I joined the dog walking and training industry in April of 2007. The industry is a very diverse and unregulated industry. The quality of dog sitters, trainers, groomers, day care providers and boarding facilities varies from amateur to top notch professional.
Do you remember the Turbo tax commercial about plumber Bob who is fixing the sink and did the person’s taxes? [http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7dk0/turbotax-master-plumber] The Dog Care industry is very much the same. The only dog care provider that seems to fall out of this category is the Veterinarian. The Industry itself is better regulated and only allows for licensed and certified professionals.
How do I find a professional and what do I need to check?
There are many dog care directories and dog related associations that provide business names but often do not require proof of legal statues, insurance and licensing. It is a good way to start if you do not have a referral from a friend, colleague or family member. A professional business will be able to provide you with the following:
1. Legal business: DBA (Doing Business As), business license and permits
3. Formal training, certification, credentials, etc.
4. Service Agreement, Evaluation Form, etc.
5. References: from clientele
6. Use of science based force free methods
1. Legal business:
– registered with County when doing business under a different name then their own. Know who you are dealing with and where they are located.
San FranciscoCounty: http://www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=13
Santa ClaraCounty: http://www.clerkrecordersearch.org/
San MateoCounty: http://www.smcare.org/
– has a city business license (some businesses in unincorporated parts of the city may not have a business license)
– has permits: http://helpacc.org/SFDogWalkerLaw/
2. Insurance: written proof of liability insurance (covering accidents and negligence) and bonding (covers you against theft by the pet sitter) such as found under http://petsitllc.com.
3. Formal Training and/or Certification: any professional has completed some kind of formal training such as:
Dog*Tec, DogWalkingAcademy: http://dogtec.org/index.php
Academy of Dog Trainers: http://academyfordogtrainers.com/
Catch Canine Trainers Academy: http://catchdogtraining.com/
Dog/Pet First Aid certification
All professionals attend trainings and/or seminars to keep their knowledge up to date. Ask for an overview.
4. Agreement: a service agreement outlining the expectations of both parties. A form that provides an overview of the temperament of the dog such as likes, dislikes, allergies, etc. Some dog professionals ask to fill out an evaluation form.
5. References: the professional should have the possibility to provide you with phone number of references other then friends or family.
6. A professional dog handler has the knowledge to handle your dog with expertise and respect. Professionals do not use training tools that implement pain such as prong, electric or choke collars. Those tools work but they only work because the cause pain. If you need more info on those tools and training please visit the following site: http://k9consultant.blogspot.com/2011/11/a-prong-collar-is-not-your-last-resort.html.
Dog Professionals generally are members of an association or a professional network such as:
APSE: Association of Pet Sitting Excellence: http://www.petsittingexcellence.com/
APDT: Association of Professional Dog Trainers: http://apdt.com/
DogPro Network: http://dogpronetwork.com/
The Pet Professional Guild: http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/
Pet Sitters International: https://www.petsit.com/
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters: http://www.petsitters.org/
Most business have a website. Recently we came across a professional looking website that offered pet sitting services by two 13 year old kids. A website doesn’t provide the security that you are dealing with a professional.
A professional is a person that has a formal education, has a registered business and can provide you with proof of insurance. If you hire someone that cannot provide that you are buying yourself a project down the road. That is a guarantee!