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Walking the dog: a guide

Dogs need exercise, but your schedule may make it difficult to do twice a day, in which case you could need a dog walker. Here’s how to find one and what to look for.

Having a dog is a two-way deal. They give you unconditional love, but you need to attend to their needs, too, and that includes taking for them regular walks. It’s a win-win – the pet gets exercise, so do you, and it’s free.
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How long should I walk my dog for?
Wandering outside and heading for the nearest lamppost for five minutes isn’t enough for any dog. How long you should spend out with your pet depends on his age, size and breed. Young puppies can be overtaxed, old dogs need less effort, while working dogs need a good run around.

The Kennel Club (thekennelclub.org.uk) suggests, “five minutes’ exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown, i.e., 15 minutes (up to twice a day) when three months old” and provides more detailed information for each breed.

Why you might need a dog walking service
Walking the dog is something any of the family can do. However, if you live alone, have young children, have an injury or need to travel, the dog still requires exercise, in which case a professional dog walking service may be the best solution. He will be happier and less inclined to misbehave if he sticks to a routine and is properly exercised, too.

Finding a dog walker
A quick search online will reveal various dog walking services in your area, but going on a trusted recommendation, especially from a vet, is a good idea. The dog walking and pet-sitting association in the UK is NarpsUK (narpsuk.co.uk) and while there may be someone local you know and feel you can trust, it sets professional standards.

What to look for in a dog walking service
It’s important you trust your dog walker; when they take charge of your dog they should care as much as you do about your dog’s safety and exercise needs. That means sticking to the agreed exercise schedule and being watchful of your pet’s safety at all times, while also respecting the environment – particularly when it comes to poop scooping. They must keep your dog on a lead when necessary and treat him with kindness and consideration. It’s important, too, that they are trained in animal first aid and properly insured.

Deciding which dog walker to go with
You should meet a prospective dog walker first (with your dog, naturally) so you can get a feel for them and flag up any specific needs or conditions your dog has.

Questions to ask yourself and your dog walker:

Do they take out multiple dogs?
How many and for how long?
If so, will they be compatible?
Where do they walk them?
If they’re transported in a vehicle, is it safely fitted to carry animals?
Can they be trusted with the security of your home?
If you want your dog walked alone, are you prepared to pay more?

If you don’t have time, then a dog walking service is a handy back-up. But don’t forget your pet would rather be out with you, so whatever time you can find, spend it walking him.

Ensure your dog is well behaved on his walks with our guide to dog training.