According to recent research, up to 3.2 million households have acquired a pet during times of lockdown in the UK. That’s a lot of extra pets, and now that lots of households are spending some time back in the office as opposed to working from home, there’s a big call for dog walkers and daycare. But should you employ a dog walker to keep your dog fit whilst you’re out at work?
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Here are some things to consider:
A study by the RVC in 2021 revealed that 1 in 14 dogs weighed at the vets was overweight. Of course, this only accounts for the dogs that went to the vets to be weighed. So it’s likely that this is a bigger problem. Lack of exercise, and eating more calories than are burned off during the day is the key to weight gain. So using a dog walker to regularly exercise your pooch can be a great way of helping to keep the pounds off and prevent obesity. It means your dog won’t just be sleeping whilst you work, they will be burning off calories!
If your dog is needing to lose weight, using a walker can be a great idea. Dogs that are exercised with other dogs will often be more active, playing more and engaging with the other dogs on their walk. This will increase the calories burned each walk, helping you to achieve your doggy weight loss goals. Let’s face it, we’re probably not the only ones that gained a few pounds during lockdown!
Socialisation and stimulation
This is so important, not only for young puppies but also for adult dogs. Although not all dogs like to mix in large packs, with some preferring smaller social groups, being around other dogs is still really important. It helps with mental stimulation, and playing can provide great entertainment for dogs. It can help to work their brains and tire them out mentally, as well as keeping them well socialized. An important part of life, especially if you want to make sure they are happy meeting other dogs when out and about.
During lockdown, it’s not only our own socialisation that has suffered. Many owners may not have been meeting up with their dog walking friends as readily. Which means lots of dogs may have spent the last year with less socialisation with other dogs. Using a dog walker can really help with this!
There are lots of aspects of training and behaviour that can be helped by using a dog walker to help exercise your dog. If you are in the middle of some training, your dog walker may be able to help continue and reinforce this whilst they are caring for your dog. This can help to cement your training and prevent development of training problems.
Using a dog walker to help keep your dog fit can also help stop the development of behavioral problems such as separation anxiety. This may be especially relevant at the moment, as lots of dogs will be used to their owners being at home all day. Therefore they may begin to struggle as owners return to the office. This will lead to separation anxiety and associated behavioral challenges, such as barking or chewing. Having someone take your dog for a walk, or leaving the dog with them for the day can ease the transition for them.
Peace of mind
We all worry about our dogs! They are part of the family, aren’t they? If you’re worrying about leaving your dog behind when you go out, or head back into the office, then using a dog walker can be a great way to gain peace of mind. Your dog will not only be fit and receive lots of stimulation during the day, but you can be sure that they are being taken care of by someone who is insured and qualified which gives you the freedom to get on with your day.
So, there are lots of benefits to having a dog walker to keep your dog fit, but…
How do you make sure your walker is reliable and correctly trained to take proper care of your dog?
Unlike daycare or boarding premises, those that simply walk dogs do not require a licence from the local council. This does mean that anyone can set up as a dog walker. So it’s important to ask the right questions or seek out someone who also provides daycare and boarding so that you know they will have been inspected.
What do you need to ask if you are picking a dog walker?
Here are some handy hints:
- Local councils often have individual rules about how many dogs can be walked at any one time. Ensure that your walker is well versed in these rules and can tell you how they operate within them.
- Even though dog walkers aren’t required to have a license, they are required to have insurance. So make sure to ask to see a copy of this
- A dog walker should also be correctly trained in dog care, and hold a dog first aid certificate. Make sure to see evidence of this training and certification.
- Ask them if they do ‘meet & greets’ prior to accepting your dog into the pack for walks. A good walker will want to meet you and assess your dog. This will be to ensure their suitability for a dog walking service. It doesn’t suit all dogs, so it’s important that walkers are checking this prior to taking on dogs.
- Ask them if they have any voluntary professional registrations, with organisations such as the Association of Pet Dog Walkers, or the Pet Industry Federation. These organisations will help to ensure the standards are kept high in the industry.
- A professional dog walker will keep good records of the dogs they walk, their requirements, medications, vet and owner details, and all this should comply with GDPR regulations – be sure to check they are doing this.
- Have a look at how they handle the dogs in their care – go for a walk with them and see how they respond to the dogs. They should be using positive reinforcement, and treating the dogs in a kind and professional way. If you aren’t happy with how they treat their charges, look elsewhere!
Hopefully this has helped you to feel more informed about using a dog walker to help your dog stay fit and active – lots of dogs absolutely love the time they spend with their walkers, so if it’s right for your dog, it can be a great arrangement for everyone!