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DEFRA rumoured to be considering dog walker licensing

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Amid rumors and industry discussions, there is speculation that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) might introduce licensing for professional dog walkers. This potential move aims to improve safety and standards in the dog walking industry.

The Pet Industry Federation held a focus group in May with a number of dog walkers participating. They highlighted the potential risks and incidents associated with unregulated dog walking activities, as well as the surge in demand leading to inexperienced individuals taking on excessive workloads. The group emphasised the need for licensing to verify competency, adherence to standards, and mandatory qualifications. Safety measures during dog walking, including proper control over dogs and clear emergency guidelines, were also a significant concern. Additionally, addressing dogs’ well-being, such as access to water, rest breaks, and avoiding extreme weather conditions, was deemed essential.

However, participants also emphasised the need for consistent regulations and licensing requirements across different councils, in addition to questioning the local authorities’ capacity to assess and grant licences in a timely manner. Several dog walkers who GoFido spoke to subsequently echoed these concerns. One dog walker expressed their apprehension, saying, “I understand why licensing is necessary, but I can see some issues popping up when they try to put it into action. Look what happened when they introduced licensing for doggy day care – it was and still is a bit of a mess. And there are so many more dog walkers than day care places, so you can imagine the level of confusion that might happen. It’s a bit worrisome, to be honest, as it’s our livelihood.”

For more information on the proposed licensing scheme and to provide your input, visit DEFRA’s official website or engage with your local authorities.

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