One thing’s for certain about the coronavirus pandemic: Dogs across the nation are happy to have their humans home 24/7. However, as we are feverishly typing away at our computer, taking sales meetings and on endless Zoom calls, we may not have time to exercise our dogs. (For our frontline heroes and those going back to the office, this may be even more challenging.) This is where your local dog walker can be a lifesaver. And while they are eager to help you out, the approach of walking your dog has changed from pre COVID-19 days.
Here’s everything you need to know about your dog walker and the coronavirus in order for you, them and your pup to stay happy and healthy.
What Are the Risks of Having a Dog Walker During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
While you may be thrilled to have Fido get his daily exercise, there are still certain risks that you should be aware of in regard to COVID-19. First, your dog walker may still have several different clients that they interact with regularly. It’s imperative that when picking up or dropping off a dog, they stand at least six feet apart from others. People who don’t have any symptoms can shed the virus for up to two weeks, so it’s important for dog walkers to practice social distancing even with clients who appear healthy.
Mike Hains, who, along with his husband, owns and operates the Philadelphia-based dog walking business Woof ‘N Stuff, takes his clients’ wellbeing very seriously.
“We have made sure to let all of our clients know that we wear masks everywhere we go, no matter what,” Hains explained. “Clients can have their dog ready to go for us if they are home and bring them out to us. We just ask that they wear masks and are taking the meaningful steps to protect themselves. If they can’t, or won’t, we’ll stop service until things are safer.”
It’s also vital for dog walkers to limit their contact with highly touched areas or surfaces in their clients’ homes. Hains washes his hands regularly and utilizes hand sanitizer or spray multiple times throughout the day.
Additionally, it is also known that in extremely rare cases, dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
To combat the potentiality of catching the disease, Hains has asked all of his clients to notify the business immediately if they come in contact with someone who has COVID-19. (< — think we can paraphrase)
What Dog Walkers Should Do to Keep Everyone Safe from COVID-19
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, folks should be following the same precautions that they’ve already been doing, including thoroughly washing their hands with warm water and soap after coming into contact with any animal.
While you may have giggled over online images of pooches wearing booties and masks to protect themselves against germs, face masks for doggos aren’t required.
Moreover, dog walkers should practice social distancing while on walks as much as possible. This includes maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others while out and about. Also, they should probably avoid public places with crowds, such as dog parks.
Some other precautions dog walkers should take:
- Crossing the street if somebody is approaching on the sidewalk
- Facing away and stepping to the side if they cannot cross the street, keeping the dog to their inside
- Telling strangers “no” when they ask to pet the dog
- Not walking multiple dogs at the same time
- Sticking to routes with less foot traffic
- Carrying hand sanitizers
- Avoiding touching areas where germs are likely to live
What You Can Do After the Dog Walk to Prevent COVID-19
When your dog gets back from the walk, wash your hands after bringing your furry inside. Routinely clean your pup’s collars and leashes by tossing them in the wash or wiping them down with anti-bacterial wipes. It’s not suggested to use anti-bacterial wipes on your dog, as they can irritate your pooch’s skin. Rather, make sure you are giving your dog a bath, or using dog-friendly grooming wipes to clean your best friend’s skin.
The New Normal for Dog Walkers
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the world as we know it, and this applies to pet parents and dog walkers too. While people, whether working from home or at the office, can expect their dog walkers to be taking the proper precautions to keep everybody safe, they need to accept the new normal.
While their pup may not be able to romp and play in the dog park, they can still enjoy their daily walk. Additionally, having clear channels of communication with their dog walker is essential.
“Communication has been key,” Hains explained. “People just need to know that their companions are being taken care of. It’s one less thing to worry about in all of this craziness.”