10 top tips for dog walkers

Advice for professional dog walkers to ensure they're following best practice and welfare for dogs in their care.

Patch, a crossbreed, out on an autumn walk.

Dog owners are using professional dog walking services more now than ever before, and yet most have no legal agreement in place with their dog walker.  

We’ve teamed up with our friends at the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) and RSPCA to produce Professional Dog Walker’s Guidance to help dog walkers ensure they are following good practice and ensure the best welfare for the dogs in their care. 

If you’re a seasoned dog walker or are just about to set up your own business, here are 10 of our top tips to help you be the best dog walker you can be. 

Our top 10 tips for dog walkers

Meet and greet 

Make sure you meet the dog before taking them for a walk so you can become familiar with their needs and understand their personality. If you are going to be walking the dog with other dogs, make sure they have met beforehand to see if they’re a good fit for the group.  

Heads, shoulders, knees and tails 

Get a thorough medical history from the owner and ask if there are any health issues you need to be aware of.  

Plan ahead 

Every dog is different with their own individual needs. Make sure you plan walks with the dog's age, health, behaviour and fitness in mind. 

Drive away happy 

Ensure your transportation is up to the job; does it have suitable caging/containment equipment and is well ventilated? Have the dogs been trained to be comfortable while travelling in the car?   

Handle with care 

Don't use any equipment that could cause discomfort, pain or distress such as choke collars or other similar aversive training aids. Discuss first with the owner if you feel any additional equipment is needed.

Lead the way 

Ask the owner if the dog can be let off the lead before embarking on long outings – the owner must give their consent before the dog can be let off the lead and the dog must be able to come back when called.

Watch the treats

Don't overdo it on the tasty treats. Ensure the owner is happy with any proposed treats/food you want to give the dog. You can ask if they would prefer the treats to be taken from their daily food allowance or ask if they would prefer to supply their treats. 

Tick off ticks 

Ensure all the vet health checks are up to date and dogs are vaccinated, wormed and treated for fleas regularly. If you walk in long grass, check the dogs over for ticks and grass seeds. 

Limit the leads 

Don't walk too many dogs at any one time. Your insurance policy will outline how many dogs you can walk, perhaps keep to four so that you can manage them and any extra dogs that may approach when you're out. Be aware of any local regulations as well. 

Don't go it alone 

Make sure to protect your safety. Carry a phone with you and let people know where you are planning to walk the dogs. 

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Download our full guidelines for Dog Walkers

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