From 2 April 2013, professional dog walkers who operate their business in a Royal Park must hold a Royal Parks Professional Dog Walking Licence. This licence enables professional dog walkers to operate in any of the eight Royal Parks.
Under the Park Regulations, it is an offence to operate a commercial enterprise in the Royal Parks without permission through a licence or contract.
Why license commercial dog walkers?
The Professional Dog Walking Licence:
- Helps maintain the environment and support the upkeep of the parks and people's enjoyments of them, through the effective management of commercial dog walking.
- Brings professional dog walking in line with Park Regulations and with other businesses - such as cafes, cycle hire and personal fitness trainers - that are licensed under the regulations. Businesses who use the parks to make money should contribute financially to the upkeep of the parks.
- Ensures that professional dog walkers have the appropriate insurance required to operate within the park. This will protect dog owners, other park users and the dog walkers themselves in the unlikely event of a negative incident.
This licensing scheme will enable The Royal Parks to regulate the numbers of professional dog walkers who operate in the parks to ensure appropriate levels of use. The fees collected will be used to maintain and preserve the parks.
If you wish to operate a dog walking business in a Royal Park
You must apply for a Royal Parks Professional Dog Walking Licence. Applications will take at 2-4 weeks to process. If you are a new applicant, you can not operate your business in the parks until approval has been given.
If you employ multiple dog walkers, each dog walker will need to be licensed if they are working in the parks at the same time. However if they operate at different times, a licence can be transferred between employees but not outside of the business.
Metropolitan Police will direct unlicensed commercial dog walkers to apply for a licence and their details will be recorded. Repeat offenders will be escorted out of the park.
Requirements for professional dog walkers in the Royal Parks
The code of conduct will ensure a standard of professionalism and behaviour by the professional dog walkers and will reduce the disturbance of the habitat and wildlife.
These two documents outline:
- Where dog walkers can walk dogs in the parks - some areas of the parks prohibit dogs, e.g. children's play areas, gardens, wildlife protection areas.
- How many dogs they can walk - our existing Dogs in the Royal Parks policy states that no more than four dogs should be walked at one time - this is a safe number and minimises impact on the park and other park users.
- The level of insurance cover they need.
How to apply for a Professional Dog Walking Licence
One Professional Dog Walking Licence covers all of the Royal Parks, except Brompton Cemetery where professional dog walking is not permitted.
Licences and the associated arm bands are transferable within a dog walking company - for example, if a dog walking company purchases three licences, then three dog walkers can access the Royal Parks simultaneously. They are not transferable to another organisation.
The licence fees and charges are applicable for a year, starting on 1 January and expiring on 31 December. Licences granted after the beginning of the year will be charged on a monthly proportional basis.
To apply for a Professional Dog Walking Licence:
- Read the terms and conditions (PDF 68.19 KB) and code of conduct for professional dog walkers.
- Fill out the online application form and attach the following documents:
- Evidence of Public Liability Insurance £2 million
- A signed and dated risk assessment and method statement to cover your sessions and a brief written policy on your emergency procedures (First Aid, Accident Reporting)
- A customer reference
- A vet reference confirming registration at the practice and a character reference
- Evidence of Commercial Vehicle Insurance (if applying for a parking permit).
- Allow 2 weeks for processing and, if approved, pay the licence fees and charges.
- You will be issued with a Royal Parks armband and will be registered on the database.
How to identify a licensed dog walker
Licensed Professional Dog Walkers will have a coloured armband which they need to wear. The armband clearly states 'The Royal Parks Licensed Operator'.
The colour of the armband will change by the year. The arm bands are transferable within a dog walking company.
Commercial vehicles in the Royal Parks
Professional dog walkers will need to apply for a permit to bring a vehicle in the parks. This can be applied for as part of the online application for a Professional Dog Licence.
Evidence of commercial vehicle insurance will need to be provided.
In Richmond Park and Bushy Park, there is a charge of £100 (ex VAT) per vehicle. In all other parks, local parking fees apply.
Replacement for lost or stolen armbands
If an armband is lost or stolen, the professional dog walker will need to report this to the police and the park office. The stolen armband will be invalidated.
Replacement armbands can be applied for through The Royal Parks and an admin fee of £20 will be charged. The new armband will have a new unique number, the licence database updated and police will be informed.