By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Bart Emken, CPTD-KA
Before we begin, we’d like to say that DogBoy’s isn’t in the business of bashing other companies or people. We do have strong opinions, however, and dog safety is one of our foremost concerns, both at the Ranch and elsewhere.
That’s why we felt the need to speak up about these online walking services and discuss how they might endanger our dogs. We want owners to know the risks of using third-party platforms like Wag and Rover before they entrust their pet’s safety to a stranger.
These Services Lack Accountability For Your Dog’s Wellbeing
If you’re unfamiliar with Wag and Rover, they’re basically an app modelled after Uber for dog walking. Unlike an in-home service, these walkers are unaffiliated with a dog boarding or training facility. Instead, they’re hired from the general public like Uber drivers. And just like Uber drivers, you don’t know who you’re getting.
These walkers are given no training prior to their hiring, and in some cases there’s no background check either. Once your dog is in their hands, there’s no means of determining how they’re doing the job— or if it’s even them. Someone can pick your dog up and hand them over to an acquaintance without you ever knowing.
This loophole bypasses any kind of assurance that a rating system might have. Even if you hire someone who has a “five star” walker rating, they could easily give your pet over to whomever they please once you’ve placed your dog in their care.
You’re also highly unlikely to get that same “five star” walker again. Just like ride-sharing apps, your business is open to any would-be walker who happens to be nearby. Many customers report never getting the same walker twice. Consistency is key to a healthy walking relationship, and these services simply can’t provide that.
Wag And Rover Offer Convenience At The Cost Of Security
The biggest difference between app-based walking services and local dog-walkers is the absence of communication between the owners, walkers, and dogs. Whether you found your walker on a neighborhood bulletin, or contacted a professional, you’re going to have a chance to get to know this person and decide whether they’re right for you and your dog.
While traditional dog walking professionals may not compete with Wag and Rover in terms of convenience, you can eventually come to trust these individuals with your home, belongings, and companion. Your dog will appreciate this familiarity too, as it can be stressful for dogs to constantly meet strangers.
It can be hard to have peace of mind when you don’t know who’s entering your home and taking care of your pet each week. Will they leave the door open? Will they disturb your belongings? And perhaps most importantly, will they abuse your dog?
While we’re sure that most walkers at Wag and Rover are well meaning, they don’t have a background in positive training. They may take an aversive shortcut to deal with a dog who pulls or is leash-reactive, like using:
These people simply don’t have an adequate education in canine behavior. They won’t be able to tell if your dog is stressed, anxious, or fearful. They may wrongly interpret certain behavior as “being stubborn,” and use aversive leash corrections to encourage obedience.
With Wag and Rover, you may have plenty of walkers who do a decent job, but you never know who you’re gonna get. If you’re comfortable with strangers entering your home and handling your dog, these services offer unparallelled convenience. But they do so at the cost of your safety and security.
If you would rather build a relationship with your walker but don’t know where to look, please contact us today. We offer our own walking service, and can recommend other trustworthy businesses in the greater Austin area. Stay safe and happy walking!