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How to choose a dog walker.
    Posts: 1507
    I thought I would start this thread since I have not seen it discussed before.

    Many new forum members ask about what they need to get for their new puppies and I have seen no mention of choosing a dog walker. During that period where the puppy has not been fully innocualted and the owner who will need the service in the future is a good time to begin ones research.

    Another part of my motivation for this topic is due to another thread that I started today about a dog walkers personal dog that had to be put down after biting children. In short, this dog walkers poor judgement resulted in the injury to other dogs, children and cost his dog his life. Also, in my area, with the level unemployment the number of dog walkers and their flyers have multiplied.

    How should one choose a dog walker?
    What questions should you ask?

    In my neighborhood its not uncommon for the dog walkers to take at least 6 or 7 dogs at a time to the dog park.

    One suggestion is to go to the dog park where they usually congregate and observe them in action.

    Personal reccomendations should also be considered.

    Any other advice?
    Post edited by sunyata at 2011-09-22 15:56:49
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Interview before committing to a dog walker, I have heard so many horror stories about dogs becoming more fearful or getting hurt due to improper care from he dog walker. Ask them if they've had experience in dog training, either as a student or teacher, and see what school of training they prefer (leash pops, clicker, etc). Even if you don't plan on having them do any training to your dog, they may still apply what they know (or think they know) to your dog. This means that if your dog gets out of hand they may do a CM impersonation to get him under control. Even if you are accepting of leash pops and other types of physical punishments (which is highly advisable to NOT use on shibas), you have to make sure that a person who will be doing these techniques are extremely experienced. It takes a lot of experience to get these things done right and, unlike clicker training, if not done properly can cause a dogs personality to regress into something really bad.

    See if the dog walker walks multiple dogs, or just one. Ask them what the maximum amount of dogs are that they take at one time. Do they just walk the dog or take them to the dog park? If bringing more than 2 dogs to a dog park, do they have other people join them to assist in case there is an incident? How long are the walks or dog park play? Do they give discounts for walking all your dogs of you have more than one? If you have a bigger dog as well, do they look like they can handle this dog? How long have they been in the dog walking business? How long have they worked in animal related jobs? Will they respect any food or medical requirements your dog may have?

    Those are just some of the questions that came to mind.
  • AntoinetteAntoinette
    Posts: 887
    I had a dog walker last year who "talked a good game" but in fact used aversion training. This became apparent to me when she insisted that I get a choke collar for my Shiba Quake. I replaced her with a dog walker who uses positive reinforcement techniques. Quake is very happy with the new dog walker. I have heard of too many incidences where a dog runs away from a dog walker and I did not want Quake to feel he had to run away in order to be saved from the clutches of that woman. I usually walk Quake and he was only being walked by that woman twice a week. On the third walk I could tell something was wrong. Now I see that Quake is very happy with the new dog walker. it is important to be very vigilant. It could me your dog's safety!!
  • Totally agree. My trainer runs a dog walking service. The best feedback you can get is from your dog.

    My trainer told me from the beginning that it won't always be him who is walking the dog, it may be his staff. That was good to know. He was more than willing to have me meet his staff and encouraged "surprise" visits (he would tell me what neighborhood the walker was in so I could do a surprise check). We also went on a "dog matching walk". His theory is that puppies should be walked with older, more mature, well balanced dogs so they can learn behavior (how to greet new dogs, children, etc). I would ask if your walker does solo walks or group walks. A more mature (i.e. loner) shiba may be best for alone walks. My guy (6 months old) needs socialization so I wanted group walks.

    Also, ask what a "walk" entails. My trainers walks are no less than 45 minutes, and as much as 4 hours (those days include a trip to the park, pet store, and anywhere else that dogs are welcome). He also sends me "training videos" starring my dog wherein he goes over how he fixes an issue so we can all be on the same page and teach consistently (my favorite is when banjo was just learning to share toys. He would get possessive so the trainer had his dog (a well balanced mature rottweiler) try to take banjo's toy knowing his dog wouldn't attack any dog let alone a puppy). He filmed it, and he filmed him training the concept of share toys. Now banjo gets the same lesson with me or the trainer).

