Once in awhile I think how nice it would be for me to have a dog walker to walk my dogs and how special it would be for them getting to walk more often than I get them out. Trust me … it isn’t nearly often enough! Like a Mom with small children, I think about what I would do with that hour or so all to myself. Woo hoo! I think about how much less guilt I would feel about not walking them more often. Freeing myself from that horrendous guilt I carry around about this would be fantabulous! For just that hour I could feel like a rich people!
Then reality sets in and I’m reminded of all the times we’ve been charged by loose dogs and the negative behavioral impact that’s had on Riley. The “I’ll get you before you get me!” attitude he’s taken on is absolutely heartbreaking for me. I think about how Nissa just isn’t all that fond of meet & greets whether they be people or other dogs. What about all the things that could go wrong that I wouldn’t be there to deal with personally? Would the dog walker be able to handle all these unknowns in a way that I would approve of and more importantly — in a way that would keep my babies safe? On the other hand, there is no guarantee that *I* can keep them safe in some situations.
I remind myself that I would be cheating myself out of exercise for myself and since walking my dogs is pretty much the only exercise I get, should I really bypass that for an hour of selfishness? Wouldn’t it just be better for me and my dogs if I just got more down and dirty about walking them more myself?
Because of the bad experiences we’ve been through when we’ve been out walking, I literally have to talk myself into going each and every time. I’ll conjure up just about any ridiculous excuse I can to not take a walk on any given day.
I can come home from work with the best of intentions which promptly go South the moment I walk through my front door. It’s like the switch flipped and I become a sucker for every stupid excuse I can think of for not going out for a walk. But that’s what they are … excuses and imaginary justifications to make myself feel better about not going.
When I get up for work I’ve got four sad bored brown eyes looking up at me begging “Please Mom?” and I’m forced to admit that all I did was to justify my way out of yet another walk. When Mom doesn’t get ready for a walk, they mope around, they sigh, they whine and they stare at me for two solid hours while I’m getting ready for work. I selfishly cheated them of one of the simple pleasures of being a dog and the guilt that plunks itself down on my head and won’t budge is enormous! I start ragging on myself non-stop and it’s not pretty. I mean really Deb — would it have killed you to walk the dogs this morning? Those nights I’m convinced I’m the worst dog Mom on the face of the earth.
If you have to have someone else walk your dog, doesn’t that mean you don’t have time for a dog or maybe you’re too lazy to do it yourself? Seriously, if you can’t take time out of your day to take a 30 to 40 minute jaunt with your furkid (preferably daily but at least several times a week) what does that say about you and your relationship with your dog? Isn’t this sending messages like these to your dog:
Having a dog walker could also have some unexpected and unwanted repercussions. There are bound to be differences between the way you walk your dog and your dog walker walks your dog. This means you’re potentially opening the door to winding up with a very confused dog which might result in some serious behavior problems. One of the keys to having a well-behaved dog is consistency in handling. You may have already seen this if members of your own family handle the same issue or training techniques in different ways.
I have no doubt that there are some very experienced, skilled dog walkers. Heck, there are probably some that would do a better job of it than I do! This isn’t about bashing dog walkers or the dog walking profession. But the bottom line is that no matter what might happen, these two fuzzballs are *my* responsibility. If I’m not there when something happens — they’re *still* my responsibility. Just because someone else is walking them does not absolve me of being held responsible for their safety and their actions because the bottom line is that they’re my dogs. If someone or someone’s dog were to be injured, I’m the one that’s going to get sued. If something happens, how do I know 100% that the dog walker is telling me the truth and not some fabricated story in order to keep themselves out of trouble? I don’t.
I can see hiring a dog walker on a temporary basis if you’re sick or disabled and you still want to do what’s best for your dog while you recover. Although in my opinion it’s not the safest solution, it is quite admirable that you’d care enough to see to your dog’s needs when you can’t do it yourself. But before you do, I urge you to please put some serious objective thought into what your dog’s personality is and to what might happen if you hand that leash over to someone else.
Hiring a dog walker is your decision, hopefully made for some really good reasons. If the only way your dog is going to get out for walks on any kind of regular basis is to hire a dog walker, I’ll go with that being better than no walks at all. I plan to stick with the “do it yourself” method.
What are your thoughts on hiring a dog walker?
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You raise several different issues in this post, in particular with hiring a dog walker. I think that most of these concerns would vanish if the dog walker becomes a regular, rather than a one-off, helper. By showing up on certain days at certain times, and becoming familiar with the dog, a regular dog walker really can be a great partner to both dog and owner.
I cannot dispute your input, however the fact remains that if something does happen the dog OWNER is the ultimate responsible party. If the owner is not there, they have no proof or control of what really happened. If I’m going to be held responsible for what happens to my dog or for what my dog does, I will be the person on scene if something happens. I don’t like the idea of being held responsible for something someone else does or doesn’t do. If I had a dog walker and he or she has a “human error” moment (which we all have!) I have to pay for the end results meaning I’m on the hook for any vet bills, lawsuits and bad press for my dog breed. I also have no intention of losing my dog if something happens when the leash is in someone elses hand. We have enough problems in our area that I’m just not willing to hand over their leashes to someone else. I am responsible for their safety, their lives and those we encounter along the way that interact with my FurKids. I’m not willing to entrust that to anyone else. For me, there is just too much at stake for me to lose.