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How to find a good dog walker

Sometimes we all need a dog walker, whether it be for a one off visit or a more regular commitment. Given anyone can call themselves a dog walker, you need to know what to look for. 


Start by asking around to get some recommendations. Ask your dog trainer, vet or groomer if they know of anyone or know clients that use someone in particular. Check the local council as many have a list of registered dog walkers in the area.


Once you have a list of dog walkers in mind, check out their website or drop them a message. What qualifications do they have? Do they have insurance? What method of training do they use/believe in? Dog walkers should have an up to date understand of behaviour and dog handling, do they have any qualifications to demonstrate this? They should be able to read basic body language, have a valid canine first aid certificate and carry a first aid kit with them on walks. They should also have third party insurance which will stipulate how many dogs they can walk at any one time and may also cover emergency vet fees.


If the dog walker intends to travel your dog in their vehicle, do they have the correct facilities? Does it have good ventilation and temperature control? Are they travelling your dog in compliance with the law whereby they are fitted in a correctly sized harness and seatbelt or a crate?


Once you have selected a dog walker, you will then need to sit down on a meet and greet and discuss your dog in particular. This is often put down in a contract for which you and your dog walker can refer to and should include the cancellation policy as well as terms and conditions, clear policies etc. 


Check how your dog walker interacts with your dog. Do they respect their body language, is your dog please to see them? If your dog can be worried, how do they deal with this?


How will your dog be collected? Will they need a key? What is your walker’s policy on drying off after a walk? Will your dog be walked solo or within a group? In the event of an emergency, what level of decision making are you happy for your dog walker to have? Would you like them to take your dog to the vet? If you aren’t available, who can they contact?


What equipment would you like your dog walked on? Is your dog social with people or dogs? What food can your dog eat? What cues does your dog know? Do they have a recall? Do they have any medical issues that your walker needs to be aware of? Make sure you’re honest about all of this and that you’re confident the walker will be able to handle any of these concerns. 


Your dog walker should be happy to give you updates and should raise any concerns about your dog after a walk. The main thing is to trust your instincts! You’ll know if you’re getting the right information and you’ll know if you’re dog feels comfortable.

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