Dear PoPville – Dog Walker Recs

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoPville,

I live in Columbia Heights and I’m in the midst of firing our dogwalker. This is the second time in two years that I’ve had to do this. Can anyone recommend a great dogwalker (and by great I mean actually takes them for walks instead of just letting them out in the back yard, etc.). Many thanks!”

75 Comment

  • Sonny! I don’t have his info on me, but I see him in Columbia Heights all the time with various packs of dogs.

    Really nice guy, and the dogs all seem to love him.

    Anyone else out there have his info?

    • sonny is awesome!! i’m trying to track down his info.. lots of my friends have used him for years and have been really happy with him 🙂

  • Puppy Love –

    Josh is the owner. I met him when he came to visit when I first started using themas they were recommended by a friend when I moved into the city. Will walks my dog and the pup always seems happy when I get home. I am sure he actually walks my dog because I often hear from friends who say they saw my dog out for a walk with the dog walker.

    I don’t know if you want regular walks or not. I don’t use them for walks everyday, just whenever I am not going to be home at the time my pup needs to have his walk. They are great cause I can just email Josh in the morning and as k for an evening walk and there haven’t been any problems. I also like monthly billing!

    • I’ve also had good experiences with Puppy Love – and, like you, I had to fire several services in my first two years as a dog owner.

      I’m not that demanding. I’m expecting anyone to take my dog on a ten-mile walk every day or prepare a home-cooked meal for him when they get home. I do expect them to show up somewhere in the time frame they promise – not @ 530 when I’ll be home in two hours – and to respect the fact that I live in a condo building: if you are going to walk my dog as part of a pack of four+ dogs (which I don’t like) and you must bring all of them into the building when you pick up my dog (which some of my dog-fearing neighbors didn’t like) AT LEAST clean up after the dog that poops in the hallway (when I complained to the dogwalker about this, he replied, “oh, just tell your neighbors a homeless person did it.”)

      Puppy Love is uber-reliable. The walkers who work with them stay with them seem to stay for a long time: I’ve been a customer for over five years (something like that?) and my walker (just recently) changed for only the third time. They’ve got a fairly large staff so if someone is sick, on vacation, or can’t handle as last minute request there are subs available (including the owner and his partner). There prices are competitive with other established services; sure, I wish it was less expensive, but at least I feel like I’m getting professional service in return (another important consideration if you live in an apartment/condo etc. where you are giving someone access to shared common living space).

  • Recs for Northeast too please

  • brighter days collective! they have a website, they are awesome.

    • +1

      Plus Devin is dreamy.

    • +1 for brighter days. All of their employees are invested in the company because of their business model.

      • +1 for Brighter Days – I’ve had them for 3+ years and am very satisfied. Devin is awesome and so are all the others I’ve dealt with (John and Sarah). They’ve always been very responsive and responsible.

        • +1 and another satisfied Brigther Days customer here. their flexibility is fantastic, their service is great.

    • Good luck getting them to actually respond to any requests for information, especially through their website.

      • I’m another really happy Brighter Days customer. Preston is my dog’s primary walker, and he’s fantastic. He’s reliable, communicates really well (responds to emails/texts immediately), and my dog loves him.

        I’ve also had good experiences with the other walkers who have covered for Preston (Orion and Devin).

      • +1. After reading the rave reviews, I contacted Brighter Days a few months ago through their website. Haven’t heard a peep to this day, which I did not think bode well for our dog walking relationship. So we contacted Anytime K9, who responded the same day. Very happy with them.

    • I’ve heard great things about Brighter Days too, but when I emailed them about dog walking, they got back to me to say they didn’t cover my neighborhood. I live in the middle of Shaw, a block from the Metro, 10 mins from Logan Circle, smack dab in NW. If they don’t cover the area, they don’t cover it (no arguing on my part) but it seemed odd to look over a pretty central and easily accessible location.

