I remember the first time that we left our kids overnight.
It was to pick up Sherman, which is the only thing that could take me away from kids when they were that young.
I was terrified to leave them. So terrified that before we left, I had a will drawn up in case something happened to us on our weekend trip.
O.k., maybe paranoid is a better word than terrified.
I left written instructions and called the house at least once an hour.
I didn’t trust anyone to care for the kids the way I did and what if something happened?
How could I live with myself for leaving them?
Fast forward several years and that paranoia has left the building and moved onto my dogs.
There is a very small number of people that I would trust caring for my dogs if I couldn’t be here and as time passes that list grows even smaller.
People that I once would have trusted caring for the boys can no longer care for them due to their age.
My parents can’t lift Leroy and they definitely can not keep up with Odin’s fast pace.
This is one of the reasons why we rarely go on long trips and if we do, my husband or I stay home.
But I know that can’t last forever and even though I’m lucky enough to work from home, not everyone can do that.
That’s why dog walking and pet sitting companies are flourishing right now.
People don’t want their pets to be left alone for 8 hours or longer a day without being walked or socialized.
Many don’t want to place their dogs in a boarding facility if they can’t take them on vacation so they want them cared for in the comfort of their own home.
I get it.
But what scares me is all these places that let almost anyone sign up for an account to register to be a dog walker.
That’s scary stuff.
I was a dog walker for a few years recently with a local business and I can you that it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Yeah, it’s fun to spend the day walking dogs but it’s also serious stuff and a lot of “behind the scene” things take place.
For one, you should know dogs and have experience with dogs, not just LOVE dogs.
You should know the basics of dog walking, training and care, not just LOVE all dogs.
And you do need to be a people person to an extent.
Here are a few tips to help you find a dog walker for your Newfoundland if you need one.
Legal Stuff For Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers
Liability Insurance will cover accidents that may happen to the client’s property or the pet while the sitter or walker is on duty.
There is not a specific license for dog walking or pet sitting but there are business licenses and anyone who operates a professional business should have one. This license is issued by the government and allows an individual or company to operate a business in a specific location.
This license does not imply that a person or company is an expert in their field though so you should still do your homework.
Liability insurance protects the client and bonding protects the person providing the service. It provides reassurance to the client.
Bonding normally provides compensation or a replacement item if something is taken from the client’s home and the client can prove that the dog walker/pet sitter was responsible for the theft.
Now, if someone is just starting off, like your best friend, they may not have any of this, which is fine as long as you’re willing to take the risk.
Questions to ask a potential dog walker
What’s their breed experience?
We all know that the Newfoundland is a breed like no other so your dog walker should be familiar with the breed.
Put situations on the table.
What are they going to do if your Newf all of a sudden stops in the middle of the walk and refuses to move? Can they be trusted to get your dog back home safely? Are they problem solvers?
Do they know how to handle a Newf? Newfs are big and strong and can use that trait whenever they want.
Do they walk only one dog at once?
I personally would only want my dog walker focusing on my dog during a walk. I want their undivided attention on my dog and nowhere else.
Also, you may want to ask what type of leash they use when walking. Many dog walkers will avoid using certain leashes such as Flexi-leashes due to safety reasons so if a leash or collar switch is happening you should know.
Are they familiar with breed health issues?
Especially bloat. Make sure they know the signs and symptoms of bloat. You will be surprised at how many people call themselves “dog experts” But yet they have no idea about certain health issues.
Please make sure that anyone that cares for your Newfoundland knows the signs of bloat and have a bloat chart available for them.
What about heat stroke? Do they know how to tell if a Newfoundland is overheating?
Are they certified in pet CPR and do they know basic pet care?
Hopefully, they will never need it but everyone who cares for a pet should know how to perform CPR.
What are their temperature protocols?
I’ve seen dog walkers out walking dogs in 90 plus degrees in the middle of the afternoon, in the sun. The dogs looked distressed.
The job of a dog walker is to walk the dog but only when it’s safe. There should be other protocols in place for days when it’s too hot or too cold to be walking.
What are they going to do in wet weather? Do they know what a Newf looks like after a nice, long walk in the rain?
Are they going to allow extra time for towel drying?
What do they use for protection?
Accidents happen and dog walkers should always be prepared for the unexpected.
What happens if a stray dog approaches aggressively? Does the walker have a protocol that they follow? Do they carry mace? A foghorn? How are they going to protect your dog if danger arises?
When leaving your pet in the care of someone else, clearly explain your wishes with a detailed list. Hopefully, you can avoid miscommunication and prevent many problems before they happen.
How do updates work?
Ask for updates either by text or a written note left at home.
When I walked dogs we always took a picture and then sent a quick update to the owner(s) when the visit was complete.
We included anything special that happened that day or of the dog seemed off.
If you feel that an update is too vague, ask questions!
How do they keep track of schedules? And how many clients are on the schedule?
You want to make sure that their time is organized so that your dog’s visit won’t be rushed.
Many dog walkers will have set time frames that they do walks. This can sometimes be based on your work schedule. Someone who goes into work early in the morning will most likely have a visit earlier than someone who starts later in the morning.
If you go into work at 8:00 am you want your dog walked closer to 11 or noon, not 10 or 3.
If you have a puppy you might need 2 visits….etc..
Same walker every day?
Some pet businesses will have many employees so you’ll want to make sure who is walking your dog and if possible, the same walker is usually the way to go.
If your regular walker won’t be there or is sick what protocol is in place to cover your dog’s visit?
When I walked dogs I was the set person with my clients and my boss, who also met the clients at the meet & greet, would be the backup.
Ask for references
Ask for at least 2 names and contact information of their current clients.
Request a Meet & Greet
A meet & greet is a great way to meet a potential dog walker on your turf.
Have them come to your home and see how they interact with your dog and remember, first impressions mean a lot!
Hiring someone to look after your Newfoundland when you can’t isn’t always easy and quick but entrusting someone with your precious Newf shouldn’t be.
You should be cautious and you should feel confident in the person that is entering your home and caring for your pet.
How Much Does A Dog Walker Cost For A Newfoundland?
Rates will vary based on where you live but in Ohio, the average rate for a dog walker can range between $12-$27.
Rates will depend on how long the visit is (usually 15-45 minutes )
Most dog walkers do not charge by breed and services will often include bringing in mail, packages and garbage cans if requested.
Freshwater and treats are usually offered at the end of each visit or as needed throughout the allotted time.
How to find a good dog walker for your Newfoundland
There are many ways that you can find a dog walker for your Newfoundland including your local veterinarian. dog groomer and shelter organization.
Our local veterinarian has business cards set up at the front desk of local pet businesses that they trust and work with.
Neighborhood forums, friends and family are also easy ways to find a good and trustworthy dog walker.
Good dog walkers exist. You just have to search through the pile to find one that is right for you and your dog!
And remember to set your dog walker up for success!
If your Newfie has certain quirks, let the walker know so they won’t be caught off guard!