A Stranger to Walk Your Dog: Pet Walking Services Explained

App-based dog walking services are getting more popular all the time. But how do they work, and which one is right for you?
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While you probably work around 50 - 60 hours per week, as many Americans do, there are many solutions to help you take care of your pets while you are away. As there are around 78 million dogs in the US, pet care has become a near billion dollar industry. The demand is definitely there, which means there are many pet care apps to choose from. While they may seem great at first glance, there are some other facts you need to consider.
Wag! and Swifto
Wag! is a marketplace for dog-owners and walkers, with options of 10, 30 and 60-minute walks. After each walk, you will get a report with the walking route and places where the dog has left their trace.

Swifto has similar offers, except that you can watch your dog live and get alerts whenever your dog has successfully implemented the purpose of the walk, with pictures and reports from the walker.

House Keys and Insurance
Wag! will send you a special box for your home key, and will then send the box code to the walker. Most likely you won't meet the walker, but you can view their information in their profile.

Swifto expects you to have a meet and greet session with the walker in case of regular walks, after which you will have to keep in contact to let them know where to get the key to your house. Though the service is based on social trust, there are also insurance options for cases of dog bites, lost key, veterinary care or property damage.
Avoiding Sticker Shock
While the services may have perks, pricing is an important consideration. Wag!, on average, will charge you $20-$25 for a 30-minute walk, and $5 for each additional dog. The same is true with Swifto, which operates only in NYC.

A cheaper version of these services is Rover ($15-20 per 30-minute walk), which offers the same services as the two previous apps. All three function as a marketplace for dog owners and dog walkers. This means the platform will charge providers, like dog walkers, for the service (Wag! takes 40%, Rover takes 20%).
Considering The Risks
Though these companies are trying their best to keep your dog, your house and your walker safe, there are still potential trouble spots.

That is why Wag!, for example, does background checks on walkers, and has a $1 million insurance for homes to reduce the risk of adverse outcomes in case something goes wrong. The use of background checks explains why their services are generally more expensive. However, that added cost could provide peace of mind for those that don't mind paying a little extra.