Last updated: 2 January 2022
Eventually for every Canadian city, you'll find dog walker options, comparisons of the different dog walkers' features, and their contact information. It's all here.
Your reasons for hiring a dog walker may range from: having to focus on work-from-home (without your dog bringing you toys during your Zoom meetings), or because you're often busy outside of the house.
Whether you're looking for a dog walker while you're at home or not at home, your main goal is probably in reallocating time which you would've spent walking your dog; instead, with a dog walker, you can free-up 1 hr per day (for instance), and spend that towards errands, passion projects, your kids, relaxation, or your work.
Your factors to consider when hiring a dog walker include:
(a) Which days of the week you'd need dog walks,
(b) Times of day for those dog walks, and,
(c) Exceptional needs for your dog's safety & health
During your work days, for instance, your partner and you may be at the office between 9am to 5pm. For those days, while your dog probably lounges around the house, it could be helpful to have your dog walker for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.
As far as special requirements for your dog, this would mainly be something to consider if your dog gets nervous around strangers. In this case, you could aim to arrange for a meet-and-greet with your potential walker, so your dog and walker have already been acquainted. Also, you can do things like put your dog's harness or leash on, before your walker arrives, since your dog is probably much more comfortable with you getting that ready to go.
As you become more excited about the idea of hiring a dog walker, then your next task is to hire a capable dog walker near you.
You have a few options, at this stage:
(1) Speak to friends or your vet for dog walker recommendations,
(2) Solicit neighbors & their children as dog walkers,
(3) Hire professional dog walker companies such as Spot Dog Walkers
Non-professional dog walkers have their own pros and cons. Pros include that the interaction is often a bit more neighborly, since you're dealing with a single person (usually), the payments can be casually in cash, and so on. Cons include that your home & dog are probably not insured by the walker, and (being a single person) their availability may not be flexible all year and especially during vacation times.
Similarly, professional dog walkers come with positives and negatives. Positives include that the dog walkers are almost always fully bonded and insured, providing coverage for your pet and your house. Also, their availability is usually much greater, since the network of dog walkers is usually much more. Negatives can include that the interaction isn't quite as organic as calling your neighbor's daughter to walk your Shih-Tzu, however a nearby, hole-in-the-wall dog walking business can often still provide a nice, neighborly feeling.
After you've narrowed your dog walker options to, for example, 3 or 4 options, then you'll be ready to interview your walker candidates and find the perfect fit for your dog and you!
Usually, most dog walkers, both professional & non-professional, will offer "meet-and-greets", at which time your dog and you can meet the potential walker. At this time, your task as a pup parent is to pay close attention to how your dog and the walker interacts. Dog walkers often naturally get along with dogs, needless to say, since they've often got residual treat powder leaking out of their pockets! However, all animals (humans, dogs, and so on) can have a slight anxieties upon first meeting, so it's worth observing how your dog and the walker react to each other.
For instance, does your potential walker force her or himself upon your dog, in case your dog doesn't immediately form a bond, or does your walker confidently play it cool and allow your dog to form friendship on her or his own terms?
Also, it's worth treating the meet-and-greet like a doctor-patient confidentiality session, where you freely (and sometimes uncomfortably) communicate everything your walker ought to know about your dog. Does your dog have aggression issues towards humans, other dogs, and so on? Does your dog tend to suddenly lunge at rabbits? Have you ever experienced a time when your dog bit another dog or human? It's worth disclosing all this information, since it would only set your dog and walker up for failure, if anything is overlooked. It's actually a good thing if your dog walker kindly says she cannot walk your dog, since it's a sign of an experienced walker – plus it's the safest way to go about things.
As a shortlist of questions to start the dog walker interview, here are some which come to mind. However, it's likely that, after 1 or 2 of these questions, the meet-and-greet conversation will take a course of its own, so these are mainly meant as a starting point for the interview,
• Have you walked dogs with a similar breed or size as mine?
• Where would you plan to walk my dog?
• Are your dog walks typically in groups or private?
• For how many years have you been a dog walker?
• Are you able to provide references from past dog owners?
Once you've sorted through the costs of the dog walks and the payment, then your last job is to give your dog walker everything needed for a successful first walk. After that, you can finally relax and enjoy the extra hours in the week which you've earned for yourself.
Here are some items to provide to your dog walker:
• Walker entry: method of safely entering your home (ie. key lockbox or electronic door code)
• Contact information: your phone number and/or email address
• Health information: veterinary details about your dog, which may be worth disclosing
• Supplies: the whereabouts of your dog's leash, collar, potty bags, treats, and other relevant items for the walk
If your nervousness about letting your dog walker access your home when you're not around is quite high, then you can – at worst – only hire your dog walker when you're available to meet them at the door.
Typically, often after meeting your dog walker in-person, you'll feel more comfortable than you thought. Plus, you can feel free to install an inexpensive camera, which covers your house's indoor entrance area. Most experienced pup walkers are quite used to being on camera, and it's unlikely that they should ever need to step further into the house beyond there.
Though, if you choose to install an indoor camera, be sure to let your dog walker know as a courtesy. They'll almost surely understand completely, and will be grateful to have received notice from you.
It's not impossible that your dog walker bumps your parents' china, but that's when the walker's home insurance will come into play.
As mentioned earlier, for example, at Spot Dog Walkers, you'd be covered with $30,000 of pet insurance and $5 million of home insurance, all deductible-free. Fortunately, in over 75,000 dog walks, there hasn't been a need to make a claim, but everything is setup in case the day presents itself.
After your dog's walks, it's worth asking your dog walker how your pup performed. Probably being an experienced professional, your dog walker can provide indispensable feedback about your dog's behaviour, helping your dog grow into a more mature personality.
With Spot Dog Walkers, each dog walk is GPS-tracked, so you can follow-along live or see the route once the walk is over. Plus, each walk includes potty reports and saveable videos, so you can step into the paw-booties of your dog every time.