Dog walking catches on in Turkey with professional services | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah
Visitors to Turkey, especially to its big cities, are often amazed by the high number of stray dogs and cats in the streets. The country, a haven for street animals, is also home to millions of pets cared for at home.
Yet, professional services for pets, from grooming to pet hotels, are new in the country. Dog walking, meanwhile, has become increasingly popular in cities, where owners have little time or energy to go out with their dogs. Ömer Can Dede and his friends decided to fill this void in 2019 through a smartphone app, pairing dog owners with professional walkers. Since then, they have provided job opportunities for more than 6,000 walkers, almost all of them university students looking for part-time jobs. Their app has also served some 3,500 dog owners.
A freelance job, dog walking still requires certain qualifications, though it may seem easy. Dede and his friends provide strenuous training for would-be dog walkers. They are trained on everything from what to do in case of health emergencies to the proper way of using a leash and how to plan walking routes. Trainees are officially employed by the app service only after the training has been completed. Dog walkers can then pick jobs in the districts based on where they live and are paid for hourly or daily services.
The app, where every walker is limited to one dog, caters to customers who might be worried that their furry companions would fight with fellow dogs or are unsure if the walker can handle multiple dogs at one time.
Dog walkers are required to share photos of their dog walking routine with owners, including photos showing that the dog is well-fed. In turn, users can hand out points to walkers, helping them to acquire high ratings over the app. The app also offers an option for online tracking for dog owners for their dogs.
Dede told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday that their employees are mostly students and most of the app’s users are people living in Istanbul’s Kadıköy, Beşiktaş and Şişli districts. “Me and my friends were walking our own dogs and were wondering if we could entrust them to someone else. So, we decided to start our own business and hired people who could meet our expectations as a dog walker,” he said. The app has been wildly popular in the past three years, especially during holidays and in the summer, when people go on vacation for a few days or longer without their pets.
Though it currently serves only in Istanbul, the app is scheduled to include the capital Ankara and the western city of Izmir in its areas of operation later this year. Its developers also plan to include services for other pets in the app.
Hüseyin Ergül is in charge of training dog walkers. Every day, he interviews and trains an average 15 people. “We first get to know each other and then, try to check how they get along with dogs. We educate them on how to spend quality time with dogs,” he said. Along with the routine parts of training, dog walkers are trained on what to do when their “customers” come across different breeds of dogs who can be confrontational.
Yasin Yetişkaptan is among the dog walking trainees working with Ergül. A dog owner, he used to walk his dog on the coast of Avcılar on Istanbul’s European side before coming across the app. “I was wondering if I could earn something out of it because I love dogs. I love walking them. I love any stray dog as much as I love my own,” he said.
Enes Öztürk, a university student, says he applied for the job because he loved dogs. “I was walking the dogs of other people for free in the past and it really gave me a peace of mind. It is really fun to accompany them, to play games with them,” he said.