PDWA Best Practice

Professional Dog Walkers Association

Setting the professional dog walking industry standards since 2016

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Welcome to the Professional Dog Walkers Association

Welcome to the Professional Dog Walkers Association (PDWA)

Professional Dog Walkers Association Setting the Dog Walking Industry Standards and Best Practice Guidelines

Once you join us, we do not run your dog walking business for you however one of our main aims is to help you develop your business whether you are a brand new start up or already established and thriving. We can help you self evaluate your business to enable you to demonstrate that you are providing the best possible dog walking service and if you wish, help identify areas which may need further development.

At present the dog walking industry is currently unregulated and anyone can set up on their own – this is perfectly fine, legal and acceptable but just imagine the worst case scenario, someone could describe themselves as a “professional dog walker” but in reality has no animal experience, no dog walking industry knowledge, no business insurance, no disclosure checks, no verification, no awareness of their clients or surroundings... the “no” list can go on and the results can be catastrophic.

The PDWA aim to influence local government and insurance companies to begin to control our industry for the protection of the public who use us, the general public whom we may encounter out on our walks and the majority of the dog walking businesses who are caring, honest and diligent. In order to achieve this we have developed the dog walking industry best practice guidelines, which covers three areas:

  1. Business Plan
  2. Health & Safety
  3. Management

1. Business Plan:

In summary, a business plan is a structured description of your business, who you are, what you do, what your aims are and how you will achieve these aims.

  • Financial – you may need a formal business plan to obtain finance / loan.
  • Business development – a structured business plan serves as a reminder and focus of your reasons and aims for    running your own dog walking business. It can be revised as your business grows to include for your future plans.
  • Established businesses can use a business plan as a means of a health check to evaluate its welfare and condition.

2. Health & Safety:

As a professional dog walker your priority should always be the safety of your clients, other members of the public and dogs you may encounter, your staff and yourself.

  • Hold sufficient, appropriate and valid dog walking business insurance at all times.
  •    By law, Employers are required to hold Employers Liability insurance.
  •    Hold appropriate vehicle insurance for either travelling as part of your business and carrying pets.
  • Work in accordance with ALL national and local animal welfare, access to land and environmental legislations.
  •     Carry out an expeditious risk assessment prior to all walks.
  • Assess each dog’s suitability for walks - with other dogs, consider age, capability, behaviour.
  • Keep all dogs in your care under control at all times.
  • Ensure all dogs in your care wear safe and correctly fitted collars or harnesses.
  • Ensure all dogs in your care are micro-chipped and wear a collar carrying your unique business id tag.
  • Ensure all dogs in your care are transported in a safe and secure manner.
  • All dogs to be walked away from and returned to the vehicle on the lead.
  • Hold a valid Animal / Canine First Aid Certificate and carry a dog first aid kit at all times.
  • Do not use any form of corporal punishment for dogs in your care.
  • Ensure your staff receive appropriate training.
  • Ensure a procedure is in place for any unforeseen situation or emergency.

- Envisage the worst case scenario and plan for it. Where possible prevention is always preferable.

  • Ensure all dogs are returned home clean, dry and happy!

We advocate that a maximum of 4 well behaved dogs from different households be walked by one professional dog walker at any one time in a public park area.

3. Management:

Your business should be managed to the best possible level that you can and demonstrate awareness for developing yourself and your business to the next stage:

  • Develop, maintain and continue a suitable level of experience and skill.
  • Increase your knowledge of all dog breeds in your care.
  • Provide your clients with a contract detailing your terms of engagement, service and costs.
  • Ensure all parties understand their commitment and responsibilities.
  • Maintain records.
  • Be HMRC compliant.
  •    Carry out a Disclosure check.
  •    Ensure your staff are suitably qualified, trained, disclosure checked and have access to appropriate equipment.
  • Know your limits.

Each membership pack level includes a copy of our dog walking business plan, best practice guidelines and risk assessment for your own use.