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10 Questions to Ask Your Dog Walker

Trust. You can't hire a dog walker without it. After all, you're putting your pup in their care as well as allowing access to your home. That's a lot of responsibility to put in a stranger's hands. That's why the interview process is so crucial. These ten questions can help you narrow it down to the most qualified walker, so you can rest assured your pup and your home are safe.

Are you bonded and insured? Ensure your dog and property are protected. What's the difference between bonding and insurance? Bonding protects you against theft. Liability insurance protects against negligence and accidents.

Will the same person walk my dog every day? Consistency is good for your dog — and your own peace of mind. You can meet this individual to assess their specific credentials and compatibility. 

What's the interview process for sitters? Learn what traits, experience, and training they require. Do they also run background checks on each employee? If your regular dog walker is sick or on vacation, you'll know that the replacement walker passed the same rigorous standards.

What training do you have? Even if your dog doesn't have a medical or behavioral problem, emergency situations, like a snake bite or a charging off-leash dog, can occur. A background in canine first aid and dog behavior can be the difference between life and death for your pup.

Have you handled my dog's specific issue before? If your dog has any special needs, ask the candidates to speak about their experience dealing with the issue. If they don’t have direct experience, ask them how they would handle a theoretical scenario. 

How many dogs do you walk at a time? It's common for walkers to take more than one dog out at a time, and that can help keep the costs down for you. But the more dogs, the less attention given to your dog. This can be an issue for dogs with special needs or behavioral issues. Also, find out the requirements to join the group. Are the dogs vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and socialized? 

What are the pick-up and drop-off procedures? Sometimes an assistant will take your dog to the area where he’ll be walked, or your dog may be transported in a vehicle with many other dogs. Understand how it works from start to finish to identify any potential concerns. 

Will my dog ever be unleashed or left without supervision? Some walkers tie the dogs to a post while picking up a new addition for the walk. And some may take the pups to an off-leash dog park. If you’re not comfortable with this, find a different walker.

How do you handle behavioral issues that arise? Even a well-trained dog isn't perfect. Understanding your walker’s training philosophy can help maintain consistency for your dog. Ask for specific examples of situations that the candidates have encountered to get a better sense of their ability to handle an emergency.

Can we go on a test walk? Most walkers will still charge you for the time, but this gives you the opportunity to see them in action before signing a contract. Pay attention to your dog's body language during the walk. Does he or she seem relaxed and comfortable? In the end, your dog’s "interview" process may be the most important of all.

Once you've selected a walker, you can take an additional step to protect your dog: remote monitoring with Whistle. We've heard from owners that learned their walker didn't exercise their dog for the full amount of time – or even skipped a day entirely! The monitor allows you to see what time the walk started, when it ended, and the intensity of the activity. If something seems off, you can spot a problem immediately.

And if your walker also has the app, he or she can share photos of your pooch having a blast, so you can stay connected even while you’re away.

How do you stay connected to your dog while away?

Mar 19, 2014

Tags:   pet parenting   pet tips  


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