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Should You Hire a Dog Walker?

        
          

All dogs require exercise, with certain breeds requiring a larger time commitment than others.  However, not all dog owners are able to commit to giving their dogs two 15 – 30+ minute walks per day.  Lack of adequate exercise results in boredom, anxiety, and bad behavior.  Obesity and related diseases can also occur when a dog is improperly exercised.  For these reasons, many dog owners hire dog walkers.  Is a dog walker right for you?  Here, the pros and cons of hiring a dog walker will be discussed. 

Benefits of Hiring a Dog Walker

Saves Time

Ultimately, hiring a dog walker saves time for pet owners.  Most dog walkers commit to exercising their canine clients for 30 – 60 minutes per day.  In addition, they typically provide extra services at no charge, such as refilling food and water bowls, bringing in mail, and giving treats.  

Fewer Accidents

Even adult dogs struggle to hold their bladders throughout the day.  Arranging a mid-day walk is healthier for your dog and can help prevent issues such as accidents or urinary tract infections. 

Less Energy at the End of the Day

A tired dog is a happy dog, and dog walkers certainly help ensure your pet has less energy at the end of the day.  After a long day at work the last thing most pet owners want is to come home to a dog that is bouncing off the walls with energy. 

Fewer Boredom Behaviors

Many common behavioral problems such as separation anxiety-type issues, accidents in the house, destruction, and chewing can all be linked to boredom.  As social animals, dogs struggle with being alone for long stretches of time.  However, a break during the day to socialize, play, and exercise relieves boredom and reduces bad behavior.

Combats Obesity

More than 50% of household dogs are obese.  The two factors to blame for this epidemic are incorrect portion sizes for food and treats, and lack of exercise.  Hiring a dog walker ensures your pet will be active every day, rain or shine.

Provides Socialization

Socialization is the act of introducing your dog to as many new sights, smells, sounds, people, animals, and experiences as possible.  A well-socialized dog will be less likely to display fearful or anxious behaviors when confronted with an unfamiliar situation.  Dog walkers ensure your pet will engage in new experiences every day. 

Gives Work-From-Home Pet Parents a Break

In theory, working from home is an awesome way to spend more time with your dog.  However, any at-home pet parent knows that productivity can suffer when dogs are constantly underfoot.  Hiring a dog walker even if you are a stay-at-home pet owner provides an opportunity for better productivity.

Disadvantages of Hiring a Dog Walker

There are also a handful of disadvantages to hiring a dog walker, although in most instances the benefits outweigh the negatives. 

Accidents can Happen

Leaving your dog in someone else’s care can be stressful.  There is always a small chance for accidents, such as your dog backing out of his or her collar or getting loose.  Accidents such as these are more likely to occur in the beginning, when your dog is less familiar with the new person in charge.  Therefore, it is important to observe how your dog gets along with the dog walker before the first solo walk. 

A Stranger Has Access to Your House

There is always an inherent risk when you allow someone into your home when you are away.  While the majority of dog walkers are responsible individuals who can be fully trusted, granting a stranger access to your home is nerve-wracking. 


Cost can be Prohibitive

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to dog walking is the cost.  Most dog walkers charge $15 – $30 per visit, which adds up quickly.  Ultimately, pet owners pay a premium for someone to perform a task they can otherwise do. 

How to Choose a Dog Walker

Seek Established Businesses

There are many dog walking apps that offer on-the-go services for busy pet owners.  However, dog walking is a profession, and dog owners should seek trained professionals.  Look for a dog walking company that trains all employees in CPR, dog walking etiquette, and canine body language.

Interview your Prospects

Interview any potential dog walker and observe how he or she interacts with your pet.  Look for cues that your dog may not be comfortable with the chosen person.  Ask plenty of questions, such as how the dog walker would handle an unleashed dog approaching your pet, or what he or she would do if your dog escaped. 

Ensure the Dog Walker is Licensed and Bonded

Never hire a dog walker that is not licensed and bonded.  This status ensures that you are protected should anything happen to your dog or house under the dog walker’s care. 

Follow Up on References

All dog walkers should be able to provide references.  Follow up on these references to ensure they represent real people who have interacted with your potential dog walker.

Go for a Trial Walk Together

Finally, go for a trial walk and observe how your dog behaves when another person is in charge.  If group dog walking is an option, shadow your dog walker during a group session to ensure he or she has control over your pet and the other dogs. 

Overall, hiring a dog walker is well-worth the cost and peace of mind for many pet owners.  While a handful of disadvantages do exist, the positive aspects largely outweigh the negative.  By following the steps for choosing a dog walker listed here, pet owners are more likely to find a responsible, well-trained individual to care for their dogs. 

 

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Anna Weber

Anna Weber

As a life-long dog owner and animal lover I have dedicated my adult life to rescuing and fostering dogs, particularly seniors and behaviorally at-risk animals.I believe that nearly every animal can be rehabilitated with love, kindness, training, and proper exercise.
Anna Weber

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