If you’re in the business of dog walking, the last thing you want is to be cancelled at short notice or to enter into a disagreement with your client over working hours, fees or any other details. This is where a dog walking contract comes into play. Indeed, it can protect both you and your client.

As a dog walker, what happens when you go on holidays? Do you have someone else to walk your clients’ dogs or do they need to make alternative arrangements?

Likewise, what if you decide to put your fees up? What if a client cancels you an hour before your booking? And what if you get locked out of a client’s home. Who covers the cost to call out a locksmith?

These are all reasonable questions and potential situations that could arise. Certainly, this is why it may be worthwhile drawing up a dog walking contract.

A written contract lays down the rules and helps establish an acceptable arrangement between you (the dog walker) and the pet owner (your client).

black dog on lead with owner, dog walker

Image source: Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash

Essential details to include in your dog walking contract

A sound contract can provide peace of mind for both dog walkers and pet owners. It can also help prevent a headache down the track! Of course, to ensure the best possible outcome you need to think carefully about the details you include in your dog walking contract. Here is some guidance on what to include. However, each contract will be different, depending on the services you offer and what you are willing to take responsibility for.

Description of the services you are providing

This includes details of the time of day you will walk the dog, the approximate length of time the dog will be walked for and on what days.

If there are any additional details relevant to the client, make sure you include these too. For example, the client might want the dog to remain on-leash at all times.

Additionally, the client may specify where they want their dog to be walked. At a particular park, beach or off-leash exercise area, for example.

List of your responsibilities

To make certain that both parties are clear on what your responsibilities are, you may want to draw up a list. Here’s an example:

  • It is the dog walker’s responsibility to supply and carry poo bags and scooper and ensure all faeces is picked up and disposed of appropriately.
  • In the instance of a fine being incurred for failure to pick up or dispose of dog waste, it is the dog walker’s responsibility to settle the fine.
  • Unless otherwise agreed, the dog walker will not undertake any other duties except those specified in this dog walking agreement.
  • If any incidence occurs which may affect the health and wellbeing of the dog, it is the dog walker’s responsibility to notify the owner.
  • It is the dog walker’s responsibility to take out relevant and adequate insurance — for example, liability insurance.
  • In the event of an emergency, the dog walker will provide appropriate first aid care and will notify the client by phone immediately. If the client cannot be reached, the dog walker will take necessary action including contacting a vet.

small, brown dog wearing green coat on lead

Image source: Ra Dragon on Unsplash

List the dog owner’s responsibilities

It’s important for clients to take ownership too, so why not list the items they are responsible for to help prevent any future disagreement. Here’s an example:

  • The pet owner must provide suitable harness or collar and lead. (However, these must be approved by the walker.)
  • If a coat or muzzle is required, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to provide these items.
  • If there are any circumstances or information regarding the health and wellbeing of the dog that are important, the owner must notify the dog walker.
  • The client is responsible and liable for the loss of or any injury caused to the dog, which is not the sole fault of the dog walker. They are also liable for any damages the dog might cause to other people or property.

Document any other clauses/details

To help protect your business, to prevent any disagreement between you and your client and to ensure the wellbeing of the dog, you may want to consider these additional inclusions.

  • The dog walker reserves the right to walk other dogs with a compatible temperament at the same time.
  • If the owner allows the dog unsupervised access to the backyard or any other outdoor area (insert details of the area), the dog walker is not liable for any accident or mishap that might occur within these boundaries.
  • Don’t forget to include your rate of payment, as well as details regarding when payment is due. For example, you might list your hourly rate and specify that this must be paid as a monthly retainer in advance on the 25th day of the month prior.
  • If the client wishes to cancel a service or services, they must provide 24 hours notice. If the client fails to provide sufficient notice, 50% of the scheduled fees will be charged.
  • Termination details. You might wish to terminate or renew the contract at the end of each year. This gives you and your client the opportunity to review the current contract, make any necessary changes and proceed with a new contract or terminate the service.

four dogs on leash

Image source: Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Don’t forget…

Other important details to include in a dog walking contract include:

Details of the pet – breed, description, age, any health issues or concerns, as well as the medication it’s taking (if any).

Pet owner’s details — full name, address and contact information (in case of emergency).

Address and phone number for the preferred vet.

Having a sound dog walking contract in place gives both parties peace of mind and can help facilitate a long-lasting and successful relationship with your clients.

Already got a contract drawn up? What essential details do you think should be included?

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