Doggy News

How to choose a good dog walker

Many of us lead busy lives, working longer hours and whilst we love our canine companions if we are honest sometimes meeting their daily walking needs can be tough.

So having someone that you can trust to come and take your dog for a walk can make a huge difference to you and your dog’s life. It can help alleviate guilt about being out of the home, but it can also help stave off undesirable behaviours and limit stress giving your dog another outlet to be a dog and enjoy time with their doggy pals.

A good dog walker should do more than just come in and walk your dog around the block. They 'should' have knowledge of canine body language, understanding of canine first aid and how to spot if your dog is uncomfortable or feeling under the weather.

Hounds & Hooves has been walking dogs for almost ten years. In that time, we have learnt a lot but sadly it’s still an unregulated industry-just like the majority of the dog industry. What this means is that you can start walking dogs with no prior qualifications-there’s not even a law about having insurance or canine first aid. Which to me sounds absolutely ludicrous. Over the years hounds & hooves have strived to set the very highest standard of care for our clients. Below is a list of things you should consider before taking on a dog walker and some questions you might consider asking at your first meeting.

  1. Insurance-unfortunately this isn’t a prerequisite to starting a dog walking business. But it should be. Professional dog walkers should have public liability insurance that covers them should an accident take place with your dog. What happens if your dog runs off and causes an accident while in their care? Who pays the vet bill if your dog cuts open their paw whilst out on a walk? It’s a good idea to enquire if they have insurance but also what type-some of the budget options won't include things like key loss cover or care custody and control. They should also have employers liability in place if they subcontract or employ people.
  2. Canine first aid-again not a prerequisite but definitely something that should be-what happens in an emergency? Would your dog walker know how to spot the signs of heat stroke? Are they aware of the risks of walking dogs in certain weather? What about if your dog causes harm to another dog or human?
  3. Transportation-professional dog walkers should carry proper business insurance that covers them to transport dogs. By law dogs need to be restrained and best practice suggests that dogs shouldn’t be able to reach each other-for example harness and lead systems, crates where dogs are inside on their own-not sharing. Custom crash crates should be a priority investment for all business sizes-not just larger, commercial businesses. The outlay is large but
  4. Grouping dogs or not? Firstly, what does your dog need? Solo walks? Off lead walks, group dog walks? Grouping particular dogs is a bit of a juggling act. Particularly new dogs coming into a group where bonds have already been built. Ideally your dog walker should have knowledge of canine body language-what does appropriate play look like? Can they spot signs that your dog is feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Do they know when to step in? Are they transparent when your dog isn’t enjoying themselves? At the front of any professional dog walker's mind should be that welfare comes first, always. If a dog is finding it hard to gel with other members of the group, or they are displaying signs of stress your dog walker should be communicating this with you- phone, text, email, handover book.
  5. Do your research-I cannot stress this enough. Ask friends, family and in social media groups. Look for social proof such as reviews. You want to know your beloved Fido will be in good hands, and the best way to check this is to speak to their existing customers. Does their dog look forward to walkies? Have they ever had any problems that could have been prevented by the dog walker? Does their dog seem relaxed and happy when you get home?
  6. How and where do the walks take place-how many dogs does your walker walk at one time? Do the dogs have any off-lead time? Is it always the same location? Most insurances will not insure a professional dog walker to walk more than six dogs at one time. Some are even less. How will you know if your dog has been walked? Will they provide pictures or updates?
  7. Forms and initial meet and greets. Good practice suggests that you should meet with prospective dog walkers prior to any work taking place. Ideally you and the dog walker should take your dog for a walk. So that your dog walker can see your dog out and about. Basic booking forms with off lead permission, vet release forms and service agreements-which lay out the responsibilities of the business but also what is expected from you as the client.
  8. Understanding how cost affects the service-dog walking has shifted in a lot of the last ten years. During that time, we’ve had covid and the cost of living crisis. Overheads have increased dramatically. You should expect to pay between £15-20 for a group walk. You may do some quick maths and think gosh that’s a huge hourly rate. But in reality, a group dog walk can take up to 2/2.5 hours for pick up/drop off an actual walk, out of that figure comes insurance, petrol, wear and tear, poo bags, treats, equipment etc etc all of this before your dog walker takes a wage. And your dog walker won’t charge you extra if they get stuck in traffic or one of the dogs decides they don’t want to come home.

Ask the right questions

There are lots of questions you will want to ask your dog walker to ensure that they are prepared and knowledgeable. Ask as many questions as you need, no question is too silly and if your gut is trying to tell you something then listen, because it's normally right!

Make sure you know:

  • What times of the day will they take your dog out?
  • Where do they plan on walking your dog?
  • Whether they are comfortable handling medical needs?
  • What would they do in an emergency?
  • How long will the walks be?
  • Who will be walking the dog?
  • How long have they been walking dogs?
  • What are their training methods?
  • What types of dogs will your dog be walked with, and how many at a time?
  • How do they manage conflict between dogs when out on a walk?
  • Do they check all dogs are up to date with vaccinations and flea and worming treatments?
  • Do they wipe down your dog after a walk before letting them back into the home?
  • How do they introduce new dogs to a group?

If you are looking for a dog walker then please get in touch with us at or have a look at our dog walking page