As the owner of a dog walking company, I get asked LOTS of questions. The one question I never get asked is: what would you ask? This would be my favourite….if someone had ever asked me. Why? Simple. I’ve seen it all. I’ve been working as a dog walker since 2006. I’ve seen this industry grow dramatically during that time. However, it still remains completely unregulated. Outside of needing a City of Toronto Permit (you need insurance to get your permit) and insurance, you don’t really need anything to call yourself a professional Dog Walker. You really don’t even need those two things. You can call yourself a Professional Dog Walker because you feel like it. Therefore, the majority of the industry regulation is self-imposed. None of this is mandatory, so the onus is on the client to figure out with whom you’re sending your dog. These would be the questions I would ask if I was looking for walker, included are the answers I would be looking for, and why. With that thought in mind, let’s get down to business.
These questions may not seem like a lot, but they will give you a good sense of how the walker treats the dogs in their care, their knowledge and their professionalism. And at the end of the day, you can’t prevent all the accidents, but you can minimize or eliminate some of them, and that’s what you’re looking for with a dog walker….someone who will your pup’s best friend and keep them safe.
For the purposes of this post, we are discussing group dog walks. This could be either for on leash or off leash groups.
Ok, so you’ve hired a walker……now, what to expect?
Walk time! Taking your dog for a walk is such a great experience. You walk to the park, unclip the leash and watch your pup run free around the off-leash area, enjoying their friends and all the new smells. Thirty minutes later, it’s time to go. It’s your turn to put the kids to bed, so you need to get home to relieve your partner.
“Fido, come!” you call. Fido turns and looks, but keeps playing.
“Fido, com’mon. Time to go.” Fido doesn’t even look this time.
Expletive deletives are whispered under your breath. You know this game—Keep Away. You’re going to be late getting home. Your partner is going to yell at you for not being there to put the kids to bed—all because FIDO wouldn’t stop playing with his buddies.
This game is all too familiar. As a dog walker, it is the one thing that sends me into a rage in 0.05 seconds, flat. I’ve had dogs who have done this for upwards of half an hour. Keep Away is a tremendously infuriating game, because there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Fido has to choose to show up. And what could be more fun that being chased all over the park by your human best friend? Why would he want this to end?
We dog walkers have gotten wise to this game, and there are several tricks we employ to prevent it.
These are our tricks for grabbing a wayward Fido. We’d love to hear some of yours…