Published onApril 1 2022
The latest data from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) shows there are now more than 12.5 million dogs in the UK with an estimated 33% of households owning a dog.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and associated National Lockdowns, there was a huge surge in the demand for puppies as people were told to work from home or were furloughed. In this time, the dog population may have increased by over 2 million in the UK. Dog walkers and related pet professional services are now in high demand as many companies require staff to return back to offices.
Dog walking is an unregulated industry therefore anyone can set-up as a dog walker and charge anything up to around £20 an hour per dog, without needing a licence, and in most areas, there is no limit to the number of dogs a dog walker can look after at a time.
Organisations such as the Professional Dog Walkers Association (PDWA) and the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) exist to try and raise the standards of dog walkers and encourage their members to ensure the welfare of dogs in their care are always top priority. The Professional Dog Walkers’ Guidelines were created in response to the growth of the dog-walking industry is Endorsed by Pet Industry Federation (PIF), Dogs Trust and the RSPCA is intended for use by dog walkers to ensure that they are adhering to relevant legislation and ensuring high standards of welfare for animals in their care.
What should you consider if you are looking for a dog walker to care for your dog? Here are 5 tips and things to consider before you take on a dog walker to look after your pet.
- A good dog walker should take the time to meet your dog and get to know them before they start walking them. This will enable them to ask you the owner any questions regarding your dog’s health and behaviour so that they gain a good understanding of your dog’s needs and what is normal for them.
- Find out how many dogs the person you are considering will walk at one time. It is recommended by some industry organisations that no more than four dogs are walked at a time to ensure that the walker has full control at all times and to prevent accidents such as dog fights from occurring.
- Ask your dog walker about their handling and training methods used, do they have up to date knowledge of dog behaviour? a good dog walker should have a good awareness of canine communication and behaviour so that they are able to recognise anxious, fearful or aggressive behaviour when walking dogs. This is important to prevent escalation of conflict between dogs and therefore avoid prevent fights or accidents such as dogs running away from occurring.
- Ask your dog walker if they have attended a canine first aid course so that they are able to carry out routine health checks of their dogs in their care, spot early signs of abnormalities and deal with emergency situations as well as knowing when to seek veterinary attention.
- Find out about your dog walker’s vehicle (if they will be picking your dog up and taking them to another location for their walks). Is their vehicle able to transport your pet safely and securely? All dogs should be made to feel comfortable to prevent them from becoming stressed. Vehicles should also be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent disease transmission.
Lantra has worked with relevant industry organisations and professionals to create a new suite of attendance and e-learning courses to provide CPD opportunities for Pet Professionals such as dog walkers these include: