Become a volunteer dog walker in your community, and you get to help some friendly pooches, enjoy some outdoor exercise, and help someone in need. Many people who adopt dogs later have health issues, whether that’s age, disability or caring for a loved one. Thankfully many dogs have gardens, but many do not. Also see where to find good dog walks.
You could volunteer for local care and similar ages, many of whom offer free dog walking to those in need. Or just contact your local animal shelter, to see if they need help (tired happy dogs tend to get adopted more). The other option is to register with one of the dog-walking charities: As you can imagine, demand often exceeds supply, so if you have time to spare, you could consider registering with: If you are going to walk dogs, then get yourself a copy of this book to keep your dog safe, which is a fun illustrated guide to ensuring you both enjoy your walks in safety. Also see how to find good dog walks.
- Cinnamon Trust is the main charity, set up (and named) in honour of a Corgi dog, who died just before the charity launched. Their nationwide network walks dogs (and looks after other pets like changing cat litter etc) for older/disabled people, and fosters pets if you go into hospital, arranging adoption for terminal patients. Holds a list of pet-friendly nursing homes.
- PAPAS has no age limits, but has less volunteers, so you could help them out. This works a bit different, as you register and then access a host of free help including dog walking and other pet care services.
- Blue Cross is a national charity that has many volunteering opportunities, including people to walk dogs at shelters.
- Royal Voluntary Service offers free help in the community and local hospitals, and volunteers include walking dogs as part of their services offered. Community transport can help with vet trips.
- The Light of the World Trust is a Christian organisation that has volunteers to walk dogs. It offers help to people in receipt of state pension or Disability Living Allowance, operating in the South East and Midlands. Help depends on volunteered registered.
Safe Dog Walking
- Positive dog training keeps dogs safe If you see a dog fight, use the ‘wheelbarrow method’ to each grab back legs of each dog to wheel away from each other in a circle, then separate to calm them down.
- Check tide times (and beach bans) to avoid wasted journeys. Avoid tidal causeways or sinking mud (Weston-super-Mare, Morecambe, Holy Island). If used, ensure dog lifejackets are fitted correctly.
- Throwing sticks can cause mouth injuries. Ensure dog balls/toys are the right size for a dog’s mouth.
- In warm weather, walk early morning or evenings. If pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for a dog’s paws. Some companies offer evaporation jackets that can keep dogs cool (some dogs find them uncomfortable). Wash paws after walks, to remove rock salt (which can cause burns indoors at higher temperatures).
- Wear glo-jackets/armbands for you and dogs in poor light or visibility. Avoid iPods (to hear traffic), tell people where you are going, carry a phone and alarm.
- Pick up poop. Some councils keep bags on rolls, a good idea if you forget. You can buy ‘dog rucksacks’ with linings, to keep poo bags with you (hands-free).
- If you see an unfamiliar dog heading to you, crouch diagonally and let it come to you. If a dog goes for you, put something solid between you (don’t stare, scream or yell). Just slowly walk backwards or sideways, to avoid spooking.
- Avoid walking (esp. small) dogs in open spaces, near hovering birds of prey.
Follow the Countryside Code
- Keep dogs on leads or in sight, at all times.
- Trained dogs come back on recall.
- Check notices, for banned areas.
- Most ‘open access’ land require dogs on short leads between 1 March and 31 July, to protect ground nesting birds (all-year near farm animals).
- Check coastal restrictions (like dog beach bans) before you set off for travel.
- Keep dogs on short leads, near horses.
- Dogs near cattle could be trampled (even without calves). Farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that worry livestock. If cattle chase dogs, Blue Cross say dogs are usually safer let off lead, as they (usually) run faster.
- The Ramblers Association has info on safe dog walking near livestock. Close gates behind you and find alternative paths, if cows are obstructing your way.