Brits are indisputable dog lovers, with approximately 23% of UK households owning at least one canine chum. This makes it essential to have a comprehensive framework geared towards ensuring the welfare of the dogs, maintaining a healthy environment, and guaranteeing that professional dog walkers have an enjoyable working experience.

As a professional dog walker, it’s prudent that you get accustomed to what this career entails and keep up to date with any rules and regulations that may impact your business. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the professional dog walking laws and licenses in the UK. We’ve designed this guide in question and answer format to make it digestible for anyone planning to venture into the dog walking business in the UK.

Here is a quick reminder provided by Startups.co.uk of some laws to be aware of.

  • The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 You could be fined up to £1,000 if you: fail to pick up faeces, fail to keep a dog on a lead or put it on the lead when directed to do so, or allow a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded.
  • The Control of Dogs Order 1992 All dogs in a public place must wear a collar with the owner's name and address on.
  • The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 It is against the law for a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control' in a public place. The Kennel Club says something as simple as the dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could lead to complaints, so make sure it is under control at all times.
  • The Road Traffic Act 1988 Dogs must be on a lead at all times on roads. If the dog you are walking is injured in a car accident, it is up to the driver to stop and give their details to you.
  • Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 It's against the law to allow a dog to worry livestock on farmland. If a farmer catches a dog worrying his livestock, he has the right to stop the dog – even if that means shooting it.
  • Dogs Act 1871 It's an offence if a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, which is usually regarded as not on a lead or not muzzled. The law applies wherever an incident happens.

Do I Need a License to Dog Walk in the UK?

In the UK, it’s currently not necessary to have a dog walking licence, qualification, or certification. With no universal minimum requirements in place, all you need to legally operate a successful dog walking business is a love of dogs and adequate spare time.

Nonetheless, whether to obtain a licence or not depends on the nature of your dog walking business. If your business is purely dog walking, then you’re not legally obligated to apply for any licence and you can get started right away. However, if it incorporates the boarding of dogs, then you will need to obtain a licence from your local council.

What Qualities Are Most Important in Dog Walking?

Dog walkers don’t need any special qualifications or formal training to start their businesses. To be a good fit, you need to be passionate about dogs and have a profound understanding of canine behaviour. You should also be capable of tending to a group of dogs and keeping them healthy and happy.

Strong communication skills can come in handy when growing your network and dealing with the dogs’ owners. True animal enthusiasts need to be physically fit, too. This is because the walks can be long, and you may need to brave the outdoors whether it’s cold, wet, or muddy. Being physically fit means you are prepared for anything thrown your way by harsh weather – rain or shine.

And while formal training or qualifications are not strictly necessary, having them can give you more credibility in the eyes of your clients. Being trained and qualified in animal behaviour, animal first aid, and overall animal care can give your business an edge over the competition.

Several colleges and centres across the UK offer level 2 and level 3 certificates in the following fields:

  • Technical Competence in Dog Walking
  • Technical Competence in Pet Sitting
  • Technical Competence in Animal Nutrition

Adding these qualifications to your CV can make your marketing endeavours more successful. It also gives the dog owners the confidence that you are offering unparalleled services they can depend on even while they are away.

How Many Dogs Can I Legally Walk at Once?

There’s no straightforward answer to this quandary since the central government doesn’t set the limit. The Control of Dogs Act 2010 permitted local authorities to set their own maximum number and restrictions, meaning that the number varies by council area. Some council areas are yet to set the limit, while others have imposed a complete ban on dogs, such as some beaches in Essex, Lincolnshire, and Devon in the months of summer.

Generally, though, most council areas, including Wandsworth in London, limit the number of dogs that can be walked at a time to four. In some specific areas of the borough, dog walkers can apply for a license to walk up to eight dogs at once.

To be on the safe side and bypass the £100 fine imposed on lawbreakers, just walk no more than four dogs at any one time. Also, make sure that you have a lead for each dog.

How Much Can I Charge for Dog Walking in the UK

The average rate of dog walking in the UK varies by several factors including the geographical location, length, and frequency of the walks. Regardless of those factors, the UK minimum dog walking cost is £15, the maximum cost is £20 and the average cost is £17 per hour. This by far exceeds the average salary of most UK citizens.

According to our data, the most expensive region to hire a dog walker in the UK is London. In this location, dog walkers receive over £22 per hour, with the cheapest rates coming in at well over £15 per hour. With the high demand for dog walking services in the UK, dog walkers have the potential to pocket lucrative profits in a short time.

What Do I Need to Start a Dog Walking Business in the UK?

Starting a dog walking business is relatively easy for those of us who are passionate about dogs. Not only does the business have a low barrier to entry, but it’s also one of the most highly profitable ventures out there. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a profitable dog walking business in the UK without a hassle.

Conduct Market Research

The first step you need to take is to conduct market research to identify your target audiences and competitors. This is all about obtaining useful and accurate data about the business as well as the customers. Once you have the correct information, niche it down further into more practical ideas, such as pet sitting, grooming, etc.

Consider Business Insurance

As a dog walker, you’re in full charge of your client’s dog and all liabilities lie squarely on you if something wrong happens. To cushion you against any liability claims, get a dog walking insurance policy. Not only does the insurance policy cover public liability, but it attracts more business and gives you peace of mind as well.

Experience is Key

Dog walking isn’t a leisurely endeavour but a serious job. Gaining the requisite skills and experience is essential if you want to successfully get involved in the industry. Your clients expect some of the following skills:

  • Ability to get along with and understand dogs
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to handle emergencies
  • A good level of fitness

Be Aware of the Rules and Regulations

Like any other business, dog walking in the UK is governed by a set of rules and regulations that must be followed to the latter. While it is not compulsory joining an Association can be advantageous, some examples include: NarpsUK, Pet Industry Federation, Association of Professional Dog Walkers and Dogs Trust.

Trade associations provide advice and support to ensure you abide by such regulations as:

  • Meeting dog owners before the first booking
  • Walking strictly four dogs at any given time
  • Keeping records of all activities undertaken
  • Safeguarding clients’ personal information
  • Cleaning up after pets to avoid hefty lines

Register Your Business

You can register your dog walking business either as a sole proprietor, partnership, or a limited company. A sole trader or proprietor is personally responsible for any debts the business incurs during the operation. On the other hand, a limited company cushions your business against any liabilities. The UK government website is a great resource to learn more about starting a formal business. For all your dog walking accessories that would constitute a business expense, you can see some of our favourites we have listed.

Final Thought

There are no strict dog walking laws and licenses applicable to dog walkers in the UK. That means it’s relatively easy to set up and run a successful dog walking business here. With high demand and low start-up costs, this booming business can give you much-needed financial freedom in the shortest time possible.