As a dog walker it is important to know what your clients expect of you. While a written contract between your business and your clients is not a requirement, it can be of huge benefit to the running of your enterprise.
The thought of writing up a contract can be a daunting one. In truth though, you don’t need to be a legal expert to put together a dog walking agreement between you and your client.
When starting a dog walking business it’s important to draw up a dog walking service agreement and ask each client to complete it.
Here’s what we suggest you include in your agreement…
In summary, this is where you will outline what the client is paying you to do. Have sections for the number of walks you are being asked to complete, how far they should be, and the times you are expected to carry them out.
It’s also wise to get the price that the client will be charged penned down in this section too. This avoids any unwanted confrontation if a client disagrees on the bill that they are presented with.
Meeting a dog before agreeing to walk it is always advised. That way you, as a pet care professional, can get to know the animal and any of its likes and dislikes. While this is good, it always pays to have this information down on paper within the walking agreement beforehand.
In this section of the contract, document the name and breed of the dog plus any medical conditions it may have. Have in writing if it is taking any medication so you have this to hand in the event of an emergency.
As well as medical issues, asking the owner to note any behavioural traits is also wise too. Ask whether the dog is good with fellow canines, whether it will chase animals and whether the dog has good recall. This way you mitigate some of the risks of an incident occurring whilst walking.
Reducing the risk of an incident is one thing, but knowing how to react when something goes wrong on a walk is another. Ensure that on any contract you have with your client you document who to call if the animal is injured or injures another dog or person.
Also establish the protocol you and your client wish to take if the animal requires veterinary treatment. Do you wait until you’ve made contact with the owner before taking a dog to the vets, or is the decision based on your judgement?
Making a note of the dog’s microchip number is also a great idea too. In the event that the animal is lost whilst walking, having this might come in handy in identifying it if discovered at a later date.
You should also outline in your contract a few other house rules and regulations you or the owner wish to impose. For example, do you have permission to walk the dog off-lead? If anything were to happen when the dog was off-lead and it transpired the owner had not agreed to it, your dog walking business could be held liable.
Many professional dog walkers like to take photos or videos of their walk to share on social media. This is a great way to show clients the service that you can provide. And while it’s unlikely to be an issue, it’s worth obtaining the permission of the dog owner before posting on Facebook or Twitter.
And lastly, make sure you include some rules about cancellations in the contract. What happens if a client cancels your services at the last minute? It could leave you with empty time that might have been filled with other clients. Do you want to include some sort of cancellation fee in your agreement?
You don’t need to include legal jargon in your agreement, it’s just worth covering every base. If things were to go wrong that were covered in the contract it doesn’t necessarily mean you are absolved of any legal liability though. That’s why it’s always important to hold appropriate dog walking insurance policy. With cover in place you are protected if the dog were to be injured, lost, or caused injury to someone else or their dog.