If the average dog had his way, he’d probably want to be walking and running outside all day. Depending upon your best pal’s age, size, breed, and general health, he should get anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of daily activity. Getting enough exercise is crucial for every dog’s well-being and usually helps mitigate behavioral issues stemming from inactivity and boredom.
Working and hunting breeds like Border Collies, Huskies and Shepherds require even more rigorous workouts, like running for 30 minutes in addition to their daily one- to two-hour walks, so professional canine running companies have started to catch on, such as the Happy Puppies Running service in San Francisco, Running the Pack in Boston and Running Paws in New York, which also provides information on exercise requirements for high-energy breeds.
Even if you’re a stay-at-home pet parent, it can be hard carving out time to exercise your pal while juggling all of your other responsibilities, nevermind physically running with a high-energy pup. Hence, the professional dog walker was born.
Your veterinarian, groomer and local humane center can also recommend dog walkers. There are even sites like FindADogWalker.com that match pooches and pet parents to professional walkers.
The best way to find a trustworthy dog walker is to ask other pet parents in your area how they exercise their furry family members, and if they can recommend a doggy day-care center or individual walker.
Check your veterinarian’s office and local pet stores for community boards listing dog walkers as well. Consider advertising for a dog walker by putting up your own flier or by using sites like Craigslist.
If you opt for the individual walker, do a background check on the person, get multiple references and keep a copy of his/her I.D. on file.
Many larger dog-walking companies have their own sites and social media presence, often posting on Instagram so you can view your dog’s daily walk and see the company he’s keeping.
Ask larger dog walking companies if they have liability insurance and bonded employees. Also, check for possible complaints on file at the Better Business Bureau and the state Attorney General's office before you hire them.
Dog walkers usually require that your dog be current on vaccinations and flea preventatives and some may ask that you sign a form confirming your pal isn’t aggressive.
Meet and greet
After narrowing your search, arrange to meet the walkers you like in person. Watch for signs that they’re dog lovers: don’t shy away from your dog if he’s a bit excited, genuinely radiate kindness and warmth toward your dog, but also will be an alpha dog leader who can take control.
If they get along well with your dog continue interviewing them by asking the following questions:
- Where will you walk my dog?
- Do you have a GPS tracker?
- Will you be taking any transportation (like a car) to get to the location?
- How many other dogs will be in tow?
- How long does your average walk take and can that time be increased?
- What would you do in a pet emergency?
- Do you have a backup walker in case you can’t make the appointment?
Likewise, they should ask you questions. Be sure to give them your veterinarian’s emergency contact info. Let them know if your pal has personality quirks they should watch out for and if they don’t get along with certain breeds, dog sizes or genders.
Like everything, your geographic location will determine the going rate for professional dog walkers near you. The average cost for a 60-minute walk can cost about $27 to $30 per dog.
Many dog walkers charge by the number of dogs from one household and you can add pooches or even neighbors’ dogs to groups of three or more for about $10 extra each canine.
Be sure to agree on the payment and exercise schedule beforehand and work out a cancelation policy before hiring your candidate.