A tired dog is a happy dog!
Exercise is the most important part of our dogs’ daily routine, as it provides many benefits to our dogs’ life as well as ours. Physical activities, which can be provided by a dog walking service, can help them stay healthy and fit. Regular mental stimulation and socialisation will ensure we have a “happy” dog.
Should I use a dog walking service?
There are several types of dog walking service; the most common ones are on-leash walks and group outings for an off-leash romp with other canine friends. Some will also offer dog training services while they take your dog for a walk.
To put your mind at ease, we have outlined the pros and cons of using a dog walking service and questions you must ask before handing over the leash.
Pros of Using a Dog Walking Service
- It is less expensive than a doggy day care. For standard dog walking service, dog walkers are normally paid by the hour, half day or a full day, so you can decide how long you will require the service. It is a common practice to ask for a better rate when you commit yourself to a longer contract.
- Private or semi-private walks offer a more comfortable pace for your dog, especially for puppies and senior dogs.
- Pack walk will provide opportunities for your dog to socialise with other dogs.
- Your dog will get regular routine exercise regardless of the weather.
Cons of Using a Dog Walking Service
- It could be challenging when you have a highly energetic dog that requires dedicated attention.
- Possible dog fights and squabbles if not under controlled.
- Dog walkers might not have the necessary skills to be a solid pack leader.
- Unwanted behaviour might accrue.
To make sure that you choose a service where you and your dog feel comfortable, ask yourself the following questions before committing to a dog walking service.
Questions You Must Ask
- Does the dog walking service have valid insurance and licence?
It is crucial to work with an insured and licenced dog walker, as this will ensure that a certain standard of the service is met, and if in the unfortunate event an accident happens, it will be covered by the insurance provider.
- How many dogs do they look after at one time per dog walker?
Ideally, the fewer dogs one person looks after, the better. For an off-leash walk, there should be a maximum of 6 dogs under one dog walker’s supervision. Of course, this will also depend on the dog walker’s ability.
- Where will they walk your dog?
Check out the location of the walk, make sure it’s safe and away from busy roads. The location of the walk will mostly determine how good quality walk your dog will have.
- How long is the walk itself?
Often, dog walking services pick up all the dogs en route before the walk then drop them off after; therefore, the time your dog is away from you does not necessarily mean it’s the length of time they have been on the walk. The minimum duration of a walk should be no less than 40 minutes.
- How do you communicate with them?
Are they contactable by phone, and how easy can you get through to them if ever required?
- Do they always have the same dog walker walking your dog?
Routines make our dogs feel stable; it is important that there are no constant changes of the dog walker.
- Can they keep your dog on lead while other dogs are off lead?
Its many long coat dog owners’ concern that to keep their canine companions away from puddles and rivers so they don’t have the extra task of bathing them after the walk.
- Do they assess the dogs’ characters before doing the pack walk?
It is important that the dog walker checks and assesses each dog’s behaviour before putting them into a pack to avoid unwanted accidents caused by aggressive behaviours.
- What dog training background do they have?
This will give you a better idea how well the dog walker will handle the pack walk.
- How do they control/stop unwanted behaviours?
A professional dog walker should not tolerate unwanted behaviour—ask what their methods are when these unwanted behaviours manifest. Make sure they have a calm and assertive pack leader attitude.
- What if a dog runs off?
Tell them the normal command phrases you use for your dog, especially for recall.
- Do they offer a “Pick up and drop off” service? Will there be an extra cost for this?
Most dog walking services will be happy to pick your dog up from your house and drop them off after the walk at an arranged time. However, this additional service is not always free; make sure you check the full cost for the service required.
- Will they provide fresh water after the walk?
You might think providing water to the dogs is standard; however, this could be time-demanding especially if the dog walker has many dogs to look after. It is well worth a question, as it will give you a good indication of how professional the service is.
- Do they offer the service over the weekend and holiday periods?
As much as we want to spend time with our dogs, we might have other commitments during these periods. It will be a good idea to find out if you could use the same dog walking service during weekends and holidays; if not, you will need to make alternative arrangements in advance.
- What questions do they have for you?
A responsible dog walker will ask you all the questions regarding your dog. Experience tells them that this will help them to have a better understanding of the dog.
Of course, the best way to choose a dog walker is through recommendation. Use a service that your family, friends or your vet recommended. Do your research beforehand and look for customer reviews through social media.
Many dog walking services offer a free trial walk. Often, you can go along on the walk, so take this opportunity to assess how the dog walker leads the pack and how your dog reacts to their leadership.
Do you find the above information helpful? Do you have any other concerns which the article did not cover? Leave a comment below, and we will add them to this list.