Finding a Dog Walker?
As people are starting to plan ahead for a return to school, I am receiving more enquiries about Dog Walking. I only cover Swords and Malahide for dog walking and have very little availability at the moment, so in an unregulated industry, it can be hard to know who to trust with your best friend and with more people using it as an easy way to make quick money, how can you find a professional you can trust?
As a professional Dog Walker and as someone who has used the services of a dog Walker in the past, these are my top five tips for finding a genuine professional:
The qualifications you should look for in a Dog Walker would be at a minimum First Aid and a basic accredited Dog Training or Animal Care course. When I take on new dogs, I spend a lot of time training them to come to my cues, I can’t have 4 different cues for 4 different dogs, so it’s extremely important there is a basic understanding of how to train dogs using the most up to date methods available, without the risk of negative side affects. I also need to know how to manage groups of dogs and be able to read body language before there is a problem. Ask to see their certificates and check who independently accredited the course.
Owning dogs for years is not experienced, just like having children for 20 odd years doesn’t qualify someone to work in childcare! So how can a new dog walker get hands on experience? Well, where there’s a will, there’s a way! What I did was volunteering in animal sanctuaries. I learned some of my best experience of breeds, temperaments, behaviour and safe managements of groups of dogs there. Ireland is OVERRUN with dogs needing homes and rescues need help. I later spent several more years interning (for free!) with other dog training professionals to help learn my Craft, while studying at the same time (I was also working a very demanding full time job as Senior Hedge Fund Accountant) but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
3. Insurance & CRO
This really is a sign of how committed your Dog Walker is as a professional, insurance can cost anything from €200 to €2,000 per year. Ask to see proof of your Dog Walkers insurance certificate and their company’s registration certificate. Again this shows how committed your Dog Walker is to their business and growing it as a profession.
4. References & Testimonials
Speak to past clients, search their name and business in google and Facebook and see are clients happy with their service, are the reliable, professional and their dogs safe.
5. Continuous Professional Development
Like all professionals, I undertake a minimum of 40 hours of CPD’s and I’m happy to share my certificates with my clients. Keeping your skills up to date in any industry is essential and shows a commitment to your business and clients, in this case your dogs!
What about how many dogs, on lead, off leash, private or group? Prewalking forms, trial walks or pre walk interviews? Of course these things are all vitally important to discuss with your new Dog Walker, and you may have an idea of what suits best, once you have ensured all the basics are in place these are the next questions to go over and find someone that suits your dog.
I’m lucky to be part of an amazing network of professional Dog Walkers pushing for regulation of the industry and am always happy to refer clients I can’t help to another professional, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with your area and I’ll see if I can help.
Laura Jennings dipCABT, ICAN, CAPBT
085 731 7129