate the time or energy needed to walking your dog. So, what do you do? Get a dog walker! But how do you hire a dog walker? Finding the right dog walker takes research and knowledge — here are some tips:
Short answer — when you are unable to commit to your dog’s daily exercise routine. This can be caused by many things:
If you are unable to walk your dog, you need to find someone who can.
It depends on your dog. Riggins is better behaved on trails then city sidewalks, so a dog walker who does short hikes is the best fit for him. His doggie friend, Luna, is an energetic Dalmatian and her daddy has someone who runs with her. Another dog friend, Asscher the Golden Retriever, has a faithful college student who comes over and takes her out around the neighborhood.
Your dog may be better one on one than with a pack. You may feel more secure having a dog walker who takes the pups to a dog park and walks the pack in laps off-leash behind an enclosed fence. Put aside money, time and personal hardship and ask yourself what situation is going to be best for your dog.
If someone walks Riggins, I show him his walking harness and leash, which includes a built-in traffic lead and is the best way to walk him. I’ll warn that he doesn’t like kids, weird/smelly people or anything with wheels. If you even hear a skateboard, pull him aside and distract.
Not telling your dog walker everything about your pup is setting him up for failure, it isn’t fair to him or your walker and it can be dangerous.
The average cost of a professional dog walker varies based on the service and your location. A good way to find out the going rate in your neighborhood is to hit the dog park and start socializing. Dog park moms and dads are usually happy to chat with a fellow dog owner and offer advice and contacts.
You should expect that dog walkers who specialize in additional services like running, trail walks/hikes/runs, feeding, etc. will cost a bit more.
Set up a time for the walker to meet with you and your dog. He may suggest a neutral location like a park for your first meeting. That’s fine, but make sure at least one meet and greet is done in your house or where your dog will be picked up.
Trust your dog. If he doesn’t seem to be bonding well with a dog walker, try someone else.
Ask for and check the dog walker’s references. If he refers you to Yelp! or a website service page where customers have left reviews, ask for the contact information for two or three that you can reach out to directly.
When you find the right dog walker, he will become like a member of your family. Not only does he have a key to your house, he is also the person responsible for your dog’s health and welfare, for at least 30 minutes a day. Treat your dog walker right — tip when appropriate and pay on time. Let him know how important he is to your dog’s — and your own — happiness!
Tell us: How did you hire a dog walker? What do you look for in a dog walker? Tell us about your relationship with your dog walker in the comments below!
Thumbnail: Photography by Wendy Newell.
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