Dog walkers can be a lifesaver for owners that work long hours, are in a pinch or just need someone to help out with a super-active pup. And for the most part, they are amazing people that love their job, and your dog. But recent headlines have shed a spotlight on another side of the industry, professionals that shouldn’t be trusted with your dog.
Recently, a Chicago dog walker was captured on a apartment surveillance camera kicking a beagle puppy in the elevator. And in New York City, an owner has pressed charges against her dog walker after she accused him of selling her dog for drugs.
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While these incidences are few and far between, there are things you can do to ensure your peace of mind when you leave your dog in the hands of others.
1. Check referrals
If your dog walker is a hobbyist, make sure you ask for referrals from other clients. If he or she is considered a professional and works for a business, ask the employer how they vet and train their walkers. Some tactics include criminal background checks, references, certifications and on-the-job training.
2. Look for signs
Image: Vanessa Van Ryzin, Mindful Motion Photography/Getty Images
If you are able to observe your dog and the walker, look for behavior changes. Is your pup excited to see the walker or shows signs of fear such as a tucked tail, head lowered and cowering, to name a few.
3. Install home-monitoring devices
These let you watch your dog the entire day, including when a dog walker comes into your place. Two popular ones are PetCube and the upcoming Petziconnect.
Besides keeping an eye on your dog (and the person retrieving your pet from your home), the devices often have microphones to talk to your pup and speakers to listen. Plus, there are other features, like PetCube’s laser pointer and Petziconnect’s treat dispenser.
4. Consider getting a camera collar
If you want to keep your eyes on your pup during walks, consider getting a camera collar. Some of these collars come equipped with GPS to ensure your dog is getting the correct amount of exercise, and they allow you to literally see things from a dog’s point of view, as the camera sits right below the pooch’s head. Some notable brands include the upcoming Motorola’s Scout 5000 and PawsCam.
5. Invest in “smart” collars
Thanks to technology, collars are becoming more advanced, with many having features that can help keep a pulse on your pup when you aren’t with him. For instance PetPace, Voyce and Whistle, monitor your dog’s pulse, respiration and heart rate, all vitals that can change when your pet is stressed out.
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