    • Agreed I used Brighter Days and they were great. They were very understanding about dealing with my socially inept rescue dog. The first meeting they set up a practice runs while I was home so he could get used to the walker and the walker could get used to his stranger/dog aggression.

      Ive also used them overnight and everything worked out great. They were super responsive when the pup accidently slashed open his foot on some errant glass outside. I feel confident leaving him in their hands.

    • Sounds like the dealer coop from the wire.

  • i recommend fido fitness and play. the guy who runs the biz, Ed, is seriously one of the nicest people I have ever met. He sends out other walkers, but they are ALWAYS reliable, leave a note, and let me know when something is up. My dog is a little, um, crazy let’s say… and they have ALWAYS been good and patient with her.

    I’ve always had a good experience with them. Call Ed – They have really good rates too.

    • btw fido fitness walkers walk one dog at a time, so not sure if you are looking for yours to go out in a pack or not, but they will only walk your dog by him/herself.

    • I used Fido and they were terrible. My builing manager noticed the 1st dog walker wasnt taking my dog out beyond the front door of the building. I went through 1 other for failing to show up and finally fired Fido for over billing.

  • For the OP – WHY do you have to fire your dog walker (assuming it’s because of what you mentioned about the back yard)? And for anyone else – what if you suspect your dog walker only takes the dog out to do his business instead of the agreed upon 30 min walk (based upon neighbor observations).

    • umm, because if you are paying $15+ a day for a 30 min walk, you expect your dog will get a 30 min walk?

      letting a dog loose in the backyard is not the same level of excersise or stimulation as a long walk.

      • Sorry, wasn’t questioning the decision – realized my Sentence construction made it seem like I was. Just curious as to what is grounds for dog walker firing since it’s a bit of an awkward break up (ie you need to get the key back, may still see them in the neighborhood, etc).

        • oh. gotcha! well i had to do it before… my walker would come late, like, after i got home late. or i would see him coming in with my dog once as i was walking up to the door. my dog was having accidents and generally just seemed crazy when i got home.

          i have never seen him since, and i never got my key back.

          • “i have never seen him since, and i never got my key back.”

            It’s creepy that someone you don’t have/want business with anymore still has a key to your apartment, even if you no longer see him.

        • One company was uber nice but on two occasions my doggie, who never had accidents, did so in the house. On both occasions the walker admitted that the scheduled walk had not happened. Two strikes, you are out in my book. I found that a simple, nice note to them does it and life goes on. You won’t be the first business that they lose and if they freak out then it is more evidence that you made the right decision, IMHO.

    • Fired first dogwalker because he was walking our (very small) dogs with choke collars and when I told him we would prefer he did not do that he began to argue the merits of choke collars with me. They are fine for some dogs–just not ours. And I certainly didn’t want to be in a debate with my walker. The second walker was staying at our house for less than 2 minutes and letting them out in the backyard.

    • I had a dog walker who neglected to lock my house. Clearly, fired immediately.

  • We’ve used Dogwalking DC for the last year & a half. They are ridiculously good. We’re in Adams Morgan and they walk many dogs in the neighborhood based on word-of-mouth. We called them last Friday to ask for a pseudo-emergency unscheduled walk. No problem. They were able to walk our dog within the hour. Good marks all around.

    • Second this recommendation. Dogwalking DC is great. JJ is the best, and I have never had any issues with her walkers.

      • Totally 150% agree with the rec for Dog Walking DC. They really care about the dogs and my puppy loves JJ very much!

    • I have been using Dogwalking DC for 2 years and the they are reliable and my dog loves her walker and JJ. Beryl (the British lady) also seems great but I already signed up with Dogwalking DC when I heard of her.

    • Add me to the list of happy Dogwalking DC customers. Ours is picky about who she’ll walk with (she can be a coward) and JJ has always worked to accomodate us.

      • Another happy Dogwalking DC customer – I’ve used JJ’s service for 5 years. She is awesome and my dog LOVES her.

