‘Dog walkers are currently unregulated and unlicensed meaning there are no checks on who these people are and how they ensure the needs of the dogs in their care are being met,’ says Doctor Sam Gaines, RSPCA dog welfare expert.
Amidst the booming dog walker industry, Pet Industry Federation, Dogs Trust, and RSPCA issued a new set of guidelines ensuring the protection of the dogs’ welfare. They aim to increase the welfare standards of the unregulated dog walking services. Moreover, the council continues the effectivity of £100 fines for dog walkers without any poo bags.
Professional Dog Walkers’ Guidelines
‘We felt it was extremely important—not only for the welfare of dogs but also for dog walkers themselves—to produce a set of guidelines to ensure that dogs are always being well looked after and to guarantee that dog walkers know what is expected of them,’ said Doctor Gaines.
About 13 per cent of UK pet owners rely on other people to bring their four-legged friends outdoors. With that, three organisations (The RSPCA, Pet Industry Federation, and Dogs Trust) joined forces to create the Professional Dog Walkers’ Guidelines.
‘The unregulated dog walking industry is a minefield for owners and we want to make it safer for all involved. Worryingly, almost 60 per cent of owners have no contract or legal agreement in place with their dog walker to protect them and their dog,’ stated Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust veterinary director.
The said guidelines cover three sections, namely the dog welfare and behaviour, impact on the environment and others, and professional conduct.
It also highlights tips on the following:
- How dog walkers should handle unforeseen incidents or accidents
- The necessity of canine first aid training as well as having first aid kit at all times
- Walking multiple dogs
- The best practice to help dogs exercise
- How and why electric choke or spray collars are prohibited and should never be utilised during the walk
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At most, four dogs should be walked at a time
According to the guidelines, ‘The maximum number of dogs that can be walked at any one time should not exceed the number stated in the walker’s insurance policy and comply with local authority requirements regarding the number of dogs.’
Further, there should be no more than four dogs held by the walker at one time in the UK. During the walk, it is ideal for dog walkers to have a lead for each canine. They should ensure that each furry pet should be dewormed, fully vaccinated, and treated for fleas before it is allowed to join a group walk.
Fines for non-compliance
The guidelines state that the councils will continue to impose fines for those people seen or caught doing any acts of violations such as walking five dogs or more and walking without any poo bags in the UK.
Currently, in Devon, an offence is committed when dog owners do not pick up faeces at once and when they give their dogs access into a banned area. A person will face a fine of £100 if he/she breaches the public spaces protection orders starting 1st April 2019. Failure to pay will result in a situation in court and a £1000 fine.
Click here to download the professional dog walkers’ guidelines and here for more pet updates.
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