One of the most overlooked costs of owning a dog, particularly in the city, is the dog walker. Because I work downtown, I am gone 10 to 11 hours a day. Meaning Ellie is left alone and has to hold it/keep herself entertained until I get home. As this is a lot to ask of a dog, especially a young dog, I choose to hire someone to come in the middle of the day to take Ellie for a 30 minute walk. This costs me around $150 - $200 per month depending on how many times a week I have the dog walker come let her out.
Recently I moved from my Albany Park apartment to Lakeview and had to stop using my dog walker. He had been with me (& Ellie) from the beginning and it was really hard to let him go. Now I'm in the process of looking for a new dog walker, and thought I would share the questions that I ask when I interview potential dog walkers.
1. How long have you been walking/working with dogs in the city? I use this question to gauge comfort-ability with handling a dog that's more nervous about city noises. Ellie is scared of loud noises, like the train and car doors shutting, which makes walking her difficult sometimes.
2. Will you be able to commit to walking the dog around the same time everyday? I prefer my dog be walked between 12:30/1 as this works better with my work schedule and tends to be a good halfway point for El during the day. I am, of course flexible with the time but it really wouldn't make sense for her to get walked at say 10:30am or 3:00pm.
3. Can you commit to walking my dog for at least one month? This question is particularly necessary as usually the dog walkers on Rover are college students, or recent grads who are looking for full-time work and I like at least a little consistency for Ellie.
4. How would you react if Ellie starts pulling on the leash? I try to be pretty strict about this one because Ellie is stubborn and likes to go where she wants to go. If she wants to say "hi" to someone or another dog, she will do all she can to make it happen. I need someone who can stay in control of the situation so that she doesn't overwhelm someone or the other dog.
5. How would you react if Ellie doesn't like the dog she is greeting and she snaps or growls at it? Like humans, dogs sometimes for no reason at all just don't like each other. Especially when she's on the leash, I'd rather not force the situation. Instead I opt for calming her down before we move on, and I would like my dog walkers to do the same.
6. What would you do if Ellie gets scared and tries to run back home, or just lays down on the sidewalk? This happens at least once during a walk with Ellie, so having some tricks up your sleeve to get her to move is necessary. She can't be persuaded with treats so excitement or running with her are my two go to's.
7. How would you respond in an emergency situation? The dogs gets off the leash, the dog gets bit by another dog, the dog hurts it's paw on the walk. It's always good to ask how your dog walker would handle those situations. And to provide the walker with your Emergency Action Plan as well.
8. What do you like about being a dog walker? You don't want someone who is just doing it for the money. Especially since dog walking isn't exactly a lucrative business, it's good to see what the motivation is for wanting to walk dogs.
9. How will you keep me updated on how the walk went? Rover offers this nice feature where the dog walker send you a notification that they picked up the dog, and then at the end of the walk they send you a "card" that shows you where they walked, and if the dog went potty as well as comments from the dog walker on behavior etc., they can also send pictures of the dog on the walk. I love that! But I understand that can be tedious, so I'm also ok with just getting a text from them after the walk.
10. Are you bonded and/or insured? When you're trusting your pet/property to someone, it's important to make sure you are covered from any losses or damages during the duration of the dog walkers time in your house with your pet.
If you're looking for a great dog walker book with Rover! Use my Rover.com promo code for a discount on your first stay.
Tell me in the comment section below what questions you like to ask when you're looking for pet care.