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Insurance for non-professional dog walker?

(23 Posts)
TigerLilyMasie Mon 15-Jul-19 19:25:37

For the past 18 months I have been walking a dog that I met via the website 'BorrowMyDoggie'. She has now suddenly moved too far away for me to walk her. I have been back on to BMD to find a new dog but they are all to far away - I don't drive so has to be very local to me.

I am planning asking around the area to see if anyone needs their dog walking (for free) but I would not want to do this without insurance. I am insured through BMD but not independently.

As a 'normal' dog walker, can I get insurance? Is there anything else I need to be aware of?

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 15-Jul-19 21:26:37

It might be cheaper to get the owner to sign up via BMD just for the insurance?

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 10:16:26

Hi, That sounds like a good idea from my perspective, I hadn't thought of it

. I'm not sure it would work though as it would cost the owner £45 per year to join and come a premium member. I just can't see most people agreeing to that.

I know that actually they would be getting a fantastic deal. I would be walking their dog for free, most weeks between 3 and 5 walks per week. At an average of £10 per hour they'd recover their costs after 4.5 walks so bargain!! But it still feels like an 'ask' to someone who I have approached to walk their dog - maybe if they approached me I would feel better suggesting.

I really don't want to wait months to find a dog to walk. The reason I joined BMD in the first place is that my mental health was not good and I was not leaving the house. I know that if I had a dog to walk I would force myself to go out and it worked!

Walking out on my own for its own sake is not the same - I really need that four-legged friend!

adaline Tue 16-Jul-19 10:21:51

I would be wary of sending my dog out with someone who had no insurance and who was doing it for free.

There are three local walkers here - two are fully insured and have certificates etc. in doggy first aid, the other doesn't and it's well known that there's a reason for that. He's much cheaper than the other two but that's not a good thing imo.

Dog walkers need to be insured - what if a dog escapes it's leash and runs off and gets lost, or worse injured or killed by a car? What if it lands funny and gets an injury or cuts it's paw and needs immediate veterinary care?

I'm not at all saying you have bad intentions but people can be very protective over their pets. I wouldn't want my dog out with someone who wasn't insured (unless he was out with a family member) just because it's not worth the risk if something goes wrong.

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 11:07:07


I know, I agree - that's why I'm saying I want insurance.

I have the owner of the last dog I walked who I know will give me a good reference.

I know a fair few people on the estate who have known me for years who can vouch for my integrity and character.

I'm even willing to pay for a basic DBS check if it helps.

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 11:10:59

Bearing in mind most people will walk a dog for neighbour, friend or family member if they need help and not even consider insurance. This is because most people don't anticipate anything going wrong but I am very risk averse and won't rely on chance. I won't do it without insurance.

Nesssie Tue 16-Jul-19 11:13:35

What area are you? Feel free to take my dog out!

TantrumsAndBalloons Tue 16-Jul-19 11:19:06

If you sign up to Tailster as a dog walker you are covered under their insurance
We use Tailster for our dog simply because we know all the walks are covered under their insurance and when DDog ate something on a walk and was very unwell the whole process of claiming under their insurance was really easy

LolaSmiles Tue 16-Jul-19 11:29:22

I'm not sure as the dogsitter and dog walker we use has full insurance, DBS, canine first aid, other canine training things. I think you've either got to wait until someone signs up on your platform or you set yourself up as a self employed business (and at that point it becomes all about the dogs, not the dogs being a support for you).

As a pet owner, I would be very wary of someone approaching me to walk my dog, not being a dog walker/dog sitter and then wanting me to sign up to a borrow my dog sort of site. I'm not saying you have bad intentions OP, but I would find it most odd if anyone approached me like that and would say no even with references.

For me, something is either a casual thing that you do to support your own wellbeing (in which case you have to wait and see what comes along), or it's a business (in which case it needs properly setting up with the dogs first and the business owner needs second).

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 11:45:51

Really appreciate you all taking tim to reply!

I didn't make clear - I would love a dog of our own but we can't as we have a cat who is scared/hates them!

Tantrums I've not heard of Tailster I will look into it.

Lola Yes, I have actually thought I will look at setting up business as a dog walker if that is what it takes but it would purely be a means to an end and I would not walk lots of dogs, just one at any one time! I'm not sure how well this would work in practice. People would view it as a very odd business for sure!

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 11:47:11

Nessie I am in Staffordshire?

