Mobile apps that help you find a dog walker, like Wag and Rover, are booming with popularity! But, is your dog safe with them? In a day and age where technology rules, there’s an app for everything, and though it seems convenient to book a dog walker or pet sitter through an app, it might not be the best choice.
What is a dog walking app?
Essentially, this is like the ‘Uber’ of the dog walking world. You download an app, place your order, and a walker arrives to take your precious dog out for a walk on the day and time you specify. Seems simple right? And yes, it is…but isn’t that concerning? At least with Uber you can check for standards, like the hygiene rating, and ensure your margarita pizza is coming from a licensed, clean, and reputable establishment. However, as there is no current licensing legislation for dog walkers, what can you check to ensure your dog’s safety and well-being needs are met?
What checks are carried out?
At the very minimum you would want to know that your dog walker isn’t part of a criminal gang that steals dogs to order, so a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) certificate will assure you that your walker has no record of criminal offences. Dog walking apps like Rover, Borrow my Doggy and Pawshake do not require their walkers to undergo a DBS check, unlike many professional pet care service companies. Additionally, you’ll probably want to know that your dog is being cared for by someone that has experience and is knowledgeable about a variety of breeds and temperaments. If you own a boisterous 45kg lab, you need to know that your walker can handle your pup! But, how would you be able to check this? Many dog walking directory apps focus heavily on reviews that boost individual dog walker ratings and personal profiles, sometimes earning them badges, but there are no training or experience requirements for these walkers. What’s more, some of these companies don’t even require interviews or references from previous employers to verify any experience they may claim.
All dogs have a personality, and some breeds exhibit behaviours different to others. There’s a big difference in walking a 5lb chihuahua round the block, compared to taking out a Border Collie that wants to chase the 852 bus down the main road! It is vital for anyone becoming a dog walker to have an extensive knowledge of breed differences and requirements. With the increase in puppy ownership during lockdown, how many dog walkers on apps have the knowledge and training to restrict exercise on growing dogs? When researching walker qualifications among directory apps, there wasn’t any evidence of specific training given to independent walkers, nor any reference to the use of positive training techniques or suitable walking equipment. What would you expect of an untrained walker that’s stuck in a tricky situation – like when a strong dog is attempting to reach a stray cat, or perhaps an interaction between a dominant and submissive dog? You’d want to be certain that your walker is confident and well trained to avoid any conflict or danger and is able to ensure your dog’s safety in those situations!
Safety and welfare
When it comes to safety, all dog walking apps are insured and often have access to a vet line that can be called in the event of an emergency. However, not one offers any first aid training or qualifications, so what happens if your dog suffers an injury that needs some immediate attention? Without knowledge or training, an app walker likely won’t be able to offer critical care. Plus, not all emergencies present themselves externally. For instance, what if your dog ate a bunch of lilies? Lilies are quite toxic, and your dog may not show evidence of any discomfort at first, so it’s important to have a walker that knows what to be aware of and how to act quickly!
So, can the apps be trusted to provide our dogs with the care they require?
It’s important to do your research when it comes to trusting an individual with the care of your furry family! While dog walking apps may not have the same qualification requirements as other pet care companies, there may still be walkers with relevant knowledge, training and experience listed in their directories. The problem is, it’s difficult to discern who is legitimate or not, and whether they’re a trustworthy pet carer. It’s always a safe bet, for you and your dog, to use a trusted, reputable company that are transparent, conduct face-to-face interviews with all staff, provide one-on-one training, and have the expertise and experience behind them.
At We Love Pets, we’re proud to say that all of our dog walkers, pet sitters, and animal carers are DBS checked, fully insured, pet first aid trained, and qualified to provide the highest quality pet care available! We’re fortunate to have a team of experts that are happy to help and answer any questions. Get in touch with your local branch to see how we can help you!
Written by Lorna LeydenAs a former RSPCA Inspector, Lorna has experience working with a range of animals and has an acute understanding of their individual needs and behaviour patterns. After being made redundant in the wake of the pandemic, Lorna took the opportunity to pursue a new avenue of working with animals by joining We Love Pets. Her expertise is invaluable for our blog posts and training resources!
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