How to choose a dog walker

When you get a new dog or puppy it’s so hard to know who to trust to look after him or her while you are busy or at work.

They really are one of the family, and you want to make sure they are in the best possible hands!

So how do you choose the best person or team for the job?

Here’s my Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Dog Walker (most of which actually applies to choosing a dog trainer too!)

1. Check the paperwork – As a minimum, your dog professional should be able to show you their certificate of insurance and police checks for themselves and all of their staff. For extra peace of mind ask if they have done any Canine First Aid Training or dog training too.

2. Ask for references – Does your dog professional have any references or feedback from current customers that you could take a look at? Or if not, could they put you in touch with some of their current clients to answer any questions you might have? Speaking to other dog owners will help put your mind at rest.

3. Ask about transport – Are clients dogs transported in the car or van? And if so how are the dogs secured? Do they use travel specific crates or car harnesses? Or do they leave them loose or tie them with their leads, potentially causing an accident? Also ask if they keep the dogs separately in the car. Lots of anxious dogs don’t like to be in confined spaces with other dogs even if they are friends on their walks, and this can cause fights to break out.

4. Do they walk dogs off-lead? – Are dogs walked on or off-lead? If let off lead, do they assess the dog first to see if it is safe to do so? And do they ask for permission from you first? And if they do let them off-lead, how do they assess them? Do they work on recall with the dogs and if so how do they do this?

5. Do they walk dogs with other dogs? – If multiple dogs are walked together, how many dogs are walked at a time? How many dogs can one person walk? And remember that the more dogs that are walked together, the less individual attention your dog is getting! If dogs are walked together, how does your dog professional assess them to see if they are a good match? Walking dogs who don’t get on together can be a trigger for dog fights.

6. What equipment do they use? – For walking equipment do they use harnesses and headcollars or slip-leads and choke chains? The latter can cause physical injury to strong dogs and young puppies.

And what sorts of training aids do they use? Do they have spray bottles and rattle cans? Or do they use clickers, toys and treats? Some dogs can be seriously traumatised by punishing training methods.

7. What training methods do they use? – Anyone spending any amount of time with your dog is also going to be training them, whether you want them to or not.

Are they going to be training them to walk nicely on the lead and come back when you call? Or are they going to let them pull on the lead and run around after other dogs?

If they do any training how do they do it? Do they reward the dog for getting things right or punish the dog for getting things wrong?

8. How do they deal with distractions? – Is your dog likely to come across livestock on walks? Or people and other dogs? How does your dog professional react in these situations? It is illegal for dogs to be out of control around livestock and they can be classed as dangerous dogs if they scare other dogs or people.

And is your dog professional giving your dog 100% of their attention or are they distracted listening to music or talking on the phone and not noticing potential dangers ahead?

9. What sort of feedback will you get? – How will you find out what your dog has been doing while out with your dog professional? And how do you know that they are doing what you have asked them to do?

Using a remote camera can put your mind at rest about pick up and drop off times, but it’s also nice to have notes left and photos emailed to you while they are out and about so you can see what they have been up to!

10. How do they deal with medical emergencies? – Obviously any Canine First Aid Training will be a massive bonus here! Do they carry a first aid kit?

Alongside this, would they take your dog to the vets for you? And if so which vets? Do they have contact details to hand? Would they be able to follow up with medication or repeat vets visits if required?

11. What happens during extreme weather? – We are not really used to it in this country, but it starts to happen more and more and our dogs aren’t used to it either!

Does your dog professional change the dogs routine in hot weather or in cold weather? And if so what do they do? Will they still use a car or van when it is hot, and if so how is it ventilated? Dogs left in hot cars or vans can die.

12. Are dogs ever left unattended? – Would your dog professional leave your dog tied up outside a shop while they popped in to stock up on poo bags? Or would they tie him up outside another dogs house while they went to collect another dog?

Dog theft is on the rise, plus lots of dogs can behave out of character if tethered alone which can mean they become a bite risk.

I hope you find this helpful! If you would like to find out more about our award winning Puppy Nanny service and our dog walking service you can take a look here;

Nicola x

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