Whilst most of us would like to spend all day every day with our dogs in an ideal world (but probably shouldn’t, as this could cause them to develop separation anxiety!) most dog owners today have to go out to work, to make the money we need to keep our dogs fed and with a supply of toys to destroy while we’re out!
Unless you’re lucky enough to be one of the few people who are allowed to take your dog to work with you and you work full time outside of the home, this means that you probably rely on someone else to take care of your dog or check on them and tend to their needs while you’re working.
If you have a friend, neighbour or relative who can check your dog, take them for a walk and give them lunch each day then you’re very lucky, but many dog owners have to hire some help with this, by retaining the services of a professional dog walker.
Professional dog walkers are in great demand in some areas, and often have waiting lists; particularly those that deliver an excellent service and have lots of happy clients. This means that if you do have a dog walker you’re happy with, you should do everything possible to make sure that you’re not making their life harder than it should be, nor causing them problems that could be avoided, like wasting their time.
Whilst you are paying for a service and are of course entitled to receive a good service, this doesn’t mean it is ok to overstep the boundaries of what you expect from your dog walker, mess them around, or leave them in the dark about things they need to know. If you do things like this and particularly if you’re a repeat offender, you might well find yourself looking for a new dog walker in short order, as your current helper finds a more cooperative client in your place!
If you want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you and are keen to ensure that you treat your dog walker fairly and they’re happy working with you and your dog, read on to learn five things you should avoid doing if you want to keep your dog walker!
You’ll need to provide a key or access to your house in order for your dog walker to get in and get your dog and so on, and you should always ensure that you haven’t overlooked anything in this respect and that your dog walker can get in and out without problems.
Always have a dry run with your dog walker to make sure of things like that the key itself actually works in the lock, that they can turn off and re set the burglar alarm and vitally, that your dog will actually let them in and not try to see them off as an intruder!
It is best to avoid a situation where your dog walker has to rely on finding a key you have hidden in order to get in, and some dog walkers won’t work on this basis at all, due to the security implications, and the possibility of you forgetting to leave the key or them being unable to find it.
Don’t make your dog walker go hunting around to find everything they will need before and after your dog’s walk, or they might bill you accordingly or replace you with another client!
Most dog walkers will tell you exactly what they need you to leave for them and will ask you to show them where it will be; stick to the plan, and don’t move things or fail to leave things without working this out with them first.
This doesn’t just mean collars and leads, either; think about things like towels for wet days, coats or booties, and food, if your walker needs to feed your dog when they bring them home. Remember to leave details of the portion size for the food too!
It is reasonable to ask your dog walker to bring in a parcel that is on the doorstep when they come in, but that is about the limit of it! Don’t treat your dog walker as an errand service or think that just because they’re out and about, that they can pick up a bag of dog food, drop your dog at the groomer, or take care of other things for you – unless they actually offer these services, and agree (and probably charge for) them with you in advance.
Cleaning up mess in the house
If your dog makes a mess in the house before your dog walker gets there – either by destroying something or toileting – it is not your dog walker’s job to clean it up! The one exception to this is if the problem occurred because your walker was running very late, and should this happen more than once in a blue moon, you should probably choose another walker.
Some dog walkers will go the extra mile and clean up toileting mess without being asked, and you could reasonably expect your walker to remove anything that might be dangerous to your dog if they’ve chewed something up, but cleaning up mess other than picking up after your dog on their walk is not your dog walker’s job.
Dog walkers tend to be in great demand, and responsible ones limit the number of dogs they walk at any one time, pride themselves on their timekeeping and reliability, and always ensure that every dog they work with gets their full agreed walk, often finishing work late as a result.
This means that most dog walkers have no problems filling their vacant slots and often have a waiting list, and will expect you to commit to a set schedule of walks on the days or dates you ask for, agreed in advance.
If you happen to be off work one day at short notice or otherwise cancel your walker at the last minute, they might well still expect you to pay for this, as they will not be able to fill that slot with another client.
Most dog walkers have clear terms and conditions for cancellations and payment for missed walks, so check these out and don’t mess your walker around to save the cost of a single walk, as this may cost your dog all of their future walks instead!