With people living more hectic and busy lifestyles, cities and towns all over Ireland are seeing a recent growth in dog walkers, dog day cares and pet sitters. Dogs are increasingly becoming fully fledged members of the family and are being looked after just as well as human babies while their owners are at work.
With so many options becoming available it can be difficult to know which ‘dog pro’ to entrust your beloved pet to. Here are some important factors to consider:
- Type of service offered: A dog day care will look after your dog all day while you are at work. While this might seem like doggie heaven for many dogs, it might not be a god match for elderly or fearful dogs. A dog walker will come to your house, take your dog out for a walk and drop them back afterwards. Dog walking can be anything from on-lead solo walks to more adventurous off lead group walks. A pet sitter will usually visit your dog in your home and might be a good option for older dogs or those with behaviour issues. Make sure you choose the service that is optimum for your dog and your lifestyle.
- Qualifications and training: What dog specific qualifications and training has your dog pro completed? A person providing a professional dog care service should know how to use scientifically sound, humane training methods, be able to read dog body language and understand how dogs interact. They should also know how to take appropriate steps to handle issues like quarrels over toys, space or play styles.
- Ratio of dogs to staff: Good dog management demands a low ratio of dogs to staff. Ask how many dogs your dog walker or day care professional will have under their care at any one time. For safety reasons, some countries now regulate the number of dogs a walker can take out together. Choose a walker that limits their group to 6 or 8 dogs.
- Humane equipment and training methods: There is no place in modern dog care for techniques or equipment that use fear, force or pain to control a dog. A dog pro worth their salt should know how to handle a dog without needing to use choke, prong, shock or spray collars.
- Walk time and travel arrangements: Many walking services includes a pick up and drop off service. Make sure that the time you have been quoted for is time out of the vehicle, actually walking and having fun. The car ride shouldn’t be included.
- First aid certification and emergency protocols: A dog pro should be certified in canine first aid and have sound protocols in place so they are able to deal with an emergency situation should one arise.
- Professional service contract and insurance: A dog pro should always provide clients with a professional service contract. This contract should clearly set out their terms of service from cancellation policies to liability in the event of an injured or lost dog.
Anyone looking after dogs, especially dogs in groups, needs specialised knowledge and skills so they can ensure the safety of all dogs under their care. Make sure the person you choose to be responsible for your “fur-baby” is ethical, professional and properly qualified for the job.