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Should You Hire a Dog Walker?

Should You Hire a Dog Walker?

As a self-proclaimed “pro street walker” (though not in the way you might be thinking), I’ve got some insider knowledge to share on the world of dog walking. After all, I’ve been in this business for over 15 years, navigating the ins and outs of caring for furry clients while their human parents are away.

Let me start by dispelling a common myth – anyone can’t just call themselves a dog walker and expect to do a great job. It takes a certain skill set, commitment, and understanding of dog behavior to be a truly exceptional walker. And with your pup’s well-being on the line, you’ll want to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job.

The Good, The Bad, and The Smelly

When it comes to finding a dog walker, you’ve got a few options. You can go the route of a solo “dog walking artiste” like yours truly, or you can work with a larger service. Both have their pros and cons, kind of like the difference between shopping at a mom-and-pop store versus a big box retailer.

The solo walker, for example, can offer a more personalized experience. We tend to form close bonds with our canine clients, and your pup will likely get individualized attention and playtime. On the flip side, our availability and policies can be a bit more, shall we say, flexible.

On the other hand, larger dog walking companies offer increased convenience and accountability. They’ve got a team of walkers, so coverage isn’t an issue if your regular walker is sick or on vacation. Plus, they typically have comprehensive insurance and detailed contracts to protect you. The downside? Well, let’s just say the personal touch might not be quite as strong.

Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for your lifestyle and your dog’s needs. But no matter which route you choose, you’ll want to do your due diligence. After all, this person (or team) will be entrusted with your canine companion’s care – and the keys to your home.

Vetting Your Potential Dog Walker

The first step in finding the right dog walker is the meet-and-greet. This should be a free consultation at your home, where you can get a feel for how the walker interacts with your pup. And don’t just observe the boss – make sure the primary walker who will be assigned to your home comes along too.

Pay close attention to how your dog reacts. Unless they’re particularly shy, they should warm up to the walker pretty quickly. After all, we dog walkers have a certain je ne sais quoi that dogs just can’t resist. If your pup seems fearful or uneasy, that’s a red flag.

Speaking of red flags, if the walker is pushy or insists on forced interactions, that’s a definite no-go. A good walker will be patient, letting your dog initiate contact on their own terms. And if your pup is on the more timid side, don’t be afraid to request a second meeting to see if any progress is made.

Remember, dogs can act quite differently when their owners aren’t around. That big, boisterous mutt who barks up a storm when you answer the door might turn into a silent sentinel when the walker arrives. So at some point, you’ll need to let the walker come solo to get the full picture.

Laying Down the (Poop Scoop) Law

Once you’ve found a walker you’re comfortable with, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. What’s their cancellation policy? What are the daily and weekly rates? How will you know they showed up each day? These are all important questions to hash out upfront.

Speaking of showing up, a good walker should leave some sort of proof – whether it’s a detailed note, a pre-printed checklist, or even photographic evidence of your pup’s antics. After all, you want to be sure your furry friend is getting the care and attention they deserve.

And if your dog has any medical or behavioral issues, be upfront about them. A responsible walker will have no problem discussing how they can safely and effectively handle your pup’s needs. In fact, they’ll likely have plenty of follow-up questions to ensure they’re prepared.

At the end of the day, choosing a dog walker is a big decision. You’re entrusting this person not just with your beloved companion, but with the keys to your home. It’s natural to feel a bit uneasy about it. But if you do your homework and go with your gut, you can find a walker who will treat your pup like the VIP they are.

The Human-Dog Bond

I’ve been in this business long enough to see the truly special relationships that can form between dogs and their walkers. We become part of the pack, in a sense – an honorary member of the family. And that’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

Whether you opt for a solo artist or a larger company, your dog walker should view their role as more than just a transactional service. They should be genuinely excited to meet your pup, engage them in enriching activities, and provide the kind of care and attention you’d expect from a trusted friend.

After all, dogs are family. And when you’ve got to be away, you want to know your furry loved one is in good hands. So take the time to find the right walker, and you might just discover a new lifelong bond – for both you and your pup.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some paw-print-filled “Poop Diaries” to write. It’s all in a day’s work for this pro street walker.

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