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Hiring a professional dog walker can be likened to choosing a healthcare or a childcare provider. You want someone with experience you can trust. After all, your dog is part of your family and you only want the best for him as you do for your two-legged family members.

When you hire a professional dog walker, that professional has a key, access to your home, and will be in charge of ensuring your dog’s safety during walks. Make sure you take the time to research your options and always take the time necessary to find out as much as you can about the dog walker’s business.

Before you meet for an initial interview with prospective dog walkers, sit down and write a list of questions that you would like answered. You may find some of these answers on the professional dog walker’s website but always ask to verify that the information online is current.

Can you tell me about your experience?

For how many years has the professional been a dog walker? Has she taken dog training or dog obedience classes? Is she capable of handling dogs of all sizes, ages, needs, and temperaments? A professional dog walker must know how to handle all types of dogs and should be able deal with the unexpected, such as being approached by an aggressive dog during a walk.

Can you provide contact information for references?

Ask the professional dog walker for a list of references, including their email address or phone number, and contact those references. Ask open-ended questions to glean as much information as you can:

  • How long have you worked with the professional dog walker? Are you a current client? If not, why not?
  • Are you happy or unhappy with the dog walking service? Why or why not?
  • Did your dog like having a professional dog walker? Why or why not?
  • Would you recommend the dog walker? Why or why not?

Do you have insurance?

All professional dog walkers must have insurance. If the dog walker you are considering doesn’t have insurance, check her off the list and find someone else.

Do you offer one-on-one dog walks?

Does the professional dog walker offer private one-on-one dog walks or do dogs walk together in a group? Many people prefer private dog walks because their dogs receive more one-on-one attention. If the professional dog walker walks dogs in a group, find out how many dogs typically go on each walk, the size and temperaments of the dogs, and how the dog walker handles any potential scuffles that may arise between the dogs.

What happens in an emergency?

No one expects their dog to get hurt or to become ill during a walk. Unfortunately, the unexpected occurs. What will the professional dog walker do if your dog suddenly becomes ill or is injured? Ask her to provide you with her emergency procedures and only proceed with the dog walker if you are comfortable with those procedures.

What happens if the professional dog walker can’t make it?

Does the professional dog walker have a backup to walk your dog if she gets sick or has an emergency that prevents her from working that day? If so, who is the backup? If not, will you receive a refund for the cost of the dog walk when your dog walker cannot make it?

How long is each walk?

How long is each walk – 30, 60, 90 minutes? Does that include just the walk itself or does it also include the dog walker’s travel time to the house, the time it takes to put a leash on, and the return from the walk?

Create a thorough list of questions to ask prospective dog walkers and make sure you are comfortable with all of the answers before choosing and hiring a professional dog walker.

What is the top question you have for a professional dog walker?