Choosing the right dog walker

By Rikki Sullivan

Choosing a dog walker is such an incredibly important decision and the research and selection can be quite a stressful and worrying experience. You want to choose the best for your dog, but where do you start? Choosing a great dog walker can be such a valuable and positive addition to your dog’s life, but choosing the wrong set up or individual does have the potential to be detrimental to your dog’s wellbeing.

I’d always urge anybody searching for a dog care provider to consider welfare first, put your logical cap on and think pragmatically about what is really being offered to you and your pup. Forget the pictures of doggy heaven with oodles of dogs running wild and think about what that experience really delivers your dog. Commercial setups are fabulous at marketing and in a world of social media we all love to see dogs looking like they’re having a whale of a time, but what do you think the behind the scenes pictures really are?

So what do I mean when I say be pragmatic and think logically… and what on earth is ‘welfare first’ anyway?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when discussing a potential service for your dog: your dog’s temperament and what you want for your dog, travel and transport, experience and approach of walker, transparency and finally – what does your gut say?

What do you want for your dog?

I’d like you to start by thinking about your dog. Do they enjoy the company of other dogs? How do they travel? Think about how they interact with other dogs- are they raucous rough- housers? Do they prefer to sniff and mooch about? Do they prefer human interaction to canine?

Next, which behaviours would you like to encourage or discourage? If your dog loves playing and getting preoccupied in the company of other dogs, are you happy for them to do so or would you prefer them to be able to disengage and calm down a bit? If your dog struggles with other dogs and gets barky, snappy or lunges would you like to stop this behaviour and help your dog feel more at ease? Does your dog find it hard to chill out? Are they ‘overamped’ a lot?

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