Employees vs. Contractors: The Importance Of Hiring The Right Dog Walker

If you have a dog in your family, then you know how important taking them on regular walks is for their exercise and overall well being. However; walking our pups is not our sole obligation in life. Whatever reason we find to leave the house whether for business, personal or leisure the need to walk our dogs does not diminish.

That’s where dog walkers come in. Those special individuals who chose to spend their work life walking the dogs that we don’t have the time to walk any given day. But finding the right dog walker can be a long and exhausting process; because the task may be easy enough but trusting someone to care for your pet is never easy. We’re going to help break down the differences between hiring contractors vs. employees as well as; the key benefits of each.

What's the Difference?

You may be wondering what’s the difference between a contracted dog walker and an employee dog walker; don’t they all do the same thing? Well yes and no. The main task would be the same. Both workers are willing to walk your pets and both are likely very caring and reliable individuals. The way they go about doing their job is where you start to see the key differences.

Independent Contractors

Contractors are independent of the company and experts in their own right. If you are choosing a dog walking service that works with independent contractors you should be aware the agency has very little say in what the contractor does and how they do it. 

Companies are not permitted to train contractors. In fact; when contracted it is assumed they not only possess all the skills they need to perform the job but the supplies they need as well. Contractors are also not required to stay with a company for any duration of time, not given benefits and are able to work for as many local agencies as they choose.

The main allure of hiring contractors is that companies face much less work during the hiring process. Independent contractors do not require tax information, benefits or even training. They are the turn-key equivalent of workers. That is why many big name players in the dog walking business, like Wag and Rover,  use contractors.


Independent Contractors

Employees are a dog of another color. Employees are hired representatives of a company. When an agency hires an employee the company will then pay employment taxes, offer benefits, and provide training for the employee. Employees are typically more invested in the company and have longer durations of employment as well.

Unlike independent contractors employees are trainable. This is very important. Both from the perspective of the company hiring them and the pet owners in which they serve. When the dog walkers are trained by an agency standard operating procedures, policies, and codes of conduct can be established. This creates a much greater level of control over the way the dog walkers perform their duties.

Employees are often typically not permitted to work for competing agencies or operate their own side business doing the same type of work while working for the company making their potential motives more transparent.

What does this mean for you?

Whether you are hiring a dog walker for your company or just personally it is important to know who you are hiring. Independent contractors are not the root of all evil. Just like any other worker or person for that matter most are great people with the best of intentions.

However; they are referred to as independent contractors because they are exactly that independent. They are not trained by the company, they are not representative of the company, they are simple working under the name of the company. Employees are invested in the company and their hiring company is invested in them. Establishing a level of trust that makes them preferable to the pickiest of pet parents.

Curious about more on employees and contractors within the pet industry? The Pet Industry Coalition, in Chicago has some excellent resources and insight into more technical aspects of this issue.

Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.

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