(Font: Mack Kaswell)
Like many dog owners, at one point or another you’ve likely considered hiring a dog walker and asked yourself, “why should we hire a dog walker?” Simply put, so that your dog can receive sufficient potty relief, exercise, and tender loving care in your absence; but, there are many reasons and benefits beyond that. In this article, I will discuss and break down the advantages and considerations of hiring and using a dog walker.
Prior to starting a career in pet care, I quickly found out as a dog owner that it wasn’t always possible to make it home in time to prevent my dogs from soiling the rug or shredding their toys from boredom. I couldn’t always rely on a friend, relative, or neighbor to save the day. So, what did I do? Well, I had to drop everything I was doing and rush home OR take a chance and get a home a little later than I (and my dogs) would have liked. Fortunately, I now have the flexibility and resources to make sure my dogs receive sufficient dog walks, exercise, and potty relief throughout the day. Most owners do not have this flexibility, however, and could greatly benefit from hiring a dog walker.
Based on my experiences and the experiences of many clients and dog owners alike, I’ve found and listed just some of the reasons and situations in which you may need and should consider a dog walker:
- You work full time or are away from home for long periods of time. Just like humans, dogs need to relieve themselves throughout the day. The frequency of dog walks and potty relief, or potty breaks as I call them, depends on age, energy level, and your dog’s specific needs and routine. Puppies aged 8-12 weeks old absolutely need to get out as much as possible, typically every hour or so. For adult dogs, walks may be more infrequent, but you should still consider a dog walker if you’re gone for more than 4-6 hours.
- You prefer not to use a boarding facility or kennel when you go on vacation. Instead, a dog walker or pet sitter can come to your home and provide walks and care as needed.
- Your dog is not getting enough exercise during the work week and, thus, “acting out” and/or displaying undesirable behaviors (i.e. chewing and shredding shoes or household items or compulsive behaviors etc).
- You return home to find “presents” scattered throughout the house. Your dog isn’t making it through the day and, as a result, he or she is having regular accidents.
- You aren’t physically able to walk your dog due to old age or surgery. Let’s face it, everyone gets old and, in some cases, your dog’s energy level may surpass yours and his or her exercise needs may become more than you can handle. Additionally, if you’re having surgery and need a helping hand with walking your dog, a dog walker can cover that for you!
- You don’t have a doggie door or fenced-in yard, allowing backyard access for bathroom relief during the day.
The benefits to you and your dog(s):
- No more accidents! Your dog no longer has to hold it (or soil the rug). You no longer have to worry about whether your dog made it through the day.
- Your dog will receive much needed exercise, stimulation, playtime, treats and fresh water. In turn, the exercise and stimulation can help tremendously for overly energetic dogs and puppies and may even curb some of the undesirable behavior. Sometimes a little bit of exercise goes a long way and is exactly what your dog might need.
- If desired, your dog can interact with other dogs on group dog walks and enjoy off-leash exercise and play sessions (at safe and approved fenced-in yards or parks). This interaction with other dogs can help to properly socialize your dog and it is sure to tire him or her out for the day.
- Having a dog walker will provide your dog with a consistent routine.
- A wealth of knowledge and expertise at your fingertips. You will have assistance from a professional anytime you need it. A professional dog walker not only provides dog walks and care, but also provides knowledge and experience that you may or may not have. Let’s say, for example, you need some tips on finding harnesses, collars or leashes that will help with walking your dog. A dog walker can help and give some great recommendations. Or, if you need veterinary or groomer recommendations, you can always consult him or her.
- Your dog will be happy, healthy and safe when you return home. Happy dog, happy owner!
Considerations for hiring a dog walker:
- It costs money to hire a dog walker! Although it’s nice having a dog walker and a necessity for your dog if you’re away from home for long periods of time, we understand that hiring a dog walker may not necessarily fall within your budget. The price for dog walks can range from $10 up to $45 depending on the company, dog walker, service, travel, and a number of factors.
- If cost is a major consideration, you may try negotiating with a company or independent dog walker to reach a mutually agreeable number. Or, you could find a neighbor and offer to pay him or her, or not.
- You should keep in mind that if you find a friend or neighbor to help, he or she will be doing it as a sort of “favor.” With this arrangement, we’ve found that, because it’s a favor, your friend or neighbor will solely see it that way and may not take it seriously and, thus, your dog may lose out if something comes up to disrupt the walk.
- Although money and budget are a major consideration, you can almost always find a dog walker or company that falls within your budget. Or, if you find a company you really like and their prices are higher than you’d like, many good companies will work with you and create some sort of payment plan.
- You will be opening up your home to a new person. While the thought of this makes many people nervous, there’s nothing to worry about if you go through a pet care company or dog walker with the appropriate credentials, including bonding and insurance, and a strong reputation.
- Make sure to do your research and homework! Before moving forward, you should research the dog walkers and dog walking companies in your area to see that they are professionals and know what they’re doing. We will write in article in the near future and share some tips and steps to take when interviewing and hiring a dog walker.
So, are you ready to move forward in hiring a dog walker? If so, there are a number of ways to go about finding dog walkers and dog walking companies. First, you can find and compare dog walkers in your area by running a quick Google search for dog walkers in your city and state. For example, let’s say you live in Chevy Chase or Bethesda, Maryland; you could try searching with the following terms and phrases: “dog walkers in Bethesda, MD,” “Bethesda dog walkers,” “dog walking Bethesda, MD” or “dog walkers Bethesda Chevy Chase.” Those should yield some good results, which you will need to sort through and see what you like. Additionally, to help with your search, there are also many great directory sites, including Yelp, Yellow Pages, or Google Local, and directory sites specifically for dog walkers, pet sitters, and other service-based companies, such as Care.com or Angie’s List. If you prefer to avoid searching on the web, another option is to talk with friends, family, or trusted service professionals (veterinarian, groomer, etc) and ask if they might have any recommendations on dog walkers.
Keyword: Dog walker, Pet Services, SF dog walking.