Hiring a Dog Walker – Is It Worth It?

Does your occupation require you to be away from home for a better part of the day? If yes, and you own a dog or two or more, you’ve probably felt guilty about leaving them alone for hours on end. How long can they wait between walks? Even if they are comfortable physically, do they misbehave to get even? Or chew their paws? Or your favorite pair of pumps?

There are a few options to consider if your angst is keeping you up at night. Perhaps you have a reliable neighbor who might want to earn a little extra pocket money. Alternately, you could hire a professional dog walker, either a sole practitioner, small local business or one of the rapidly growing chains with catchy names like “A Walk in the Bark” (that ones in Scotland) and “At Your Bark and Call” (St. Pete, FL).

 

Here are some considerations: 

      Trust – Someone you most likely don’t know well will be coming into your home while you’re away. Not only are you looking forward to seeing your faithful friend (or friends) when you get home from a long day, you also want to find all your belongings… where they belong!

      Safety – Are your pets a bit rambunctious? Have they ever wriggled out of their collar or dashed out the door as you begin to open it? If you’re anything like me, the thought of something happening to my puppy dogs while I’m away causes me sleepless nights.

      Liability – Seems like people are suing each other over the least little thing these days.  What if the dog walker gets injured while in your house or yard? “Bonded and Insured” is a desirable feature if you’re hiring someone to work in and around your home.

      Compatibility – No one can replace you in your dog’s hearts. However, being a true dog lover is a must for the person who will be playing second fiddle while you’re away.

      Budget– Oftentimes, the reason you’re not home is because you’re working to pay your bills, save for retirement, put kids through college, afford a vacation…or all the above. Can your wallet handle an extra $20 to $40 a week (or more) hit?

 

So, what do you think? Is It Worth It to pay someone to walk your dogs?

Here’s my experience. I chose one of the chain dog walking services because I wanted to be sure there was a backup person available if the primary dog walker couldn’t make it. Also, their staff undergoes criminal background checks and the company is bonded and insured. An athletic, friendly young lady arrived for the in-home consultation. My dogs loved her, but they love just about EVERYONE! Twice weekly visits were set up and everything went well at first. Then, after just a few weeks I received an email from the franchise owner telling me the young lady was no longer working for them and that a new dog walker had been selected for us. We met him, liked him, and started again. He REALLY loved my dogs and was a super nice guy.  But he left the company a month later.

I decided it really wasn’t worth it for several reasons. My schedule changes frequently. If my kid was home from school or I decided to work from home, I really didn’t need the dog walker, but I felt guilty cancelling with short notice. I also found myself tidying up the house before leaving in the morning on “dog walker days”.  Can’t help it, my mom trained me well. There was a learning curve each time I was assigned a new dog walker. I’m a bit of a control freak so there were a number of details that needed to be relayed. And then there was the expense.  I decided my dogs would be fine if they had a nice long walk in the morning before I left. After all, they sleep all day long when I am home!

Lori Rodgers – Lori’s passion for food and fine dining began at an early age. She started reading Gourmet at 8, and was fortunate to have a father who included her in his travels to cites across the US, often frequenting restaurants she had read about in the magazine. After studying hotel and restaurant management at FSU for two years and thoroughly enjoying the summer program in Switzerland, she graduated with a degree in International Business with a minor in Spanish. Lori owned and operated the family business, Bert Rodgers Schools of Real Estate for 25 years, indulging her cooking hobby by whipping up meals for family and friends on the weekends. She has two teenagers who have adopted a vegan lifestyle, adding a new challenge to Lori’s cooking repertoire. Lori recently sold the business and is embarking on a new chapter and new career, returning to her true calling, cooking and exploring the multifaceted world of food!