Dog walking is a booming industry. There are more dogs needing to be walked than ever before, especially with all the lockdown puppies now grown up. But there are considerations to make when becoming or selecting a dog walker; one consideration is knowing how many dogs a dog walker can walk at one time.
Although it is recommended that a dog walker should walk no more than four dogs at any one time, there is no definitive answer in the UK. The number of dogs a dog walker can walk as a group can be limited by local councils and insurance companies, so it is important for dog walkers to research this information independently. Read on to find out all the details you need in full.
It can be tempting to get as many dogs as possible walked in one go, especially if you’re out to make a profit. However, this isn’t always the safest method. It can be dangerous not only for the dogs but also for you and others around you.
Table of Contents
Maximum Number of Dogs Allowed
Knowing the maximum number of dogs you are allowed to walk as a dog walker is an essential part of the job; not only will it affect the dogs and yourself, but it is a decision that could affect the general public, too. Unfortunately, the maximum number is not settled upon by a central government or body.
However, it is recommended that no more than four dogs be walked at any one time. The exact number of dogs an individual dog walker can safely walk will depend on various reasons, such as the chosen insurance policy, what transport is used, and if there are any council regulations.
Some council areas in the UK have regulations in place to limit or even ban dogs in public spaces; this is common during the summer months when tourist hot spots, such as beaches in Devon, Nairn, and Pembrokeshire, see a complete ban on dogs. Banning dogs from popular public places has been on the rise since 2019, and it is often advertised with large signs.
However, councils can also set their own maximum number of dogs an individual dog walker can walk at once. This came after the Control of Dogs Act 2010 was introduced in Scotland, which gave local authorities the ability to create bye-laws; this could range from banning dogs from playgrounds for children or introducing dog walking schemes. East Lothian Council introduced such a scheme, limiting dog walkers to exercise no more than six dogs at one time
Most council areas, including Wandsworth, London, have limited the number of dogs to four. Wandsworth has a multiple dog walking license that professional dog walkers can apply for, although this will only allow them to walk up to eight dogs in specified open spaces.
As the number varies from council to council, it is best to check your council area for an answer to the question, “How many dogs can a dog walker walk?”
Different insurance policies will outline a different number of dogs dog walkers can walk. Not all dog walkers have insurance, as it isn’t a legal requirement, but for those that do, there might be limitations on how many dogs can be walked at one time. For example, Protectivity Insurance covers dog walkers for up to six dogs being walked at any one time, as long as the local council does not state any less.
In some cases, the number of dogs covered by the insurance does not include the dog walker’s own dogs, which they might also take out while walking the clients’ pets.
If a dog walking business does not follow the guidelines set out by its insurance, this could result in issues with the coverage if an incident took place. To ensure you have the correct information, contact your insurance provider.
Location of the Walk
There are some locations that make walking multiple dogs difficult, such as public parks and popular tourist destinations. These areas are shared and can be busy with families and other dogs, adding stress to dog walkers when walking multiple dogs. This often causes professional dog walkers to find walking routes further afield.
Of course, dog walkers are not the only ones with this mindset. Owners of reactive dogs also seek out quieter walking areas, so this should be kept in mind, especially when walking dogs that are trusted off-lead. You should ensure that all dogs walking off the lead have good recall and you can clip their leads on quickly.
Other considerations to make when choosing a suitable walking route include:
- Parking – Unloading multiple dogs from a van is not easy, especially when parking on a busy residential street or near a public place.
- Wildlife – Many dogs will chase wildlife when it appears, so remember this if the dogs are frequently let off the lead to run.
The number of dogs you can walk will also depend on the vehicle used to transport the dogs.
The Highway Code states, “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.“
Although the specified ways of restraining a dog are suitable, this might not be possible for dog walkers with their own vans. In this case, the best option is to have van dog cages installed. This might be expensive, but it is also one of the safest methods. Professionally installed van cages will prevent the cages from slipping around during transit, which can cause injury to the dogs or distract the driver.
What are the Risks of Walking Too Many Dogs at Once?
Anyone who has ever walked a dog knows that it can be a tough task; this is no different when walking multiple dogs. Dog owners and walkers need experience to spot the signs of stress or injury on a walk, and they must act on this knowledge.
No matter how much experience a person has, dog walking can pose a number of risks. These are essential to be aware of when running a dog walking business.
If one dog being walked becomes reactive, it can be difficult to calm the situation while maintaining control over the other dogs. This has the potential to set off the dogs also being walked at the time; even the most docile of dogs can become hostile in larger groups to establish dominance.
Even if you know that the dogs you are walking will socialise with others happily, this cannot be said for any dogs you bump into on the walk. Dog walkers should remember this to ensure they have the best chance to control any situations that arise.
Spread of Diseases
Walking too many dogs at once can risk spreading diseases. There are several contagious diseases, like dog flu and kennel cough, that dogs can pass on to each other, especially when walking in a group. Although it can be difficult to stop illnesses from transmitting, limiting the number of dogs being walked can help.
With more dogs, there is a higher chance of injury, whether from the environment or each other. A professional dog walker will be splitting their attention between all of the dogs on a walk, so supervising all dogs to prevent injury is pretty much impossible.
Different Ability Levels
Dog walkers will have a variety of ages under their care, and it can be tough to walk a group of mixed ages. Senior dogs might lag behind while the younger dogs pull forward on their leads. The same can also be said for dogs of varying sizes; a smaller breed might require less exercise, for example.
With this in mind, if it’s possible, it would be best to walk dogs of similar ages and sizes together.
To Sum Up
Knowing how many dogs a single dog walker can legally walk is essential. This not only affects the safety of the public as well as the dog walker, but it can also affect the health and well-being of the dogs in their care. For these reasons, it is recommended to limit each walk to four dogs only.
However, as this article has mentioned, there are various factors that can affect this number. Several councils around the UK have limited or even banned dogs from public places, which means dog walkers could be capped at walking a specific number of dogs. The insurance a dog walker has can also limit this. Other factors that can affect how many dogs a dog walker can walk at any one time include their method of transport and location.
Whether you are starting a new business or want to up the number of dogs in your care, it is best to do your research on your local area’s stance and check with your insurance company.