Professional dog walking

Voluntary registration scheme and code of practice for professional dog walkers

Leading up to the renewal of the dog control Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) on 1 January 2024, our dog wardens engaged in extensive discussions with professional dog walkers regarding a proposed control, which has now been approved, which states that no persons shall walk or exercise more than six dogs, at any one time, and no more than three shall be walked or exercised off-lead or on an extended lead (longer than 2 metres) at any one time. Recognising the responsible practices of many professional dog walkers – many already limited to six dogs for insurance reasons – we have developed a voluntary code of practice. This initiative invites professional dog walkers to align with high standards, encompassing proper insurance and canine medical training. Those who voluntarily sign up, undergo validation, and obtain official ID will be exempt from the rule of having three dogs on a lead, although will still have to abide to the six dog cap. This approach aims to acknowledge and support responsible dog-walking businesses while ensuring the safety and enjoyment of our shared spaces for all. For more information on our approach, the process and how to obtain validation, please keep on reading. 

Setting the scene

Professional dog walking businesses are rapidly expanding and demands for these services are high. Currently, professional dog walkers are unregulated, and do not require licences or formal registration, to operate. Ensuring they have relevant training, adequate insurance and adherence to an acceptable code of practice will elevate services and demonstrate excellent operating standards. Links to relevant guidelines and legislation are included, to raise awareness, inform, and signpost all existing operators and anyone considering or choosing to establish a professional dog walking business. A direct relationship and collaboration with the local professional dog walking group will help to widen knowledge and deepen understanding of what is expected or required nationally, and locally. 

Our approach

Professional dog walking businesses are expected to set high standards. This approach is intended to convey and endorse minimum standards required. All Professional dog walking businesses are invited to participate in our Voluntary Registration Scheme (VRS), thus accepting and agreeing to adhere to the explicit code of practice. This scheme will promote the validation and recognition of trusted walking services. Through registration, and agreement to follow the code of practice, professional dog walkers and the businesses they represent, will be expected to demonstrate the behaviours described in all commercial activity.

The process

The scheme is intended for anyone who operates a dog walking business and/or exercises dogs within North Devon District in a professional capacity, whether or not the company address, or individual is resident within the district itself. Ideally all applicants will already be members of a professional working body. However, we would still consider applications from those who remain independent or belong to other related groups, as long as the criteria can be met.


There are two types of registration, one for Dog Walking Businesses (DWB), and one for Professional Dog Walkers (PDW) - employees or individuals who are engaged to dog walk in connection with that or any other business.


To apply for validation and have the ability to walk up to six dogs off a lead at any one time, please complete our online application form. 

Professional dog walker registration

Dog walking business registration

If you would like to complete a written application, please request this through our Customer Services Centre by calling 01271 327711.


There will be a physical process of validation, partly completed during the application process in an automated manner, and partly conducted in person. Direct personal contact will be conducted by our dog wardens who will authenticate and validate applications, issue registration badges, manage and maintain appropriate records. 

In essence this will ensure the following elements are all catered for before approval is granted and registration completed: 

  • Public Liability Insurance 
  • Evidence of training and experience 
  • Canine first aid
  • Management of Commercial Waste 
  • Suitable Transport 
  • Knowledge Check

Approved list

Once approved, all individuals will be issued with an ID badge containing their photograph which should be carried when acting in a professional capacity. Each approved business will feature on a publicly displayed list.

Renewal and removal

The verification will usually be valid for a year and then subject to a renewal process. However, there will be provision for it to be suspended or revoked where conduct appears to be falling below the minimum standards expressed.

