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Welcome to our little pet-friendly corner of the internet where we will share some (hopefully) helpful information for Denver pet parents. When we’re not out walking our furry friends or chilling out with your cool cat, we try to find some time to hit the keyboard and share what we know about dog walking and pet sitting. After all, we’ve been at this a long time! 

Yes, you are busy. And who isn’t these days? But do you really need to hire a dog walker?

Simply put, yes! While it can be hard to justify the added expense, especially when you could benefit from the exercise yourself, not everyone’s schedule or physical ability allows for this crucial activity. Regular dog walking is essential for your dog’s health and longevity.

Let’s explore a few reasons why regular dog walking is important and how hiring a professional dog walker can be a game changer for both you and your dog.

Regular dog walks are key to preventative healthcare for your pup

Regular dog walks are essential exercise for dogs, positively impacting cardiovascular health, stamina, muscle strength, joint health, and weight management. They also help prevent obesity, urinary tract infections, and constipation. For a long and healthy life, regular exercise is crucial for your dog.

Your dog may need more exercise than you realize

Some high-energy and working dog breeds (e.g., Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers) often need 1-2 hours of vigorous daily exercise. If your schedule only allows for a 30-minute walk for the whole day, this still falls short of what a higher-energy dog breed needs to maintain good physical and also mental health. According to Preventive Vet, the bare minimum duration of daily exercise for all dogs, regardless of breed, is 30 minutes a day.

Relieve behavioral issues

If you have a destructive or anxious pet, daily dog walks are an easy solution to consider. Dogs are naturally curious and if they are not provided enough mental stimulation throughout their day, they choose mayhem as their preferred method of stimulation, chewing up anything they can find, or excessively licking and chewing on their paws (although this can also be allergy related, so be sure to check this out with your vet). Regular dog walks give your dog an opportunity to follow their curiosity with every new sound, smell, and sight that they come across. A “sniffari” helps prevent cognitive decline in older dogs and reduce behavior issues like excessive barking or chewing. As they say, “a tired dog is a good dog.”

Consistency is key

If you’re like me, some days just don’t have enough time for a dog walk. Maybe it’s a packed meeting schedule with kids’ sports after school. Perhaps I’m feeling under the weather or just overwhelmed by everything on my plate. The dogs’ walk slips to the bottom of the to-do list. Hey, it happens! I’m a busy working mom with a husband who works long, non-traditional hours. We all do what we can, but I’d be lying if I said I walk my dogs for 30+ minutes every day. Plus, I have a senior dog and a very young dog, each with different walking paces. This makes it no small chore. A professional dog walker can fill in the gaps on those jam-packed days. This way, you can prioritize your dogs and still tackle the growing to-do list. Some dog walking services even offer on-demand scheduling for those days when time gets away from you.

Give yourself peace of mind

Sure, you could hire a neighborhood kid to walk your dog for less, but there are other factors to consider. Can you rely on them to show up on time? Do they know what to do in an emergency? Handling leash reactivity or poor leash manners might be too much for an inexperienced walker. If your dog tends to scuffle with other dogs or run off, a neighborhood kid might not be the best choice. A professional dog walker brings extensive experience and training. A reputable service will have plans for emergencies and unexpected situations. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your dog is safe with a trained professional.

Reinforce positive leash manners 

Still working with your dog on their leash etiquette? An overlooked benefit that most pet parents don’t consider, professional dog walkers are skilled in proper leash handling and etiquette. During the initial meet and greet consultation, you can discuss any leash-related issues, allowing the walker to address these concerns while out on walks with your dog. They can also collaborate with you to develop strategies for improving leash manners. At Four Dog Paws, we prioritize consistency by asking pet parents about their preferred training commands during the meet and greet consultation. This ensures that our approach aligns with your at-home training efforts, promoting well-mannered behavior in your dog.

Book dog walking visits with ease

Most professional dog walking services now use online booking systems, making scheduling visits easy. At Four Dog Paws, we use Time to Pet, a top pet software system. The app lets you see when your dog walker arrives, view their GPS route, and look at photos from the walk. You can also pay for services and tip your walker through the portal. All communication is kept in one place, allowing direct contact with your dog walker.

