Choosing the right dog walker

The job of a dog walker is not just about walking dogs in a park. Going out in a pack strongly contributes to the balance of the dogs who will be able to exert themselves, work on their relationships with congeners and revise the lessons learned from their canine educator.

To avoid endangering dogs or other people, it is a profession that requires patience, discipline, and constant attention. But in the almost total absence of regulations, who can you trust to walk your pet, when everyone can improvise as a dog walker?

According to Erin Taylor, American founder of the Pawsitive
Connection Dog Training & Services »
and dog walker trainer for over 10 years, “Dogwalking” has grown so rapidly in recent years that most dog owners don’t realize they are dealing with small structures or young independents. who often have no qualifications or diplomas for this work. Almost anyone can call themselves a “dog walker” by invoking their love of quadrupeds. Naturally, a love of dogs is imperative, but certainly not enough.

The dog cannot tell us what he does during his day and how the walk went. You are not going to follow the walker to check his work either (whatever…). It is therefore necessary to check beforehand to whom you are going to entrust your beloved companion.

The 10 questions to ask a dog walker:

Are you trained in dog training and behavior? Do you know how to decipher a dog’s calming signals?

According to Erin Taylor, the love of dogs is not enough, you have to know the canine world perfectly. Getting your own dog to obey is relatively easy; to be obeyed by a pack of dogs that one has on guard is another matter…

Ideally the walk in the woods should be done without a leash, in total freedom. Your walker must therefore have a good foundation in dog training.

The dogs of the pack do not always know each other. The “dogwalker” must therefore know how to detect the signals that the dogs emit between them in order to prevent conflicts and appease them before any incident.

How many dogs will be present in your “pack” and will you be accompanied by another walker with his own group?

The ideal size for a group of dogs is around 8 individuals, which varies according to the size and character of the dogs. There are nevertheless walkers accompanied by 12 or 15 dogs…

Each additional dog in a pack increases the likelihood of conflict, injury, dog loss. And the more dogs there are, the less the walker can provide individual assistance with obedience and socialization work.

Associating 2 walkers with each a group of dogs can be interesting but greatly increases the chances of a fight, the packs not knowing each other and risking entering into conflict.

Walkers must remain constantly focused on the attitude of the dogs and their environment. Erin Taylor also asks all walkers to turn off their cell phones during walks.

Who will walk my dog?

Most dogwalking companies are very small with only one employee. If you’re going with a larger company, it’s important to know who will be walking your dog and what their qualifications are. Insist that it is always the same person who walks your dog so that he knows and anticipates his reactions. Ideally the pack should always be more or less the same, so your dog will find his friends on each walk and you will greatly limit the risk of conflict or running away.

The walker must hold the CCAD “dog” option (domestic animal capacity certificate). It is imperative to work in this profession and is not very complicated to obtain (2 days of theoretical training).

How tall will other dogs be walked with yours?

According to Erin Taylor, Small dogs should be grouped with other small dogs, and the same goes for large ones. It is too easy for small dogs to be injured during play with and among their larger peers. It is safest to stick to the 50% rule. For example, if your dog weighs 20 kg, his companions should not weigh more than 30 kg.

How long will the walk actually take?

Some dog walkers have too large a geographic area. They spend so much time picking up and dropping off all the dogs that they end up only spending an hour in the park. So check that the walk lasts enough time for your dog to have fun and that he doesn’t spend his day in the car…

What methods and materials do you use?

Check that walkers only use positive reinforcement methods. Send home users of choke collars, electric collars, followers of screaming, forced submission and coercion.

Prefer those who will be loaded with toys, stuffed animals, ball launchers and who will be able to animate the group with fun activities.

Are you insured?

Your dog walker must be declared and insured against professional risks. If ever your dog is a victim or causes an accident, your own insurance could disengage, considering (rightly) that the dog was no longer under your civil liability.

Do you have a contract to sign?

You must sign a contract with the walker which defines everyone’s responsibilities and avoids the appearance of conflicts in the event of an incident. This contract must be in duplicate and the original must be given to you.

Are you certified to provide canine first aid?

Even with the best precautions, no one is immune to injury. The walks take place in the forest, therefore in places where emergency services are difficult to access.

Erin Taylor points out that therefore every walker should be trained in canine first aid. He must be able to detect vital emergencies, effectively alert the emergency services and keep the dog alive before the intervention of a veterinarian. A first aid kit must equip each of these professionals with bandages, splints, tweezers, tick tweezers and some equally essential basics.

In which vehicle do you transport the dogs?

The walker must hold the TAV (authorization to transport live animals). It is mandatory ! Yet few of them pass this training and thus risk the health of the animals.

Your dog must be transported in a vehicle with maximum airflow (air conditioning, roof vent, grilles in the rear doors, etc.). This vehicle must be in good condition to reduce the possibility of breakdown. Ideally, the dogs are separated in the vehicle to ensure maximum comfort and to reduce the possibility of conflict during transport.

A walker should never leave dogs unattended in a vehicle for any reason.

In conclusion, do not hesitate to use the services of a dog walker. This is a real plus for your dog who will be able to play freely with faithful companions, develop his socialization and revise his dog training lessons. On the other hand, choose a professional walker, qualified, insured, trained in canine first aid and worthy of the responsibilities that you place on him.

The average price of dog walkers varies according to their geographical location, the number of dogs in the group and whether or not they respect tax obligations… The average price varies between 20 and 30€ per dog for a walk ranging from 3 to 4 hours (transport included).