Do we need to introduce licensing for St Albans dog walkers?

A spaniel (not pictured) was traumatised by its experience being walked with eight other dogs at onc

A spaniel (not pictured) was traumatised by its experience being walked with eight other dogs at once. - Credit: Archant

Rogue dog-walkers, who have been seen walking up to nine dogs at a time, are tarnishing the area’s responsible and legitimate dog-walking firms, according to those in the industry.

Catherine Crompton, who runs a dog walking company in St Albans, said some of her newer clients had reported previous bad experiences with dog-walkers unable to control their dogs in Verulamium Park.

She said: “The biggest issue is control. If you have nine dogs, it’s impossible to do that. If you let that many dogs out of a car at once they will scatter.

“There is absolutely no way you can control that many dogs. You are asking for trouble if you have a big group.”

A good deal of experience is needed to be a professional walker, according to Catherine, and depending on the dogs‘ personalities and sizes, three can often be too many to walk at once.

“These people are just being incredibly greedy. It gives people like us a bad name.”

Dog-walking can be a lucrative business, with most local walkers charging around £12/h per dog for the service. So with nine dogs on the lead for three walks on a Saturday, a rogue walker can easily pocket £300.

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And while many professional dog-walkers take out insurance - covering public liability, custody and control of the dog and loss of house keys – the vast majority of policies only allow the walker to take six dogs at any one time.

The four-year-old spaniel, which has recently begun walks with Catherine’s WoofWoofWalk service, had previously been on multiple walks with eight other dogs and had been badly affected by the experience.

Catherine said: “He doesn’t trust me yet. He’s still a bit unsure of other dogs, as well.”

Richard Shwe, head of community services at St Albans District Council, said that although the council was not aware of any complaints regarding walkers having too many dogs on the lead, he was open to the idea of introducing a licensing sytem.

He said: “A licence could, for instance, limit the number of dogs a walker could handle at any one time.”