How to Find a Reliable Dog Walker

Tips on hiring a trusted dog walker for your dog.
By Daniela Lopez, August 2021
picking a dog walker

Let’s face it, dogs need lots of care, and daily walks are a part of that. A daily walk is not only great exercise for both you and your dog, but it is also a wonderful bonding experience. But, if you are facing an inflexible work schedule or long commute, it may be challenging to walk your dog as often as you’d like (and as often as they need). That’s where dog walkers come in.

Dog walkers provide a variety of services, from basic walks and check-ins to long-distance running. Having a dog walker will help provide basic care for your dog and provide them an enriching experience where they might otherwise be bored at home. But how do you find a dog walker that is right for your dog?

Every family has different needs. So, before you begin your search, determine what you need from a dog walker, the temperament of your dog, and any walking issues like excessive pulling. Puppies, for example, require many more check-ins, whereas a senior may simply enjoy a leisurely stroll around the block, and a terrier may require a long run.

How to Find a Good Dog Walker

The good news is that there are tons of resources available to you to find the perfect match. Start your search by asking those closest to you.

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Family and friends are amazing resources. If you haven’t already, ask! Not only can friends provide you with their recommendations, but they also won’t hold back on telling you about any negative experiences they’ve had in the past. Similarly, ask neighbors for recommendations for reliable dog walkers near you.

Vets do much more than an annual check-up. At many vet offices, you’ll find they provide a resource list for recommended dog walkers in the area, some vet and vet techs may provide dog walking service too.

Other dog service providers like groomers and trainers can provide recommendations, and some provide dog walking as a secondary service. Trainers are the perfect solution for pets who need a little extra help with leash training.

If you’ve exhausted all your closest and most trusted referrals and still haven’t found a match, next try searching online. With review sites like Nextdoor, Yelp, Google, and dog walking services like Rover and Wag!, you’re sure to find people to interview for your dog walking needs.

What To Ask A Potential Dog Walker

Speaking of interviews, I recommend setting up meetings with several potential walkers before making any decisions. During the meetups, you’ll be able to gauge compatibility, get references from past clients, and find out how invested they are in dog walking.

Ask about their background and experiences. Do they have training experience? Have they had to handle dogs with temperament issues before? Do they have any certificates or first-aid knowledge?

Find out about insurance. It’s vital for your dog walker to be bonded and insured in case of an accident during the walk. Ask them more about their policy coverage.

Learn about service type. Each dog walker offers slightly different services, so length, distance, travel options, and speed may vary. Some dog walkers do group walks with other dogs, so make sure to clearly set your expectations.

Dig into training style. You want to be on the same page with how you work with your dog. Make sure you understand the terminology of things like force-free and positive training.

Ask about their dog walking prices. Prices will vary depending on the local area but ensure this information is clearly stated.

What about cancellations? In the unlikely scenario that you (or they) need to cancel, what happens? Ask about any fees and the procedures for a last-minute cancellation. Doubly important, find out if the dog walker has a backup in an emergency and how you’ll be informed.

What does your dog think? Beyond the questions, watch how the dog walker interacts with your dog. Do they “click” with your dog? Do they get down on your dog’s level? Compatibility is a huge factor. You want to ensure you are hiring a trustworthy and reliable dog walker, but you also want your dog to enjoy spending time with this person too. As the saying goes, dogs are an excellent judge of character. So, make their opinion count.

Photo: iStock