There are many reasons why you might decide to use a dog walker. If you do, here are a few topics you should explore with potential candidates.
* Testimonials: any well-established, successful dog walking business should be able to provide plentiful, credible references; but be wary of the typical rave reviews by, eg, ‘Sarah C., Neutral Bay’. These can be easily faked if just a first name is given.
* The business should have proper credentials, including registration and an ABN number.
*It should have public liability insurance in place. It is expensive to hold, so many do not have it. (If reassured that it is in place, ask to see the policy schedule.)
* Questions! At the interview, (always ask for an interview), an interesting question to ask is why they are in this business / line of work. Be aware that a significant proportion of the walk service is time spent in the vehicle by your dog(s). Remember, they are driven to and from the park, so you’ll want to know how long your dog will be in the van for. Some dog walkers pick up and drop 2 groups (eight dogs) at the one time, so your dog could be in the vehicle for an hour, or even longer. That is unacceptable. Also, if the business has been going less than, say, 3 – 5 years, the dogs could be picked up from multiple suburbs, again, increasing time in the vehicle. It’s also a good idea to inspect the vehicle they will be travelling in – is it a recent model (not old)? Is it air-conditioned? (vital during the warmer months).
* Other good questions to ask are: how many dogs will be walked by the dog walker in addition to mine? (The answer should be three, or less.) You should also enquire as to the temperament and age of the dogs that will be with yours. A reputable business will try to match groups along these lines. For example, if you have a young, active dog that likes to play-wrestle and a spot of chasey, you would not want it placed with ‘seniors’ or unsuitable breeds.
* Once you have selected a dog walking service, a good idea – if you have the time and opportunity – is to ‘mystery shop’ them. Go and observe a walk in progress and see how they handle the dogs in their care.
If you follow these tips, you should be well-placed to select the right walker for your hound!