New Yorkers take their dogs seriously. So we expect companies that provide dog-related services to take dogs seriously, too.
Handing your dog over to a dog walker is like entrusting someone with your child, except in someways more dangerous. As dog walker Heather Conley of The Dog House NYC points out in an excellent primer on the subject:
-Dog walking is an unlicensed profession
-There are no professional standards except your own
-You’re giving your keys to a stranger
-You’re asking someone to navigate an urban environment full of hazards with your most prized possession
New York City is full with dog walkers, but how do you choose the company that is right for you and your pooch? I talked to some dog walking companies to see their view on dog walking in the city, as well as how they meet both dog and owner needs.
Swifto is a new NYC-based dog walking company that combines two of my favorite things: technology and dogs. They have an extremely informative and interactive Website, along with an easy-to-use cell phone application that allows customers to interact with dog walkers in a new way. Using location-based services on smart phones, dog owners can log into the Website and track the route their dog is being taken on and ensure that they are getting a full 30-minutes worth of walking.
Dog walkers are required to have a smart phone with them at all times- not just for tracking walks, but for going on last-minute dog walks in their area, as well. If you are running late and don’t think you’ll make it home in time to walk your dog, you can use the Swifto app to schedule last minute a walk, and someone will be at your apartment within the hour.
Who is doing the walking: Swifto dog walkers can work either as freelancers or on an hourly basis, the latter allowing walkers to do some sales and marketing work in the down time between dog walks. They are hiring about 15 walkers a month and require that applicants have a college degree and some sort of professional experience with dogs listed on their resume.
Prices: Swifto charges $20 for a 30-minute walk and $30 for a 60-minute walk.
Locations: Swifto currently operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. They will soon be up-and-running in Staten Island and the Bronx as well.
Puptopia, founded by dog lover Tanner McAuley, offers dog walking services that focus on figuring out what youR dog needs and how to give it to him. They acknowledge that dogs can suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress the same way humans do, so they strive to provide positive interactions with dogs in order to keep them as happy as possible. Puptopia clients can have their dogs taken on “indie-pup walks” or “pup-posse walks” depending on their preference, although Tanner prefers the indie-pup walks, as he believes New York City is such a frenetic environment for animals to begin with, and individual attention while walking with them can go a long way. Each client is assigned a “pup-pal” to become the dog’s regular walker in order to ensure that the dog and its walker connect with one another.
Who is doing the walking: Tanner walks some of the dogs himself. When looking for employees, he seeks people with sweet, friendly demeanors, he said. It is important to him that the people he works with have spent time with dogs and understand the relationships people have with them. If a walker is also a dog owner, that’s always a plus, he feels.
Prices: Puptopia charges $20 for a 30-minute walk, but requires clients to sign up for a minimum of five walks per week in order to maximize the connection between pups and their pup-pals.
Locations: Most Manhattan neighborhoods.
Celebrating ten years in business, Running Paws was the first dog running company in the world, and continues to be the only one in Manhattan that has built a business out of running– not walking– dogs. They recognize that most dogs need more than just a relief walk, so they have created a service that allows dogs to get their recommended daily exercise regardless of how busy their owner might be and how small of an apartment your dog has to run around in. The folks at Running Paws believe that a tired dog is a good dog. Runners take at most two dogs at a time when running, but also offer exclusive, one dog runs for customers who prefer that. Dogs will be greeted by the same runner every day. They believe in personally interacting with your dog and getting to know its needs and running habits.
Running Paws also has a puppy-centric offshoot, Puppy Paws NYC, that helps raise puppies that are between eight weeks and eight months old. They will help housebreak your puppy and work with it in a way provides all the right stimulation for a dog of that age.
Who is doing the walking? The company currently has twenty-one dog runners with detailed online profiles. Most of them are writers and musicians who enjoy running and are looking to make some extra money. Running Paws is always looking for more dog-loving runners; they specifically seek out marathon runners who train on a daily basis. Although having a college degree is not a requirement, most of their dog runners do have one or are currently students.
Prices: A single 30-minute run will cost you $32, but that price can go down to $23 per run if you sign up for the 5-runs-a-week package. Longer runs and solo runs cost extra.
Locations: They offer their services throughout Manhattan.
This company, founded by dog-lover Jordan Kaplan, is a multifaceted pet services business. As the name suggests, Petaholics is run by people who are hooked on their pets. Through Petaholics’ services, clients can throw a doggie birthday party, consultations for those looking to get into the pet services business, and of course, dog walking. Jordan has been in business with dogs since 2001.
Who is doing the walking: Petaholics employs around twenty dog walkers. Jordan brings people on to his staff depending on how much time they have. They must be a passionate animal lover, responsible, reliable, communicative, and detail oriented. Petaholics is always hiring and looking f0r good people to walk dogs with them. People who have a flexible schedule but can work with a dog owner’s fixed schedule are best for a position like this.
Prices: Customers can choose between shorter, 15-minute relief walks (priced at $15.99), brisk 30-minute walks (priced at $18.99), and ‘supersized’ 60-minute walks (priced at $29.99).
Locations: Petaholics services all of Manhattan, most of Brooklyn, and parts of Queens.