Nerd Culture

We Tried a New Uber-Style Dog Walking Service. Here's What Happened

Phoenix was recently added to the 16 dog-friendly cities where Wag!, an on-demand dog walking service, is available, but we're not sure the service is top dog.
Phoenix was recently added to the 16 dog-friendly cities where Wag!, an on-demand dog walking service, is available, but we're not sure the service is top dog. Courtesy of Wag!
We should have seen this coming. Apps and pets run our lives, and now one plus one equals Wag!, a new Uber-style app that delivers on-demand dog walking.

So, we took it for a test drive.

The company recently added Phoenix to a list of 16 cities where its services are available.

“We are proud to expand our services to these pet-loving cities across the country,” says Josh Viner, co-founder of Wag!, in a recent press release. “Dog owners can now have peace of mind that their dog can be walked by a safe and trusted walker, even in a pinch."

Viner, a Los Angeles tech entrepreneur, created the app to meet his own need for easier dog care and ownership, realizing others might need help, too.

"As many pet lovers are also busy with professional and social responsibilities, it only makes sense to provide them with services that can ease the stress of pet ownership with the touch of a button," he adds.

Here's how it works:

You create a free account through the app or website and provide basic information about your dog and, naturally, a credit card. Then, Wag! provides a 20-, 30-, or 60-minute dog walk with as little as 30 minutes notice for $14 to $30. (The first 20-minute walk is free if you provide your email.) A free, no-obligation lock box for your key can be delivered upon request, walkers can be scheduled regularly or as needed, and they are available 24/7.

When the walker picks up a dog, an alert is sent to the app. The app tracks their journey through its GPS "puppy tracker." A "Pup Report" with distance and time data is delivered after the walk. There's also a "Pee & Poo Report Card" that comes with a photo or video, notes from the walker, and a map of the route noting when and where your furbaby did his business.

According to the company, not just anyone will show up at your door. Apparently, only 10 percent of applicants are hired — and those who cut the mustard are often vet technicians, shelter volunteers, Humane Society advocates, or experienced dog walkers.

Once vetted, a Wag! spokesperson tells New Times, prospective walkers undergo a background check and take a test covering dog care and safety, securing a dog with a wide variety of collar types, and handling unpredictable situations. After walkers are hired, Wag! insures and bonds them, which means there's insurance just in case it's needed.

Sounds great in theory. But our experience went from disappointing to concerning.

We booked the service online for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, using a "first walk free" promo code. But Nick, the walker who was scheduled, never showed. We waited at the house until 6.

The next morning, we attempted to contact customer service, but the website repeatedly froze. (That might not be a Wag! issue. However, we weren't having trouble with other websites loading.) It was impossible to access our account. Then, we contacted the company by email. So far, there has been no response.

Eventually, we were able to log into our account, and that's when things got weird.

A false "Pup Report" popped up, claiming that our dog had been walked. The fraudulent "Pee and Poo Report Card" included a selfie of the walker — not Nick, but someone named Brittany.

Brittany reported that she walked our dog for 33 minutes at 7 p.m. There were no apologies for the fact that the 20-minute walk was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., or any indication there were any issues the walk (which, to reiterate, did not happen).

The "submit rating" button at the bottom of the report didn't work. We wonder if there's a "pay me" button that did. Assuming the initial no-show was some sort of beginner's snafu, we were prepared to give the service another chance.

Or at least that was the case before we received this false report. Now? Fat chance.

If you want to give it a whirl, expect to pay $14 for a 20-minute walk, $20 for a 30-minute walk, and $30 dollars for an hour long walk. Dogs in the same household can be added for another $5 each. The walks must be purchased in the form of credit packages of 100, 200, or 500.

And a promo code for a free walk can be found on the company's website. Not that we'd recommend you fetch one.
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Lara is a freelance journalist working on her first novel. She's based in Phoenix.
Contact: Lara Piu