    • Dogwalking DC is the *very* best (been with JJ/Dogwalking DC for over 4 years). I am very protective and trust JJ implicitly. Many neighbors use Dogwalking DC and people give great reports when I am out with my dog and they tell me they saw my dog with the dogwalker!

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I recommend zoolatry. I have used them for cat sitting for at least 12 years. They are reliable and specialize in mid-day walks.

    • Zoolatry stopped paying their dog walkers because they had budget problems a few years back. We stopped using them once we learned they were collecting money from us but not paying the walker.

  • Metro Mutts. Talk to Jackie.

    • I love Jackie and the other walkers at Metro Mutts too! Love the website and paying on-line – it’s really well run. And I know they actually walk my dog.

      The notes they leave behind are hysterical (it’s had to come up with interesting things to say about my extremely chill dog but they try!).

  • me

    You can try Fur Pals as well. Yvonne and Ken are fantastic.

  • Jesse!!

    His email address is [email protected]

    He is a fabulous dog walker. So incredibly friendly, reliable, and flexible. Can’t recommend him enough. He lives in Columbia Heights but has clients throughout the city. I’ve only used him nights and weekends when I have plans, but his rates are very competitive and he always goes above and beyond with our dog. He genuinly seems to care about them.

    He is hard of hearing so he prefers email and texts.

    Hope you have better luck in the future!

    • I second Jesse! He is wonderful. We recently moved from DC and have been stuggling to find someone as amazing as Jesse. He is reliable and fexible and genuinely loves the pups and his job.

  • I recommend my dog walker/sitter David. Cant remember his last name right now. My husband and I leave our dogs with him all the time and they LOVE him. Give him a call 202-321-5701 and tell him the owners of Roxy and Denver referred you. He is awesome! Good luck!

  • Sam, DC Doggies. She is amazing, totally dependable, reliable, nice, and the dogs LOVE her. (I am actually a little jealous, I think my dog loves her as much as she loves me.)

    She has a group off-leash hiking service, and if you do it every day it is not much more expensive than a regular 30-minute walk (just a couple of dollars more). My dog is gone for at least three hours a day, which is great. Highly highly recommend.

  • We have used Wendy at Happy Tails for cat sitting and she is awesome. She also has walked dogs for friends and is highly recommended. She sends photos and texts when watching the cats, as well as litter box duty. She’s great.

    • Wendy at Happy Tails is the best.
      My dog loves her,and she has come through for us when we needed an emergency walk.

  • Question: How do you know if your walker is fudging the walks? Neiborhood spies? Nanny cam?

    • Most of the time you can’t, which is why there are some crappy dogwalkers out there acting with impunity. But I’d try a webcam set-up and just tell the dog walker that it’s there and it’s not to be turned off for any reason, and explain that it is for your mutual benefit (you can remote monitor your house; and he has a record of coming/going if something happens in the middle of the day). Focus it wide on the door, so you know when she enters and when she leaves. And maybe recruit a neighbor spy.

      Or if you suspect something, take a sick day. We only learned we were getting ripped off because one day I stayed home sick and didn’t cancel the service, and the dogwalker showed up well after she was supposed to and came back in after 7 mins. outside and left. I was upstairs the whole time.

    • You can check your alarm history, if you have an alarm system.

  • OP, whatever you do, go with someone who another dog owner you trust will vouch for. When we finally did that, we found a woman that we (and our pooch) adored. [But not enough that I actually remember any relevant contact information for her 3 years later.]

    We had to fire a couple of dog-walkers before her, however, and I’m convinced it was because we were just trying to find services online, so we were choosing good marketing over good care. Same problems you seem to be having — dog not being walked on the agreed-upon schedule (I didn’t need him walked 20 mins before I came home) and being taken outside for about 5 mins. of the 30 mins. we paid for. There was not even a consistent person doing our walk (meaning our key was being passed around among a half-dozen people, and our shy pooch couldn’t bond to any of them). I don’t even need to get to how important a dog can be to you — when the going rate of $15/30 mins. is there and you’re paying for this 20-25 days/month, you deserve better.

