Exercising your dog is important for their physical and mental health and the best way to do that is to take them on walks. As the saying goes – a tired dog is a good dog! Too much pent-up energy could lead to destructive behavior and no one wants to come back to a completely trashed home after a long day at work. In general, dogs need around 30 minutes to two hours of exercise in a day and ideally, you want to break that up into two or even three walks per day. If you have a busy schedule and can’t walk your dog yourself, it may be time to consider a professional. Dog walkers are a godsend for busy bees and though it may take time to find someone you can trust with your pooch, it’s so worth it!
Choosing a Dog Walker
The best way to find a good dog walker is to simply ask around. Start with friends and family and also check with people at your local dog park. You’re bound to find a couple of good leads to begin with. From there it’s all about research, reviews, trial, and error.
The internet is a gold mine when it comes to finding the perfect dog walker for your pooch. Try websites like Rover.com and PetButler where you can go through hundreds of local profiles and reviews, filter out the ones you don’t like, and shortlist a few that work for your needs and wallet.
Try Social Media
Social media is a great way to meet all kinds of people, make friends, and even find a dog walker. Tweet about it or check hashtags on Instagram by typing something like your city’s name and “dog walker” (For example, #dogwalkersinnewyork or #dogwalkernyc). Something good is bound to come up.
Professional dog walking services may work out to be a little more expensive but they do reduce your workload. These walkers are usually screened and interviewed and come with great references so you don’t have to worry about your furbaby with them.
Once you’ve found a few options, it’s time to move on to the next phase. Meet them, interview them, and do a trial walk with your dog. Some important questions that you should ask are:
- What is your experience level and can you provide references?
- What is the maximum number of dogs that will be walked at the same time?
- Are you trained in Pet first aid and CPR?
- Do you have insurance?
- All schedule-related questions.
- If your dog has any behavioral or temperament issues mention it and ask how they would handle it.
- How will they manage any dog fights that may break out?
Before finalizing a candidate, let them take your pooch on a test walk. Observe them in action and see how well your dog responds to them and how confident and patient they are. They could be the best dog walker in the world but if your dog doesn’t bond with them, it simply won’t work out. Do try out a few candidates before making the final call.
How Much Do Dog Walkers Charge?
It’s important to consider the cost of a dog walker before deciding on the one for you. In general, dog walkers don’t charge per day but per walk. They usually offer a few options – 15 to 20-minute walks which cost about $15-$20 or longer 30-40 minute walks which are around $20-$30. Multiply that by two walks and you can expect to pay anywhere between $30-$60 a day. Add another $5-$10 per walk if it’s on a big holiday like Christmas.
Regular customers could bag a discount especially if you hire a walker four to five times a week instead of just once or twice. You can also expect $5-$10 off if you don’t mind other dogs joining yours. If you have more than one dog, it is typically about $5-$10 extra per walk. It’s also best to find someone who lives close to you as travel costs are usually $1-$2 per mile if the walker has to travel more than ten miles to get to you.
For late hour walks after 7 or 8 pm, walkers usually charge around $5 more and for any last-minute requests expect to pay an additional $10.
Some walkers offer added services like picking up your pooch and taking him to a dog park for an hour or two and then dropping him back. These usually cost around $45 per hour.
If your furbaby has behavioral issues, it’s always better to get a certified trainer and dog walker who can handle negative situations well. These trainers cost around $10 more than regular walkers but they are worth the peace of mind.
Other combined services include playing with, feeding, giving medicines to your dog, and sending you videos of him while you’re away. They may even water your plants and bring in your mail if you ask them to, all for an additional charge of $0.50-$1 per minute. You can even pay someone to pick up dog waste from your yard for $15-$20!
As with everything, it also comes down to location and demand. Expect higher prices if you live in a city or a rural area where the demand for these services is more. If you have many options to choose from, naturally the cost will be slightly lower.
Based on your requirements and budgets, you can always negotiate a good deal with your dog walker. Keep the lines of communication open and you will be good to go. Now that you’ve found the perfect match for your dog, it’s time to move on to the next steps.
Ensure that you give the dog walker all the information he may need including your contact details, your vet’s contact details in case of an emergency, any medication that your dog needs, any allergies he should be aware of, and feeding instructions if needed. Don’t be afraid to ask the walker for regular updates and keep an eye out for any signs that things aren’t going well. At the end of the day, you want your dog to be safe and happy so don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops!