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Professional dog walkers welfare code

The code

The Code of recommendations for the welfare of dogs whilst under the responsibility of professional dog walkers is intended to encourage those responsible for looking after the animals to adopt the highest standards of husbandry. It takes account of five basic needs, known as the “Five Freedoms”.

The Five Freedoms are:

  1. freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  2. freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention or by rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals’ own kind
  5. freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid mental suffering

Code of practice for professional dog walkers

Introduction

1. Dog walking may be the only role that a person undertakes but it may be part of a wider range of services associated with Pet Minding (the pet stays at the minder’s home / premises) or Pet Sitting (the pet stays at its home with the sitter or the sitter visits regularly throughout the day). Dogs may be walked from their homes or their minder’s home/premises or transported short distances in a vehicle to another area to be exercised.

2. This Guidance relates only to the transport, walking and exercise of dogs by those caring for them in a professional capacity. However, some aspects also apply to anyone walking a dog in a public place.

Specific guidance

3. The dogs must not cause nuisance to other members of the public or worry or otherwise interfere with the safety, comfort or convenience of any other person using a public space.

4. Professional walkers should respect and behave courteously to members of the public and other members of their profession.

5. Walkers must follow general restrictions requiring dogs to be on a lead in certain public places and when on beaches between 10.30am and 6pm from 1 May to 30 September.

6.The dogs must not be allowed to worry livestock.

7. The dogs must not be allowed to unduly disturb wildlife including nesting birds.

8. All dogs that are exercised in a public place by a walker should wear a collar with the name, address and telephone number of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to the collar, as per the Dogs (Jersey) Law 1961.

9. Walkers may also want to consider placing a second disc on the dog’s collar with their mobile phone number on it should a dog escape them while it’s under their control, they may also use something like a dog vest/coat as a clear means of spotting and identifying the dog.

10. Walkers must clear up faeces from all dogs in their care and ensure that it is appropriately sealed and disposed of in suitable dustbins.

11. Walkers must have a means of removing deposited faeces with them at all times when they are exercising dogs in public places. Faeces and waste bags must be placed in appropriate receptacles.

Handling

12. Walkers must assess how robust a dog is, the dog’s temperament, fitness and determine the current stage of the sexual cycle of entire females so that only compatible dogs are exercised together. If the walker is not proficient or qualified to assess a dog’s compatibility to mix with others then they must seek the opinion of someone who is.

13. Walkers must only walk dogs that they are capable of managing. Walkers must not walk dogs, individually or as part of a group, that could overpower them or drag and pull them over.

14. Where it is permitted, only dogs with a reliable recall should be allowed to exercise freely off a lead and with the prior written permission of the dog owner. If uncertain the walker should assess a dog’s recall in an enclosed area before allowing the dog to exercise freely in an open space.

15. A dog walker should exercise no more than five dogs or the number covered by their insurance policy at any time and must keep them in their sight to ensure that their activities are monitored at all times.

16. Walkers who allow the dogs under their control to mix with other groups of dogs on walks remain responsible for the safety and behaviour of their dogs.

17. Walkers should not use long-lines, extending leads and stretchy leads on more than two dogs at one time. So as to be clear a walker may still exercise more dogs at a time but no more than two should be controlled using long-lines, extending leads and stretchy leads.

18. Except where inappropriate, for example when lone walking, when walking dogs in public places dog walkers should have the name of their business clearly visible on themselves and their vehicle.

Animal health

19. The duration and intensity of exercise provided for a dog by a walker must be appropriate for the dog’s age and health status. The walker must also take into consideration the weather and environmental conditions when determining the appropriate duration and intensity of exercise to provide a dog. In a group the maximum duration and intensity of exercise provided must be no more than the weakest member of that group can manage in the prevailing conditions.

20. Walking dogs in extreme weather conditions should be avoided. The ability of dogs to cope with extreme weather conditions varies depending upon age, breed, health status and the state of the dog’s coat. Dogs should not be exercised in temperatures equal to or exceeding 24°C in the shade.

21. Dog walkers must be aware of the signs of heat stroke.

22., Dog walkers should be familiar with signs of disease, infection and illness so that dogs showing signs of infectious disease, such as kennel cough, are not walked or socialised with other animals.

