Separating the wheat from the chaff
By Lindsay Shostal
Dog walkers can be a godsend for busy dog parents. We’re here to make your life easier and help break up the day for your bored pooch. Dog walkers are your side kicks and should provide that peace of mind that your fur kid is getting what he needs when you’re at work. Just like any other business, not all dog walkers are created equal. Some are more experienced, qualified and invested than others. And just like meeting a new person, you and your dog will find you have a better connection with some walkers than others.
PRO TIP! Start researching dog walkers before you bring your dog or puppy home. The process can take a while. You want the experience to be a positive one and to be a perfect match!
Step 1: Separating the wheat from the chaff
Three suggestions to guide you in your pursuit of the perfect dog walker.
Ask at your local dog park.
Asking at the dog park is a great starting point, but this can be vague at best. People often have strong opinions about anything to do with their dogs, and everyone thinks they have the best vet, best dog walker, etc.
Ask someone you trust.
Talk to your vet, groomer, dog trainer, pet supply owner, or even the neurotic dog owner who is hard to please. These can be helpful resources.
Go and observe.
Visit your local park, and watch dog walkers in action. You’ll soon get to know the walkers in your neighborhood, and develop a sense of the relationships they have with the dogs in their care.
Keep in mind that sometimes even the best dog walkers have bad days. We all have had those days where things are a disaster and everything that can go wrong does go wrong. These bad days allow you to see the sincerity in the dog walkers who really care, and can handle the missteps that sometimes pop up. This is what you want to look for; someone who truly loves dogs.
PRO TIP! If you are really committed to finding the best walker, head out on rainy days to see which dog walkers actually walk the dogs and which ones sit in their car smoking, or are huddled under a tree playing on their iPhone. In six years of dog walking, I have never had to advertise or market my business, remaining full to capacity for walks and boarding year ‘round. The best dog walkers in the industry that I know are the ones who only rely on referrals.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on step two of finding the perfect dog walker: the meet and greet.