Choosing A Dog Carer

Chances are, if you're reading this, you have a dog as part of your family. Finding someone to care for your dog isn't as easy as it sounds and there's not a great deal of info out there to help us choose the right person. We do tons of research when it comes to our kids, choosing a holiday destination, buying a new car... so why not for our dogs?

It's not as simple as asking on a facebook group; you could end up with anyone, unless you know what you're looking for.

I've put together some tips & advice for when it comes to choosing the right person to look after your dog.

1. Can You Meet Them?

A good, professional dog carer should be happy to meet you and your dog first - in fact, they should insist this happens before committing to anything.
It's the chance for you all to meet and run through all your dogs details, necessary paperwork and arrangements and for you to ask any questions. It's also the best opportunity to see how both your dog and the carer interact and to see if they are the right fit.

I always book a Meet & Greet session before I commit to any bookings and I always like to see how you walk your dog, if this is something you want me to do.

2. Are You Insured?

It is so important for a professional dog carer to have insurance to protect all parties - the carer, your dog and the public. If your carer is walking your dog and using their vehicle, this must also be insured to carry animals.

I am comprehensively insured with Protectivity and my vehicle is covered with LV for business use. 

3. What Qualifications Do You Have?

I highly recommend you ask and choose a carer who is Canine First Aid trained. Whilst the first instinct is to get to a vet ASAP, if your dog walker is out and a fair way from their vehicle, it is worth them knowing what to do in an emergency to reduce any further risks and to act to prevent any complications caused by an injury. 
Depending on what services your carer offers, it's a bonus if the carer is knowledgeable in areas such as canine anxiety, communication, nutrition, etc.

I am Canine First Aid trained and always carry a basic first aid kit with me and have a more comprehensive kit in my car. I always ensure I have my phone with me and that it is charged at all times. I also use a tracking app and can send you and my emergency contacts my precise location, in case of any emergency.

I am also Canine Nutrition trained and am currently studying Canine Anxiety.

4. Are You DBS Checked?

This is something people only associate checking when it comes to working with children or vulnerable adults, but it's a great thing to check when it comes to someone caring for your dog, especially if they're going to be entering or staying in your home without you present. It's a basic police check to see if that person has any criminal convictions.

I have a current DBS certificate and you can ask to see this at any time. 

5. Are You GDPR Compliant?

GDPR is General Data Protection Regulation and it is law that all businesses who handle personal data is compliant in protecting this data. Your personal data should be secured in a lockable cabinet which is bolted to the floor or on a protected server. 

I keep your personal data on a secure, password protected online server only and keep it for as long as I am providing services to you. I only use this data for the purpose of carrying out the service and will never pass on your data to any third party.

6. What are your T&C's?

Professional dog carers will have T&C's and should provide you with a copy or a link to their T&C's. It should outline both parties obligations to each other, so ensure you read their Terms thoroughly and ask any questions. 

My T&C's are available here and a link to them is provided on each invoice that you receive. I believe my T&C's are thorough to ensure all possible eventualities are covered.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Often, this is the 1st question I am asked and budget is important, but it shouldn't be the deal breaker. You need to consider the other factors before deciding the carer is worth their price; time out, transit time, are treats and poo bags included, cleaning costs, fuel costs, time, qualifications, interactions, stimuli, advice, solo walk, group walk, risk factors, communication, safety and security

I believe my prices are fair and I always offer quality time with your dog as well as ensuring they are safe and secure and they feel safe & secure. Treats and poo bags are included, as standard. I love your dogs like they are my own and my time doesn't end once your dog arrives home; I am happy to chat, share advice and provide content (just like this article). My prices can be found here.

8. Does My Dog Need To Be Vaccinated?

Depending on what kind of services you require, sometimes keeping up with booster vaccinations aren't required. Any responsible dog carer who provides home boarding, day care and group walks should insist that your dogs are fully vaccinated to reduce the risks of the spread of diseases, especially Kennel Cough, and helps reduce the impact of the illness on your dog. Remember, vaccinations do not stop your dog from contracting or spreading an illness.

I require that your dogs are fully vaccinated if your dog takes part in group walks, I advise that your dogs are kept up to date with vaccinations for the safety of your dog, myself and other dogs that I care for. I do require, as part of my T&C's, that you inform me immediately if your dog is ill so we can decide how we move forward.

9. Does My Dog Need To Be Treated For Parasites?

Again, this depends on the services you require, but any responsible dog carer should insist that your dog is treated against parasites. 

I do insist, as part of my T&C's that your dog is regularly treated against parasites regardless of the services you use as fleas & ticks can be carried by people and passed to other dogs and homes. Intestinal parasites (worms) can be harmful to humans, so it is set in my T&C's that you inform me immediately should you discover any type of parasite on your dog or within your home. 

10. What Do You Do In An Emergency?

As part of the registration process, the carer should take details of an emergency contact whom they can contact in the event of any emergency. An emergency can vary from an injury or sickness, loss of keys, missing dog, property damage, unable to provide the service, extreme change in your dog's behaviour, etc so it needs thought of who you put forward to be contacted. A dog carer should also have a contingency vet surgery, in case your usual practice is too far. 

I always ensure I have emergency contact details to hand, and have a contingency vet surgery should your usual practice not be available of further away. I advise that you inform your practice that I will be caring for your dog so that they are aware should anything arise. 

As well as asking some vital questions, it's also important to ask for references, check out their reviews and follow them on social media. If someone isn't on social media, I would ask myself why, especially as practically everything is on social media these days. Check out a few of their posts and the comments, as these will usually be from other clients. 
I'm a big believer in following my gut, if something doesn't feel right, then it usually isn't. It's a good idea to see a few dog carers before choosing one.

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