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JoAnna Lou
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Regulations Proposed for Dog Walkers
San Francisco looks to create dog walking standards
How many dogs is too many?

Dog walkers are a necessity for pets in busy cities where people work long hours. I know many great walkers who are knowledgeable about canine behavior and limit the number of dogs they walk. But any dog lover in New York will tell you about the irresponsible ones who overtake the dog runs with too many pups.

A bill was announced last week at the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco that targets these dog walkers. The legislation, introduced by Scott Weiner, will require dog walkers to have a permit, receive animal control training, ensure that their vehicle is safe for transporting animals, ensure that the dogs they walk are licensed and limit the number of dogs walked at any given time. The bill was created with input of the SPCA and local dog walkers.

Dog walkers would be limited to seven dogs at any given time, which still seems like way too many. When I walk my dogs in Manhattan, not only do I have to watch each of them, I also have to keep track of any potential hazards, like spoiled food on the sidewalk or unfriendly dogs approaching. I can't imagine watching seven dogs, plus keeping an eye out for everything around us.

What do you think about regulations for dog walkers?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by NinaZed/flickr.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Marjorie | October 24 2011 |

Still think 7 is way too many. I walk my two dogs regularly but keep a close eye on both of them, plus any potential hazards such as errant animals in the neighborhood (stray cats, dogs, squirrels, and the like) and passing cars. Two is probably conservative, but I would think that even highly experienced dog walkers should be limited to 4 at the most. Dogs -- like most other animals -- can be quite unpredictable, regardless of how well-behaved they may otherwise be, and if you have an 80-lb dog suddenly bolt across the street, would you have the wherewithal and reaction time to put on the brakes while also hanging on to 6 other dogs of the same size? Momentum and surprise can knock you off balance in a split second.

Still, good for San Francisco for even considering it. The requirement for animal control training should be a requirement for anyone working with dogs in a professional capacity, whether they're dog walkers or dog daycare assistants. Unfortunately, most of them don't require even that.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 25 2011 |

The regulations sound fair enough on the surface, seven dogs per person does seem a bit much, but I'd need more information to really decide.

What sort of animal control training? Is it training one receives when learning to work for animal control? Or more similar to what Vet Techs learn?

And what is safe transport? What would be required in or of vehicles? I've heard animal medical staff disagree on what they think is acceptable.

Submitted by jill breitner | October 25 2011 |

I think this is a very good idea yet the number of dogs is too high. The legal limit of dogs that one can own is 3 and I think this should be the limit for dog walkers as well. To do the dogs justice on an outing and to keep them safe from all the variables this is a very manageable number. More than this is not fun for any of the dogs on the walk. They are walking in the city and to be that crowded w/ other dogs walking on leash how can this be enjoyable or safe for anyone dogs or dog walker. The only thing enjoyable for the dog walker is the income.
jill breitner. Dog Trainer since 1978
aka shewhisperer.com

Submitted by MP | October 27 2011 |

Perhaps rather than concentrating on a number of dogs, focus instead on the aggregate weight--the walker should not handle so many dogs that they collectively outweigh him/her.

Seven chihuahuas or Papillions would probably not be as hard to manage as three GSDs, Rotties, or pibbles.

I have two rat terriers that aren't any problem to walk together but since I live alone, I think one Flexi in each hand is plenty.

Submitted by Rosanne | September 1 2014 |

I agree. Legislation is another milestone for animals, but the limit should be 4 if u r in a busy city.

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