How to Find a Dog Walker in Your New Neighborhood
If you and your dog are moving to a new neighborhood or if you’ve just adopted a precious pup, you’re going to need to find a dog walker. As you settle down into your new home, or with your new pooch, the idea of finding a trusted dog walker may feel overwhelming. Don’t worry! Whether your pup likes to take its time on the road or enjoys hour-long sprints, we’re here to help you find the perfect dog walker, totally stress-free.
What do you and your dog need from a dog walker?
When you find a dog walker, your dog is the one who will be most impacted by your decision. Before you begin your search, consider what your dog needs from a walker.
For example, dogs of different sizes, breeds, and ages need different kinds of walks. If you have a puppy, you need a dog walker who can walk your pup several times a day. If you have a bigger dog, you may need to find a dog walker who is willing to take long walks with spurts of running throughout. Remember, it’s not just about taking your dog out to use the restroom. Your pup needs the right amount of activity to stay happy and healthy!
Besides their activity level, take note of your dog’s walking preferences. Does he love one-on-one time, or does he go wild for doggy friends? Is she content to stay on-leash, or does she love roaming next to you off-leash? Are neighborhood walks sufficient, or would your dog be happier to hit park trails, the beach, or the dog park? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to find the perfect dog walker.
Where can you find a dog walker?
When it comes to finding a dog walker, you must put your pet’s needs first. Don’t simply post on Facebook for friends to walk your dog. Instead, if you’re too busy to regularly walk your pup, we recommend finding a trained professional to take care of your dog. So, how do you find a dog walker?
The best place to begin your search for a dog walker is by asking the people you trust for advice. If friends or family live in your new neighborhood, they may know where to find an excellent dog walker — or they may use a dog walker they would be willing to share with you! Ask the local vet or animal shelter if they know of anyone and post on neighborhood message boards if available. You can also hang out with your pup at a dog park. Dog parents love talking to other dog parents, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and ask about finding a dog walker.
Use a dog-walking app
If you don’t have any luck asking around, try downloading a dog-walking app. These apps are actually quite advanced, allowing you to set up recurring walks, hire a dog walker 24/7, and track your pup and walker via GPS technology from the app. Depending on the app you choose, you can even find a dog walker that is insured and professionally trained. If you decide to use an app to find a dog walker, find the best fit by checking out a few different options.
Ask a neighborhood kid
Another option is to hire a dog-loving kid from your neighborhood. Teenagers and college students are always looking for extra money, so they could provide affordable dog-walking options. Just ask your neighbors if they know anyone who would be willing to help out. However, if your dog is high maintenance, older, or prone to any kind of difficult behavior, it’s worth the additional cost to find a professional dog walker.
Hire a tried-and-true professional
Unlike neighborhood kids, who may drop a dog-walking job when something better comes along, hired professionals are typically in the business for the long haul. When you find a professional dog walker, you can rest easy knowing your pup will be taken care of. These dog walkers have years of experience, the motivation to invest in learning how to care best for dogs, and the ability to provide backups if they aren’t able to make it to a walk. Out of all the options, professional dog walkers are most likely to provide the best care for your pup.
After you find a dog walker, how do you choose one?
Since there isn’t much federal regulation related to dog-walking, anyone can call themselves a dog walker. This means you should be careful and intentional about who you choose. It’s better to ask too many interview questions and take a little longer to find a dog walker than to choose one that is a bad fit for your pup.
Ask lots of interview questions
Interview questions are key to finding the right dog walker for your pup. Ask a potential dog walker as many questions as you need to feel comfortable putting your dog in their hands — you won’t regret being thorough. Also, before you hire a dog walker, be sure that you both sign a written contract agreeing to terms like payment, cancellation policy, and walk length.
Here are a few questions to ask when you find a dog walker to interview.
How long have they been walking dogs? What is their professional background?
Do they have any specializations or certifications? (Do they specialize in larger breeds, for example, or are they certified by any national governing organizations?)
Do they walk dogs in groups, and if so, have they had training or experience in how to group compatible dogs?
Ask them about what their process is for grouping dogs together. Is it by age, size, or activity level? A good rule of thumb is to insist on the 50% rule: no dog should weigh more than double the weight of any other dog in the group.
Ask how they handle dog conflict when in walking dogs in groups. Do they know how to prevent and break up fights?
How much time is guaranteed for each walk? What happens in inclement weather, if they’re running behind schedule, or if they can’t make it to a walk?
Watch how they interact with your dog
As you find a dog walker, try to involve your pup as much as possible. After an initial interview, have a meet-and-greet for your dog and the potential dog walker. Let the two get acquainted and pay close attention to see if your dog clicks with this new person. If you have any reason to think either the dog walker doesn’t genuinely like your pup or your dog is uncomfortable around the walker, don’t hire them and continue your efforts to find a more suitable dog walker.
Get several references
As mentioned above, it’s easy for just about anyone to call themselves a dog walker. Before hiring a dog walker, ask for three references — then actually follow up on those references via phone or email. Confirm that the references are legitimate and that the dog walker’s stated skills and experience are true.
What instructions do you give after you find a dog walker?
Your interview questions were answered, your pup is in love, and the references checked out. Congratulations, you found a dog walker! Now what?
Write down absolutely everything there is to know about your dog. After you find a dog walker, this person is going to be seeing your pup a lot. To set them up for success, you need to fully inform them about your dog. Here’s what you need to include in the instructions for your dog walker.
Dog age, name, breed, relative weight, and your address
A full history of health problems and the address and phone number of your vet
A list of and instructions for any medication the dog is currently taking
What the dog is allowed to eat (people food, number of treats, etc.)
Any relevant tendencies, like an inclination to run towards cars
How your dog interacts with others (does the dog like kids or not, does he hate poodles, etc.)
How much should you pay when you find a dog walker?
What you pay for dog-walking services will depend on your dog walker’s experience, your city’s average rates, and special requests (asking your dog walker to give the dog medication, for example). If dog walkers are in high demand in your new neighborhood, they may be pricier, as well as if you hire a professional (though we think the price is worth their expertise).
You should expect to pay between $15 and $45 for half an hour of dog-walking, but remember to do your research before you agree to a rate. After you find a dog walker, ask friends at the dog park what they pay and Google your area’s average to ensure you’re not getting overcharged.
After you find a dog walker, make sure the match continues to be a good fit.
When you find a dog walker, you should enthusiastically welcome them into your pup’s life. However, as the relationship begins, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior at home and in interactions with the walker.
At first, you may want to be extra vigilant about allowing this new person into your life. Consider asking your neighbors to keep an eye out for the dog walker, installing a “nanny cam,” or putting an activity monitor on your dog. You want to make sure the dog walker is coming when they say they are and giving an appropriate amount of time to your pup.
A couple of months after you find a dog walker, take a moment to notice if your dog still excited to see the walker. Have you seen an improvement in your dog’s behavior? Does your pup seem happier, less anxious, and less bored? Is your dog in good shape? Finding a dog walker is a financial investment into your dog’s health, so make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
Your dog walker is an important part of you and your pup’s life. Whether they walk your dog once a week or multiple times a day, they are allowed a key to your home and extensive time with your pet. As your dog walker takes good care of your pup, make sure they know you appreciate them. Tip your dog walker during the holidays and give them a good review if they have an online presence.
Now that you’ve found a dog walker, be sure to celebrate. You’ll now be able to go to work without worry, knowing your “fur baby” is being taken care of. Enjoy!