As a devoted pet parent, our fur-kids are cherished family members, and their well-being is priority number one. So when you have to be away from home, a trusted pet sitter becomes their guardian angel. Finding the right one is crucial and requires some time upfront to find that perfect match. But this is a worthwhile task and your diligence will truly pay off in the end, for you and your beloved pet! There’s nothing quite like peace of mind while you are away.

We’ve put together a few quick tips to help guide you in the pet sitter search process:

ASSESS Your Pet’s Needs

Understanding the unique requirements of your pet is essential as your begin your search.

  • Does your pet have special dietary needs?
  • What level of exercise does your pet enjoy?
  • Will your pet need medication while you are away?
  • Does your pet have separation anxiety?
  • Are there health conditions that need consistent monitoring?

 

Every pet sitter provides a different range of services so understanding your pet’s needs is the foundation for finding a pet sitter who can meet those requirements. Some pet sitters even specialize in pets with medical conditions or senior pets. If you want that extra layer of care, seek out pet sitters who offer the specialty you are looking for.

ASK Your Community

Turn to your trusted sources such as friends, family, or neighbors and ask who they have used as pet sitters. The power of “word of mouth” recommendations remains tried and true. Personal recommendations often provide peace of mind, coming from trusted sources who have experienced the pet sitter’s services firsthand.

If you need to broaden the pool a bit to seek out recommendations, you can use social media to get more information and ask a broader audience. Post in a local Facebook group or ask on Next Door and plenty of your neighbors will post links to reputable pet sitters.

INTERVIEW Potential Pet Sitters

After getting basic preliminary information on recommended sitters from their website, set up an interview. Ask questions to assess their qualifications, experience, and compatibility with your pet (and you!). You can use this pet sitter interview checklist (provided by Pet Sitters International) to guide the initial conversation.

Be sure to inquire about bonding and insurance. For additional peace of mind and added protection, hire a pet sitter with proper insurance coverage to protect both you and the sitter in case of accidents or unforeseen incidents. Bonding insurance provides coverage in case the pet sitter damages your property, steals from your home, or fails to perform agreed-upon services. Bonding insurance provides a level of assurance that the pet sitter is trustworthy and has been vetted by the bonding company.

CONDUCT Your Research

Verify a pet sitter’s credibility by checking references and reading reviews. Use multiple sources for reviews, whether on Next Door, Facebook, Instagram or Google. Many pet sitters have a presence on these sites where you can also get a sense of their business “personality” and culture.

Want to go a step further? Contact references to gain insights into the sitter’s reliability, professionalism, and the level of care they provide.

MEET In Person

Ready to take it to the next level? Arrange a face-to-face meeting (“Meet & Greet”) with potential pet sitters to evaluate their demeanor, interaction with your pet, and whether they share your pet care values. Vibe check!

Use this opportunity to observe how they interact with your pet. After all, it’s not hard to spot a true animal lover! Meeting in-person will give you the chance to assess their professionalism as well – punctuality, dressed neatly, prepared, courteous, etc.

During the Meet & Greet, you’ll have the opportunity to cover important details face-to-face:

  • Rates and services: Clear the air on rates and services upfront to avoid any confusion later. This includes discussing the duration of services and any additional charges for extended hours, weekends, and holidays.
  • Policies and procedures: Dive into payment methods, cancellation policies, and how to reserve their services.
  • Emergency planning: Plan for unexpected situations like weather-related emergencies or injury/illness. Discuss emergency procedures thoroughly.
  • Pet(s)’ routine: Paint a detailed picture of your pet(s)’ routine and your expectations while you’re away.
  • Frequently asked questions: Take the chance to ask any additional questions to ensure everything’s crystal clear.

TRUST Your Instincts

Go with your gut! Intuition plays a significant role in the decision-making process. Trust your gut feelings about a pet sitter and choose one who makes you feel confident and comfortable. In the end, it’s not always the extensive list of qualifications that guides your choice. Sometimes, you simply go with the one you connected with the most, or the one your pup loved. If you’ve done your research and feel confident entrusting your pet’s care to this person, then you’ve made the right choice.

Finding the perfect pet sitter is essential to ensure your pet’s happiness while you’re away. With these tips to help you along, you can confidently choose the right caregiver and relax knowing your furry friend is in good hands.