    In short, ask yourself what YOU want from the walks: do you want socialization (like me)? or do you want peace and a potty break (which your dog may prefer). If they are doing group walks, he will want to screen your dog first for behavior/temperament matches.

    Ask these questions to the trainer:

    If my dog is doing something wrong (tugging all the time), how do you fix it?

    Who will be walking my dog? Can I meet them? (if they say no, RUN)

    What does a walk entail? (for dogs with excellent recall only, the trainer will bring the dogs on a hike for an hour).

    How long do your walks range?

    Can I meet a few of your other clients/dogs? (this will help you understand if the dog enjoys walking with the walker, or tolerates it. I know Banjo likes the walkers because when I took him to the park on Saturday, the trainer was there with his gang. Banjo ran up to him for kisses, greeted him like a friend, and then sat patiently for more petting. He also recognized all of the dogs and they played and played with the only "dispute" being waiting turns for water. We weren't sure all of the dogs would share the water bowl so we had them take turns. They started getting impatient but it was manageable and no one thought a fight would break out).

    Also, ask about what his opinions are on local day-cares. My trainer knows if I use a daycare, its money out of his pocket, but he recommends them anyways for socialization, especially while banjo has his puppy pass.

    Last but not least, find out what other services they do. I had to go to a wedding and my trainer doesn't board dogs. I asked him for a good boarding recommendation and he said "We've worked too hard on Banjo to let him go to a boarder and be scared in an unfamiliar crate. He can stay at my house". That sealed the deal for me since it's been clear from day 1 that his only concern is helping me raise a well balanced dog.

    He does use averse training on problem dogs. He starts with positive reinforcement no clicker. If that doesn't work, he introduces the clicker. He refuses to use averse training on a puppy, and will only do it on mature dogs who have bit people if its been requested by the owner after he tries to talk them out of it. He says he gets 1-2 clients a year who want to use the shock-collar and he advises against it.

    That's my two cents. oh yeah, get referrals!

    Post edited by BanjoTheBetaDog at 2014-03-18 09:53:25
  • NahatalieNahatalie
    Posts: 363
    When it was just the cats, rabbits and hamster I used a pet sitter to come in and feed them if we went away. It's so much better than uprooting them and sticking them in a scary cattery. They were lovely so when we got Oki we just carried on with them. Currently the same lady comes in for an hour if we're both at work to break up his day and play with him. I'm not sure yet if I'll let hertale him out as I like to be in control of that and I already take him on a walk as soon as I get home.

    I asked loads of questions when they came to do a meeting about Oki. Really, I just told them everything about him and what I'd like them to do etc. I'm really happy with their service. I did explore day care but there isn't one near me enough to make it conveinient on a daily basis. If we need Oki boarded, he either goes to the in-laws or the pet sitting company have a dog loving retired couple who take him for us for not much more than the daily visits. They absolutely love him. They're just crazy nice!
  • Bump....

    As you can see above, I like(d) my dog walker... however over the weekend we had an issue on if I should or should not fire him.

    I usually board Banjo at his house when I leave town. I make an appointment months in advance (as he fills up quickly). He was supposed to take him from Friday night to Sunday morning. However, he wrote it in his book wrong and didn't pick him up Friday. Since Banjo is on raw, the feeding instructions are somewhat precise. On Thursday, he didn't respond to my text. Friday he didn't respond, so I called him and it went straight to voicemail.

    He did the regularly scheduled walk in the afternoon but didn't pick him up for overnight boarding. Luckily I was able to call a friend to walk and feed him for dinner, and then my neighbor watched him all weekend.

    Saturday morning he called me to let me know he was going to get Banjo and I explained to him the situation.

    Since I pay monthly he is already paid through August.

    Do I fire him in September?

    He made an honest mistake writing it down wrong, and he provides a good service for a fair rate. I don't know if it would be worth it to Banjo to have a new dog walker (he'll love whoeever it is, but someone without shiba experience is a scary thought).

    So any advice on if I should or shouldn't fire this guy?

