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Dogs love companionship, which makes it difficult for them to spend long stretches at home alone. But if you have a job or other responsibilities that demand you be away, what can you do? Enter: Dog walkers. You can hire a dog walker to walk your dog, play fetch, and fill up your pup's water bowl.
"Having a dog walker stop by gives your dog a nice break, especially if your pooch is crated," says Nicole Ellis, CBDT, and pet lifestyle expert with Rover. "Your pup can run around, get out some energy, have fun, and then go take a nap."
Here are some of the in's and out's of hiring dog walkers, from how much they charge to how to find one you can trust with your furry pal.
How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?
Different dogs have varying needs. How much walking is good for your dog depends on your pup's size, breed, and age. For example, says Ellis, a four-pound Yorkshire Terrier doesn't need as much exercise as an active border collie. A 15-minute walk may be great for a senior dog or a little puppy while a young, full-grown goldendoodle could use 45 minutes to an hour.
"In general, aim for a daily walk that's between 30 minutes to an hour," Ellis recommends. "But you know your dog best, so adjust accordingly. Also, be sure to take into account the temperature. Have the walk be shorter on really hot days."
You may still want to hire a dog walker even if your pooch doesn't need a long jaunt around the neighborhood. It's a great way to give puppies and senior dogs additional potty breaks. And, it helps break up your pup's day providing mental stimulation (and belly rubs!).
Where to Find Dog Walking Services
It's always nice to get referrals for dog walkers from trusted sources like friends, family, or your pup's veterinarian or groomer. But you can also find dog walkers near you through websites such as Rover, Wag!, Bark, and Care.com. Some of these websites provide background checks and have reviews of dog walkers.
Dog Walking Prices
Prices range from 50 cents to $1 per minute of dog walking. So fees can be anywhere between $10 to $60. The average price is $20 per walk. Factors that influence rates include your location, the dog walker's experience, and additional services you request such as administering medication.
How to Choose a Dog Walker Compatible With Your Pup
Your dog means the world to you so you want a dog walker who will care for your four-legged pup just like you do. The time you invest in interviewing dog walkers now will provide peace-of-mind later, when you know your dog is getting love and attention while you're away from home.
"First and foremost, a dog walker should be a dog lover," says Ellis. On top of that, look for dog walkers that have experience with various breeds and sizes. They should know how to handle dogs with different temperaments—like those that pull aggressively on the leash or lunge at other dogs. Dog walkers should also be familiar with how to use different types of harnesses, collars, and leashes.
Once you've narrowed it down to a few candidates, schedule a meet and greet with them. Have your dog with you and observe how each dog walker interacts with your pooch. Be sure to ask questions to better understand how the potential walker handles situations related to your pet's needs, Ellis advises. Questions could include:
Do you have experience with elderly dogs, puppies, or large breeds?
Can you administer medication?
How do you handle dogs with separation anxiety?
Once you find a good fit, you can schedule how long the walk will be, on which days of the week, and at what time your new dog walker will take your pup out. Consider it a bonus if your dog walker also offers pet-sitting services. You never know when you'll need those too if you like to travel. However, the biggest benefit of all is coming home to a dog that's happy and relaxed every day.