23. Dog walkers should be trained in dog first-aid and have a dog first-aid kit available.

Transport

24. Dog walkers should refer to relevant advice on welfare of animals during journeys.
The following is taken from the Professional Dog Walker Guidelines produced by the Dogs Trust, Pet Industry Federation and RSPCA

25. Vehicles used to transport dogs short distances to exercise areas must:

  1. contain dogs individually in separate spaces or where there is written consent from the owners, in compatible groups
  2. the separate spaces may consist of permanently fixed cages or temporarily fixed crates that have adequate ventilation
  3. the space provided for dogs must be robust, smooth and rounded and not present a risk of injury or entrapment
  4. the spaces must be big enough to allow the dog to stand up, lay down and turnaround (for further guidance see IATA Live Animal Regulations), anything less than these minimum space requirements could compromise welfare. Please contact your veterinary adviser if you need help
  5. the floor must provide grip for the dog to enable it to move and avoid slipping
  6. the door to the space must be lockable to avoid accidental release and unauthorised opening
  7. dogs may access and exit the spaces without assistance or where necessary by being lifted or utilising ramps or steps
  8. the space where the dogs are kept must be able to be cleaned and disinfected and must be leak-proof
  9. the space where the dogs are kept must be ‘spot’ cleaned and disinfected as necessary and thoroughly cleaned weekly
  10. the temperature in the space where the dogs are kept should be maintained in a comfortable range for the dogs of 16°C to 21°C in the shade by either artificial or natural means
  11. a thermometer should be fixed in the space where the dogs are kept to enable assessment of the environmental temperature but must not be accessible to the dogs
  12. a supply of drinking water and water bowls should be available to provide water to quench dogs thirst
  13. the vehicle should contain a first aid kit for dogs and a first aid kit for humans
  14. the contact details of the walker, including the mobile telephone number, should be available in a prominent position in or on the vehicle for members of the public to see

27. Dog walkers should try to avoid leaving some dogs in a vehicle while exercising others. This should be avoided completely in hot weather. If this is unavoidable vehicles which are unattended but contain dogs must:

  1. maintain the temperature in the space where the dogs are kept in a comfortable range for the dogs of 16°C to 21°C in the shade by either artificial or natural means.
  2. natural means may include:
    1. parking the vehicle in full shade and ensure it will remain in full shade for at least the next 30 minutes
    2. leaving doors and windows open to allow air to circulate freely around the locked cages or crates
    3. orienting the vehicle to utilise any natural breeze
  3. provide the dogs left in the van with a supply of drinking water
  4. not have dogs left unattended in the vehicle for more than 30 minutes
  5. ideally dog walkers who leave dogs in vehicles should have remote monitoring of the temperature within the van that can be picked up by them in real time

Health and safety

28. Under the Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989 a dog-walking business must ensure that nobody else, such as members of the public, are put at risk by the way that a dog walker carries out their business. These obligations extend to risks associated with poorly controlled dogs.

29. If a dog walking business has five or more employees, it is required, by law, to prepare a written health and safety policy as well as written risk assessments of the significant risks associated with the business, and bring these to the attention of employees.

30. Dog walkers must ensure that safe systems of work are adopted, which control the foreseeable risks associated with their working activities. Dog walkers must ensure that they have sufficient experience and skills in areas such as dog handling, canine care and behaviours, calming signals and obedience techniques etc,  to be able to make appropriate, individually tailored, assessments of the dogs under their care, and how they can be safely controlled whilst being transported and walked. Failure to do so may represent a breach of their legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Law.

Records

31. A register must be kept of all dog owners. The information kept shall include the following:

  • name of dog, and any identification such as microchip number or tattoo
  • description, breed, age and gender of dog
  • name, address and telephone number of owner or keeper
  • name, address and telephone number of emergency contact person,
  • name, address and telephone number of dog’s veterinary surgeon
  • health, welfare and nutrition requirements
  • vaccination status

32. Dog walkers should have emergency contact details of all owners at all times and of the dog owner’s private veterinary surgeon.

Insurance

33. All professional dog walkers should have third party and professional indemnity insurance that covers their activities.

34. Only persons over 16 years of age should walk dogs professionally in public places but see section 33.

Staff training

35. When staff are employed, a written training policy should be provided. Staff training records should be kept.

Emergencies / fire prevention

36. Dog walkers should carry a charged mobile telephone for use in emergencies.
Appropriate steps must be taken for the protection of the dogs in case of fire or other emergencies.

Legislation

The following legislation is of relevance:

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