The Code of Practice - Responsible behaviours

  1. Recorded pre-assessment should be undertaken for any dog they have been employed to exercise, to understand the dog, its needs and its personality
  2. A subsequent risk assessment will guide the manner in which the dog is handled and exercised. This must be reviewed periodically, and when there is any cause for concern about a dog’s behaviour and temperament
  3. Check with owners that all dogs have up to date Microchip records on a DEFRA approved database
  4. Encourage owners to carry out regular flea and worm treatments and maintain records of vaccinations
  5. Dogs must be transported in a safe, secure vehicle with adequate ventilation
  6. Carry fresh, clean water and clean bowls at all times
  7. Dogs must not be left unattended in the vehicle other than short periods when collecting and delivering dogs
  8. Avoid walking with other dog walkers in busy areas and always be mindful in areas where other animals are evident, to prevent worrying or distress
  9. Always keep all dogs under control; if the dog in your care does not respond to recall, keep it on a lead
  10. Keep dogs from jumping up at, hindering, or approaching other people, especially children, the elderly, cyclists and horse riders
  11. Wherever possible, move aside to let other walkers, cyclists and horse riders pass. Show respect for other dogs, if an approaching dog is on a lead, put yours on a lead too
  12. Keep dogs away from picnics, and similar family or group activities that could be disrupted. Pay particular regard to the time of day and location chosen for exercise of any dogs in this respect
  13. Ensure the means to clear up after a dog is readily available
  14. Make provisions for the management of your commercially generated waste. Local government waste agreement information can be found on our Trade waste page
  15. Ensure you are aware of National and Local legislation that is pertinent

Relevant legislation

The following links direct attention to current National regulations and legislation which should be understood and adhered to. 

In addition to the National legal framework, localised measures assist in the control of dogs. Please visit our Dog Controls page for more information on the Public Spaces Protection Order in North Devon. 

Terms and conditions

The Professional Dog Walking Voluntary Registration Scheme within North Devon applies to both businesses and those individuals who conduct dog walking activities on behalf of those businesses. 

The following list of terms and conditions are intended to ensure additional clarity about the Registration and Validation process, the issuance of an Identification Card related to registration, and the manner in which that ID card is used by the holder.

  1. It is a voluntary scheme and therefore Registration is not mandated in any way
  2. Applications can be made by anyone currently engaged in a dog walking services on a professional, commercial or paid for basis, where operations are conducted within the North Devon Council area
  3. There are two types of registration, Dog Walking Business and Professional Dog Walker
  4. Once the application is received it will be assessed and if the criteria are properly met, the applicant will be validated
  5. All validated businesses will automatically appear on a list, open to the public that recognises trusted dog walking services. This registration need only be renewed every three years
  6. Individuals who are validated will be issued with an identity card which will have an expiry date 12 months from the date of validation. The details of those individuals will not appear publicly
  7. As the period of validation comes to an end the person will be notified and if they wish to renew, this must be done within one month of the expiry date
  8. Professional status, or benefit bestowed upon those who are registered with the Council, and currently validated will only be afforded up to one month after the expiry date, if a renewal application has been submitted
  9. The card should be carried by the individual when engaged in activity connected to the business
  10. The card must be presented to an Authorised Officer on demand, or within 7 days in exceptional circumstance
  11. The card must also be presented to appointed officers of the council when reasonably required or requested, and may be presented to other parties to confirm the personal ID details following an incident or encounter
  12. The card should not be used as a sign of authority, nor to provide evidence of identity outside the standard working practices of a Professional Dog Walker
  13. It is a requirement that all card holders agree and adhere to the Code of Practice. Conduct that does not meet the minimum standards outlined in the Code of Practice may be investigated.
  14. It may be considered appropriate to suspend or revoke the status of ‘currently validated’ in connection with an investigation
  15. Appeals against the decision to refuse, suspend or revoke a registration or current validation must be made within one month of the receipt of the notification. Details of how to appeal will be included with the decision notification.  
  16. If a card is lost or stolen, it should be reported promptly and a new card can be issued upon payment of the £10 replacement fee
  17. All those currently holding a registration within the scheme will be responsible for updating The Council of any change in the circumstance or specific details held
  18. The integrity and professionalism implied by participation and validation within this scheme is a primary concern, and as such, any behaviours that bring discredit, devalue or diminish the efficacy of the scheme will be investigated and may also lead to suspension, revocation and removal
  19. Any significant changes made to the terms and conditions will be notified outside of the standard renewal process, for attention of all within the scheme