Jouska Tue 16-Jul-19 12:48:23

Might be worth giving Cinnamon Trust a call. They walk dogs for elderly. There may be someone near you

LolaSmiles Tue 16-Jul-19 13:03:48

As the dog walker you could decide how many you take out at a time and set your own availability. As a dog owner, when I looked for a dogsitter I listened to word of mouth in the area and then checked out their credentials. I wouldn't be bothered if they took my dog out alone or with 5 others as long as they were good at their job and properly insured.

I think there's scope for a business there, but it would probably need to be a proper business, whereas the impression I'm getting on this thread is that you like borrowing other people's dogs because it gets you out the house.

adaline Tue 16-Jul-19 13:04:59

I think doing a family member a favour is very different to walking strangers dogs on a regular basis, so you're definitely doing the right thing in getting insurance.

You say you're happy to do it on a voluntary basis but have you considered setting it up as a business and charging a nominal amount? Around here walkers charge about £10 an hour on average - it's not bad money at all even if you only do it a couple of hours a day, you could bring in £100 a week - not to be sniffed at really!

adaline Tue 16-Jul-19 13:05:56

I think there's scope for a business there, but it would probably need to be a proper business, whereas the impression I'm getting on this thread is that you like borrowing other people's dogs because it gets you out the house.

A business can be whatever you want it to be, though. If OP only wants to walk two dogs a day, that's her choice, surely?

Floralnomad Tue 16-Jul-19 13:06:15

Have you looked at the local branch of the greyhound trust - we walk for our local branch and there is also lots of other volunteer oppurtunities if you want to get more involved .

TheHodgeoftheHedge Tue 16-Jul-19 13:13:32

As others have said, if you're so keen to walk dogs for free, please get in touch with one your local rescues - they are always desperate for people to help with exercising the dogs.

For what it's worth, I have never understood why anyone would let their dog be exercised by anyone they didn't know well and who wasn't fully insured.
BTW if anyone wants to read horror stories about what happens when dog walkers and companies are not vetted and regulated properly:

seriousone Tue 16-Jul-19 13:18:08

Have you tried to join the cinnamon Trust as a volunteer dog walker. They are a charity that walks dogs for people that can no longer do it, sounds like it may suit you

LolaSmiles Tue 16-Jul-19 13:18:40

How many dogs the OP wants to walk is up to them, business or not.
But having a business is more than doing a couple of walks a day because you want to get out the house.

The dog sitters and walkers around here have a full mix. Some take 5 a day, others do 3 separate dogs at different times during the day. They still have to keep their paperwork up to date, relevant first aid, council licences, book-keeping etc.

I think the OP is in a grey area between wanting to walk dogs through a dog borrowing site because it helps them and their wellbeing and starting to actively seek clients for them to walk with (rightly) questions about insurance etc. To come to the right decision for them, they may want to spend a bit of time thinking about what they are seeking more moving forward as it'll help them make the most informed choice.

As I said earlier, if someone approached me saying 'can I offer to walk your dogs but you'll need to sign up to this website and pay a subscription' and they weren't up to date on DBS/council checks/first aid etc then I would have reservations. If they're going to start approaching people then there's more things to consider.

Nesssie Tue 16-Jul-19 14:06:57

Too far for my dog sad

But yes yes to the Cinnamon trust, you can look on their website to see if there anyone near you. The form is a bit intense, you have to provide references, but it sounds ideal for you!

Either that or a local rescue centre?

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 14:13:50

Jouska I've downloaded the form from Cinnamon Trust!

TheHodgeoftheHedge I do know exactly what you mean! I would be worried about someone walking my dog, or taking care of my cat etc unless I knew them really well. That was the beauty of BMD that it gives dog owner's confidence and a 'safe' platform to interact.

Lola Yes, the prime reason is because I know the commitment to walking someone dog will get me out walking. But I do see it as a win-win situation as in I have a problem that can be solved by solving someone else's problem. The dog I walked before had an owner who was a single mum who worked very long hours and just did not have time to walk her dog and could not afford to pay a dog walker to walk her dog every day. We were both grateful to eachother!

TigerLilyMasie Tue 16-Jul-19 14:16:28

Nessie That's a shame!

I have downloaded Cinnamon form,

The nearest dog walking charity to me is too far away.

Polly111 Thu 25-Jul-19 16:15:41

My insurance (only a basic level) covers my dog when being walked by someone else as long as I’m not paying them and this might be the case for a lot of owners.

If I were you I’d just put a post on my local Facebook site asking if anyone wants their dog walking for free and explaining why you want to do it/don’t want payment.

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