So you’re on the hunt for a dog walker. Yay! The most important thing is to find someone with good communication. You want someone who is able to be by their phone at almost all times in case you need a last-minute walk, schedule change, emergency, etc. Many dog parents also like to get a text and/or picture after the walk letting them know how it went. If someone isn’t on top of communications, it can be very unsettling not knowing what is going on with your pet.
Also look for:
Someone you would find at least decent. Your dog walker doesn’t have to be your best friend (bonus if they end up being!), but think about it — this is someone that is going to have a key to your home and access to a member of your family. Make sure you get along with them and get a good sense that they are a decent person that will take the job seriously.
Someone with a flexible schedule and reliable vehicle. Maybe you need someone to come walk your dog on a fixed schedule, maybe only once in awhile to have “on call.” But either way, it’s very helpful to find someone who has flexibility in their schedule to fit you in when you need them. You never know when you’re going to get stuck at work, in traffic, or have to go out of town unexpectedly. Also, depending on where you live, public transportation can be very unpredictable. Make sure your dog walker has a reliable way to get to you so they don’t find themselves unable to come.
Someone who is physically able to handle your dog. If your dog is big, it might end up walking your dog walker instead of the other way around! Even if your dog is a “gentle giant,” it’s better to err on the side of caution (a squirrel can trigger anyone) and have someone that can physically restrain your dog if things end up getting out of hand. It’s also important to go over the time and pace you want your dog walked. Many standard dog walks are 20-30 minutes, but some dogs need more exercise. If you need to your dog to jog or hike, make sure your dog walker is able to do this.
Lastly, and this goes without saying, someone your dog loves and who loves your dog! To get things started on the right foot (or paw), it’s a very good idea to set up a “meet and greet” with you, your dog, and your potential dog walker when you are getting started.It’s a good time for you to get a read on the walker in person, as well as for your pet to meet them and know they are a safe person. Happy hunting!