Dog walking professionals in Dorset are now guided by a new Charter designed to protect the region’s coast and countryside.

Following the success of the New Forest Professional Dog Walkers’ Charter in 2021, Dorset Dogs has collaborated with the New Forest National Park Authority to create a similar Charter for Dorset. This initiative brings together professional dog walkers and eight land managing partners of the Dorset Heaths Partnership to endorse a best practice checklist for responsible dog walking businesses.

A Commitment to Best Practices

The Dorset Dogs Professional Dog Walkers’ Charter (PDWC) outlines nine ways that businesses can help care for Dorset’s environment. This Charter integrates the Doggy Do Code with additional elements relevant to commercial dog walking businesses. It provides a standard mark for dog owners seeking responsible professional dog walkers.

All professional dog walkers operating in Dorset are encouraged to adopt the Charter’s best practice standards. By doing so, they commit to considering the care, welfare, and behaviour of the dogs they look after while minimising their impact on Dorset’s wildlife and natural habitats.

Raising Standards in Professional Dog Walking

Companies that sign up to the Charter will be listed on the Dorset Dogs website. This listing allows dog owners to use the Charter as a checklist when choosing a professional dog walker, ensuring they select someone who adheres to responsible practices.

Currently, there are no national regulations for professional dog walking, except when it is part of daycare or home boarding services. As professional dog walkers often walk multiple dogs simultaneously, they have an additional duty to operate responsibly and set a positive example for other dog walkers.

Protecting Dorset’s Unique Environment

Dorset’s coast and countryside boast rare wildlife, protected habitats, and livestock. The region is a popular dog walking destination, with its heaths home to specialist plants and creatures, including all six native reptile species. During the summer, the area attracts rare visitors such as nightjars and other bird species that come to breed. Many of Dorset’s heaths are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Poole Harbour, a SPA, supports over 20,000 rare and protected bird species, highlighting the international importance of this site.

Paul Attwell from the Dorset Heaths Partnership stated, “Dorset Dogs, alongside the New Forest National Park Authority, our partners, and representatives from professional dog walking businesses, have worked together to develop and endorse the Dorset Dogs Professional Walkers’ Charter. By committing to this Charter, local dog walking businesses can demonstrate to their customers and the public that they will operate both in a professional manner and in a way that takes into account the unique characteristics of Dorset’s landscape.”