Engaging a walker for your dog is a major commitment. Not only are you entrusting your furry family member to an "outsider" but that "outsider will have a set of keys to your apartment. Trust and double trust are the basis of your relationship.
Your dog walker, or Care Associate as they are called at Brooklyn Bark, will - or should - become your pup's best human friend outside your family. Select wisely and carefully for both your pup's well being and your own peace of mind.
Trusting your pet to an outsider is a big step. Yes, you can Google to find dog walking and pet sitting companies that cover your neighborhood, and perhaps you want to start that way if you are short of time. However, if you can invest an evening or two or three to go to Off-Leash hours and chat with other dog owners you can start out by asking for recommendations. Or ask your neighbors who have dogs whom they use and if they are happy.
If you hear the same name mulitple times, there is a good place to look. But you still need to do your homework because this is a major commitment of trust.
Here are 15 questions you should consider asking any company or individual you are considering for the job.
- Will you come to my home to meet me and my dog?
You, the owner, are entitled to know who is in your home and your dog is entitled to decide if this is a trustworth human.
- How many dogs do you walk at a time?
If you are going for price/walk, you will be dealing with pack walkers. These are people who collect a medly of dogs. An hour walk is 45 minutes of picking up and dropping off other canines and 15 minutes of anonymity in the group. If it's all you are able to afford, that is fine, but you should not pay more than $8-$10 for "an hour" pack walk.
- Do you inform me every time you interact with my pet?
As the pet parent you deserve to know your pup's "adventures" as well as his bathroom status (so you know if you can work late or go out for a drink after work). If there is a health issue, you need to know even more so.
Most clients prefer text messages or emails for instant information. Some have professions where they cannot be interrupted and prefer a written note be left for reading upon their return home.
- Is the company or individual bonded and insured?
No matter how careful your walker is, accidents can and do happen. A lost key; your dog taking off after a squirrel; another dog attacking your pup.
There is no reason a professional should not be able to cover rekeying your locks or pick up the vet bill if something happens on his/her watch.
On the personal level, bonding means that you are dealing with someone who has a clean record and a company putting their money that that record will continue.
- Are you pet first aid / CPR certified?
We believe every pet owner should be trained in pet first aid (animals are different enough in their reactions from humans that this is a good investment). Anyone whom you pay to care for your animal certainly should be.
- Are you trained to medicate? PO? IM? SubQ?
This is separate from first aid but necessary if you have a pet with health issues. Especially common is diabetes which requires sub-cutaneous injections. This is not a difficult technique to master, but you would like a care giver who has mastered it before injecting your pet.
- Will my pup always have the same "buddy" to walk him?
Dogs bond, so this is a very important question, especially with larger companies. But care givers are human and need time off, get sick and move on to other opportunities. Each dog should be bonded with a minimum of a primary and a back-up care giver so he's can be comfortable being covered in any situation.
These questions are good start to decide whom you would like to trust with your pup's care. There are a number of adminstrative questions to ask and we'll cover those in our next blog.
Brooklyn Bark is available to walk dogs (and pet sit cats) in Ft. Greene, Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, Navy Yard, Prospect Heights, Prospect Park South, South Park Slope and Park Slope.