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We're scared to hire a dog walker.

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Hi, everyone. I have a four month old Shih Tzu puppy, Riley, and my family and I are sort of in a predicament. Up until now, my younger sister has been home in the afternoons to feed and walk Riley, but she will be leaving for college in two weeks. My mom, dad, and I all work full-time, and don't live close enough to home to stop by at lunchtime and take care of Riley.

He is pretty well potty-trained and is able to hold it all night long without being taken out (which is typically about 8 hours), so I'm not TOO concerned with him having accidents in his cage...but we all just feel terrible for leaving him for that long all by himself. We do feed him three times a day, but he eats VERY little at his mid-day meal and we're thinking of making it twice a day very soon, so we're not too concerned about that, either.

He's a spunky, energetic dog who loves to play and run around, but he also willingly goes right into his crate for naps or to relax. He recently graduated from his "Puppy Preschool" class at our veterinarian, and with only a few exceptions, is very well-behaved and doesn't suffer from seperation anxiety or anything like that.

The problem is this: do we hire a dog walker? My mom is the kind of person who is extremely paranoid, and she refuses to hand over our keys to a complete stranger. Riley loves EVERYONE and we're not at all concerned that he wouldn't take a liking to the person coming in and walking him...but she hates the idea of someone in our home when we're not there. I'm trying to convince her that there are very professional dog walkers out there who would provide an hour or so of attention and playtime for our puppy so he can eat and relieve himself, but she won't budge on this one.

So now we're stuck. Can we leave him all day? I know it's not the best choice, but what else can we do? Is there any website or source of information that could direct us to some professional dog walking companies in our area (Northern New Jersey)? How do you know if someone is a trained professional? Are there any articles about this that she can read? I want her to reconsider and don't know what else to do.

What do you guys think? What do YOU do with your dog(s)? Almost everyone works 9 to 5, and it seems most people have a dog...so I'm interested in how everyone else makes it work!

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If you want to hire a dog walker make sure, as Hofmann said, to do your research. Do not just hire a dog walker because the pay id cheap or something. I go for the doggy day care. Your dog will enjoy more there. Leaving a dog all way will result to boredom which can lead to unacceptable habits.

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