18 Crucial Questions You Should Ask Your Professional Dog Walker
If you’re in the market for a professional dog walker, there are a variety of questions you need to ask. Some things you need to know to be sure that the dog walking company you’re interested in runs a legitimate business, while other inquiries are to ensure that the service is a good fit for your four-legged friend.
We decided to compile the ones across both categories – a legitimate business and a good fit for you – and ended up with this list of the 18 most important questions to ask your dog walking company.
Let’s start with the most important qualifiers.
Questions to Establish Dog Walking Professionalism
If you select the wrong dog service you could end up putting your pet—and other property—at risk. It’s crucial that you ask the right questions to make sure that anyone you select runs a legitimate business, with professional dog walkers. While a company’s website and online reviews can give you some solid clues, it’s still important to ask the following:
1 Are you bonded and insured? If your professional dog walker runs a legitimate business, they should be bonded and have liability insurance. If your dog walking company pitches themselves as pros and don’t have these basics, you should stay away.
2 Do you run background checks on all of your dog walkers?
Plain and simple: anyone getting paid to take care of your pet should be subject to a background check. In this industry, there is nothing worse than a company who risks the safety of the pets it is entrusted to take care of.
3 What does your training look like?
Anyone that is going to be a consistent presence in your pet’s life needs to have training in basic care and animal behavior. But pet first-aid and CPR are important additions that could save your pet’s life in the case of an emergency. Medication training may also be important for your pet.
4 What is your protocol for unruly behavior?
If a dog walker says that they will punish your dog, you want to steer clear. No one wants to hand their dog over to an abuser. Plus, there is risk your dog may injure someone if it feels too threatened. Redirection, followed by positive reinforcement is always a better choice.
5 What is your protocol for emergency?
A crucial contributor to a pet owner’s peace of mind, how your dog walker responds to injury or a lost pet should be a central concern when vetting out your options. As much as you might not want to go there, you can’t be too afraid to ask.
6 What sort of communication do you maintain?
One of the main things that a dog walking service provides is peace of mind. Those that provide convenient ways to communicate do this even better. Going beyond the stereotypical “emergency contact” and providing information about bathroom schedule and other status updates is a great bonus.
7 Do you provide service under all conditions?
No matter the weather, your dog will need to go out. Yet your dog sitter may not be willing or able to provide service during certain conditions. You need to find out in the beginning and make sure to keep it in mind when nature acts up.
8 Are you a member of a professional pet sitters association?
That’s right. There are actually pet sitters associations that dog walking companies can join for ongoing training, certification, and other benefits. This is one of the best indications that the dog walking company you’re interested in is serious about the profession.
Questions to Make Sure a Dog Walker is a Good Fit
Once you’ve thoroughly vetted your prospective company as a professional service running a solid business, you can begin to focus on compatibility. It’s important that any service you select has options that mesh well with your lifestyle and accommodate your dog’s individual needs.
The remainder of our list focuses on these types of inquiries.
9 Where will you walk my dog?
A question that is important for all dog walking clients is where the dog walks take place. Depending on your location and needs, you might want the walks to stay within your neighborhood or you might prefer they travel to different locations.
10 What are your pickup and drop off procedures?
If your dog will be traveling with your sitter, be sure that you are comfortable with the way your dog will be transported. You want to consider things like the type of vehicle, the the presence of other dogs, and whether your pet will change hands in the process.
11 What types of leashes do you use?
Another consideration that might be important to you is the type of leashes that your pet walker uses. Make sure they only use restraints that you approve of.
12 Will you ever unleash my dog—at a dog park or otherwise?
Speaking of leashes, some owners are uncomfortable with off-leash time. Others think it is essential. Whichever side you’re on, make sure your pet sitter is willing to comply with your wishes.
13 How many dog sitters do you use and what does their rotation look like?
Most pet sitting clients prefer that their dog stick with a single handler every day. Most dog walking companies agree, but you want to make especially sure if you know your dog struggles with inconsistency.
14 How many dogs do you walk at a time?
Whether you feel your pet needs individual attention or socialization, this is a very important question to ask.
15 How do you handle unsocialized dogs?
Another two sided question: whether your dog is unsocialized or you’re worried about other unsocialized dogs this a good answer to know. Asking will help give you a feel for the dog walker’s prowess as a handler as well as peace of mind.
16 What sort of accommodations do you have for dogs with unique needs?
This is one of the most individualized of all the questions on our list. Indeed, you may not need to ask. But if you do, the answer will be one of the most important determining factors for your decision. You don’t want to hire someone unqualified to handle medication or your pets other special needs.
17 What additional services do you offer?
Some dog walkers also provide general pet sitting, grooming, pet taxiing or other services that you might find useful, even necessary. It’s always great to know your options! (But don’t forget to ask about the cost as well.)
18 Do you offer trial walks?
You’ll probably still have to pay, but most legitimate dog walking services will allow you to come along on a test run before you commit to a contract. This is a great way to see first-hand what a particular dog walker’s service is like.
As long as you get the answers to all of these questions, you will be able to sort out the good dog walkers from the bad and eventually identify the one that is the best fit for you and your pet.
Hopefully, our list has helped you identify the need-to-know information in your quest for a professional dog walker. If it has provided you value, please like and share. If you have any questions or comments, we’d also love to hear about your experiences with dog walkers!
Mark Shaver has owned Buckhead Paws since 2012, and is an active member of Pet Sitters International. Previously, he was a senior executive with three multinational corporations.