Breaking! New Guidelines Released To Help Regulate Unregulated Professional Dog Walkers In The UK

A group of prominent animal organizations in the UK have joined forces to release an extensive set of guidelines to ensure high welfare standards in the unregulated profession of dog walking.

Dogs Trust, Pet Industry Federation (PIF) and RSPCA all worked together to produce the Professional Dog Walkers’ Guidelines in a bid to ensure the best welfare for dogs who are being walked by professional dog walkers, as well as to assist the dog walkers in meeting the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

Recent Dogs Trust research revealed that there is a growing demand for dog walkers, and 13% of people admit to counting on dog walkers to ensure that their pet gets enough exercise. With some pet owner’s demanding work hours, a clear dependency has emerged and has led the group of leading animal welfare organizations to create these guidelines.

“Professional dog walking is certainly a fast-growing pet service, both in its own right and as an additional service offered by a range of pet businesses. This makes it all the more important that a comprehensive framework exists to help guide businesses about best practice in dog walking; and provide dog owners with a benchmark of what they should look for when using a professional dog walker,” PIF CEO Nigel Baker said in a statement. “By doing so, the intention is that these guidelines will raise standards in this unregulated industry and help safeguard animal welfare.”

RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr. Sam Gaines also explained that the group also created the guidelines “to ensure that dogs are always being well looked after, and to guarantee that dog walkers know what is expected of them.”

To date, only a small number of local authorities have introduced any form of regulation for local dog walkers.

“The unregulated dog walking industry is a minefield for owners and we want to make it safer for all involved. Almost 60% of owners have no contract or legal agreement in place with their dog walker to protect them and their dog,” stated Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden. “We have worked with the RSPCA and PIF to create a workable set of guidelines that can provide information for local authorities and provide a framework for dog walkers, as well as helping pet owners understand what they should expect from a suitable dog walker.”

Dog ownership has changed over the decades as our lives get busier. Research by RSPCA has shown that 22% of dogs spend four or more hours alone during the average weekday.

The survey also found that one fifth of dogs have shown separation anxiety when alone.

Regulations should be put into place for dog walkers not only in the UK, but other countries around the world where people consider their four-legged friends family members.

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