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By Woofers Walkies, May 17 2017 11:35AM

Last month I took you through 7 things you should ask and check with your potential new dog walker. This month I’m going to take you through 7 things you could tell your potential dog walker about your dog, you and your home.

You may well be out all day and that’s why you need a dog walker. But it’s still important for you both to build up a relationship. You both have your dog’s comfort, happiness and welfare in common.

The most important thing is to be honest. You may not want to highlight some of your dog’s habits but we will find out as we walk them, so best to be upfront about them. It’s better for us to be prepared, especially if your dog is reactive to certain triggers.

1) Let us know where your landline is, if you have one. In the case of emergencies, we may need to use it if the mobile signal is patchy or non-existent. Also feel free to show us where your fuse box is and the such like. I’ve had to hunt in a house for the fuse box before after a storm.

2) Show us where you keep your dog’s stuff. I know most dog owners have a cupboard specifically for their dogs. Let us know where it is, show us where their leads are, water bowls, treats, towels. That way you don’t have to leave them all out as we will put them away. This saves us having to open and look through cupboards if we need a towel, for example. Also show us where your cleaning products are. Your dog may well be house trained but if your dog is unwell or has an accident then we will clean it up. Show us where the floor cleaner is, mop, bucket, floor wipes, cloths, kitchen towel – basically whatever you would use to clear up an accident.

3) Ok, this one is nothing to do with your dogs but please show us where your toilet is. We try and fit our toilet breaks in at supermarkets. Sometimes we really need a wee though, especially in the summer when we are drinking more. We won’t use your toilet unless we are desperate and we never go upstairs, but if you have a downstairs toilet please show us. You could be saving us in our hour of need!

4) Let us know how we can contact you. If you have no phone signal at work, or not allowed phones then let us know who to call instead. Give us as many contact names and numbers as you like. The more the merrier, this means in the unlikely event of an emergency we can get hold of someone.

5) Tell us about what your dog is like on a lead, truthfully please! If your dog is a puller, we need to know. We may be able to suggest a harness or lead that will help and make it more comfortable for us all to walk your dog. If you dog has no road sense, again please make us aware.

6) If your dog is reactive in any way we must be told. You may have accepted it as just one of those things but if your dog goes nuts when it sees another dog, for our own safety we need to know. We won’t judge you, we will just be prepared and may well take your dog on a walk in a different location.

7) Tell us what your dog likes to do for fun! We want them to really enjoy their walk with us so if they love playing ball, tell us. If they like an ear rub, tell us. If they love to do some training, tell us. Whatever it is that makes your dog tick if you tell us we can make sure your dog gets the most out of their walk.

I honestly can say that if any customers told me any or all the above then I would be very happy. I would feel fully informed and would know about any potential obstacles before the first walk.

Love Sally xxx

By Woofers Walkies, Feb 14 2017 07:41PM

Chances are that if you are reading this then you either have a dog walker (hopefully me!) or you may be thinking about having one (hopefully me!) in the future. Most dog walkers/pet sitters offer services that can be one offs, short term or long term. I know that when I meet a potential customer I ask lots of questions to find out their requirements and all about their pet.

It’s so important to pick the right dog walker/pet sitter for your pet. They could be visiting up to 5 times a week with them. Not only do they need to connect with your pet you also need to feel confident about your choice too.

I also know that years ago, when we found ourselves needing a dog walker, we didn’t have a clue what to ask or what to expect. So today I’m going to let you know 7 things you should check.

1) As a professional dog walker, I have industry specific insurance. My insurance covers lots of things and most of my terms and conditions are based around what my insurance allows. For instance, I must have signed permission from an owner to allow their dog to be off leash. If your potential new walker is not asking for signed permission, please check their insurance and ask the question. If your dog has an accident of lead and you haven’t given signed permission, then myself and my insurance company won’t cover any costs.

2) Has your dog walker got animal first aid training? I’ve not had to use mine yet on any dogs I walk but I have had to use it on my own. I always carry a small first aid kit with me and I have a much bigger first aid kit in my car. I check all kits (I have 4, or maybe 5 kits in total) every month to check that everything is in date and order any replacements.

3) On occasions, I will drive a dog to a different location for their walk. As well as having specific dog walker’s insurance that covers me for transporting dogs, my car insurance also covers business use. It’s a little thing, but if I had an accident with your dog in the car and I don’t have business use on my personal insurance then my dog walker’s insurance won’t pay out.

