Woman walking five dogs on leash

WHEN TO HIRE A DOG WALKER AND HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT ONE

10/03/16

With busy schedules, long work hours and complicated lives outside of the home, it can be a challenge to ensure your pet gets enough exercise and doesn't spend too much time on their own. If this sounds like you, you might want to consider hiring a dog walker.

Whether it’s time to add another human to your dog's social life can depend on many factors. For instance, consider what is the appropriate length of time your dog should be left alone. Smaller and younger dogs will need to relieve themselves more often than larger and older dogs. If you notice that your dog is having accidents at home, it may be due to them not being able to hold their bladder for an extended period of time. In general, it is recommended to avoid more than 9 hours without relief for an adult dog.

Another sign that a dog walker might be needed is the occurrence of behavioural issues that may be the result of a lack of exercise. Dogs can start to act out when they are bored or full of pent up energy that doesn't escape by the end of the day. This could result in restlessness and naughty behaviours such as inappropriate chewing or toilet paper shredding.

Here are a few tips to help you find the right fit for your furry family member if you've decided that it might be time to hire a dog walker:

1. Ask around.

Your vet, best friend or neighbour may already know the ideal candidate for the job. If they've personally used their services, you'll learn firsthand what to expect from them.

2. Make a date.

When you think you've found a few contenders, invite the candidates to meet your dog and see how they get along. Dogs tend to quickly know whether they like a person or not, so get together to see if they are compatible with your pooch.

3. Get the answers to the big questions.

It may seem obvious, but it's worth asking the dog walker where they plan to walk the dog, for what length and who with (i.e., will it be a solo or group walk with other pets). If they work for a company, ask if they will be the person walking the dog or if another employee will be taking your pet out.

4. Get personal.

Now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty: ask about the dog walker's training background, how long they've been doing it, what their training methods are, if they know canine first aid and if they are insured.

5. Take a walk.

If they've made it this far, it's time to get moving together to see how the dog walker handles your dog and any situations along the way.

6. Make it official.

If the relationship seems like a good fit for your life and your pet, make sure you receive a contract outlining their services and fee schedule. The dog walker should also ask for your vet and emergency contact information.

Even if you don't require a dog walker five days a week, it's good to have a relationship with a trusted service provider ready in the event of an extra long work day or other unscheduled interruptions to ensure your dog is cared for and gets the attention and piece of mind you both deserve.