Getting someone else to walk your dog for you can be a good idea in an age where people have to work longer hours etc. However be aware that some dog walkers are not necessarily suitably qualified. In a time when many people want to make a few extra pounds then some are turning to dog walking as a flexible means to earn an income. However, many may not have the right skills to do this. When dog walkers ask me to recommend their services these are the questions I would like answered.
1. What experience do you have as a dog walker (e.g voluntary with dog rescue or walking for other people, do you have references). Do you know your responsibility as "keeper of the dog" in law. E.G you are seen as the keeper and are responsible for actions the dog does under your control. You will need to understand your responsibility under the Dangerous Dogs Act (e.g this doesn't just mean dogs that bite, it can be dogs running out of control)
2. Are you insured and CRB checked. Your insurance should cover loss of client keys etc. For boarding are you licensed with the local authority?
3. Have you had pet first aid training?
4. How would you deal with a dog under your responsibility that shows aggression to another dog?
5. What would you do if another dog attacked one you were responsible for?
6. What would you do if a dog in your care was injured whilst on a walk with you (you should ask clients to sign a form of consent so that the animal can be treated by a vet in an emergency)
7. Will you ask clients to sign a contract of care? Dog walkers should enter into a contract with clients so that information can be gained about the dog so that they can be walked safely.
8. How would you handle a dog that pulls on the lead?
9. Under what conditions would you let one of the dogs you are responsible for off lead?
10. What would you do if a dog you had let off didn't come back when called?
11. How many dogs will you walk at the same time? (some local authorities have limits).
12. What qualifications do have have to do your job? There are now a range of professionally run accredited courses that dog walkers can attend to gain appropriate qualifications.
13. How would you handle a nervous dog or a dog that refused to walk?
14. How do you transport dogs for walking? Have you the means to keep dogs separate in a vehicle? Are the dogs secured safely? Crates are the safest option.
As you can see dog walking is a professional business. It can be flexible and enable people to work the hours they want to. However, no-one should enter into this lightly, it is a serious business akin to child care and should be enterd into with the same degree of caution.
If you are considering finding a dog walker I hope these questions will help you to find the right one.