We all know our dogs love going on long, adventure-filled walks, but jobs and family and commuting can make it difficult to give them the leash time they deserve. You can hire a professional dog walker to make sure your furry friend gets adequate exercise and outdoor time each day. A professional dog walker may be an individual contractor or work for a dedicated dog-walking company. In either case, you want to make sure the pro has the appropriate insurance in case of an emergency. Some people opt to give the dog walker a key to their house; others to have them pick up the dog from the yard. Dog walking can happen as often as multiple times per day, or just a few times a month as needed. Here are some questions to ask when you are interviewing a new dog walker:
- Will you or someone else be walking my dog?
- Do you have a backup plan if you can’t make it for a scheduled walk?
- Will you walk my dog by itself, or do you walk several dogs at once?
- What are your different walk routes?
- When will you pick up and drop off?
- How will we communicate?
- Do I have to commit to a schedule or are you flexible?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
- What’s your response plan if my dog gets injured or becomes sick?
- How and how often do I pay you?
- Do you offer package pricing if I buy multiple dog walks up front?
The cost of dog walking depends on several factors including length and frequency of dog walks, the number of dogs on the walk, distance to your house, and any additional services you request. The national average cost range for a dog walk is $10-$20, but that price will vary based on where you live in the country and the regional cost of living and doing business.
The longer the dog walk, the higher your costs will be. Dog walkers offer a range of walk lengths, from 15-minute potty breaks to long hikes of 120 minutes or more. For example, a dog walker may charge $15 for a 15-minute walk and $35 for a 35-minute walk. Requesting that your dog be the only animal on the walk will typically mean a higher cost than if you permit your dog to be walked in a pack of dogs. You may be able to get a discounted rate if you have more than one dog to be walked. For example, a professional dog walker may charge $28 for one dog or $33 for two dogs on a 60-minute walk. If you need additional help — like feeding the dogs or giving them medication — dog walkers may be able to provide this service at an additional fee. Dog walkers may charge higher rates for walking your dogs on holidays.
The best type of dog training for both you and your dog depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If you want your dog to learn agility training, go to someone who specializes in those techniques. Regardless of whether you want your dog to learn basic behavior or competitive-level tricks, the majority of dog training is actually about training the owner how to communicate with their dog. Most professional dog trainers agree that a model of training based on positive reinforcement breeds a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The alternative to positive reinforcement training is using force or aggression techniques like physical punishment or shock-collar training to get the dog to do (or not do) a behavior. While the dog may learn how to behave as you direct, it is also learning to communicate with force and aggression, and will in turn use those behaviors on other dogs (or people) that are smaller or weaker than it is. Before signing up with a dog trainer, meet with the trainer and ask for references. Watch the trainer interact with your dog, and make sure they treat your dog with patience and firm kindness. Ask them questions about their training methods:
- What type of training methods do you use?
- What is your background and training, and how did you become a dog trainer?
- How long do you expect that we will work together before we achieve the results I’m after?
Dog training depends on the dog and how much homework the dog owner is willing to put in. Puppy training is similar to dog training in that the onus of the work depends on the owner learning new ways to interact with their dog. For a quick crash course, you can opt for a single, two hour smart-start puppy training consultation to teach you the ins and outs of being a new dog parent. You can learn how to manage potty training and what to do if the puppy experiences separation anxiety. As long as you’re willing to work on dog training a little bit each day, your puppy will quickly learn these new behaviors. If you’re not confident about training your puppy yourself, you can enroll in a 6- to 8-week puppy training course, with weekly lessons touching on everything from bite control to obedience. Puppies usually need to be at least three months old for group training classes. If you want more intensive one-on-one work, you can opt for private lessons. Some behavior problems can be resolved in one session if the dog owner learns and can implement new skills. In the case of more serious issues, 3 to 10 private sessions can typically correct challenges.
Dog training shouldn’t wait until you’re having behavior problems. If you get a new puppy, start from the beginning with professional training to give both you and your puppy the tools you need for a healthy relationship. Dog training is as much about teaching the owner how to interact with their new dog as it is about the dog learning to behave. Puppy training can start as early as eight weeks old. Trainers who offer puppy training programs may works specifically with dogs between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks old. Trainers can teach owners about potty training and how to deal with accidents, working with separation anxiety, and training your pooch out of destructive behaviors like chewing, biting and demand barking. Puppies will start to learn to walk on-leash and other basic skills.
In addition to behavior training, socializing your puppy is an important part of dog training. Socializing your dog means they become comfortable and confident in a variety of settings and have a great foundation for becoming a well-adjusted adult dog. After your puppy has had the proper vaccinations, you can start to introduce it to a variety of different dogs and people in safe settings.