How Do I Find a Good Dog Walker?

You may not be home much due to your work, hobbies, and travel, so you need to find a good dog walker to take care of your pup when you're not around. You want to know for certain that this person will not only walk your dog, but also care for your dog and ensure he feels comfortable and happy at all times.

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However, you don't know where to start when it comes to finding and hiring a good dog walker. By following these tips, you can find a dog walker who will be sure to take great care of your pup.

Know your dog’s needs

While dogs in general need to be walked three to four times a day for at least 15 minutes each time, this number can vary depending on your dog's age, eating habits, energy level, breed, and medical conditions. A senior dog may only need to be walked one time per day, for instance, and perhaps let outside to go to the bathroom in the yard at other points throughout the day.

If you have a high energy breed such as a Dalmatian, Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, or Siberian Husky, your dog walker may need to come more often, take your dog for a longer walk each time, and/or run and play with your dog when you're not home.

If you're not sure how often your dog walker should be taking your dog out, ask your trainer and consult your veterinarian.

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Determine your budget

Normally, dog walkers will charge $15 to $20 for a 20-minute walk, and $20 to $30 for a 30-minute walk. If you have more than one dog, there will be an extra service fee of about $5 to $10 per walk. (These prices can vary depending on your location.) While it may be tempting to hire the cheapest dog walking service, looking for someone who is bonded and insured, has excellent references, and is great with your pup is much more important than cost.

An alternative to hiring a dog walker is to put your pup into doggy day care instead. This may cost around $240 to $550 per week (for five days of daycare), depending on where you live. If you can afford it, doggy day care may be worth it, because your dog will get to socialize with other pups, go on multiple walks, and play with toys all day long.

Determine how often you need the dog walker

Your dog will need a walk if you are away from home between 8 to 10 hours a day. If you have a smaller dog, then you'll need to have a dog walker visit him more often because he can't hold his bladder for very long. Again, if your dog has a lot of energy, the walker will need to come more often as well.

If you don't work a 9-to-5 job every day, but only need your dog walker when you're out of town or have to be out of the house for a long amount of time, then you don't need to hire a regular person.

Ask the right questions

Along with asking your dog walker if they are bonded and insured and have references, ask about their past experience with dogs. Did they handle dogs of all different ages? Have they worked with your breed? Do they know how to help your dog in case there is a medical emergency? See if they will sign a service agreement or contract with you as well.

Other questions to ask include: Will you walk my dog in bad weather? Do you have a car you could use to take the dog to the vet in case of an emergency? Will you provide updates on my dog's daily walks? Do you walk other dogs at the same time or will my dog receive individualized attention? What would you do if my dog became aggressive with another dog? Asking the right questions is key to finding the best person for the job.

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Dog walking services

While services like Wag and Rover give you access to hundreds or even thousands of dog walkers on demand in your city, and the prices are good—$20 per 30-minute walk or $30 per 60 minute walk— you may get what you pay for. These companies say that they extensively vet their walkers and that all walkers are bonded and insured. However, just like when you use an app like Uber or Airbnb, you aren't always sure who you're hiring and whether or not they will be good.

These services are convenient, so you'll have to weigh the pros and cons. The best thing to do is to research these companies thoroughly, as well as ask family and friends who have used them in the past what they thought. Make sure you read the reviews on the person you're hiring from the app, too.

If you're going with an independent dog walker, the pro is that you're always going to get the same person every time, and you know them personally. A con might be that it's not as cheap or convenient. Again, do your research by asking for recommendations and looking into your dog walker's references. It's the only way to know for sure that you're making the right decision.