Did you know there are NO licenses needed to be a “professional” pet care/dog walker?
Yes. Let me repeat that. ANYONE CAN CALL THEMSELVES A “PROFESSIONAL” DOG WALKER. That means all one needs to do is print up a business card that says “Professional Dog Walker” and as soon as someone pays you, you are, well, a professional dog walker. It does not mean that you are qualified or should be a dog walker.
This is a hot topic in our industry. There are pet care/dog walking organizations granting certification, offering education and training, and a community for the real professionals. Pet Sitters International is one of these organizations. They have a strong campaign to educate the public about why you want to vet and hire a professional dog walker and not just the gal or guy with a business card.
Please for the love of dog, do NOT go for the cheapest option out there.
Sure your dog might be an angel for you, but let me tell you, things rarely go smoothly and you want someone who has experience to handle many and any crazy unpredictable situations.
What can go wrong?
Here are just some of the things we at Brooklyn Bark have dealt with. Cover your tail and ask:
- What will your walker do if an aggressive dog gets off leash and comes after your walker and dog?
- What happens if your dog has a seizure on the walk?
- What happens if your dog sneakily swallows a chicken bone or a piece of stick and chokes?
- What happens if your pup steps on something sharp and has a bloody paw?
- What happens if your dog and walker are hit by a car when crossing the street?
These are just some of the things we have handled and we are prepared to handle much more. Being in NYC, we are not only dealing with some crazy people on the street, we have lots of distractions that can cause sudden and extreme stress – motorcycles, fireworks, trucks. And let’s not forget “street snacks” like chicken bones and garbage. And other dogs. And weather.
You are not tasking your dog’s walker with picking up a package. You are tasking your walker with the welfare and safety of the your dog that you love. But keep in mind, this pup you love has sharp pointy teeth, attached to moods and health.
You are asking for a psychologist, master teacher, bodyguard, medical professional, and first responder for your furry best friend. your dog may not want to go out in the rain and require some extra coaxing. Your pooch might be having an anxious day or was upset by the upstairs neighbor rearranging their furniture. Your pet sitter needs to know how to best evaluate dog body language. Just cause their tail is wagging, doesn’t mean they are happy. How can we diffuse and earn your dog’s trust?
Now add a layer that your walker understands age, breed, temperament and health. You want a walker who understands that putting a 75lb hyper Great Dane puppy with a 12-year-old, 3 lbs chihuahua is flirting with danger even if the dogs live next to each other and it is convenient for the walker to take them together.
Your dog walker needs to know a lot. This isn’t a job for “someone who likes dogs”. Liking animals is great but it is only a prerequisite. There is SOOOO much more to a walk. We *real* professionals just make it look easy and fun because when everything is going right it is. But the “what ifs”… Just as you lock your front door, wear a seatbelt and install smoke alarms, you need to be sure pup is safe in the “what if”.
Last but not least. Here I’m going to get personal:
My biggest pet peeve and I will shout this from the rooftops as it drives me and other true professionals crazy – YOUR DOG SHOULD NEVER EVER BE LEFT UNATTENDED!
You would think this is common sense.
Dog thefts are on the rise (Lady Gaga anyone?), dogs can fight, get spooked or someone passing by can hurt the dog by feeding them something. What would happen if your dog is tied up on the street, bites a child because they wanted to “pet them”? Yet non-professional “professionals” often tie up a bunch of dogs to a signpost or a fence while they go into a building to get another dog. This is to keep their prices low. These are the companies who do not invest in training or care when I call their manager to say “hey, your walker didn’t put the harness on correctly and we had to help him catch the dog when she ran across Atlantic Ave”.
For your dog, we hope you want only the best for you, your pup, and your wallet. You are trusting someone with access to your home and with your pup’s well-being.
If you’re located in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bark would love to meet you and your dog!
Comment below your favorite pet sitters to share with the Spotter community!