  • Did you try to double-check and confirm the dates beforehand? I know it's not supposed to be on you, but I have found it helps, even if you've known the person forever.
    Is this his first offense? It sounds like Banjo really likes him, and he's good with Banjo, he just made a mistake. If there were even two instances of this happening, then I would be looking for a new walker, personally. But, if it's his first offense, while serious because you were on vacation, he is human and it happens, unfortunately.
    Scary that it's while you were on vacation though. Glad you had friends as backup!
  • @2dogsandawolf

    Yes, In june, when I made the appointment, I texted him a follow-up to which he said he put it in the book. So he knew for 2 months. Yes, it is his first offense.
  • AntoinetteAntoinette
    Posts: 887
    @BanjoTheBetaDog-I would not fire the dog walker since it is his first serious offense, he has Shiba experience and most importantly he and Banjo get along well from what you have said. However, I would put him on probation and let him know it. I would caution him that this was a very serious offense and that you are very concerned. I would also have him wrap the leash around his wrist or arm so that he never drops the leash again and Banjo gets away. In other words, I would give him a list of your expectations.

    Also, maybe your neighbors would be happy to pet sit Banjo the next time you go out of town since their dog is Banjo's best friend. Quake loves staying at his dog walker's house when I am away because the dog walker's dog is Quake's best friend.

  • Kira_KiraKira_Kira
    Posts: 2482
    I am personally the type of person that follows up constantly, but more importantly about a day or two in advance. People forget things and I can be really paranoid about things, especially when it concerns my dog.

    A couple that we have game night with every month are a perfect example - we make our plans a month or two in advance but I ALWAYS text her the week of the date as a reminder/heads up that we have plans. And that's only for hanging out, so I'm even crazier when it comes to Kira.

    I wouldn't fire him, but I would be much more diligent about checking up and reminding him months/weeks/days in advance to avoid any further issues. If he does it again, fired. Strike 2 and you're out with me...
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
    Kira the Cream Shiba Inu 吉良 - Facebook Page
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    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
  • The issue is also that when @banjothebetadog texted to follow up before the pickup (on Thursday) there was no response, which frankly is a bit irresponsible/unprofessional.

    I agree with @antoinette in that it would be helpful to have a conversation with him about how serious you find this and why you are concerned. It would be one thing if he had only mistaken the date, but being completely out of reach in the time period surrounding the pickup makes me much more concerned.

    Honestly confirming appointments in the week leading up to whatever is scheduled is part of his job. While it would benefit the owner to follow up, ultimately it's what the dog walker/sitter gets paid for and how he makes a living. Between the ubiquity of smartphones, and the accessbility of electronic calendars (google, outlook, etc.), and even good old fashioned physical planners, this shouldn't happen. What if the scenario was that @banjothebetadog had to attend a conference or fly out to do lab work for his job. If he were late because he's scrambling to find someone to watch Banjo because he can't even contact the dogsitter who is supposed to be watching Banjo, the owner is the one experiencing serious professional repercussions.

    So yes, I think as a generous human being, you ought to give him a second chance, especially because the relationship has been good up until now. But I think the import of his lapse needs to be expressed very clearly. While working with nice people is all well and good, in the end you are paying someone to do their job properly, not paying someone to be your friend or be a nice person.

    [edited to add]

    He would regain some of the lost trust if unsolicited, he offered a sincere apology and an outline of steps he will take to prevent anything of the sort from happening again.
    Post edited by violet_in_seville at 2015-08-11 14:52:02
  • We are in process of picking a new dog walker, what do you guys suggest? Some walkers provide solo walks as well a group/pack walks. What are your thoughts on this? Luna is 8 months and is still very stubborn when walking. Would it be helpful doing a group walk as it will encourage her to walk, or would a solo walk benefit her more.

    Any thoughts would be helpful.
  • how does your dog behave around other dogs? My dog walker happens to be a friend of mine and she doesn't mind taking Ham out by himself. Ham loves other dogs and would be too distracted to walk nicely. He would want to play instead.

    But you should ask yourself some questions first about your dog. How does your dog do around unfamiliar dogs? Does your dog like other dogs? Does your dog get agitated by other dogs easily? Is your dog distracted easily by other dogs? Also if your dog walker gives out treats, does your dog resource guard?

