Rules and regulations
Although there are relatively few regulations specifically targeted at dog walkers, businesses providing a service must get public liability insurance. In fact, according to a recent report from insurance company Insurantz.com, many professional dog-walkers are putting themselves at risk by not being adequately covered.
“We insist all of our members have public liability cover, but there’s still some work to be done to educate the industry that setting up a business requires more than a sturdy pair of shoes and a few flyers,” warns Phil Taylor, of NARP.
“We see a fair number of claims for dogs injured in fights with other dogs, and a number of our members have had to make a claim because a dog has injured another person while in their charge. Without adequate cover, these people have faced legal bills rising into the thousands of pounds.”
Many dog walkers also opt to undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks, as a way to reassure their clients and bolster their reputation. NARP recommends all its members are checked. “We also get references for every member, and we go to visit them as well,” says William Taylor.
NARP also recommends its members take a number of precautions, including:
- Meeting owners well in advance of your first booking
- Not walking any more than four dogs at a time
- Keeping records of all work undertaken
- Making sure clients’ personal information is kept private
The Kennel Club’s dog law site also lists a number of rules and regulations people working with dogs must abide by, including:
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.