We love our dogs, so why put unnecessary and unhealthy demands and expectations on them? By that, I mean, forcing them to “hold it in” or “no bathroom break” during the many hours that no one is home to walk them. Please think about it: holding it in for an extended length of time is a demand that we would never force upon or expect of ourselves. Besides the issue of having to “go to the bathroom” while you’re gone, they endure hours of loneliness, boredom, anxiety, fright or may become ill or injured.
I think having someone reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable, experienced and truly caring, come to your home during the span of time you may be gone, is a wonderful idea, but are they the person I just described?
I never felt confident about calling for a reference. Can you be sure that the name of a former employer, is the actually a former employer and not a relative helping the prospective dog walker to get a job?
I would definitely be home the first few days after hiring a new dog walker, to see how my dog reacts to this person and how this person handles my dog. Following that, I would have a trial week during which time I would have a neighbor check arrival time, departure time and keep an eye on the “walker” during walking time. Nanny cams are your best bet for insuring the safety and well being of your pet. I know someone who was actually home during a first visit by their newly hired dog walker and stayed in a locked bedroom using a baby monitor. If you have an alarm system, using a different code, and depending upon your alarm company, you can get a signal sent to your cell phone to let you know when the walker come and goes. A good test to see how caring the dog walker is, would be to have them come on a day that is expected to be rainy. If the walker asks for a towel to dry your dog, that would be a sign of concern for the dogs well being. The questions that are asked of you about your dog and what you require will give you a good indication as to how experienced and genuinely interested this person is about your dog.
Another good tip is to find out what kind of dogs the potential dog walker has and what veterinarian they use. I would call that veterinarian to get a reference without discussing it at the interview.
If you feel the slightest bit unsure or uncomfortable during the interview or if your dog show signs of mistrust, listen to your instincts.
If you are considering a dog walking company, there are a few things to take into consideration. Yes, the owner may be bonded and insured but how does that help if you are truly worried about your dogs safety and well being? The people that work for these companies make a fraction of what you are paying to the owner. How dedicated to doing a great job are they if they are paid so little that they need to run from job to job to make enough money?
BTW, a dog walker/caregiver who asks if you would like to be sent a text during their visit; to let know that everything is OK, would win points with me.