When hiring a dog walker, you should be prepared to do your homework and ask lots of questions. First and foremost, you want your dog walker to love dogs and love the job. We met with Allison Freeland of Katie’s KC Kennel in Kansas City, MO., and she was able to provide great insight into the world of dog walkers and the booming industry of dog walking.
“I really love this kind of work,” Allison said. “There are some crazy days, but it’s a lot of fun. I drive to the homes of our clients, and I’ll send them a text confirmation that I have arrived. Then I greet the dog, start walking and track the walks on GPS as well. At the end of the walk, I’ll send a little puppy report. We send the owner a picture of the dog, explain how the walk went, what “business” the dog did when we were out, and just a general well-being report. It kind of adds that personal touch.”
It’s only natural. You would like to know what Bowzer is doing while you’re away and while he is out walking. A short potty report and a post-walk note is usually a common policy and definitely something to check on when hiring a dog walker. “We use software to send our clients a daily walk note and potty report,” Allison said.
Allison recommends that you ask some good informative questions when you are hiring a dog walker. These are excellent inquiries for determining whether the walker operates a legitimate business, can be trusted in your home, provides quality service, knows basic emergency procedures, and has the proper amount of experience.
Questions to ask dog walker:
Does the walker or business owner do a meet and greet?
A good dog walker will come by for a free consultation in your home, and there should be no obligation for hiring them. A meet and greet will give you the opportunity to meet the walker and see if there is good chemistry between your dog and the walker. “Meeting face-to-face is also an important part of our client onboarding process,” Allison said.
What will a pet visit consist of?
Is it just a walk? How long are the walks? How far? What route are they planning to take?
Will your dog be fed or given treats? Will they abide by the training commands your dog understands? What about dog messes? Will they clean up? Do I need a dog walker every day? The answers should all be spelled out in an agreement.
Ask about the dog walker’s experience. Is this his/her full-time job?
Be certain your dog walker has the experience to handle any situations that might come up. If this is their sole livelihood, they may be more apt to take it very seriously and professionally. That said, all professionals have to begin somewhere. Trust your intuition, and if you two strike up a good relationship, then give them a try.
Is your dog walker insured and bonded?
The dog walker ought to want this kind of protection and so should you. If ever there is an issue of neglect or wrongdoing, bonding and insurance are vital. Bonding will protect you from theft and liability insurance will protect against any accidents or negligence. Be sure to ask for and review these documents, as anyone can just say they are bonded and insured. “At Katie’s KC Kennel, we actually do background checks on both our clients and employees,” Allison said.
Will there be a contract or service agreement?
“You will probably be required to sign a contract,” Allison said. “Our company even has an accountant and human resources professional on staff. Look over the service agreement carefully and be sure to ask for references. You both should understand the language and the way your relationship is defined. It’s a checklist. Don’t leave anything out.”
Storing personal information
You may not have considered it, but ask how your personal information will be stored. The dog walker will have information about you, your home, your security system, and your pets. Make sure they are keeping all of this sensitive information is a secure place and will not be sharing it with anyone. Think about it, you don’t want this information written down in the dog walker’s spiral notebook or day planner. Someone could easily get it and gain access to your home.
Ask about an inclement weather policy.
Your dog needs to go out, no matter what the weather is like. Communication is key. Ask the dog walker their plans during rain or snow. Katie's KC Kennel weather policy is appropriate. “When it is raining, we make sure to get some sort of walk in, then bring them inside, wipe their paws, and maybe stay a while longer for activity and play,” Allison said.
Is there a cancellation policy?
How flexible is the dog walker? Is there a fee if you cancel the dog walking? How many hours of notice can be given? These are good things to know.
Is there a policy regarding house keys?
Ask how the dog walker organizes the client's keys. Are they stored securely? What about the garage door codes? How are they kept secure?
Does the dog walker belong to a professional association?
It’s not required, of course, but it’s an excellent indication that they are serious about their job. Ask if they belong to any of the well-established associations like Pet Sitters Associates, LLC, Pet Sitters International, National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, or Professional United Pet Sitters.
Does the dog walker ask for your pet’s emergency vet contact information?
This should be a no brainer. Don’t volunteer it, rather wait and see how the walker handles it. If the person you interview doesn’t ask for vet information, then it should be a big red flag for you. “We keep emergency contact information and the name and number of the client’s preferred vet on hand,” Allison said.
What if your dog has a medical emergency?
You want a little peace of mind knowing your dog walker is prepared. Is your dog in good hands or isn’t he? What would they do if your dog got injured? Do they have an emergency plan?
Is your dog walker certified in Pet First Aid?
When hiring a dog walker, this type of certification isn’t mandatory, but it shows another level of professionalism and conscientiousness. It shows dedication if they have taken the time to become certified in Pet First Aid or CPR.
Does your dog walker try to walk multiple dogs at once?
Some walk dogs one-on-one and others try to walk dogs in a pack. This is left to your personal preference. Ask what the policy is, and then make a careful decision.
Will the walker be carrying any supplies?
Some walkers bring treats (and they should ask your permission before giving them to your dog), poop bags, pepper spray, etc. But ask. It’s good to know if you are expected to provide these things.
A necessity to dog walking is a personalized dog collar and leash set! Dog ID Collar.com has the best embroidered dog collar and leash sets for your furry best friend and his adventures with your dog walker.
When you are hiring a dog walker, there really aren’t right and wrong answers to these questions. The bottom line remains that you want to trust the dog walker with your pet. Do you trust their instincts? It’s simple to do a little research. Maybe they have an online account. Check what they post on social media. Maybe there are some reviews you can read. Spend some time thinking about cost versus service. What quality of service are you desiring? What kind of service are you willing to pay for?
Here at Dog ID Collar.com we want to thank Allison and Katie’s KC Kennel for the good information, and we wish you luck in choosing your next dog walker.