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How To Find A Good Dog Walker

Updated: Oct 12, 2023


A white bearded young man is standing in a field, holding a frisbee aloft while circled by five dogs. From Left to Right; A black lab with a ball in his mouth, a black lab with an open, happy mouth, a springer spaniel, a german shepherd husky mix and another black lab, all with their tongues out. The man is wearing an army green jumper, grey workman style shorts and brown walking boots.

To be a professional dog walker in the U.K. all you currently need is... well, legs. There's absolutely no regulation or legal requirements you need to meet. Anyone of you could wake up tomorrow and decide to be a professional dog walker and that's all you'd have to do. This can make finding a good dog walker tricky, because how do you sort the good from the bad? We've been professionally walking now for over 5 years and we've made this handy list of things to look out for when you're hiring a dog walker.


- They should have insurance - and meet the terms of it

This is non-negotiable. Most dog walking insurance companies cover you for walking 6 dogs per person and breaking this will invalidate your insurance.


- Does their group walk size meet their local area dog limits?

This is the only entry on this list that is actually the law. The U.K. as a country doesn't have a set limit for the number of dogs one person can walk, instead it's up to local councils to decide. Most local councils have a limit between 4 and 6, although some have no limit at all. If a walker is breaking their local limit, and walking more dogs than legally allowed, their insurance for that walk will be invalidated, so it is important.


- Are they canine first aid trained?

Not only is this non-negotiable, I think all pet parents should aim to get this. It's usually a one-day course for about £40. Hopefully you never need to use it but if your job has you in the care of dogs all day, you should be first aid trained for them


- Do they have a canine first aid kit on them?

Following on from being canine first aid trained, all dog walkers should carry a canine first aid kit either on their person or in their vehicle at all times. There's very little point in being first aid trained if you don't have the supplies to provide it.


- Do they have a DBS Check?

They're going to be in your home, likely when you're not, and they may even have keys to your home. A DBS check should be as standard as getting insurance.


- What is their key safe procedure?

If they're responsible for the keys to people's homes, they should have systems in place to keep the keys and homes safe. What happens if they were to lose a key? Do they lock up keys in their possession?


- What are their social media safety procedures?

A dog walker's job consists of being in people's homes when they're not, usually on a repeating schedule, and walking dogs in similar areas regularly. Social media is a part of life now and safety is something that needs to be considered. Are they live posting their location? Are they posting identifying details of clients homes or details of when clients are out?


- Do they have a website?

For me, this is a deal breaker. A website tells me that they're serious about their work and they provide important information into the business itself. Social media is excellent but it's not a replacement for a website.


- What do they do when they encounter other dogs on walks?

The answer? We recall any off-lead dogs and change our direction and avoid them.

As a group dog walker, the care of multiple dogs are in your hands, you can't vouch for the health (fleas, kennel cough, parvo) or temperament (anxious, reactive, aggressive) of any random dogs. Meeting random dogs is an unnecessary risk that doesn't benefit your dogs but can cause harm.


I go into this in more detail here: It's Time To Stop With The On-Lead Meet-Ups


- How do they pair dogs for group walks?

Planning group walks is an art, working out pick-up locations and which times the dogs need to be out but the most important priority should always be temperament. Two dogs could live next door to each other but if they don't pair well, we'll take them on separate walks.


And finally:

- What are their off-lead procedures?

We categorically do not let a dog off-lead on a walk with us unless they have a solidly trained recall and have had some on-lead walks with us, to get to bond with us first. Letting dogs off-lead without recall is unbelievably dangerous. On multiple occasions we've picked up dogs that have bolted from their walker after being let off-lead with no recall.


We cover all of these questions and more in the meet and greets we set up for all new walking clients. The general gist is always: safety. What is your dog walker doing to keep your dog safe on their walks? Asking these questions should alert you to any potential red flags- and hopefully will help you find the perfect dog walker!

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