A Day in the Life of a Dog Walker
Dog walking is the widely recognised kinder alternative to kennels. It is the perfect way to keep your pet entertained and exercised while you’re busy with work, kids, or just your schedule in general. In fact, organising a dog walker for you pet can be even less hassle than a kennel, because your dog can be collected for its walk straight from your house – no input required from you! Dog walkers are likely to be dog enthusiasts will understand that your pet’s safety and happiness is your top priority. With more people working further afield, commuting longer distances, and working longer hours, there is an increasing demand for this kind of service and you’ll be able to find a walker to suit you in your area.
Some walkers take many dogs for a walk at the same time, others prefer to just walk a dog on its own. Many, especially if they belong to a professional business operation, will be licensed and animal first-aid-trained employees and all should have comprehensive dog walking insurance.
We asked about their experience as a professional dog walker in the London region, charging £10 per walk.
How did you get into dog walking?
After a 20-year career in logistics, I decided to pack it in and do something I loved. I grew up around dogs and have always had at least one in the family. Dog walking fulfils my once-pipe dream of working with dogs and now I get to enjoy my passion every day. It initially began as a hobby (I’d walk the neighbour’s dog for free) but then word of mouth spread and I built up a client base.
Describe your typical day
I leave home at around 8.30am with my own dog to get the first pick up. By about 9.15am I’ll have five dogs and we head to the park. The dogs run around for an hour, I often meet with locals to chat about this and that, and then I’ll drop those dogs off before picking up the next group at about 11am. I won’t walk more than 7 dogs at once, it’s just too chaotic and I’ve learnt from experience. When one runs off but you’ve got 6 other dogs to look after, what do you do?! I like a change of scenery so I’ll head to a different park in the afternoon. The afternoons are a little less manic, the dogs are smaller and the city is quieter. I tend to get home between 5.30 and 7pm and the first thing I do is change my clothes. I may not work in an office anymore but it’s still nice to have some differentiation between your working day and your home life.
What is the hardest part of the job?
How hard can it be is a question I get asked a lot and in truth, there is lots to learn. Every dog is different but it’s your job to keep the dog safe, and the other dogs safe if you are walking a few together. In London, not only is it important for me to have some physical stamina and knowledge of dog behaviour, but you must also be savvy with your pet first aid know-how, and the rules of the city itself. I have also learnt a lot about time management, which can be intense at times because every client has a different routine and you must accommodate that. There’s also the dog poo – but you get used to that!
What would be your advice to anyone looking to begin dog walking?
I love my ‘job’ as a dog walker and I couldn’t go back to a career behind a desk now, but a note of warning to budding dog walkers that it really is a lot harder than most people think! To make the most out of dog walking, I think it’s important to consider it a lifestyle rather than a job. Oh, and invest in a good pair of shoes. You’ll live in them all day long so paying a little more is worthwhile. Buy nice not twice!
And finally, what’s the best thing about the job?
The freedom, the time spent outdoors, and the daily shower of love by dogs who are waiting for you. With every lovely day, whether a crisp winter morning or a perfect sunny day I am reminded of the dreary office landscape I left and why dog walking is so worthwhile for me. I’ve met all sorts of people – dog walking is very social – and there is a simple pleasure in watching dogs run around and interact.
Dog walking Insurance – Why it’s needed and the types of claims that do occur!
Dog walking is becoming an increasingly popular business as more and more people realize what is has to offer! You can turn a hobby into a money-earner, being paid to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with dogs, often choose your own hours and fulfill what may have been a lifelong ambition to work with animals. With many dog owners struggling to juggle longer working hours and further commutes with the demands of their pet, it’s a great time to start a dog walking business of your own.
Do not become laissez faire, however, about the protection you need when starting up a business. Even though you’re not working from an office or wearing a suit, it really is a necessity to have insurance cover. If a dog you were walking happened to attack another dog or, even worse, attack a human, you would be held responsible as the dog walker. Therefore getting fully insured is a must, not only for the sake of your clients but also for your own protection. Once you know you’re covered, you can enjoy the fresh air, the walks and the company of your dogs without constantly fretting about what one of them might unexpectedly do!
So what type of cover will you need as a dog walker? At Protectivty, we can help to cover your requirements but we thought it would be helpful to relate those confusing insurance terms to dog walking specifically, so you can understand why it’s needed:
Public (or Third Party) Liability – should one of the dogs in your care cause an accident, an injury, or damage someone else’s property
Non Negligent Cover (an extension of Public Liability) – covers accidental injury to a dog in your care
Care, Custody and Control (Liability to Animals) – in the event that a dog in your control is injured or is accidentally lost. This is important because it includes more traditional ‘pet insurance’ benefits such as vet fees, the death of an animal, animals in transit, loss by theft or straying, advertising and reward.
Employers Liability – though there is no legal requirement to have any type of insurance for a small part-time dog walking business, if you have employees to help you walk the dogs, you will require this type of insurance to cover you in case one of your employees had an accident at work, for which you are liable
Loss of Key Cover – sometimes forgotten about but a good idea for dog walkers as you will be responsible for your client’s keys on a daily basis