17 Things to Look for in a Good Dog Walker

A good dog walker can put your mind at ease. But how do you find one? Maybe you’re asking why do you need a dog walker? Imagine this – you get just closed the big deal at work you’ve been working on for months. But you have to go out of town for most of the day to finalize the deal. The problem is you just got a new dog a month ago.

While you’ve been working hard and have a great veterinarian, you’ve successfully taken your dog to the park and you’ve even found an awesome dog groomer, you can’t leave your dog home alone for the day. It all works well when you can work from home. But now you can’t take your dog with you on this big business deal.

What do you do? This is time to consider your options, including a dog walker. In this article, I’ll walk you through how to find a fabulous dog walker. You’ll know what to look for and what questions to ask.

a happy pup loves that his dog parents found a good dog walker or even great dog walker
disclaimer note
Budget Tip:

A good dog walker puts your mind at ease. You are allowed to do what you need to do while your dog is being well-taken care of by someone you can trust. This is a valuable person. However, most dog walkers are very expensive either. They come and take care of your dog, yet the price is reasonable to know your furry kid is in good hands. Always check the price before you commit so you aren't surprised. But if you are comfortable with the dog walker, that's priceless!  It's definitely worth adding a dog walker to your dog budget.

Choices To Make When You Need To Leave Your Dog 

1. Home alone 

If you have a backyard, with a doggie door and you’ve built trust with your dog, you can leave him home alone.

In this article, I talk about how to create a dog yard on a budget.

2. Family or friend dog sit 

You can leave him with a family member or friend to dog sit.

3. Doggie daycare 

You can drop him off at doggie daycare.

I talk about finding a great doggie daycare in this article. 

4. Dog walker 

You can find a good dog walker. Today we will explore this option.

It’s always best to know what to do before having to make a last-minute decision. Not all dog walkers are the same.

What To Look For Or Ask A Potential Dog Walker 

The first 7 steps can be addressed by a phone call or
visiting a dog walker’s website. 

1. Reviews 

First, it’s always a good idea to look at a dog walker’s reviews and get an overall feeling for what their clients think. I generally say to look over reviews from YELP, GOOGLE, app sites (such as Rover or Care), and the dog walker’s own website. What is the overall review? Is it good? Bad? Someone your dog might like? Additionally, reviews or references from your family, friends, veterinarian and dog park friends are always great. They’ve done a lot of your leg work for you.

2. Times available 

Some will give you a window range, like the cable guy (I will be there between 10-12). If your dog is used to taking a break at 10:30, holding it until 12 might be a problem. Dogs are very routine animals. 

3. Services offered 

Some dog walkers will provide services such as giving medicine, checking mail, turning on lights, feeding, and watering your dog. While others are so booked they simply can only pop in the door, grab your dog, go for a 15-minute walk with a pack of 4-6 other dogs, and then bring him back.

4. Max number of dogs 

tricks to find a good dog walker the whole pack will love

You want to know how many dogs the dog walker could walk at one time. As noted above, some dog walkers are in high demand and will walk a small pack. While others will block time for each dog. Some dog walkers, in more rural settings, will only walk one dog at a time, unless you have two or more dogs.

5. Introducing new dogs 

You want to know how a dog walker, who walks multiple dogs at a time, will introduce a new dog to the pack. You should hear them say that they slow introduce each dog individually before walking them.

6. Dog drama 

You want to know what the dog walker will do if a new dog doesn’t get along with one in his current pack. You want to hear them say that if there is an aggressive dog, that dog is walked separately. They may also charge more for an aggressive dog.

7. Cost

Dog walkers charge differently. Some will charge by for 15 minutes. While others will charge by the visit. Some will charge for travel time. Also, some dog walkers will charge extra for additional requests such as feeding, checking mail, turning on lights, giving medication, and the like. Additionally, some dog walkers will offer packages, which will help on costs by essentially giving you a discount for buying in bulk.

