If you work long hours, you’re probably used to seeing sad puppy eyes every morning as you get ready to leave. Or maybe you’re forced to say no to after-work events because your dog is crossing her legs waiting to be let out.
If this sounds like you, a dog walker could be the perfect solution to give your pooch a much-needed break in the day.
It can be daunting to choose someone to come into your home to look after your babies. After all, you’re putting a lot of trust in an individual to not only provide loving care to your pets, but also to respect your home, and keep your keys secure.
Did you know that dog walking in Toronto is almost completely unregulated? That’s why it’s so important to choose wisely. From a professional pet sitter to you, here’s my guide to break through the “decision paralysis” and find your perfect dog walker:
Step 1: Know Your Options
Private Dog Walks
This is what most people imagine when they think of a dog walker: one human, one dog, a quiet stroll around the block. Private walks are great for dogs who love routine and would prefer not share their walker’s attention with other pooches. They are also perfect for senior dogs and those with special needs, who need a more customized approach rather than a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
I would estimate that about 99% of Toronto dog walkers offer this service, in which 3-6 dogs are picked up in a vehicle and walked together in a public or private park. Depending on the company, dogs may be walked on leash or allowed to run in an off-leash area. There are several reasons that pack walks are so popular: they are cost-effective for both walker and client, and they offer high-energy exercise and socialization rolled into one.
If you’re still torn between private or group walks, I wrote an article delving deeper into the pros and cons of each option.
Step 2: Where to Look
Think about who you already trust to care for your dog, and don’t be afraid to ask! Your veterinarian, groomer and local pet store will most likely have a dog walker to recommend.
The next best source is the internet! Google is a great place to start, but try also searching on Yelp, or on your neighbourhood Facebook groups.
Mobile apps are a lesser-known way to find a great pet care provider. PetVibe is a social network for pet owners, while Bark ‘N Yapp is a reviewing platform—similar to Yelp, but for pet businesses only.
Step 3: What to Look for
- They are a legitimate business
- They have a great online presence with positive reviews (or they are able to provide references)
- They are involved with professional associations
- They respond to your emails and return your calls quickly and professionally
Step 4: Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dog Walker
- How long have you been in business?
- Who will be walking my dog?
- Will you ever let my dog off leash? If yes, where?
- Are you insured?
- How often can I expect an update about my dog?
- What is your backup plan if something happens and you can’t make it to a dog walk?
- What is your plan in case of a medical emergency with my dog?
- What measures do you take to keep my dog safe during a walk?
The right dog walker can make an immensely positive impact on your dog’s life: providing enrichment and exercise during a time that they would normally be sitting bored waiting for you to come home.
Now that I’ve given you the tools, you can go out there and find your dog walker! Your furry friend will thank you for it.
The above was a guest post by Sarah El Sherbini of PetsGo Pet Care, a professional pet sitting and dog walking business serving the downtown West End of Toronto. PetsGo operates under the value of quality over quantity: pet visits and dog walks are 100% private, un-timed, and completely customized to each individual pet. Visit their website to learn more: www.mypetsgo.ca