Published: 01/12/2021; Edited: 02/03/2021
The meet-and-greet is one of the most important parts of the dog walking process. It’s your first chance to get to know your newest four-legged client, start building a relationship with their pet parent, and make sure the pet will be the “pawfect” fit for you.
But a meet-and-greet for dog walkers is much more complicated than it may sound. There’s a lot of important ground to cover during this first meeting, so we’ve put together this handy checklist for new dog walkers.
Keep reading for the full rundown of our tips on what information to provide, and the questions you could ask, in your first meet-and-greet with a new pup.
Meeting new people isn’t easy. In fact, it can often be quite awkward. The good news is that you get to meet a new dog as well, so that should help ease any nerves you might have.
Of course, it’s important to make a good first impression on the pup and their parent. You’ve probably had plenty of experience meeting new dogs before, so we don’t need to go into great detail about that. Needless to say, the best approach will differ from one dog to the next, so let the pup set the tone of your meeting and get to know you at their own pace.
But we can offer some simple tips to help you get to know the pet parent you’re meeting for the first time. Remember, they’re looking for someone they can trust to look after their precious fur-baby. This may also be one of the only times you meet them in person, so you’ll need to put their mind at ease. Tell them about:
Your own dog and/or other pets, including past pets.
Your dog walking experience.
What skills you offer as a dog walker — for example, maybe you can run with dogs.
Any other special skills you may have, such as pet first aid training.
A bit about yourself — where you’re based, why you love dogs, etc.
Be polite, answer any questions they may have, and show them that their pet will be in safe, loving hands. And if you turn up on time and make yourself presentable, you’ll already have gone a long way towards earning their trust.
Spending time with your newest canine client is a great way to learn about the pup’s unique personality, likes, and dislikes. Greet them enthusiastically, let them sniff you, give them a tummy rub — you can learn a lot about a dog simply by interacting with them and watching their behavior.
But the pet parent can also provide a wealth of useful information that can help your future walks go as smoothly as possible. With this in mind, ask lots of questions to find out as much as you can about the dog. Some key questions include:
How active or energetic is your dog?
How far/long do they like to walk?
Do they have any favorite walking routes/destinations?
Do they like to jog?
What are they like when meeting other dogs while on a leash?
Do they have any health problems I should know about?
Are there any other issues I need to know about, such as pulling on the lead or trying to chase other animals?
Is it okay for me to reward your dog for good behavior on the walk? What with?
Will you provide a leash and (if required) a harness?
You don’t want it to seem like an interrogation, but there’s a lot of important information to gather here. If the client seems a little anxious about all these questions, stress the fact that you simply want to be able to provide the best possible care for their dog.
The pet parent’s answers to these questions will help you work out whether the dog is the right fit for you, and give you a better idea of how to prepare for your walks together. You also get the chance to take the dog for a 20-minute practice walk so you know what to expect on longer treks.
Next, it’s time to talk about the client’s specific needs:
How often do they want you to walk their dog?
How long should each walk be?
Which days/times suit the pet parent best?
You’ll need to work out whether you can fit the dog into your schedule and decide on the best walking times for all concerned.
You’ll also need to discuss the logistics of collecting the dog for each walk:
Will the pet parent be home?
Will you need a key to access the home or unlock a gate?
Where will you find the dog’s leash?
Will the owner provide any treats for you to give to the dog and if so, where can you find them?
Where is the pet’s water dish so you can make sure they have enough to drink after a walk?
Do you need to complete any steps after finishing a walk, such as locking the house or setting the home alarm?
Throughout your discussion with the client, make sure you address any health and safety concerns that may arise. If you’re going to provide the best possible care for the pup in question, you’ll need to be aware of any health problems they may have as well as what to do in case of an emergency.
Factors to consider include:
Does the dog suffer from any health issues, for example arthritis? Are they currently taking any medication?
Which veterinarian does the dog regularly attend?
If you can’t get in touch with the pet parent, is there an emergency contact you can call?
Is the dog microchipped?
Are all their vaccinations and flea/worm/tick control treatments up to date?
Are there any situations that cause anxiety for the dog, such as meeting new dogs, that should be avoided if possible?
The pup’s safety should be your number-one priority, so pay special attention to any information the pet parent provides.
If all goes well, you and the pet parent should now be able to sort out all the finer details of your dog walking arrangement. The client can then make a booking through the Wag! app, and you’ll hopefully have secured your first recurring dog walking buddy!