What makes a good dog walker? Tips from a Trainer and Behaviourist

You are a busy person and you hate the idea of leaving your beloved dog at home alone, I don’t blame you! However, unlike childcare dog walking is completely unregulated.

Give recent local stories about dogs suffering heat stroke, being left in cars or even being stolen – making sure Fido is in safe hands could not be more important.  But how do you spot those who know what they are doing from those who just talk a good show?

Below are the Key Questions that I would always ask and details on why they are important.

  • How many dogs will my dog be with?


    Even if your dog loves other dogs, it is important to know how many dogs you dog will be with. The more dogs there are the more your dog walker needs to be on the ball to make sure that none of them are running off, or interacting in a way with each other that you may not want them to practice. Dogs will also learn from each other so you may find that your lovely quiet dog suddenly starts barking because that’s what his buddies have been doing on their walk. It is against local bylaws for any dog walker to walk more than four dogs at a time within the borough of Greenwich.

  • Will it always be the same dogs?

    Group dynamics are always going to be fluid, and adding a new dog into a group that has been settled together can be stressful for all dogs concerned. I would therefore want to know if my dog was going to have to regularly adjust to new dogs all the time?

  • Can I come with you on a walk? Can I have you come to my home to meet my dog?


This is an excellent way to see how the dog walker is with dogs, and most importantly what they do when the dogs misbehave and how they handle it. All good dog walkers should provide a free consultation with no obligation to come and meet your dog. If your dog is nervous around new people this is also a good time to see how a potential walker will handle that.

  • How long will my dog be walked for? What about flexibility for weather conditions?

It is very important that any walker puts your dogs health and welfare first. This may mean shorter walks if it is too cold or icy or if the temperature gets too high. Do they have the ability to be flexible and to make sure your dog can be walker either earlier or later?  How long will the walk be, keeping in mind that an hours walk for a puppy may be too much depending on their age. Equally 20min may not be enough for a fully grown dog who wants and needs to run more

  • Do they know about dog behavior and body language?

Can they describe the signs of when a dog is experiencing stress and what would they do to combat this?  Life is full of surprises and the unexpected so this is about making sure that your walker can help your dog deal with those things which life may throw at them and ensure they don’t then develop fears or sensitivities. If your dog is nervous around certain triggers will they be willing and able to deal with those.

  • Do they have insurance? If so who is it with and does it cover transporting my pet in your car. How will you ensure my dog is safe in your car?

    Not all dog walkers are insured, however they should be as legally they may be liable if your dog was to ever attack another dog or god forbid bite another person. Insurance should also include pet taxi service, that is to say coverage for transporting your pets in their vehicle. Cliverton and Pet Business Insurance among others are reputable providers and you should be able to see copies of insurance policies from your walker on request.

  • What will happen if my dog misbehaves?

    This is a good question to try and find out what methods of training your walker would use if your dog acts up. Would they jerk the lead? Yell at your dog? Use equipment without your prior knowledge?

  • What happens when your dog walker goes on holiday or is unwell?


    Will they provide cover for themselves or will you need to find some one. How much notice will they give you before they go away? What is their refund policy if walks have to be cancelled.

  • What would they do in an emergency? Do they know any basic canine first aid?


Would they be willing to take your dog to your vet and obtain treatment, or would they have to wait for you to call them back. In an emergency situation I would want my walker to be prepared to go to the vet and get life saving treatment if that was what was needed.

Local Dog Walker Recommendations

Whilst there is no shortage of dog walkers or groomers within the borough of Greenwich – the below are the only individuals and businesses that I currently recommend.  I know these organizations personally have confidence that they will place your dog’s physical and mental well-being at the heart of what they do.

Andreia at Pet Active

http://www.pet-active.co.uk

Steven Dray at Milo, Max and Ralph

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MiloMaxAndRalph/about

Lisa at Jurassic Barks 

http://www.jurassicbarksdogwalking.com/contact

Emma at Dog Knows

  http://www.dogknows.co.uk/greenwich

Carla at Pet Panda

http://www.petpanda.co.uk

Ultimately finding a dog walker may time some time, but it is worth the effort to ensure your dog has a companion for many years to come and for your peace of mind.