4) Myself, Mike and Sarah all have a recent DBS check. Now if you have had a meet and greet with me then you know I probably joke that it proves that I haven’t been caught yet! Honestly it is a joke, I’ve got a clean record! But the point is that it does need to be a recent check within the last 2-3 years. There are no regulations that state I need one, I choose to have one. We often come into your home without you being there and I want you to be able to trust us. If your walker hasn’t got one, ask them for one.

5) Ask your walker/sitter what they do with your keys. I have a key safe. All keys have a tag on them, but there are no addresses on them. I remember where everyone lives, but please don’t ask me the name of your street or the number of your house! I just know where you live!

6) Ask your walker/sitter what happens if your pet is ill whilst they are looking after it. I always have a conversation with every owner about how much cost of treatment I can authorise on their behalf at the vet in their absence. Of course, I also find out what vets they are with so that, if the situation allows, I can get their pet to their chosen vet. In the event of an emergency I would go to the nearest one.

7) I don’t have any animal specific qualifications (although I do have a very useful BTEC level 2 in Travel & Tourism!) and I’m quite happy to say that. Again, there are no regulations that say I need them. I have many years of experience with dogs and I always think you, as the customer, will make the decision about whether you think I will get on with your dog. I also believe that my reviews across various sites vouch for me. I would never have a problem discussing my credentials (or lack of them!) with a customer as it gives me a perfect opportunity to tell you what I can do. I also believe that with providing all the above it proves that I am serious about my business and that I am a professional.

I honestly can say that if any customers asked me any or all the above then I would happily answer their questions. I believe that all genuine, professional dog walkers/pet sitters would do so too. If yours is saying it’s not necessary then chances are they are not insured, tread carefully!

Next month I will share with you what things you can tell your dog walker/sitter that are really appreciated!

Love, Sally xx

By Woofers Walkies, Jan 22 2017 06:20PM

As it is the month of love, I thought I would do a blog about something that is close to my heart. Adopting dogs or cats.

You probably know by now that I am a big advocate of adopting but I also completely understand that many people have dreams of a certain breed and raising it from a puppy. What I wanted to talk to you about today was dispelling some of the myths and mystery around adopting a pet.

The first thing I want to set the record straight about is you don’t have to say yes to any dog at a rescue place. Of course, anyone who works there wants the dogs to find a home, but they want to find them the right home. Never say yes to a dog because you are worried what might happen to it if you say no. Someone else will be the perfect fit.

Rehoming centres are having a big battle with dogs being returned to them. Therefore, they do such a thorough check and ask so many questions. When you go to a rehoming centre it’s important that you take all members of the family that live in the same house as you as well as any dogs you already have. Many rehoming centres will not rehome dogs to homes with small children. If you have young children ring up the shelter before you go or check their website for their policy.

All rehoming centres will want to do a home check. They won’t be looking to see if your house is clean and tidy but whether it’s appropriate for the dog that will hopefully be coming to live with you. They will check the size of your garden and height of your fence. You don’t have to have a huge garden, but it needs to be secure.

You want always go to a rehoming centre. We got Buddy from Norfolk Greyhound Rescue and they don’t have a centre. They bring dogs over from Ireland and then you collect the dog (after forms and home checks have been completed). As Buddy was coming from Ireland it wasn’t possible for us to meet him first but that was fine for us because he was exactly what we had been looking for.

More and more rescue homes are relying on foster home for dogs whilst they search for their forever home for them. This makes is cheaper for the charities rather than the running costs of kennels. Don’t let this put you off. You can still go and meet your potential new dog if it’s in foster.

You will always pay an adoption fee. This covers the dog being neutered or spayed, initial vaccinations and sometimes this will include a collar and lead and food bowls. Everyone is different but they all have the same rule; every rescue dog must be neutered. This is important to hopefully slow down the number of abandoned dogs every year. If your potential dog is too young to be neutered, you will be required to make sure this happens. The adoption fee never covers the full cost to the rehoming centre of caring for that animal. They may have paid out a lot in vet fees to get the dog ready for rehoming.

If you love a certain breed of dog, then I’m sure there will be a rescue place that deals with just that breed. It’s also possible and quite easy to rescue a dog from abroad.

Having a dog that you have brought from a breeder as a puppy doesn’t guarantee a well socialised and behaved dog. That comes from the way the dog is brought up. Yes, there are dogs in rescue homes who are reactive, not good with children or cats but with the right home and with lots of love, patience and time they can become a big part of your family. I promise you as the mum of 4 rescue dogs you won’t regret it!