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Follow our essential tips to find a reliable and responsible professional dog walker for your dog. Professional dog walkers are becoming increasingly popular, as we call on their services to exercise our pet dogs for us as we juggle our busy lifestyles. We take a look at what you should be looking for in using a prospective dog walker.
Many vets will be able to give you details of good reliable walkers in the area. Most reputable dog walkers have good relationships with vets. Other pet professionals such as groomers or dog trainers can also give recommendations, it's also worth trying your local pet shop too. Your dog owning friends can also be a useful source of information.
Is your dog walker insured? – A professional dog walker should show you a valid certificate of insurance, including public liability. Check the policy and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Similarly, a good walker will ask about your pet insurance, what incidents and circumstances it covers. They should also ask you whether you give them power to seek veterinary assistance if required, even if they cannot get hold of you.
Vaccinations – A professional will insist on up to date vaccinations, including kennel cough, which is very contagious. Many walkers now insist on monthly flea and worming treatments.
References – A professional walker should be able to provide you with references. Be sure to follow them through. Checking for feedback on their website is not adequate.
Assuming the dog walker does not work in a place where all their charges are collected on foot, a good walker will have a specially converted van/estate car to transport dogs. Each pen should have a seat belt. Be very wary of allowing your pet in a car unless he/she is securely placed in a crate in the back of the vehicle.
With many people establishing themselves as dog walkers in the tough economic crisis, there are an increasing amount of people walking dogs with little or no dog behaviour background. While taking account of people genuinely just starting out in the business, generally good walkers will have some training and behavioural experience. They should also, obviously, love dogs and relish being in their company. You would not want to leave your pet with someone who felt anything less than completely positive about taking care of them.
You must be able to communicate easily with your dog walker – A professional walker should take the time to discuss your dog’s needs. You should mention any health or medical issues.
How many dogs does your dog walker take out at the same time?
Ask how many dogs will be on the walk. Most insurance companies now only cover 4 dogs at one particular time.
Don’t be afraid to ask where your dog will be walked. Is the route traffic free? Will your dog be walked through fields of livestock? Will it be able to run free off the lead, with a pack of other dogs? - Some walkers specialise in this kind of free-running which many dogs love, but the walker cannot allow this without your permission.
Don’t be afraid to ask what would happen in an emergency. Does the walker carry a first aid kit? Are they trained in canine first aid?
Some dog walkers have themselves DBS checked for owners’ peace of mind, though this is not a compulsory requirement, particularly if know the person well. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formally the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau).