Updated: Feb 18
Finding the right dog walker is not always easy, particularly if you want to maintain the same routine and training. Then there's the question of trust - who will you be happy with to enter your home, secure it and take a member of your family out for a walk without you being there. Professionalism is important too - what happens if something goes wrong or your personal data is compromised? Last but no means least, are you getting what you pay for? Is your dog getting the very best from their walk or are they being thrown into a stressful situations spending far too much time in a car and less out in the amazing Plymouth Countryside having fun?
Walking a dog might sound like a simple job but there's so much more to it behind the scenes. Asking the right dog walker questions will find out who is going to take care of your dog the way you want them to, as well as provide all of the safety and security precautions you expect.
Here are 23 questions you need to be asking your dog walker before you let them walk your dog.
1. Can we meet first?
A good dog walker should be happy to meet you first to run through all of the questions you have as well as the necessary paperwork and arrangements. This is the perfect chance for you to see if the fit is right, whether you trust the individual and for you to see how they interact with your dog.
Harris Hounds always book a consultation with every customer which is either a walk or a home visit, this is an essential part of the booking process. We take this opportunity to talk about your dog, our policies and what you can expect from our dog walks. We'll never walk a dog we haven't met before.
2. Are you insured?
Insurance is absolutely paramount to protect everybody - dog walker, your dog and the general public. If your walker doesn't have insurance, you have to question whether they take safety as seriously as they should.
Harris Hounds are covered by Pet Business Insurance which includes: Public Liability (should an animal cause an accident or injury or damage someone else’s property); Care Custody and Control (in case the animal is injured or lost); Non-Negligent Cover (covers accidental injury to an animal in our care) and Loss of Keys just in case we misplace them.
3. Are you DBS checked?
This is a basic police check to see if the dog walker has any criminal convictions. Given that dog walkers will need to have access to your house while you are not there, this places them in an extremely responsible position. A DBS check offers extra reassurance that your dog walker has not been in trouble with the law.
Harris Hounds Walkers are all DBS checked as standard, without exception! Chris the owner is an Ex Police Intelligence Officer!
4. Are you qualified in pet first aid?
You hope that it will never be needed but knowing that your dog walker is trained in pet first aid and can act quickly in case the worst happens should be near the top of your list of questions.
Harris Hounds walkers are all certified pet first aiders. This is an essential part of their training.
5. Are you GDPR compliant?
GDPR means General Data Protection Regulation and it is the law. GDPR is there to protect your privacy and to keep data safe. Information about your home and pets should be kept on a secure server or in a locked filing cabinet bolted to the floor. Businesses that don't take these steps are putting your data at risk. Even individuals can be investigated and fined for data breaches.
Harris Hounds won’t retain personal data for any longer than is necessary for the purpose it was obtained for. Information we hold for customers is stored in a safe, secure server and is never passed to third parties.
6. Do you have a contract or service agreement?
A professional dog walker will ask you to sign a contract which sets out their obligations to you, how much the services will cost and the schedule. Make sure you read this thoroughly and ask any questions you need to clarify things before booking.
Harris Hounds will go through our electronic service agreement with you during the consultation if you haven't already read and agreed to this prior to the meeting. We also perform a behaviour assessment of your dog through observation and by asking you questions about them such as how they react to other dogs. This helps us to build up a profile of your dog so that we can better meet their needs and tailor their walks accordingly.
7. How much do you charge?
This might be top of some lists but price is more than just an hourly rate. Ask what you're getting for the money as the cheapest is certainly not always the best! How long will your dog spend in transit? Will your dog be sharing its walk with several others?
Harris Hounds charge a fair rate for the quality of walk they provide. Our dog walkers are trained professionals and like any carer, their love of pets doesn’t just stop when playtime ends. Our walkers are happy to share their knowledge and experience with you and refer you to our advisory content online at https://www.harrishounds.com/blog
8. How do I book?
It's important to understand the process for booking and to be sure you'll be able to book the same dog walker each time. Is it easy to get in touch with your walker directly or do you have to go via an app or website first? Find out how much notice you need to give for cancellations and holidays too.
Harris Hounds work out their booking slot with you in advance either by Facebook Messenger, email or phone. If you want regular walks, these are booked in automatically. Otherwise, for the week ahead you'll be given the chance to book in your preferred dates and times for the following week.
9. How do I pay?
Do you need to pay each time your walker visits with cash? Can you pay at the end of the month by bank transfer?
Harris Hounds require payment in advance of all walks, this can either be done in cash or Via BAC's. Payment periods can be flexible and in relation to how many walks a week / month you have.
10. What days and times will you be walking my dog?
Find out your dog walker's opening hours and the days of the week they are working, some only work Monday to Friday. Are their walking times convenient for you? Especially if you work shifts?
Harris Hounds are available Mon - Fri and available by request on evening and weekends, we will work with you to organise the best times to walk your dog.