If you’re a dog owner who works or are away from home a lot, you may want to think about hiring a dog walker.
Anyone can offer their services as a dog walker in the UK as they do not need to be licensed. This can make it hard for dog owners to choose a good dog walker. Some local authorities regulate local dog walking services – check your local council’s website to find out if they do.
Dog walking checklist
In the absence of regulation, new guidelines for professional dog walkers have been produced. This is to make sure that dog walkers are qualified or suitably experienced to care for dogs properly. They should also have dog walker insurance, transport dogs in a safe way and know and understand relevant laws.
The guidelines include the following:
- Dog walkers should have insurance. This protects you and your dog while in their care
- Dog walkers meet and get to know dogs before they walk them.
- The needs of dogs are discussed and agreed in advance with the owner.
- Dogs are transported in well-ventilated vehicles with access to water. Where more than one dog is being transported at a time there should be no risk of injury of each dog.
- On hot days consideration is given to the travelling distance to avoid dogs overheating. Dogs are never left unattended in a car.
- Dogs should only be let off the lead if written permission is obtained by the owner. Dogs that are let off the lead should be able to be called back easily by the dog walker.
- If walking lots of dogs, the walker should check that all dogs have been vaccinated, wormed and de-flead. The number of dogs should not exceed the limit specified in the dog walker’s insurance policy.
- If collecting and returning a dog from a house, the walker should ensure they securely lock the property when they leave.
- Dog walkers should consider their own personal safety. This includes carrying a mobile phone and advising someone about their daily schedule.
You can use these guidelines when interviewing potential dog walkers to help you decide who you would like to care for your dog.
Find local dog walkers
There’s no shortage of local dog walkers advertising their services online. Many are professional dog walking companies and will look after lots of different dogs as well as yours.
Others may be individuals with one or two clients. There are also a number of websites that offer a match-making service to connect dogs owners with local dog walkers. Always think carefully about who to help care for your dog.
How much do dog walkers charge?
Average dog walking rates tend to be in the range of £10-15 per hour.
Setting up a dog walking business
Dog walking as a business opportunity has become very popular in recent years. Not surprising given that you get to hang out with dogs all day! However, if you want to become a dog walker, then you need more than just a love of dogs. The Guidelines for Professional Dog Walkers set out what you need in terms of knowledge, experience and qualifications. Get a City & Guilds qualification in dog walking to reassure your clients that their dogs will be in safe hands with you. You should also have dog walker insurance to protect yourself, the owner and their dog whilst in your care.
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