Did you know that the animal care and animal training industries are completely unregulated?
This means anyone can call themselves a dog professional, no matter their education, experience, or qualifications. Scary right?! It’s important to know what to look for when choosing a dog walker, dog trainer or a dog sitter.
Today we’ll talk about navigating the dog walking industry.
Photo: Sarah Haley
When looking at hiring a dog walker, here are some top things you’ll want to consider:
(hint: loving dogs or growing up with dogs are NOT qualifications).
Look for certifications such as the dogbiz Dog Walking Academy, Karen Pryor Foundations Course, or Dog Knowledge Foundations thru BravoDog. It’s also important that your dog walker has pet first aid certification. Many pet first aid programs have online certification options, so there’s no excuse for any dog walker not to have this!
Questions you should ask to learn more about how they operate day to day:
- How many dogs per handler?
- How do they screen new dog walking clients?
- How are the dogs transported to and from the trail?
- Do they carry first aid kits on the trail?
- Where do they walk and are they following all local bylaws?
Are they following science-based, R+ handling methods?
- What do they do if your dog does something wrong?
- What do they do if your dog does something right?
- Do they use words like “pack leader” “dominant” (HINT: if they do, RUN!)
- What kinds of equipment do they use on walks?
Make sure you are comfortable with their answer to all of these questions. Good, ethical and experienced dog walkers all carry treats to reinforce good behaviours they want to see more of. There should be no use of aversives or punishment, ever.
Lastly, look and see if the company you are considering holds any memberships with groups such as the Pet Professional Guild. You want to look for signs that they are committed to force-free handling methods and continued education. Do your research to ensure any organizations they affiliate with meet your expectations and are in line with your values as well.
Until the pet care industry is regulated, it is up to you the consumer to ensure that you are leaving your pets in the care of a qualified pet professional.
Have questions about this article? Please reach out! I’d be happy to chat.