At what age can someone become a dog walker?

graphic of a dog with text around it asking 16? 18? 13?

We’ve all spotted the adverts on Gumtree or Facebook, where a local kid is looking to earn some money by offering a dog walking service. But in the UK, what are the rules and regulations, can they be insured under 18 and at what age CAN someone become a dog walker? (and if you’re in the USA and using Rover, you need to be 18 years old.)

TLDR: In the UK, under 16’s can work as dog walkers but they cannot work more than 7 hours a week in term time and 18 hours in holidays. They cannot get insurance until they’re 16 and if the dog they are walking becomes out of control or causes anyone any damage then legally the person who employed the child to walk the dog is responsible and can be prosecuted.

What does the law say?

Definition of a Professional dog walker

A professional is someone who gets paid to do something. So anyone taking money for walking someone’s dog can be classed as a professional dog walker and this is the definition that we’ll use for the rest of this article.

We know that professionalism is more than just earning money for one’s work—it implies a level of expertise, skill, and experience that is often acquired through formal education, training, and/or certification.

Dog walking legalities

In the UK, the Animal Act of 2006 states that “For the purposes of this Act, a person shall be treated as responsible for any animal for which a person under the age of 16 years of whom he has actual care and control is responsible.”

Basically, this means that whoever allowed a child under the age of 16 to have ‘care and control’ of the dog (i.e walking it) is still responsible for the dog’s actions.

Therefore, either the owner of the dog who paid the child to walk the dog, or the business owner who hired a child to walk dogs for them, is responsible for the dog in their care.

This could mean the adult is prosecuted for dog fouling if the child doesn’t ‘scoop the poop’, it could also mean that the adult is charged with having a dangerously out of control dog in public if the dog bites or attacks anyone, even if they weren’t even there at the time.

So can a child under 16 be paid for walking a dog? Yes, but the responsibility for the dog’s actions remain with the adult who allowed them to do so.

Child labour laws UK

The Employment of Children Act 2003 sets out the rules regarding children under 16 years old working in the UK.

The law prohibits children under the age of 13 from working at all, and places restrictions on the type of work that children aged 13 to 15 can do.

In the UK, children aged 13 to 15 cannot work in any capacity which:

  • – Involves working with hazardous machinery
  • – Involves working at dangerous heights
  • – Involves working in a factory or industrial environment
  • – Involves working with any chemicals or hazardous substances
  • – Involves working in a pub, bar or casino
  • – Involves working in an adult entertainment establishment
  • – Involves working late at night or early in the morning (not before 7 am or after 7 pm)
  • – Involves working more than 4 hours a day or more than 7 hours a week during the school term
  • – Involves working more than 18 hours a week during school holidays
  • – Involves door-to-door sales – Involves working in a shop selling alcohol or tobacco
  • – Involves working with unsupervised access to money.

If you’re thinking of employing someone under 16 you must obtain a work permit from the local authority.


So for someone under 16 advertising a dog walking service they provide themselves, they cannot work more than 7 hours a week during term time and never during school hours. This would essentially restrict them to working after school but before 7pm, and weekends.

What about insurance?

In the Uk, you must be over the age of 16 to enter into a contract such as an insurance policy.

The only way for someone under the age of 16 to enter into a contract in the UK is for a parent or guardian to sign it on their behalf.

This is known as ‘parental responsibility’ and the parent or guardian must provide written consent.

The contract should also clearly state that it is subject to parental responsibility and that the parent or guardian has the right to terminate the contract if they feel it is not in the best interests of the child. In some cases, the parent or guardian may also be held liable for any losses that result from the contract.

It is highly unlikely that a risk-averse industry such as insurance would ever provide a policy under those terms.

Do you really need insurance?

Legally no but working without insurance is a massive risk. See our other article here for some of the reasons why.

Can I take an under 16 year old as work experience?

Yes but the same rules apply as if you were employing them. So there are restrictions on the times and amount of hours they can work, the conditions they work under and you’ll need a work permit from your local council.

Can I take my under 16 year old children on walks?

Yes because, as the adult and person who has care and control of the dogs, the responsibility is yours anyway. Just double check with your owners first as some dogs from childless homes might not be used to children, especially really young ones.


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