17 Questions to Ask Before You Hire
Don’t let your best friend languish at home all day while you’re away. Get a professional dog-walker to give your puppy the exercise and attention he or she deserves. But don’t just give anyone access to your home and let them take your dog out, ask the right questions to make sure you hire a trustworthy, knowledgeable, professional dog-walker. Julie Richert, of Happy Tail Dog Walking and Pet Care, recommends asking the following:
How much experience do they have/how many clients have they had?
While this is not an absolute guarantee of reliability, dog-walkers with more experience are less likely to encounter problems and less likely to give you headaches.
Do they have references?
Testimonials on websites and brochures are great, but ask for and check at least three references. Current or very recent, long-term clients can provide you with the best assessment. It’s especially valuable if a dog-walker has a reference from a veterinarian or reputable dog trainer.
Do they have insurance to cover their own liability as well as injuries to your pet? Are they bonded?
This shows that they take their responsibilities seriously, and it protects you if the worst happens.
Do they seem genuinely interested in learning about your pet, including habits, health, temperament, favourite toys, etc?
As with any job, the best candidates are those that show the most interest and enthusiasm for the task. A dog-walker who asks a lot of questions about your pet clearly wants to know the animal in order to treat it well.
Do they belong to a professional association, such as the Professional United Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters International or the International Association of Canine Professionals? Do they volunteer with any animal-related groups?
This shows that they are not amateurs, and shows that they engage in professional development activities. It also demonstrates their genuine interest in the animals they work with.
How many dogs do they walk at one time?
This gives you an idea of how much attention your dog will receive and how safe he/she will be. More than about three dogs at a time can be very hard to control.
Will they take your dog to an off-leash park?
Some dog-walkers don’t really “walk” dogs. Instead they take several dogs at a time to off-leash dog parks where they can run and play with other dogs. Decide if this activity is suitable for your dog’s age, temperament and social skills.
Will they play fetch or run with your dog so he or she gets more exercise?
If your dog needs more exercise than just a walk will give, and a dog park is not an option, find out if the dog-walker will find other ways to physically challenge your pet.
Do they have a plan in place to cover their clients in case of illness and bad weather?
Can you meet the substitute walker? Like everyone else, dog-walkers get sick, and inclement weather may make it difficult or impossible for them to reach your pet. A good dog-walker will have plan in place ahead of time. You should ask to meet anyone who will regularly sub for your dog-walker so that you know they understand your expectations and you feel comfortable with them.
Do you have more than one way to contact them?
In case you need to urgently reach your dog-walker, make sure you have at least an email address and a cell phone number for them – two phone numbers are better.
Do they have reliable transportation if they cover a wide area?
You want to know that they will be able to meet their commitments. A dog-walker with a twenty-five-year-old clunker that’s in the garage every two days may have trouble getting to your dog. Buses, bicycles and other alternative modes of transport are fine, so long as the dog-walker is confident in their ability to reach your dog.
What is their plan in case of illness/injury to the animal?
In addition to having several ways to contact you, your dog-walker should also present a plan to transport your pet to your vet or emergency animal hospital. Your dog-walker should have written permission from you allowing them to authorise veterinary treatment in your name.
How will they handle bad behaviour?
Even the best trained dog has moments of bad behaviour. You dog-walker should be able to tell you and show you how they handle such behaviour. Not everyone treats misbehaviour the same way and you don’t want a dog-walker who may become abusive or who has little experience handling dogs that act out.
Do they pick up after your dog goes to the bathroom?
Surprisingly, some dog-walkers do not, even where local laws require them to do so. You don’t want your dog-walker giving you and your dog a bad reputation in your neighbourhood.
What free extra services and features do they provide (e.g. water for the dog, treats, obedience training along with the walk, socialisation training)?
This lets you know what value you are getting for your money. A dog-walker who will continue your dog’s training is a big bonus.
Your dog is an important part of your family, and you want to ensure that you have only the best people taking care of your pet. If you choose to employ others to take care of your dog, these questions will help you make sure that you have the best person for the job. Professional dog-walkers will not mind being asked questions about themselves or their services. Many will actually appreciate working with an interested, understanding, and diligent client.
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