New Yorkers, Astorians especially, take their dogs seriously. Obviously, we expect businesses that provide pet care services to take our dogs seriously, too.

Handing our dog over to a dog walker is like entrusting a stranger with our kid, except in some ways it is more dangerous.

Customers always ask my opinion on dog walking services in our neighborhood and I am asked for referrals.  I have spoken to a number of well-known dog walking professionals I work with, and here is a list of things to keep in mind when searching for a pet care professional for your pet for the first time:

  • Dog walking in an unlicensed and unregulated profession.
  • There are no professional standards except your own.
  • You’re giving your keys to a stranger.
  • You’re asking a stranger to navigate an urban environment full of hazards with your most prized possession.

What you can do:

  • Anyone can call him/ herself a dog walker.  Ask friends and family, neighbors or a local vet or pet store, or even a fellow pet owner if they can recommend someone.
  • Ask for, and check references.
  • Make sure your dog walker provides a written service contract spelling out services and fees.
  • Make sure the dog walker can provide written proof that s/he has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence).
  • Look for someone who has been in business for several years.
  • Inquire about specific training the dog walker has received to handle emergencies.
  • A good pet care professional is a dedicated individual, and s/he will generally try to accommodate your schedule, even it is difficult at times.
  • Make sure the dog walker records information about your pet, such as likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines.  In other words, ask him/ her to establish a pet profile.
  • Make sure the dog walker is associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services, if your own vet is too far away.
  • Make sure that you know your dog walker’s back-up person, in case s/he gets sick, has car trouble, or goes on vacation.
  • Make sure you know who walks your dog at all times.  Sometimes dog walkers get too busy because they have taken on too many dogs to handle, and your pooch may be handed off to someone you didn’t even know existed.
  • Make sure your dog walker informs you that your dog has been returned to your home.  A good dog walker will send you text messages and/ or photos of your dog to assure you that your dog is safe.

Again, these are just the basics when choosing a dog walker.  To find out more please read this helpful piece from Inger Martens.  http://www.pawsforaminute.com/tag/how-to-find-a-good-dog-walker/

“Remember if you are happy with your dog walker the best way to show your appreciation is to recommend them to your friends, family, vet, pet store, and others you know who have pets or deal with the local pet care industry!”

woof, woof & meow!

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