Does Your Dog Walker …? What Does Your Dog Walker / Canine Home Boarder Really Do?
I don’t offer dog walking anymore, but there are many people now who do. There seems to be so many dog walkers now, but how do you choose one to walk your best friend? It can be so difficult! And often there’s no-one to objectively answer the various questions you may have.
In my previous experience as a professional dog walker, I came across many other professional dog walkers – people who were entrusted to care for a family’s best friend, and who were paid to fulfill a service that they claimed to offer. I wanted to ask people what their dog walker did, but was unable to without being considered to be attempting to poach business. It was very frustrating when I could see people’s dogs were not getting the respect they deserved, and were not receiving the service their owners were paying for. I learned a great deal about the difference between professional and unprofessional! What people say they do, compared with what they actually did. Sadly, unless you actually fit your dog with a tracker, you’ll never know exactly what their experience is. Here are some things to consider:
- Walk your dog for the full time period you’re paying them for? Or does the ‘walk time’ include pick up and drop off, in which case, just how long a walk is your pup getting?
- Have First Aid training so they know what to do in the event of an accident or injury? They should show you their qualification certificates.
- Have a Police check? (particularly if they retain a house key). Very important! You are entrusting your pup and your home to this person. Again they should have a certificate to prove they have.
- Have insurance for dog walking, pet taxi, loss of house keys? They should show you their Certificate of Insurance;
- Follow appropriate legislation regarding the numbers of dogs to be walked at any one time? Leeds City Council stipulate a maximum of 6 dogs to be walked at any one time by a professional dog walker. Is your dog walker experienced enough to manage 6 dogs safely? Is your dog happy to be walked with 5 other dogs?
- Have testimonials that are up to date?
- Have other clients you can speak to about the service they provide for them.
I once timed a ‘professional dog walker’ and from them letting the dogs out of the van, to them being put back in the van, total elapsed time was just 7 minutes! This happened on three separate occasions. This is very difficult to determine. Pointers include: does your dog seem more tired when you walk them for the same duration? Is your dog having toileting accidents in your home on days the dog walker is taking them out?
When you first arrange for the prospective dog walker to come to see you:
- Watch their body language – do they interact with your dog?
- How does your dog behave around them? Trust your dog! If your dog doesn’t like them, there’s something wrong. Trust your instinct.
- What experience have they had?
- Have they brought their credentials to show you? Insurance (Public liability and Pet Taxi), Police check, Qualification Certificates, First Aid Certificates?
- Do they ask you to complete an information sheet so they can understand the needs of your dog?
- What would they do in the case of a medical emergency?
- How would they transport your dog – do they have pet taxi insurance? Is their car/van big enough for the number of dogs they propose to carry?
- How many dogs would they walk your dog with?
- What time will they be walking your dog? Does that fit with your requirements? Is this the actual time they arrive? Ask your neighbours, or install a Ring Camera just to be sure.
- Where will they take your dog for a walk?
I am a firm believer in gut instinct. If your gut is telling you there is something wrong – trust it and delve deeper!
Something people often say is ‘my dog walker’s wonderful – the dog gets so excited when she sees him so he’s obviously doing a fabulous job.’ Honestly, your dog will be delighted to see the dog walker because it means they are going out. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily getting the service you think just because your dog is pleased to see them! Trust your gut!
We have enjoyed providing first class home boarding for dogs for over 13 years now. We love it, and really enjoy the different dogs and personalities we are blessed to be entrusted with. It’s just wonderful! Though to provide the best care takes a lot of hard work – if you’re doing it right!
As stated in the Welcome page and the Home Boarding detail, we have been assessed by Selby District Council as providing 5* Boarding Accommodation. You can’t get better! 5* is the top assessment that can be awarded. So you might be able to find someone ‘as good’, but you won’t find better care!
When people enquire about Boarding, I give them all the basic information about our home and our set up, and then we arrange for them to visit with their dog to see for themselves.
During the visit, we introduce all the dogs and discuss the needs of the prospective boarding dog, routine etc. If all this is ok, I then show them where their dog(s) would be staying in the house, where they’re fed, where they play etc. I also show my Boarding License, insurance and qualification certificates. This is all part of the process. I don’t wait to be asked – I demonstrate I am doing everything correctly and will care for their dog in a safe and careful – and loving – manner.
This cannot be said for all home boarding providers! Please read the following and check it all applies to your home boarding provider:
Does your Dog’s Boarding establishment:
- Have a Boarding License issued by the Local Authority?
- Let you inspect the licensed property where your dog would be staying?
- Is the place clean?
- Guarantee that your dog will stay in the stated property rather than being accommodated elsewhere? We know of someone who ‘ships out’ dogs to their friends so they are never ‘full’ – thereby maximising their earnings, just accepting more and more dogs, particularly during the summer months. Dogs were then staying with people without the owner’s knowledge – therefore no license, no insurance, dubious care!
- Follow Council regulations regarding how many dogs are to be boarded given the size of the property – We know of people who board dogs with cages on top of each other in a room in the house – this is not home boarding. Home boarding is caring in the home, not being cooped up in a cage and let out occasionally for toileting!
- Have an up to date Police check? This ensures they’ve never been banned from caring for or owning a dog due to past occurrences of cruelty.
- Have insurance for pet sitting, pet boarding, and/or pet taxi? If not, why not? If they are offering a legitimate service, why are they not insured? And if they’re not insured, they cannot be licensed as insurance is one of many stipulations of a Boarding License being issued.
- Have any other dog-related qualifications? I really can’t understand why anyone who was seriously offering to care for animals, why wouldn’t they be interested enough to do courses on behaviour etc?
If you don’t know – ask them!
All licenses, insurance documents etc should be offered for your inspection when you first meet the Home Boarding provider.
If this is not the case, or they are in any way dismissive, guarded or obstructive about the production of the license, insurance etc, please think twice about leaving your dog/pet with them!!
Any non-conforming of the Council Regulations may invalidate any insurance or claim you may have in the event of a problem.
If your pet carer isn’t following the rules and doing things properly, what else are they scrimping on? You need to find someone who wants to do things properly so they will look after your dog properly. My dogs and the boarding dogs are our first priority. With regard to our own dogs, we will never, ever entrust someone with their lives who isn’t prepared to ‘do things properly’!