    I would ask these questions first and if your dog doesn't interact well with other dogs in a distracting environment, I would stick with solo walks
    Post edited by Justifiedgaines at 2015-11-17 18:28:22
  • I would stick with solo walks because the dog walker can keep a better eye on your dog. I know a woman who lost her dog to an accident wherein the dog walker was walking three dogs and he did not notice that one dog picked up a wild mushroom and ate it resulting in death to the dog.
  • Well when Luna see other dogs she usually get on lays down and then lunges at the other dog because she wants to play/sniff them. She definitely likes other dogs and is friendly but is distracted when she sees other dogs on our walks.

    As far as treats, she doesn't resource guard so she is pretty much good on that end.

    As benefits/con to group walking. Our previous dog walker did solo walk but we are moving and its look like most in the area do group walks.
  • I personally would stick with solos since she might be distracted with other dogs--and if you can, maybe find a friend, neighbor or co-worker who lives in the area who can take your dog out for a walk instead of going with a professional dog-walker.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    I think there are advantages with both.
    Walking together with other dogs will help with her social skills and I think it can be quite enjoyable and relaxing for dogs to walk as a grupp.
    But it will be slower, less exercise since they all will stop to sniff and pee etc. And most Shibas need some privacy to go and do their toilet business so they may find it harder to relieve themselves.
  • Need Dog walker advice...

    We live in NYC with a 2yo Shiba Inu. He is wonderful and very much a "shiba" personality wise. My husband and I both work basically 8-5 so we have always had a walker or Midas in daycare. We tried daycare (reputable place with advanced cleaning things and cameras)but he kept getting sick with giardia. Our vet advised that we change to a walker. We have had our share of "not great" walking companies and walkers but finally found someone that was a real dog lover and Midas seemed to love. Sadly, we moved and although the same company walks him they switched our walker due to logistical issues with how far uptown we moved and our original walker's other dog walks.

    This new walker does not seem like much of a dog lover. On camera, Midas does seem excited to see him but he is usually excited when anyone gets home. Midas always plays a game when we put on his harness where he runs away and pounces's just a few seconds long and not a big deal but on camera this walker seems annoyed about it and kind of yelled at him to "Stop!". Additionally, he seems like a bit if a snoop, taking time to look at the stuff on our kitchen counter (cold medicine, not a note he could think was for him) and he took extra long looking around in our closet after the walk when he was putting away Midas's leash.
    None of these are bug offenses, but I just don't get the best vibe. When we asked the company for background info about him they said that they "trained" him and that he has 3 years of dog walking experience, whatever that means. My husband met him (I couldn't make the meeting due to work) and thought he seemed nice.
    I'm not sure what to do at this point, Switch dog walking companies (others have not been great either)? Switch Midas back to daycare?
    I don't want to talk to the dog walking company about it unless he will no longer be walking Midas because it will be awkward otherwise. I'm not sure what to do next...
  • gakugaku
    Posts: 26
    I have no experience with walkers (trust issues! Can't imagine giving my key to a stranger :( ) but, I would go with my gut instinct. Looking at the medicine on the counter is a minor offense but taking a extra long look through the closet would make me uncomfortable. Does he know that you have cameras? His behavior may change once he realizes that you can see his snooping. But if you are uncomfortable with someone being in your house that you regularly check your cams, I think you should at least bring it up with the company. Maybe not call him out but just let them know he isn't a good fit?

    Good luck! If you found a good person once, it'll happen again :)
  • You could check out -- there are probably MANY in our area and you can at least read testimonials, etc to vet people out. If you don't like one, you can move on to the next...
    Post edited by EmpressSachi at 2016-10-28 18:51:38
  • @KingMidas-I agree that you need to go with your gut feelings. I would be especially concerned that you feel the dog walker is not really a dog person. I would ask for recommendations from neighbors that use dog walkers. Definitely I would switch dog walking companies.
  • @KingMidas, where in NYC? If you are on Upper West/Morningside Heights I can make reccomendations.

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