7 Questions to ask your potential new dog walker

Chances are that if you are reading this then you either have a dog walker (hopefully me!) or you may be thinking about having one (hopefully me!) in the future. Most dog walkers/pet sitters offer services that can be a one off, short term or long term. I know that when I meet a potential customer I ask lots of questions to find out their requirements and all about their pet.

It’s so important to pick the right dog walker/pet sitter for your pet. They could be visiting up to 5 times a week with them. Not only do they need to connect with your pet you also need to feel confident about your choice too.

I also know that years ago, when I found myself needing a dog walker, I didn’t have a clue what to ask or what to expect. So today I’m going to let you know 7 things you should check.

1) As a professional dog walker, I have industry specific insurance. My insurance covers lots of things and most of my terms and conditions are based around what my insurance allows. For instance, I must have signed permission from an owner to allow their dog to be off leash. If your potential new walker is not asking for signed permission, please check their insurance and ask the question. If your dog has an accident off lead and you haven’t given signed permission, then myself and my insurance company won’t cover any costs.

2) Has your dog walker got animal first aid training? I’ve not had to use mine yet on any dogs I walk but I have had to use it on my own. I always carry a small first aid kit with me and I have a much bigger first aid kit in my car. I check all kits (I have 4, or maybe 5 kits in total) every month to check that everything is in date and order any replacements.

3) On occasions, I will drive a dog to a different location for their walk. As well as having specific dog walker’s insurance that covers me for transporting dogs, my car insurance also covers business use. It’s a little thing, but if I had an accident with your dog in the car and I don’t have business use on my personal insurance then my dog walker’s insurance won’t pay out.

4) Myself and my team all have a recent DBS check. Now if you have had a meet and greet with me then you know I probably joke that it proves that I haven’t been caught yet! Honestly it is a joke, I’ve got a clean record! But the point is that it does need to be a recent check within the last 2-3 years. There are no regulations that state I need one, I choose to have one. We often come into your home without you being there and I want you to be able to trust us. If your walker hasn’t got one, ask them for one.

5) Ask your walker/sitter what they do with your keys. I have a key safe. All keys have a tag on them, but there are no addresses on them. I remember where everyone lives, but please don’t ask me the name of your street or the number of your house! I just know where you live!

6) Ask your walker/sitter what happens if your pet is ill whilst they are looking after it. I always have a conversation with every owner about how much I can authorise on their behalf at the vet in their absence. This differs from £100 (although I have to be honest, this won’t get you very far at the vets) to unlimited. Of course, I also find out what vets they are with so that, if the situation allows, I can get their pet to their chosen vet. In the event of an emergency I would go to the nearest one.

7) I don’t have any animal specific qualifications (although I do have a very useful BTEC level 2 in Travel & Tourism!) and I’m quite happy to say that. Again, there are no regulations that say I need them. I have many years of experience with dogs and I always think you, as the customer, will make the decision about whether you think I will get on with your dog. I also believe that my reviews across various sites vouch for me. I would never have a problem discussing my credentials (or lack of them!) with a customer as it gives me a perfect opportunity to tell you what I can do. I also believe that with providing all the above it proves that I am serious about my business and that I am a professional.

I honestly can say that if any customers asked me any or all the above then I would happily answer their questions. I believe that all genuine, professional dog walkers/pet sitters would do so too. If yours is saying it’s not necessary then chances are they are not insured, tread carefully!

Next month I will share with you what things you can tell your dog walker/sitter that are really appreciated!

Love, Sally xx

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