Is dog-walking your dream job? Have you thought about setting up your own dog-walking business, but aren't sure where to start? Solicitor Trevor Cooper offers his advice...
(Q) Are there any legal requirements before setting up a dog-walking business?
(A) Trevor Cooper says: A good starting point would be to speak to others who are already doing this and pick up tips from them. There's the National Association of Pet Sitters & Dog Walkers and also the Association of Professional Dog Walkers which you may want to contact.
I suggest you speak to your local council regarding any particular rules that apply in public places where you may take the dogs - for example if you intend to walk other people's dogs in the Royal Parks or in Wandsworth then you will need to be licensed. Also, ask about any existing (or proposed) Dog Control Orders or by-laws that may restrict the number of dogs that you have and may specify areas where dogs are excluded or must be on a lead. At some stage in the autumn Public Spaces Protection Orders are due to be introduced, which allow councils to make specifi c rules that apply to public places, so keep a close eye on your council's website.
Even though the dogs won't be yours, you will still be liable for what they do when they are in your charge. It is therefore essential that you get appropriate commercial insurance as this should cover you for third party liability claims. You will still face criminal proceedings if any of the dogs is dangerously out of control. It would also be worth getting a local solicitor to compile some terms and conditions for your customers to sign so it is absolutely clear the service you are providing and the cost.
The collar and tag law applies just as much to a handler as it does to an owner so make sure that any dog you are walking has a collar and tag displaying the name and address of his owner.