8. Training

First, you want to know if the dog walker is able to provide basic canine first aid. How will the dog walker handle an emergency? You want to hear that first aid will be administered and your dog will be taken to the vet immediately. Additionally, the dog walker should have dog training and possible behavior training experience. Ask how much experience the dog walker has acquired.

9. Licensed and insured 

You want to make sure the dog walker is licensed and insured. Any legitimate dog walker will easily provide this for you. If you’re given some reason why they can’t, cross that one off your list.

Now, that you’ve narrowed your potential dog walkers through the initial phone call, what’s next? 

10. Meet and greet 

how to find a good dog walker or even a great dog walker

It’s time for you and your dog to meet and greet the potential dog walker. I suggest the dog walker come to your home. This way your dog can meet the dog walker in his environment, on his terms and you can evaluate his reaction. Pay closely to how your dog reacts to the dog walker and how the dog walker reacts to your dog. There should be no aggression or fear. inquisitive behavior and smelling are fine. The dog walker will have the smell of lots of dogs.

11. Appearance

How does the dog walker look? You want the dog walker to look respectful. However, she can look like a dog walker but still be clean. That means you shouldn’t expect to see her mug on the 6 o’clock news. It’s ok to be critical of your dog walker. She will be in your home and taking care of your dog. If you or your dog do not feel comfortable, then move to the next one.

12. Check-ins

Ask if the dog walker will do check-ins with you after they’ve walked the dog. Some will send a quick text to let you know they’ve just walked your dog with a photo. Some will even send a video of the walk.

13. Treats

Some dog walkers always have treats in their pockets. If you are strict on your dog’s treats or the kind of treats he gets, you will need to advise the dog walker.

In this article, I discuss the best dog treats for your pup. 

14. Test walk 

Go for a test walk with the dog walker and your dog. How does the dog walker do when your dog pulls, barks, and stops to sniff? Is the dog walker in control of your dog? Or is your dog taking you two for a walk?

In this article, I talk about what your dog’s bark means. 

15. Back-ups 

how to find good dog walker or even a great dog walker

Ask if the dog walker has any back-ups in case he gets sick or has car issues. Some dog walkers are sole proprietors. So, you will need to source your own backup. Some sole proprietors work with other dog walkers on back-ups. Some dog walkers work as a team. This is good to know before you commit to one dog walker.

16. Weather 

Are there certain weather conditions the dog walker will not walk your dog? Some dog walkers don’t like to go out in blizzards or rainstorms. Your dog still needs to have a break, although mine certainly re-thinks his breaks on bad weather days. Of course, in certain weather, it’s expected that everyone should batten down the hatches and stay put or find a safe place, like in hurricanes and tornadoes.

17. Background check 

step to find the good dog walker

If you’re still unsure, but you like one or two of the candidates, I suggest running a background check. You can tell them that you are interested in their services, but that you need to make sure everything checks out with them through a background check. If they put up a fuss, then you know to move to the next one. If they say, “I understand. I would do the same.” This is probably a decent one but still do a background check.

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Summary of things to look for in a good dog walker 

There are many things you may want to think about when leaving your dog in the care of a dog walker. However, when looking for a good dog walker you can first look at reviews, available schedules, services offered, the maximum number of dogs per walk, philosophies on introducing new dogs and dealing with dog drama, the cost of a dog walk, and the dog walker’s training, and license and insurance are all vital information to obtain.

Then when you’ve narrowed you’re searching, next, it’s time to meet the possible dog walker candidates. The list continues as the candidate gets closer, with such things to evaluate as the meet and greet appearance, options of checking-in, treat compatibility, test walk, back-up possibilities, weather options, and, if needed, a background check. Since a dog walker, generally enters your home when you are not home, there must be even more trust.

Of course, this article is not a complete list of what to look for in a good dog walker. You may find that you need other criteria in your dog walker.

It might take a little while to find the right one for you and your dog. But it’s worth all the leg, or paw, work.

a happy dog is thrilled that his dog mom found a good dog walker or he'd say four-paws up dog walker

How are you doing with finding a good dog walker and a backup?

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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