According to Statista.com there are now 13 million dogs in the UK, an increase of 4 million since 2021. As a result, the dog walking industry rose to an estimated revenue of £6.4 million (Rover.com).
So why are so many dog owners now using the services of dog walkers?
With better dog-owner education and advice available over the internet, people have become more aware of the Animal Welfare Act.
This Act is made up of the five freedoms:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigour. This must be specific to the animal. For example, puppies, adult dogs, pregnant cats, and senior cats all need different types of food provided on different schedules.
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. This means you should provide soft bedding and an area with appropriate temperature, noise levels, and access to natural light. If an animal is outside, it must have shelter from the elements as well as appropriate food and water bowls that will not freeze or tip over.
3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment. This includes vaccinating animals, monitoring animals, physical health, treating any injuries and providing appropriate medications.
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal's own kind. Animals need to be able to interact with — or avoid — others of their own kind as desired. They must be able to stretch every part of their body (from nose to tail), and run, jump, and play. This can be particularly challenging when animals are housed in individual kennels.
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering. The mental health of an animal is just as important as its physical health — as psychological stress can quickly transition into physical illness. These conditions can be achieved by preventing overcrowding and providing sufficient enrichment and safe hiding spaces.
The importance of exercising your dog is highlighted in the "Freedom to express normal behaviour".
Wild dogs will walk up to 13.2km per day (Journal of Mammalogy), and although their domesticated relatives do not need to walk such distances as they no longer have to hunt for their dinner- they still require exercise to express their normal behaviour.
By not getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day (up to 90 minutes for working breeds), it can negatively affect their physical and mental health.
Therefore, it is imperative a pet dog gets this amount each day.
With busy work schedules and no longer working from home, it is often difficult for dog owners to fulfil these requirements. This is why more and more dog owners are choosing to use dog walking services.
It has never been a better time to become a professional dog walker. It is a rewarding career- who doesn't want to be greeted by a waggy tail when you open the front door? An excellent form of exercise and now extremely lucrative. You could be earning approximately £60 per hour (more in certain areas of the UK).
This qualification enables you to obtain insurance and provides you with the knowledge to create a successful dog walking, dog sitting and boarding business.