Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS NAME?
Molly named her business after Dakota, a husky mix who was her best friend and constant companion for almost seventeen years. Since Dakota was an extremely gentle and wise dog, the nickname Molly's friends gave her was “The Doggy Lama” after the spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Molly felt the name for her business would be appropriate because as Buddhism teaches mindfulness, our pets set a wonderful example of lovingness and being in the present moment.
WHAT ARE YOUR SERVICE AREAS?
We take care of cats and dogs in Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville. We have the most coverage in Oakland.
Do you do dog walks for intact dogs?
We only take spayed and neutered dogs on group walks, but we may be able to do private walks for your intact puppy or adult dog.
What are the requirements for my dog to go on group adventure hikes?
For group hikes, all dogs must be spayed or neutered and current on rabies and distemper vaccinations. We recommend the combination vaccination for distemper (generally denoted by the letters DHLPP, DHPP or DA2PP,) which also protect against some other transmittable diseases. We also recommend but do not require the bordetella or CVK vaccination for coronavirus, an infectious upper respiratory infection similar to the common cold in humans. Dogs must also have a history of being polite and social around dogs and people. You must live in our service area and we must have a space available with an appropriate walker and group for your dog.
What is the timing for my dog to be picked up and dropped off for group walks?
In general, walkers pick up dogs for the day's first walk in the 9-11 window and drop off in the 11-1:30 window. Walkers pick up dogs for the second walk of the day in the 11-1:30 PM window and drop dogs off between 1:30-4. The windows overlap because walkers often pick up dogs for the second walk while they drop dogs off from the first. We try to keep to the approximate times clients are used to us picking up their dogs when there is a vacation scheduled or an emergency happens.
Do the dogs get dirty on walks?
Our walkers are happy to wipe your dog down with a pre-approved towel if needed, but if you have areas of your house you are concerned about getting dirty, please make arrangements with your walker in advance to keep them confined somewhere where a little dirt won’t hurt. Whether your dog gets dirty depends on several factors—where the walker takes the dogs, what the weather’s been recently, and whether your dog enjoys getting dirty. Most off-leash trails are dirt roads and therefore, prone to getting muddy on rainy days. Sometimes there are streams or ponds in the areas where we walk, and although we try to minimize muddy occasions, we can’t guarantee we can always keep playful pups out of puddles.
Do the dogs ever get fleas and ticks?
We advise our clients to keep their dogs current on flea and tick medication at all times. It is not uncommon for a flea or tick to be found on a dog that is currently protected but most often they will either die or jump off shortly after landing on the dog. We recommend a full-body application like Advantage or Frontline Plus or giving your dog Comfortis, which is an oral flea medication, rather than just a flea collar, which only protects the area around the head. Talk to your vet about which flea and tick treatment he or she recommends for your pet.
I am allergic to poison oak. Can I get my dog walked and somehow not get poison oak?
Although we cannot guarantee your dog will not "give" you poison oak sometime, we do have a trade secret that seems to work almost always with poison-oak-sensitive clients. We ask clients to provide a bottle with a diffuse spray that the client fills with 90% water and 10% rubbing alcohol. The bottle is left in an handy spot for the walker, who sprays down the dog (diffuse spray is really important--we will avoid dogs' eyes) and then towel off the dog with a towel the client provides. We can do this after each hike. We've checked in with our clients, and so far they tell us they don't think they've gotten poison oak with us using this method. (Spread the word--poison oak is awful!)
Will the same person always walk or visit my pet?
Generally, yes. We will assign a primary caretaker for your pet. If you have a dog who goes on regularly scheduled walks, we have an official floater, Sasha, who is trained on all the group-walk dogs and handles walks for dog walkers who are sick or on vacation. Molly also "pinch-walks" sometimes.
What is the policy on who’s financially responsible for a dog that gets injured during walks?
We have an excellent safety record and have policies and procedures to avoid accidents and scuffles. Having said that, while we do our best to ensure all our client dogs are already well-socialized with other dogs and people, dogs can be unpredictable at times, and accidents occasionally happen. As specified in the service contract, any injury sustained to your dog during an outing will be your financial responsibility.
What can I do to prepare my dog for off-leash adventure hikes if I usually keep my dog on leash?
Although we train our dog walkers and send them to the Dog Walking Academy, they are not doing official “dog training” on group walks. You can help your dog succeed in the pack (and gain off-leash privileges more quickly) by working with your dog to help strengthen good recall and basic commands. An easy way to train for recall is to reward your dog with a small, yummy treat, playtime with a toy, or your enthusiastic praise when they return at your command. We have recommendations for dog trainers and basic obedience classes.
Will you bill me for walks?
We ask clients to set up automatic payments through the portal on our web site. We charge clients credit cards once a month, after services have been provided.
What’s your cancellation policy?
We require 24 hours (business hours, please) when canceling a scheduled service to avoid being charged. We recommend you contact the walker or caretaker directly, especially if you are canceling or changing service that begins within the next 48 hours, and “cc:” the office.
Are you closed on any major holidays?
Yes, Doggy Lama does not provide services on these holidays/dates, unless services are specifically arranged: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the week around Christmas, and New Years Eve.
Will I always get a photo of my pet when you take care of him or her?
No. We use our Flickr stream, Facebook and Instagram accounts to post pictures of the pets we take care of. When possible, we also send pictures directly to clients of their pets, but it is company policy that the priority of walkers and pet sitters is pet safety, followed by pets' exercise and enrichment. This is an especially important prioritization for group walkers. We really like our clients to be able to see what their furry loved ones are up to, so Molly also goes out with walkers as often as possible to take photos with her smart phone and send them to clients.
Where will my dog go on group walks?
Some of our favorite hiking spots are Redwood Regional Park, Anthony Chabot Regional Park, Leona Canyon, Claremont Canyon, and Strawberry Canyon. Occasionally we go to the Albany Bulb, Pt. Isabel, or the Bridgeview Trail. We decide which trail to go to depending on trail, traffic, and weather conditions, driving time, and on group size and fitness level.
Where will my dog go on private walks?
Some of our favorite spots for private on-leash walks are Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery, local marinas, and shady neighborhood streets. Depending on where you live and the length of the walk you have us do, we may not have time to drive somewhere, but we're skilled at creating a fun, positive experience for your dog in almost any setting.
What are your favorite things you've seen in nature while walking dogs?
Molly says: red foxes with fluffy red tails, spider webs with backlit dew drops stretched across the trail, ring-necked garter snakes, a rainbow trout in a pool that made it through a dry summer, awkward teenagers who looked like they were having a first kiss, lady bug "herds" that may have numbered in the thousands, and dozens of raptors, including a couple owls.
What's the oddest thing you've ever seen while walking dogs?
Well, we have shared the trails with a man who has a border collie who's been trained to walk his miniature donkey! Then there's the fellow in Montclair who walks his herd of goats through the streets. We also sometimes run into a "gaggle" of mountain bikers who happen to ride unicycles! What's your oddest thing you have ever seen--we want to know!
I want to work for you as a dog walker. What do I do?
We'd love to talk to you about that possibility. Please send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your resume doesn't have to be redone to reflect pet care if you haven't done that professionally, but please take the time to tell us in your cover letter about your experience with dogs and cats, whether it's professional, volunteer, or personal. We give priority to folks who have experience or education with positive-reinforcement training methods. Please note that you must have a clean driving record and pass a criminal background check and we do check. That said, we'd love to talk to you!