An Inside Look at the Professional Dog Walkers of Trupanion

By: Brianna Gunter | Published Sep 7, 2023


Trupanion's professional dog walkers at the office.


When most people think about professional dog walkers, the image of a person strolling around a neighborhood or dog park will multiple leashed canines is probably a familiar one. But what about a dedicated team of people taking care of employee pets during work hours in an office building?

Here at Trupanion (the pet insurance experts behind Pet Parenting), we’re proud to say we have exactly that!

It’s safe to say that being a professional dog walker sounds like a dream occupation for many pet lovers. But like any job, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Whether you’re thinking about setting up a pet care team at your own workplace or are curious about getting into the world of dog walking yourself, here’s an inside look at this unique team and how they ensure the success of pets and humans alike.

How an office dog walking team works

At Trupanion’s office in Seattle, pets are able to join their humans in the office during the work day and enjoy extra care time with the Pet Operations team. Our “Pet Ops” team consists of three professional dog walkers: Amelia Merrick, Winter Wicks-Frank, and lead walker Kathy Pitts. Together, they provide the office animals with playtime, snuggles, and of course, plenty of walks!

Every dog (and owner) is assessed

To ensure that both pets and humans are successful in the office environment, all animals and their owners are required to go through an orientation and proper assessment. This starts with a 15 to 20-minute conversation with the owner before their pet even sets foot in the building.

“The purpose of the orientation is to get to know the owner and pet and be sure that everyone is aware of all the things necessary to keep the office safe and healthy for everyone,” Pitts says.

The Pet Ops team asks pet owners a variety of questions upfront, including what kind of desk space they will be in (for example, a hotel vs. a permanent desk), what kind of toys and other pet gear they plan to bring in, and who else will be sitting nearby. They also go over items that will be needed to keep the pet appropriately contained — pet gates and tethers can both help prevent dogs from wandering where they shouldn’t.

The in-person evaluation

When the pet owner first brings their dog into the office, it’s time for the next part of the assessment.

“We try to catch a glimpse of owner and pet moving around the office,” Pitts explains. “For sure, we can hear if a vocal dog is making their presence known!”

The Pet Ops team has a long list of interactions to evaluate, from how dogs do in the elevator to the way they meet others and respond to treats. Naturally, the detailed assessment can make some nervous. According to Pitts, however, this isn’t the goal.

“Truly, our intention is not to exclude any pet from the office,” she says. “We are looking for ways to make everyone comfortable and make the office run smoothly.”


Lead dog walker at Trupanion giving a treat to a small office dog.


Safety is a priority

Office pets are fun, but only as long as the environment remains a safe one. In addition to collecting pet health records and mandating harnesses during walks (for extra security and control), the Pet Operations team evaluates the temperament and socialization of each pup. Different leash colors are then assigned.

According to Pitts, the different colors should not be viewed positively or negatively, but rather as simple identifiers to avoid incidents.

“We have green leashes that indicate friendly dogs with little-to-no reactivity,” she explains, noting that all owners should still be asked for permission to approach or pet. “Dogs with yellow leashes might be shy, nervous, or in training.”

Pink leashes are likewise used when the Pet Ops team is taking someone’s dog on a walk. These indicate that the pet should not be approached, as even friendly animals can feel nervous or uneasy when away from their owners.

How pet owners can help

When asked what the team thinks every pet parent should know before signing up for a dog walker, Pitts and her crew say they value those who are in tune with their animals and willing to advocate for their welfare.

“I want to keep the dogs in my care happy and safe,” Pitts says. “When [pet parents] can give me all the information I need to do that, we are all happier! The flip side of that are parents being open to hearing input I might have, and their accepting feedback that might make things easier for them and their dog.”

Walk needs vary by dog

While office dogs are not required to go on walks with the Pet Ops team, it is something many pet parents choose to take advantage of during a busy workday.

“For sure, time needed on walks varies dramatically by pet!” Pitts says. “We have some little dogs who are happy with an in-and-out potty break and others who never seem to get enough.”

That said, it is important that pet parents get to know and understand their pets’ needs while in the office environment. Exercise needs also vary by dog. The Pet Ops team will provide up to two walks per day, but owners will often take a break to step away for a romp in one of the office playrooms or take a quick turn around the parking lot with their pal.

Professional dog walking requires special skills

The life of a professional dog walker is a busy one, especially in an office setting. Communication and a shrewd attention to detail are vital skills. Pitts says this means paying attention to cues from dogs and reacting to their needs appropriately.

“Dogs communicate with us all the time; we just need to be open to it,” Pitts says. “This can affect everything from how you enter a dog’s space and attach the leash to the route and duration of their walk.”

The Pet Ops team also has to be mindful that all of the dogs they work with in the office come with their own personalities and needs. This requires quick thinking and keeping the pet owners in the loop.

“Communication with the owners is important as well,” she notes. “In the office, that can vary from whether or not their dog ‘pottied’ on their walk to correcting disruptive pet behavior.”


Dog walker opening a dog gate in the Trupanion office.


The team goes beyond dog walking

Pet Operations is part of the Facilities team, which keeps Trupanion’s headquarters running smoothly. In addition to their responsibilities caring for the office animals, they contribute to a variety of tasks that help keep the building a clean, safe, and welcome space for all.

Due to pets being at the forefront of Trupanion’s culture, Pet Ops also happens to be one of the most visible teams in the office.

“We work with every team at HQ,” notes Pitts. “We work hard to make that work for all team members, keeping our office happy and healthy for everyone. I think that might make us the biggest team around!”

What about office cats?

Though not as common as office dogs, cats are also a part of Trupanion’s atmosphere. This means they fall under the Pet Operation’s team’s jurisdiction as well.

“[Cats] have the same Health Requirements as dogs and go through the same orientation and assessment process as dogs,” Pitts explains. “There will be some differences in how the owner plans to keep them at their desk… Checking in with the owner/pet team to see that everyone is comfortable and safe while not disruptive to the work environment is what the assessment is really about.”

While dogs may be fine with more open space, cats may be more comfortable with a cozy hideaway at their human’s desk. Though as the Pet Ops team points out, they often need to be tethered so they don’t wander off.


Two office dogs wait for a treat while surrounded by toys


The best part of the job

Trupanion’s professional dog walking team is committed to the happiness and wellbeing of every pet who ventures into their care. Naturally, the success of this comes with certain rewards.

“My favorite thing is when you can tell that a dog really loves you,” Pitts says. “Not just that they are happy to see me, but that I’ve earned their love by being a positive force in their life.”


Whether you work from home, bring your dog into an office setting or are trying to set up a pet-friendly workplace, it’s important to keep in mind that accidents can happen at any time. Fortunately, dog insurance can help keep pets protected no matter where they are.



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