This article appears in Pets 2020 magzine.
If you want to hire someone to walk or look after your dog, there are some things to consider before making the call.
Shannon Sardella Arnold is the owner of Oh To Be A Dog, a dog walking and sitting company. With more than 10 years of professional experience, she believes it’s vital to ask the right questions and know as much as possible about the individual caring for your pet and the company that employs him or her.
Arnold has compiled some questions to ask before hiring a dog walker or sitter, as well as some other helpful tips to properly vet someone before he or she enters your home.
What is the owner’s experience?
One of the biggest things to look at is the owner of the company. So many start a business because this field/industry is a booming one, but that doesn’t mean all owners have experience or the proper training and therefore cannot implement certain safety procedures as well as properly trained staff. Asking about the owner’s experience as well as the staff’s experience can help you get an idea of how your dog will be cared for.
What type of background checks are done on employees?
As with any person coming into your home, you want to make sure those people are properly vetted. Ask about their background check systems. Are they bonded/insured? Do they provide references upon request? These questions will help you determine whether you are comfortable letting these people into your home and caring for your pet.
What type of training does the staff have?
Training is extremely important, so you want to make sure you know what is the company’s policy is. There are many different harnesses and leashes as well as situations they need to be prepared for. How does the company know their staff is ready to walk and handle your dog? Do they have first-aid training? Can they administer medication when needed? What type of safety precautions are taken to make sure your dog is safe if they slip out of their harness?
Does the company have some kind of accountability system so you know your pet is being properly cared for?
Does the company have a tracking system? How do you ensure your pet is getting a nice long walk that you were promised?
Having a pet camera or a security camera in your home also isn’t a bad idea when you have a sitter staying with your pet. This can give you peace of mind while also being able to check on your pet (and some pet cameras even allow you to give them treats while you’re gone)!
Can you set up a meet & greet?
You should be able to meet your walker or pet sitter in person prior to them caring for your dog. They are coming into your home, and you should be comfortable.
Are walks and care tailored to your dog?
All dogs are different. Some need a lot of exercise, some need socialization, some are shy, some are puppies, and some are seniors. Dog walking and sitting is not a one-size-fits-all situation. The company should be able to cater the walks and their care to your dog’s needs.