✅ How to become a dog walker UK
If you’re thinking of becoming a dog walker, there are a number of things you need to think about first.
Loving being around dogs and spending time with them is without a doubt a quality you’ll need to have, but there are a whole host of other things to sort out before you brave the great outdoors as a dog walker in the UK.
What sort of things do you need to know about?
Starting a dog walking business UK:
- Business laws for dog walkers in the UK
- Things every dog walker needs
- Dog walking licences in the UK
- How much dog walkers can earn
- How many dogs you can legally walk in the UK
- How to advertise your dog walking business
- How to get a DBS for dog walkers
✅ How to become a dog walker
As a dog walker in the UK, you need to be aware of your responsibilities.
There are a number of laws passed that you need to know about, specifically:
- The Dogs Act 1971
- The Control of Dogs Order 1992
- Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)
- Animals Act 1971
- Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
- The Road Traffic Act 1988
- The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.
In addition to these Acts, some local councils require you to have dog walking licences. You need to contact your local council where you live to determine if you need a dog walking licence or not.
The Kennel Club has comprehensive information on the laws that apply to you as a dog walker and the relevant sections of the Acts. Find the Kennel Club here.
✅ Being a dog walker
What might you need?
- Insurance – This is vital and something you simply cannot walk dogs without. If anything happened whilst you were out walking, a dog bites someone or runs off – you’d be claimed against. NARPs offers reasonable insurance here.
- Poo bags – Dog walkers all over the country find these in every coat and trouser pocket and as a dog walker, you’ll need them in constant supply! We use these poo bags here.
- Dog first aid kit – This doggy first aid kit will cover you until you can get to a vet when you’re out and about. Dog first aid kit.
- Paw wipes – Mucky paws? These wipes will stop the dirt hitting your floors. These are the dog wipes we use here.
- Travel water supply – Super important for when you’re on the go, this travel water bottle keeps the dogs hydrated until they can get back to their water bowls! This is the travel water bottle we use.
✅ Do I need a dog walking licence UK
If you are only walking dogs, then you currently do not need a licence to do so in the UK. Some councils like you to register with them, so you’ll need to contact your local council to confirm this.
Be aware that looking after a dog in your own home is something totally different and the laws require you to be licences and registered for you to be able to do this.
Even though there are no official dog wakers licences, most dog owners will want to see evidence that you’re capable and able to safely walk their pet.
How can you show dog owners you’re capable of looking after their pet? You could take a dog first aid course, volunteer in an animal shelter to gain experience with dogs and learn about their behaviour, or shadow an existing dog walker for a while to see what their day really involves.
✅ What insurance do I need to be a dog walker
To be a dog walker in the UK, you’ll need insurance.
NARPS UK (National association of pet sitters and dog walkers) offers comprehensive guidance on all aspects of looking after other peoples animals in a business capacity.
NARPS offer dog walking insurance, and a whole host of other useful info you’ll need to know before you start a dog walking business.
✅ Qualifications needed to be a dog walker
Do you need any qualifications to start dog walking? The short answer is no, you don’t. But….that doesn’t mean that you’ll find it easy to get work as a dog walker if you’ve got very little to offer your clients in the way of experience.
Imagine you’re the dog owner. Would you let just ‘anyone’ walk your dog?
I know I wouldn’t!
What sort of things would I expect my dog walker to have? I’d want them to have experience walking dogs, I’d like them to have dog first aid knowledge and know basic safety for dogs.
Some experience in dog behaviour, even if it’s only volunteering at their local kennels, would reassure me they knew what they were doing.
Although it’s not so much of a qualification as a ‘good to have’, it’s a really good idea to brush up on your interpersonal skills when dealing with dog owners.
Many people treat their animals like their children and want to feel a rapport with the person they’re choosing to look after them.
Grow your client network by having great communication skills, and make sure you reply to questions promptly.
Dog walking is also not for those who dislike bad weather. You’ll be out in all sorts of seasons and weather conditions, so if you balk at the rain, this might not be for you!
✅ How much do dog walkers charge UK
How much you want to charge your clients to walk their dogs depends on a few things. If your overheads are more, perhaps because you offer a better service (perhaps you have a specially equipped air conditioned van) then you can charge more accordingly.
The area you live in and the amount of dog walkers already operating will also affect your fees.
There are lots of figures thrown around online about how much dog walkers can earn. I’ve seen figures like £64k annually and £20 per hour, but in all honesty I don’t think either of these is realistic.
Outside of London, where prices are always at a premium, the average price for a 45 minute walk with your dog picked up and dropped home again, is £12.50.
Some people will offer walking for much less, some will charge more.
Prices will depend on your experience, the demand in your area and if you offer any extras (maybe feed the dog and change his water when you drop him home?)
People who’ve used the same dog walker for a long time are generally happy to pay an increased rate as they trust the walker, whereas new walkers should expect it to take time to build up their client list.
Do your research and find out what other people are charging. Once you’ve got these figures, you can think about what you’re going to offer and how much you’d like to earn.
✅ How many dogs can you legally walk at once in the UK
In the Uk you can have up to six dogs, however, some councils and some insurance policies limit the number of dogs walked by one person to 4.
✅ DBS check for dog walkers
Although it’s not legally required to have a criminal record check done prior to starting a dog walking business, having one will reassure your clients that you’re trustworthy and can be trusted with their beloved pet.
If you’re being given a key to your clients house this is especially true: ask yourself if you’d give a house key to someone you’d not vetted.
Most people are aware of how unregulated this industry is. Having a DBS criminal record check will show a potential client you’re taking your role seriously.
A basic DBS check will set you back £25, but it’ll be well worth it and give you an edge over dog walkers that haven’t done this.
✅ How to advertise a dog walking business
We found our dog walker through word of mouth, and this is how many dog walkers find clients as there is no better recommendation than knowing someone else already trusts you to walk their dog!
But how do you get your first client? The best way to start off in the dog walking world is to walk the dog of someone you already know. Take some business cards with you and give them out to people you meet on your walks.
Dog walkers are a friendly bunch, and often stop and talk to each other. This could be a great opportunity to get to know people who are bound to know people looking for dog walkers.
You could also advertise in local shop job boards, ask if you can out a leaflet in your child’s schools newsletter or ask how much it would cost to put an ad in your local paper.
If you volunteered at your local puppy training classes, they might be happy after a time to refer clients on to you. Get yourself out there and people will start to trust you, and once you’ve got a few clients, more are sure to follow.
Some other ways to market your new business:
- Flyering – You could get some well designed flyers printed and ask if you can out them up in doctors/vets surgeries.
- Social Media – If you’re active online, this might be a great place to start looking for clients. Once you’ve got one or two, ask for referrals and use those as references to get more clients.
- Offer helpful extras – You could offer some extras that are helpful to the owners. You could do a paw wash before you drop the dog home, you could prepare their supper, give them a brush. There are lots of extras you could offer that mean you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Good luck with your new venture…we’d love to know how you get on!
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Currently there are no formal qualifications needed to become a dog walker in the UK.
You do not need a licence to be a dog walker in the UK. Some councils have their own regulations though, so you need to check with your local council before starting this venture.
Dog walkers in the UK earn an average of £12.50 per hour