What To Look For In A Dog Walker
21 February 2019 | Dog Walking
There are so many companies offering dog walking these days, its hard to know what to look for – especially when your out at work all day, unable to walk your dog yourself or have commitments that require you being away from your home for a length of time.
Therefore its important to know what to look for when searching for a dog walking service, after all, you’re putting your trust in someone who will not only be spending time with your canine family but will require access into your home as well when picking up and returning your dog after their walk.
That’s why we have put together some of our top tips on what to look out for :
Make sure they are covered
You should always insist on seeing a current dog walking insurance and CRB check. Not only is it peace of mind, but it is vital just in case something goes wrong. This will cover Public Liability for dogs in their care, but also cover vet fees and animals in transit should an accident occur whilst your dog is in their care.
Walking in groups
Be sure to see that the dog walker isn’t walking too many dogs together. Most insurance policies cover up to 6 dogs walked per person at a time, but we generally stick to a maximum of 4, usually 2-3 per person, especially with young and excitable dogs.
Our groups are certainly no bigger than 6 dogs at a time, with two handlers, to make sure that everyone gets plenty of attention and is appropriately under control.
Watch how the dog walker interacts
See how the dog walker interacts with your dog during the home visit. Do they instantly force their presence upon your dog, or do they allow him to come round in his own time? Are they phased by boisterous behaviour and frequently raise their voice to your dog, or do they make a fuss of him and then implement calming stroking techniques, whilst calmly talking to him to calm him down?
This will tell you a lot about their style of dog handling and whether or not it fits your expectations.
Don’t be afraid to ask your walker’s experience of dog ownership, alongside the various breeds and temperaments they typically walk – it shows your interest and should be a topic your walker will willingly discuss.
How many dogs do they have?
Does the walker own a single dog, or a few? The latter is preferable as it is vital that your walker has extensive knowledge of interpreting subtle changes in body posture and vocalisations. Its good to know how best to manage the situation, especially when introducing new dogs to group walks and encountering stranger’s dogs off lead on walks.
It is also preferable that they have experience with a range of breed types and are aware of the traits of particular types of dog which may influence which types of dogs they likely to get along with best and what they are likely to be like off lead – e.g sighthounds, scenthounds, terriers, guarding breeds, herding breeds etc.
This doesn’t mean your walker stereotypes certain breeds, but that they are aware of what the breed was originally bred for and their little breed quirks and tendencies, that sets them apart from other dogs.
Doggy first aid
A Dog First Aid course is preferable, so that the walker is equipped to deal with minor and serious medical issues that may arise during emergency situations in the time they are caring for your dog.
Canine CPR, diffusing dog fights, drowning, different types of bleeds, burns, heat stroke, road traffic accidents and choking are all covered, plus much more.
It is very handy to know how to deal with these situations if the need arises out of the blue. Your dog walker’s appropriate intervention may seriously impact the outcome of the situation for your dog and mean the difference between life and death, if the issue is managed correctly before rushing to the vets.
Such courses should be renewed every 3 years and a certificate should be available for customers to see.
On lead or off lead
Ask the dog walker if your dog will be allowed off lead on their walk. If the answer is an instant yes, avoid!
It is vital that the dog walker takes the time to bond with the dog for a couple of sessions at least so that the dog is comfortable in his/her company and is willing to come back for a reward. Particularly if your dog hasn’t had a walker before, they need to realise that everything is safe and they will be taken back home each time.
Not only that, it is vital that each dog is responsive to a recall and are properly under control when encountering other dogs, people, bicycles, horses etc to comply with the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Regardless of whether you own a large or tiny dog, excitable or calm, the Act applies to each and every dog and if your dog causes someone to be worried or afraid that your dog may harm them, they could be in real trouble if the matter is taken further.
For this reason all off lead dogs on our walks are regularly recalled away from other dogs that are on lead and people, and rewarded each time until the situation is evaluated. This doesn’t make the walk any less fun for the dog as they are building and reinforcing their training and good citizen manners, but it keeps everybody safe and if the other parties wish to say hello, they can.
We have to be mindful of people that are fearful of dogs, and other dogs on lead that are recovering from injuries/nervous/dog aggressive and so this keeps our walks calm and structured.
If your dog does not have a reliable recall we often use long lines attached to his collar/harness, so that he is allowed freedom to play with the other dogs, but can be ‘reeled in’ if he ignores a recall 10 feet away and needs to return for some reason.
Owners of such dogs often notice a marked improvement in their dog’s recall once they’ve done this for a while and been rewarded, then allowed the freedom to rejoin their pals playing once the hazard has passed.
I feel it is our responsibility as responsible and conscientious dog owners to be mindful of the others around us, whilst safeguarding the dogs in our care.
If you’re interested in our dog walking service, give Animal Crackers a call! We’ll arrange a visit for a meet and greet and soon you and your dogs will be benefiting from our dog walking sessions. Call us today on 07798 804720 or drop us a line via our web form!Tags: Dog Walker, Dog Walking, Pet Safety