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How to Hire Dog Walkers Near You

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Last Updated on September 27, 2022 by Aimee

Introduction

Does the thought of finding a dog walker feel overwhelming to you? Rest assured—that’s not unusual, especially as questions come to mind like: will I have to give the walker a key to my home? Should I hire an independent walker or a company? What’s a reasonable amount to pay walkers?

The good news is that hiring a dog walker doesn’t have to feel stressful, especially if you know what to look for and what to ask. To make life easier, here’s a 6-step checklist to find the perfect dog walker fit for you and your dog!

Why Hire a Dog Walker

If you’re hoping to find a dog walker, maybe you want to save time, maybe you need help while you work late at the office, or maybe you’ve injured yourself and need help as you recover. 

Many pup parents aren’t able to own dogs without the help of dog walkers. For the love they share, and their tireless efforts in treating your dogs as their own, it’s no surprise that dog walkers have been given their own special day! National Dog Walker Appreciation Day is September 8th, when dog walkers receive the spotlight for their great work.

No matter your exact reason, just as nannies can make human parenting easier, dog walkers can make pup parenting easier. With the extra time you save, you can watch your daughter’s ballet recital, guilt-free, or finally catch up with projects at work; all the while, your pup will be burning energy, and feel naptime-ready once you return home.

woman walking two small dogs on a wooden bridge - How to Hire Dog Walkers Near You
Photo courtesy of Spot Dog Walkers

1. Know Your Needs and Your Dog’s Needs

For the time being, imagine that hiring dog walkers is safe and affordable—we’ll get to safety and affordability in later steps! For now, picture a retired mom in your neighborhood who’d love to walk your dog.

If this experienced walker visited you and your dog, what would you want to ask her? You might want to know what days she’s available, where she might take your pup, if she’d also be able to fill his water and food bowl, and so on.

To make it easier to filter through the many dog walker options that you see on Google, it’s great to start with a list of “must haves” for both your dog and you.

What is Best for You

For example, if you’re a yoga instructor, teaching classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings, no matter how much your dog loves your neighborhood dog walker, if she’s not around to walk your dog while on Saturday mornings, you’ll know you have to keep on looking for a new walker. Availability, for example on weekends or late nights, is a good example of a “must have” if you have specific times that you’ll need a dog walker.

What is Best for Your Dog 

As another example, if you have two full-grown German Shepherds, your dogs’ “must haves” will be finding a physically powerful dog walker who can safely handle the two pups. Or, if your dog tends to get anxious around strangers, you’ll know that meet-and-greets with potential walkers will be essential to start with.

Keep brainstorming other “must haves” and “nice to haves” for your dog walker. It makes your job much easier to quickly rule out dog walkers who won’t work right from the start, rather than finding out that things won’t work just before finalizing a booking.

2. Finding Dog Walkers Near You

If you’re warming up to the idea of hiring a dog walker, the next step is building your shortlist of candidates; imagine you’re working as your dog’s human-relations companion, hiring the perfect fit for him or her!

When it comes to researching dog walker options, you can lump dog walkers into two buckets; one is the independent dog walker, and the other is the company dog walker. Each bucket has its pros and cons, and being aware of your preferences from Step 1 will make it easier to determine which will fit best for you.

Independent Dog Walkers

Your neighborhood dog walker, leaving flyers in your mailbox, creating local classified listings, or running a solo dog walking company, is the “independent” dog walker, not working for a larger corporation. 

As a positive, usually independent dog walkers are easiest to transact with. You’re dealing with one person, directly via calling and texting, you can often pay in cash, and there’s typically less “fine print” to read about cancellation and refund policies.

Cons include that independent dog walkers usually don’t have as much flexibility as company walkers. For example, if your independent dog walker goes on summer vacation, you’re left having to find a replacement walker on your own. Also, there’s typically (though not always) less insurance coverage for extra peace of mind.

Company Dog Walkers

Whether it’s a small business with a group of dog walkers, or an app like Spot Dog Walkers, Rover, or Wag, company dog walkers usually (though again not always) have more reliability, insurance, and features.

While companies can feel less personable, reliability is usually much better; if your regular walker has to cancel within 24 hours, rather than being left to your own devices, backup walkers can be scheduled with relative ease. For instance, that’s a big help for office workers, who might not be able to work from home on sudden notice due to a walker cancellation. Also, there are usually more features, such as GPS tracking, greater pet insurance coverage, and around the clock customer support.

The con of hiring a dog walking company can be that the experience is not as “neighborly”. For example, rather than just chatting via phone texting, you might need to call their office or chat to support via an app.

To get started with this step, you can create a shortlist of, say, 2 independent dog walkers and 2 company dog walkers. If their pricing and offerings seem attractive to you, try giving them a call and scheduling a time when you can meet them and introduce your dog! 

man walking dog in a shaded wooded area - How to Hire Dog Walkers Near You
Photo courtesy of Spot Dog Walkers

3. Meet-and-Greet With Your Dog Walker

Once you’ve scheduled your meet-and-greets with your shortlist of dog walkers, you’re ready for a handful of job interviews; this time—you’ll be on the other side of the desk, ensuring that they’ll be able to fulfill your needs and your dog’s needs.

With independent dog walkers, you can reach out, asking if they can meet your dog for 15 minutes or so. While you’re at it, you could also schedule a brief “trial” walk, if it’s something they’re open to; that way you can quickly find out if they’re a good match.

