‘Help! I need a dog walker!’
I often get phone calls like this from frantic owners who have changed jobs or had a change of circumstance and now find themselves in need of some help with their dog. (or dogs)
We can’t help everyone though so I thought it would be a good idea to give your some advice that will help you find someone you can trust to look after your precious pooch. Finding a dog walker isn’t easy and can be quite stressful, some of my clients hadn’t had a holiday for years until they found someone they could trust. After all you can’t leave your dog with just anyone can you?
Of course not.
Your dog is your life. He is the reason you pull on your raincoat and brave the hail, sleet and snow to walk him because you know how important his daily exercise is.
And now you need someone who you can trust to give him the exercise and stimulation you know he needs. A 20 minute walk around the block won’t cut it for your dog.
So how do find someone suitable to help you. Well as someone who has run a successful dog adventure business for the last five years I have 3 questions you should start with.
Question number one:
Are you Canine First Aid Trained?
This is more important than you think. You aren’t looking for Veterinary levels of skill but your walker should have attended a Canine First Aid Course. Accidents happen, as much as we all like to avoid them. Your dog will pick up the odd cut paw and other minor injuries just as he would with when you walk him so it would be preferable for your walker to know how to deal with cut paws, bee stings and choking.
Ideally they will have attended a Canine First Aid course run by someone who has experience of animals. For a couple of hundred pounds anyone can get a Canine First Aid qualification and actually teach Canine First Aid, even if they don’t have any experience of animals.
We are certified by Rachel Bean RVN who runs Canine First Aid Workshops. Rachel is a fully qualified Registered Vet Nurse as well as being a qualified dog behaviourist too.
Qualifications that show some practical hands on experience show that your walker committed to investing in themselves and should reflect how seriously they take their job. Walkers who don’t, well they are showing you how much they don’t care.
Are you insured?
This might sound obvious but not every dog walker is insured. It’s a legal requirement for your dog walker to have public liability insurance but there is no regulatory body overseeing the dog walking industry, so it’s incumbent on you to ensure your walker has the insurance. They should be forthcoming with the documentation too so you can verify they are insured.
Sadly having insurance and having done a Canine first Aid course will not guarantee that your walker has any dog training knowledge. If you are cool with that then that’s great but remember one thing.
When your dog is out and about with his walker he will be learning all the time.
Just the same as he is learning when he is out with you too.
Dogs learn by doing and your dog will learn to enjoy whatever it is he does with his walker.
If the walker never recalls your dog then he will learn not to come back.
If your walker allows him to pull on the lead all the way to the park then that’s how he will learn to walk to the park with you.
So the third question you need to ask is.
What will you be doing with my dog?
See if the walker allows your dog to play with other dogs and never interacts with him then playing with dogs is what your dog will want to do when you take him out too.
Not only that but he will likely want to seek out other dogs and pull on the lead to get to them.
This is why in our dog adventure business we play and interact with the dogs so they look to us the humans for all of the fun and enjoyment.
They exercise are exercised as a pack so get used to being with other dogs but don’t get to practise playing with other dogs.
This makes it easier for the owner as they know they only have to take a tennis ball, tuggy toy or a handful of treats with them and their dog with by happy playing retrieve, tuggy and find it games that they play every day with the dog walker.
So whilst you don’t need someone who is a fully qualified dog trainer to be your dog’s walker you do need to be aware that the dogs you walk are always learning stuff while they are out with the walker.
So once you have checked the insurance forms and the canine first aid certificate remember to listen very carefully when you ask the question, ‘What will you be doing with my dog?’
Dom Hodgson has run Pack Leader Dog Adventures, his dog adventure and training business in Sunderland since 2011. He quickly realised he didn’t know enough about dogs and so embarked on a dog training education under world famous trainers such as John Rogerson and David Davies. Dom put these skills into practise each day with his adventure dogs and now teaches pet dog owners all over the word how to play and have more fun (and less stress) with their pet dogs. You can learn directly how to play with your dog by buying Dom’s best selling dog training book ‘How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero’. You can download a free chapter of the book by clicking on the link below
Pack Leader Dog Adventures is now a family business as his son Alex is a full time dog adventurer too. For more information about the dog adventure and boarding services we offer click here or