If you need your hair cut would you push a button on an app and accept whoever is going to show up at your house with scissors? If you need your house painted would you hire the teenagers next door because they are cheaper? Would you trust them with your keys? Probably not. So why trust your furry family member to just anyone?

Accidents and emergencies happen

While it is true that almost anyone can walk and feed a dog we want you, as a pet parent, to think about who you would want by your dog’s side in the event of an emergency – would it be a random walker, the kid next door, or a professional dog walking company?

If your sitter/walker is injured by your dog or falls down your stairs who is responsible? Health insurance doesn’t cover injuries that happen at work. If the sitter/walker doesn’t carry their own workers’ compensation insurance they may come after you for medical expenses.

What makes a dog walking company (or solo walker) professional?

Knowledge, experience, training, handling skills, background checks, proper vetting, proper licensing and insurance. Professionals also learn best practices from other professionals and improve from previous experiences. If employees or contractors are present the company should also be bonded.

Is the retired neighbor or kid next door walking dogs for fun licensed and insured?

How well are app walkers vetted?

Apps provide the convenience of pushing a button and having a walker show up at your door in 15 minutes. Did they even have an interview? How experienced and reliable are they? We would never be able to compete with this convenience because our team is small.

It costs a lot of money to be a legitimate business so professionals often have to charge more to cover all of the aforementioned expenses.

Professional companies value quality over quantity in our walkers.

We are selective and hire less than 2% of applicants because we weed out the people who just want to do it thinking it will be easy money on the side or because they love animals.   The reality is that dog walking is hard work. Many are not prepared for the reality of dog waking that is cleaning up messes, commuting between clients, handling dogs that may not be trained, being jumped on, getting muddy, and walking over 10 miles per day. It takes someone with grit to be able to walk dogs and national app companies may not be able to identify this.

Professionals pay attention on walks.

We aren’t listening to music or talking on the phone. We do not stop walking to drop a pin in an app to show where your dog went potty. We pay attention to how dogs act on their walk. Are they tense when they see people? Excited to see other dogs? Tired? We work with them to make sure they are comfortable and enjoying their stroll around the neighborhood.

App walks are timed with a ticking clock.

Our walks are un-timed. If a dog wants to go a few extra blocks we won’t rush them home because their time is up.  

Our team gets to know and love the dogs we work with.

We share notes and tips because each dog is an individual. The dogs become part of our lives. With apps your dog may be getting a new walker each day and neither side is given the opportunity to build a relationship.

Our team is assigned to walks in advance and held accountable.

An app walker can just click a button to cancel a walk they are schedule for if it is rainy or no longer convenient for them. There is some accountability but not compared to those working for a professional company.

Walks on apps may be requested for an ASAP time and go unfulfilled for many hours if nobody wants to pick up the walk. Some pet owners who use an app also request feedings after the walk so imagine if their walks aren’t picked up – the dog will go hungry and not get a walk.

App companies are beginning to put small businesses out of business.

Small businesses cannot compete with million dollar advertising or PR budgets.  It is similar to big box discount retailers competing with the local mom and pop shop. When you support local businesses you are keeping more money within your community and have more personalized customer service.

If you need to contact customer service about a walk or your walker who do you think will provide a better experience?

App companies are national tech companies with call centers at their headquarter locations. What has your experience been getting support from any large national service company, for example your cable or cell phone provider? Are you just a client record in their database?

Will the leaders of an app know you and your pet by name? We will.

There are some excellent walkers on apps. Many professionals gain experience by taking on app walks in the beginning or continue to take on app walks so that they can focus on walking and leave the business operations to someone else.  A professional company may have some bad hires in many years of doing business.  But if I was going to take a gamble on anything it would not be on my pet’s safety and well being or on the Redskins winning a Superbowl.   

Going with a pro is your safest bet.

Learn more about our dog walking services.

Learn more about the benefits of supporting small businesses at Think Local First DC.