As any dog owner knows, taking your furry friend for a walk is essential to their day. But what do you do when you’re too busy to walk your dog yourself?
That’s where a dog walker comes in. In this post, we’ll examine how to find a good dog walker and be sure that you’re finding someone you’re comfortable with to take good care of your pup and give them the exercise they need.
Here are a few tips on where and how to find the best dog walker in your area
Where to Find a Dog Walker
The best way to choose the right dog walker is through recommendations; dogs are part of our family, some suffer from separation anxiety when left alone and we want to be sure whoever we leave our pets with can be trusted to care for them.
Just be aware of what dog you own; some dogs benefit from walkers with more experience and knowledge of the breed.
You could find a great dog walker by simply checking local dog-related places in your local area, places where a professional dog walker may advertise:
- The vet or vet techs
- Pet stores,
- Dog training classes,
- Corner shop
- Grooming parlours
One of the most common ways we all search for a service is by typing what we need into Google, in this case, “registered dog walkers near me.”
This usually brings up larger companies, franchises and local dog walking businesses. Just be sure to read the reviews and do your research.
You can also check the numerous online directories or classifieds such as Yell.com for pet services and potential dog walkers in your area:
We think this is the best way to find a dog walker. Bark is an excellent site that puts customers in touch with trusted local dog walkers with recommendations from other dog owners like you and me, giving peace of mind when choosing someone to care for your dog.
What Dog Owners Should Look for in a Good Dog Walking Service
You need to consider many things when choosing a professional dog walker, not least do both you and your dog like them. Below are a few things to delve further into when deciding on your preferred dog walker.
There are no official qualifications required, but good dog walkers usually have a love of dogs and some understanding of their behaviour.
Experience with a particular breed can be better than formal training. However, we would recommend that anyone you employ to walk your dog has done an introductory canine first aid course.
Many have other dog-related qualifications that may or may not benefit your needs, such as dog behaviour, agility or canine nutritionist.
But the most important thing is that they are reliable and look after your beloved pet as if it were their own.
If you choose a dog walker who transports the dog in a vehicle to wherever they exercise them, you must check that it is safe and comfortable.
If your four-legged friend is in a light weight dog crate, is it secure? Are they suitably restrained? Any vehicle used to transport animals should be regularly disinfected and have good ventilation and temperature control.
Have They Got Insurance?
Professionals will have third-party liability insurance and you should always check this.
The policy will cover things such as how many hounds they can walk at any one time and if and in what circumstances emergency vet fees would be covered.
Also, check your insurance isn’t affected by someone else having access to your house.
Recommendations from other clients will give you peace of mind when choosing the person caring for your pet, so ask for references and follow them up.
Talk to these people about the dog walker and don’t be afraid to ask questions; your dog’s well-being is important!
How Your Dog Reacts
One of the most critical factors in choosing the right dog walking service is: Are they a good fit, does Fido like them?
We always recommend having a meet and greet beforehand so dog and walker can get to know each other. You can watch how they interact and perhaps grab the leash and go on a short test walk.
What Should you Talk About With Your Dog Walker?
Once you’ve checked all the above, it’s time to get to know each other better and see if you are on the same page regarding schedules, behaviour etc.
Here we look at what you and your potential dog walker might need to know.
Our Dog Walkers Checklist
In case of an emergency or if your faithful friend becomes injured whilst on a walk with a dog walker, you will need to decide what level of decision-making they have and what veterinary practice they use. You could come to some agreement with your vet that your credit card details are retained for emergencies.
We always ask any potential dog walker how they would deal with certain situations such as a dog getting loose, having a heart attack etc.; this will show whether they have the confidence to deal with any situation.
You should also provide an emergency contact number if you can’t be reached.
Many dogs suffer from ongoing conditions such as hip dysplasia, heart murmurs or illnesses that can be affected by how much and what type of exercise they get, so you must let your dog walker know these things.
If you have a brachycephalic breed, your dog walker must understand their limitations and know the sign of heatstroke.
You may forget about your dog equipment, but it is essential, especially if your pooch needs a specific leash, harness, or muzzle.
You can also discuss toys or items such as a Frisbee your canine companion is partial to and whether your dog’s allowed to be off-leash.
Schedule And Timing
There’s no point in your dog walker turning up 5 minutes after you’ve left for work, just after feeding your pooch, or when you’ve returned from a long hike, so you’ll want to arrange the best schedule that fits your pup’s needs.
Some dogs are happy with 20-minute walks, whilst others may need more, so it’s crucial to establish how long they will actually walk your dog.
Treats And Food
You will need to discuss what food or treats your dog is allowed when in their care.
This might not seem very important, but many dogs suffer from allergies or are on specific diets these days. So, the person in charge of their well-being mustn’t give them the wrong thing on their walks.
Training And Behaviour
As we’ve already mentioned, dog walkers in the UK don’t require formal education, whilst behaviourists and trainers do. They should not be taking on problem dogs with serious issues or conducting any behaviour modifications if they are not qualified.
You need to let them know the level of instruction your dog has, what cues you use, for example, to get your dog to sit or stay and discuss if it is allowed off the lead and under what circumstances.
How many dogs does the walker take out at a time? If they walk multiple dogs, what sizes and breeds are they?
All these things will affect your decision on choosing the best dog walker! Your dog may not get on with other animals; in which case do they offer solo dog walking services?
Even if your dog is the friendliest, a podgy Pug won’t enjoy the same types of walks as a boisterous Border Collie.
Finally, you should always discuss the cancellation policy should you or the walker need to change the schedule of your dog’s walks and how much notice needs to be given.
How to Become a Professional Dog Walker?
Experience and qualifications – As we’ve covered above, no formal training is required for walking dogs professionally. However, you should have some dog experience and understand certain canine behaviour.
For example, knowing the difference between excitement and aggression at the dog park, how dogs interact, and how to implement positive reinforcement for good behaviour.
Another good tip if you decide to start walking dogs is to do a basic doggy first aid course
Doggie laws – Anyone becoming a dog walker in the UK should be familiar with these laws.
Do you need a licence to start a dog walking service? The good news is that you don’t need a business license to set up as a dog walker at the time of writing.
Although if you run another business alongside, such as boarding, you may. Hence, it’s always best to check with your local authority beforehand.
Do dog walkers need insurance? – All businesses should hold 3rd party liability insurance to cover accidents or losses when on a walk and having insurance will guarantee more clients and instil more trust.
Dog walking insurance costs a few pounds per month and is well worth it. Get a quote here.
How much do professional dog walkers make? – It depends; taking a few dogs a short walk each day can do very well as a second income; however if you own a company with multiple employees, the sky’s the limit.
Check out these guidelines for getting started as a professional dog walker by Dogs trust.
Now that you’ve read these dog walking tips and know what to look for in a dog walker, where can you find one?
The best place to start is by asking your friends and family if they have any recommendations. You can also check online directories; we recommend the Bark.com website as an excellent resource for finding someone to walk your dog.
When interviewing potential candidates, ask lots of questions about their experience, training, and references.
Exercising your dog is vital and it’s essential you find someone with the right enthusiasm. Don’t forget to ask how much they charge per hour – this will vary depending on your region and maybe even have a test walk to see how the dog walker handles your pooch.
Ultimately, you want to find someone who not only loves dogs but also has the experience and qualifications necessary to keep your furry friend safe and healthy when being walked.