With larger companies, you can similarly schedule meet-and-greets with dog walkers who have great reviews and ratings. Typically, meet-and-greets are free, but a small fee isn’t too much to lose if the dog walker candidate feels promising.

Determining Which Walker Is Best For You and Your Dog

Once your first walker candidate knocks on your door, keep your eyes and ears peeled! Observe how the walker interacts with your dog, see how your dog responds to the walker. While meeting with your walker, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions as well.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when meeting your dog walker candidate:

  • Ask yourself: do you like the walker?
    • Do you and your dog feel good about the walker’s personality and presence? Usually, dog walkers get along like peanut butter & jelly with dogs—as they should! Unless your dog is nervous around strangers, your pup’s body language will help you confirm your gut feelings about the dog walker.
  • Tell your walker everything about your dog: 
    • For the sake of your dog and the walker, you’ll want to explain the good, bad, and yes—the ugly, when it comes to your dog’s personality. Does your dog lunge during walks? Has your dog ever bitten another dog or person? Err on the side of too much information! You’ll set your walker up for success if you inform her as much as possible about your dog. Though it might feel hard to talk about your dog’s mischievous side, it’s best for the walker to understand your pup as best as possible beforehand to properly accommodate once walks begin.
  • Ask plenty of questions: 
    • During your meet-and-greet, it’s a great chance to ask your potential dog walker lots of questions. Surely, once the conversation gets going, your own questions will pop into mind, but here are some questions to break the ice:
      • What sort of experience do you have walking breeds or sizes similar to my dog?
      • Can you provide references from other clients?
      • If the walks are group walks, will my dog be walked with similarly sized dogs?
      • Where will you walk my dog?

Once you’ve met a few dog walkers and had the chance to interview them, you’ll surely have narrowed your shortlist to just a few walker candidates! But don’t worry—you don’t have to make a hiring decision yet! This will be covered in the next step, comparing the policies of your dog walker options to make the best possible choice for you and your dog.

4. Understand their Policies

Now that you’ve interviewed your candidates and narrowed the shortlist down, it’s time for some due diligence, combing over their policies as pet professionals. This means learning about their insurance, safety practices, cancellation policies, and pricing.

Here are some policy questions you can ask about:

  • Pricing: what prices do you charge, and are there discounts for buying in bulk?
  • Insurance: is pet and home insurance provided, and what are the deductibles?
  • Cancellations and refunds: how many days in advance do I have to report a cancellation, and would there be a refund?
  • Is there a minimum amount of dog walks that I need to schedule?

You should be able to find private 60-minute dog walks within the $25 to $35 range, which are insured and private, and offer refunds without hassle; group walks or walks shorter than 60 minutes should have lower prices. If the candidates you’ve found don’t offer those sorts of rates and features, you can try haggling them down, or continue searching for alternatives.

5. Preparing for the First Dog Walk

If you’re still reading this article, then pat yourself on the back. You’ve probably found 1 or 2 candidates who can offer you some relief from dog parenting duty at least a few hours per week!

To start, you can book your first dog walk with your favorite candidate remaining on your shortlist. If you have alternatives, then great! You can keep their phone numbers in your back pocket in case you ever feel the need to make a change.

Supporting your dog walker with supplies needed

Once you’ve scheduled the first walk, you’ll just have to provide your walker with the supplies needed to safely walk your dog.

  • Walker entry instructions: provide your walker a key lockbox or electronic keypad code for your walker to safely access your home
  • Contact info: share your phone number and email address as an emergency contact
  • Health info: let your walker know about any health concerns your dog has
  • Supplies: Let your walker know where the treats, harness, and leash are stored
  • Walk instructions: inform your walker about paths and parks nearby which you can recommend
woman walking dog on a gravel walking path - How to Hire Dog Walkers Near You
Photo courtesy of Spot Dog Walkers

6. Get feedback from your dog walker and dog once the walk is over

Once your dog walker is finished walking your dog, have a chat and see how your dog behaved! Did your dog walker award your pup an A+, or was it a B-, etc? Since your walker probably has a great deal of experience walking all sorts of dogs, she can likely point out ways to help your dog become more comfortable with walks in the future.

Of course, you can also read the feedback from your dog! Does your dog give off an aura of satisfaction after the walk is done? Is your pup sad to see the walker leave and excited when she arrives? These are positive signs that your dog is content with the walking schedule you’ve created.

Last but not least, are you happy with how the walk went? If so, consider giving your dog walker a positive review! Especially for these hard-working animal lovers, positive reviews can truly go a long way in supporting their livelihood and being a positive difference maker in their week.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, finding your dog a walker doesn’t have to feel overwhelming and stressful. While it takes effort to consider your needs, research nearby dog walkers, interview those walkers, and pay for trial walks, finding a great dog walker will save you hours upon hours of time in the long run, while giving your dog a healthy, outdoor outlet for his or her energy!

We truly hope that you’ve found this information helpful! Thank you very much for reading, and please feel free to contact us or leave a comment in case you have any thoughts or questions. 


Thank you to Spot Dog Walkers for providing this sponsored article, How to Hire Dog Walkers Near You. Spot offers dog walking in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, having served 80,000 insured & GPS-tracked dog walks since 2016.

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