When you google ‘Dog Walking’, or ‘Dog Walker in Bridgwater’, lots of hits come up. Gumtree, third party booking websites or teenagers advertising cheap walks on facebook. Many people see it as ‘easy money’ (it isn’t!) and don’t realise the hard work involved. Would you risk leaving the welfare of your dog to someone with good intentions who isn’t aware of the pitfalls?
The world of Dog Walking is a minefield!
When hiring a dog walker in this way, there are a lot of unknowns.
Do you really KNOW who is going to walk your dog?
Some companies offer a ‘keysafe’ system, so the walker has access to your property without seeing you. Your dog may meet different walkers each time. They don’t get a chance to build up a relationship with the walker. Our dogs meet the same walker each time. They love to see us, even when out and about with their humans! Make sure you can meet the walker first – you need to be happy that they are right for you, and right for your dog.
Have they been security checked?
The registration process for dog walking websites doesn’t always ensure that the walkers have been security checked. It’s not a legal requirement, but we like to give clients peace of mind – it is an extra step we take, as you will be trusting us not only with your animals but also your keys.
How are they transporting dogs?
Are they simply buckled in? Are they loose? An ideal way to transport multiple dogs is to have secured crates in the car. This provides extra security in the event of an accident but also prevents dogs from mixing and getting up to mischief in the car and distracting the driver. They can still see, smell and speak to each other, and we find that our dogs quickly settle down and most even sleep on the way back from the walk!
Are they insured to transport your dog in their vehicle?
Whilst the dog walking website might provide insurance for your animal while it’s in the care of their walker, if they are not insured to transport animals, they might not pay out.
Are they insured for your dog whilst it’s in their care?
Most companies provide insurance for your dog and third party animals while the dog is in the care of the walker – although it might be worth checking with the dog walking service direct to see what cover is offered.
What is their method for maintaining control of your dog?
Is the walker experienced in maintaining control of multiple dogs? Are they force-free dog walkers or do they use outdated methods (shouting, smacking, etc)? At Somerset Dog Walking, we only use positive, reward based methods (praise or treats) to maintain desired behaviours – lots of our clients can see a difference in their dogs after we’ve walked them, and ask us what our secret is!
How many dogs will they walk at any one time?
Some insurances set a limit on the number of dogs that can be walked together. There are also Public Space Control Orders which limit the group size too. To be able to give your dog the 1-2-1 attention that they need on a walk, Somerset Dog Walking will walk a maximum of 4 client’s dogs at any one time. If the dogs are a little more demanding, the group size will be smaller than this.
Are they First Aid Certified?
Accidents happen. Dogs will be dogs! They run through brambles, hoover up anything edible (or inedible!) – there are many risks out there. Should any emergency medical attention be needed, does the walker have the First Aid experience to deal with it? Somerset Dog Walking are Pet First Aid Certified just in case.
Chances are the booking site won’t have checked any of this – they will simply match the request to anyone who has signed up with them as a dog walker, then take their cut from the price paid.
Responsible dog walking
We will only sign up with a reputable third party booking site because we like to assess our dogs first, to see what group they would be compatible with, what their recall is like, any allergies they may have (we like to reward good behaviour with treats!), if there are any reactive issues and to reassure the owner that their dog is in safe hands with us. Here is a list of the dog walking services we offer.
We don’t charge any more than a booking with a third party site, yet you get confidence, security and peace of mind. In return, we get 100% of the booking fee. This goes towards covering the cost of insurance, up to date certifications, fuel, admin, equipment, treats and poo bags.
Lots and lots of poo bags!