  • chat up the most personable anarchist you can find at a punk show and I’ll bet you they’re a dog walker.

  • I’ve had a great experience with Paw Paw Pawease. Have used them for about a year, very affordable and have never had a reliability issue.

  • We have had great luck with Fur-get-me-not in Adams Morgan. Always reliable and flexible. The schedule a meeting for the dog, walker and owners to get know eachother in advance. Huge plus for our shy dogs.

  • I used Capital Petsitters when I was living in VA (they come out to DC and MD too). They leave a note each time they come, decribing the walk and how the dogs behaved and so forth. My walker was Judy Pumphrey, who was very sweet and good with the dogs. Once I moved to DC I no longer had to be gone 12+ hours a day, so I decided I didn’t need a dog walker anymore.

  • For those of you on the Hill NE or SE contact Saving Grace:

  • My dog walker is THE best! Holly, my original walker,who had been walking my pup for 2.5 years moved to California a few months back. I didn’t think anyone would be able to do as good a job as her, but she was very selective in who she passed her clients to and now we have Laura. I have to say, she’s cut from the same cloth as Holly. She’s punctual, she texts me after every walk, and has been bloody marvellous. I would highly recommend her. If you’re interested, have PoP hook us up offline and I’ll give you her number.

  • I HIGHLY recommend our dog walker, Juan. A great kid who lives locally in Columbia Heights. He has walked our dogs every week day for almost a year, and is reliable and very inexpensive ($10 for one dog, $15 for two). Also boards dogs at his house. Give him a call: 202-557-9834

  • Please beware of one dog-walker – don’t know his name – hispanic man in his early 30’s, 5’9″- 6′ medium/stocky build. I think he mostly works Cleveland Park, but I know he has some Columbia Heights dogs (I’ve noticed 2 distinctive dogs of a hairless breed that I later glimpsed in the neighborhood.)

    He takes 15 or more dogs at a time to Melvin Hazen trail in Rock Creek park (near Peirce Mill) and lets them run off-leash. He has no control at all – he cannot call these dogs to come. I’ve caught his dogs (A boxer named Ceaser anyone?) in the parking lot running away toward the street. He also has 2-3 teenagers with him sometimes, literally dragging 2-3 older dogs along on leashes.

    I’ve tried to talk to him – but he won’t tell me his name and becomes very confrontational. Please, please don’t use this guy – and if anyone knows his name, please make it public. I’ve seen lots of people and other dogs terrorized by this pack – plus your dogs are in danger. When they mob me and my dog, I pick up a big stick and smack them away – so sorry if your dog looses an eye.

  • We have used Rock Creek Bark in both Columbia Heights and now Trinidad. We’ve been very pleased with both walkers provided by the company- John in C-heights and Shannon in Trinidad! The owners name is Charles and the number is 301-728-3712.

    • Rock Creek Bark is great – our Boxer loves them! John was our dog walker in Columbia Heights and Shannon is our dog walker now in Petworth.

  • definitely make sure you know who is coming to your house everyday. hire an individual not a dog walking LLC. with a lot of the “companies” you will meet one person and then, your neighbors will tell you that they see your dogs with 3 different people. Morale= many, many people you may NEVER ever have met have your keys. this happened to me with 2 different “dog walkers” in adams morgan.

  • For those of you in Bloomingdale, Kim Wee, who owns Field to City (formerly Timor Bodega), also offers doggie daycare/boarding. If you stop by the store, there is information there.

  • We have been using Brighter Days for about a year now for cat sitting and they have been great. Highly recommend. I did have a good experience with Rock Creek Bark in the past and would use them again in a heartbeat. Finally, I had a HORRIBLE experience with Pet People or Pet Peeps. I would NEVER use them again. My cat is on maintenance medication that must be given twice a day and I know for a fact that they missed scheduled meds among other things. Just plain bad business. I got my key back from them immediately but the company owner preferred to stick up for his employ rather than his customer (me) who clearly was unhappy. Buh-Bye!

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