A flaky dog walker who always cancels last minute is the worst kind of dog walker out there — and your pet will be the one who suffers. Always discuss your expectations before hiring someone and if they can't meet them, thank them and move on. "Don't be afraid to ask for references from current or past customers," advises Ashley Torresala of Propel Communications. "If past customers are available, ask why they stopped using this dog walker or company."
Not every dog will respond well to even the most seasoned dog walker — and vice versa. Set up a consultation with your pet and the dog walker to see how they interact with each other. "Upon meeting the potential dog walker, listen to your instincts," says Torresala. You must be trusting and [the dog walker] must have an instant connection with you both (as well as the size, breed and personality of your dog)." Remember that your dog is interviewing the dog walker just as much as you are. So take note!
While we hope your dog walker won't ever have to use it, ask if he or she is certified in pet CPR and basic first aid. Make sure the person caring for your pet is capable of handling a stressful situation if the unthinkable happens. Also ask your dog walker if he or she is bonded and insured? While it's not necessary, it may ease your mind to know coverage will be provided for personal injuries and property damage.
Don't assume the person you meet will be the one walking your dog. "Ask if this person will be in fact the one walking your dog every day, or if there is a rotation of people each day," says Torresala. "If there is a rotation, ask to meet each person who may have access to your dog, and in some cases, even the keys to your home." Along with that, find out if your dog will be one of many on the walk or if the dog walker walks each client one at a time.
Hiring a dog walker is all about finding a fit that's right for you and your dog's needs. One size does not fit all, so ask your questions upfront and take note of the answers — your dog will be happy to have found a new friend!
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