As a dog walker in Branford, CT I have seen many approaches to caring for pets. Some people leave their dogs in a crate, while others are loose in the house. Based on your pup, you may come home to a mess in the house (shredded notebook? shoe? underwear?) or just to an energetic pooch who has an insane amount of energy.
If you're not able to get home for a mid-day exercise visit with your pooch, you may have considered hiring a dog walker. In my humble opinion, this is a great step towards not only a happy dog, but happy dog parents. Other people have their dog walked by a dog walker. Having a professional stop by your house and commit 30 or 60 min to your dog, working on mentally stimulating activities as well as physical exercise can make such a difference! But... it is important to find the right pet professional to keep your dog safe.
I watched as the dogs were let to run up and down the fence line, barking out of control, while my dogs stood inside, wide eyed and bewildered. I admit, that I must have shared their look. What were we to do? I wanted out! I could not imagine who, exactly, would be prepared to intervene if any of these dogs got into it with each other, or with one of my dogs? I am experienced in reading dog body language and observing dog interactions, but I was one person. This woman did not strike me as particularly up to that task. I managed to convince the lady to pick up all of her dogs' leashes, and pull them away from the entrance/exit, so we could leave. She actually asked several times if we would stay. "No way" I thought, but just answered that it was getting late, and we needed to be going.
This experience made me think of each one of those dogs, and each one of their owners. Before leaving, the woman let me know that she has 15-16 clients/ day. I could not fathom that. A full schedule for me is 6-7 appointments per day, which means 6-7 clients. One dog per appointment, unless I was caring for siblings, or had a specific "social walk" planned. (Social walk = 2 dogs, who have been properly introduced and benefit from the time together.) I just wondered if their doting owners knew the risk of harm their dog walker was putting them in. Six dogs loose in a car = potential disaster. Six dogs at a dog park = potential disaster. I felt for the dogs, and I felt for their owners.
I founded Sandy Paws because I truly care about the health and well being of pets. I also know that as a pet owner myself, I expect that the highest level of care and attention is given to my pets when I take them to the vet, the groomer, or cared for by a pet sitter. I expect that all dog walkers are giving this high level of care to their client pets, but I also am aware that that is just not the case. How do you make sure that your pooch is being properly taken care? Ask questions!
1. Is your dog walker insured and bonded?
2. How many dogs does your walker take out at a time?
3. What kind of individualized attention is given to your dog during the visit?
4. Ask to see pictures or video of your dog's outings!
5. Where does your walker take your dog each day (are you expecting your dog to be out for a walk, when instead he's being taken to the dog park every day)?
Hiring a professional dog walker is a great step towards keeping your dog mentally and physically exercised during the day, and can help with behavioral issues and keep your dog from getting into trouble caused by boredom. Be sure to interview your dog walker and be sure that they are providing the level of care and attention that you are expecting!
*I just want to note that I am not against social dog play or social dog walks. In fact, they can be great for the right dog pairings! But my rule is: no more than 2 dogs/ human being if the dog is being taken anywhere outside of it's home and yard.