This pro dog walker got banned! (How to walk dogs responsibly)

dog ban

A ‘professional’ dog walker in the UK has managed to get himself banned from his local parks after members of the public reported him for being ‘aggressive, rude and intimidating’ and allowing his large, off lead dogs to intimidate other park users and their dogs. Paul Kingston has been prohibited from walking dogs, or accompanying anyone else walking dogs, at any location within the Three Rivers council area (an area of North West London) for 10 years and was ordered to pay £2,500 by St Albans Magistrates Court on 5 December 2023. (Read the full report here)

How can I keep the public happy?

Although Mr Kingston’s case was extreme and rare, it’s fairly easy to upset a member of the public who might be out walking their dog, or have their children with them, or are sat, in the summer, eating a picnic.

So here are my top tips to avoid upsetting the public whilst being a pro dog walker

Stay Informed about Local Regulations:

Be aware of any local lead laws, park rules, or regulations that apply to dog walking. Compliance with these rules helps maintain a positive image for your business and fosters good relationships with the community. Some councils will have a register of dog walkers, either mandatory or voluntary, and if you walk somewhere private (National Trust parkland for example) double check if you need a commercial licence to do so.

Plan Routes Strategically:

Choose routes that are less crowded, especially during peak times. Avoid areas with heavy traffic or where there might be a higher risk of encountering off lead dogs. Always bear in mind the time of year too. It might be a ‘walk in the park’ (pun intended!) in January but that same park becomes an obstacle course of picnickers and toddlers in July.

Be Mindful of Others:

Always be aware of your surroundings and the presence of other people, dogs, or wildlife. Give pedestrians, cyclists, and other dog owners plenty of space. Don’t return that phone call until you’re back in your vehicle and all the dogs are safely loaded.

Pick-up Policies:

Be diligent about cleaning up after the dogs. Carry waste bags and dispose of them properly. A clean route helps maintain a positive image for your business and keeps public spaces clean. The more dogs you walk in a group the harder this gets and the more likely you are to miss one of your dogs pooping, and you can bet that they’ll do it when a local resident is watching you.

Lead Control:

Maintain firm control of all leads to prevent tangling and ensure the safety of both the dogs and passersby. Use sturdy, well-fitted collars or harnesses. Please don’t walk multiple dogs on retractable leads, splitter leads or longlines.

paul kingston

Know Your Dogs:

Understand the individual personalities, energy levels, and behaviors of each dog in the group. This allows you to anticipate and manage potential issues. My own dog has an overwhelming love of toddlers because they make exciting squealing noises and smell of food, so I’m always sure to pop him on a lead when I see a stray child in the distance!

Basic Commands:

If you’ve got a dog who jumps up at people, pop him on a lead before he spots them, and if you’ve got a dog with questionable recall, stop letting them off the lead. Try and ensure all your dogs know the basic cues needed for control. If you’re not sure how to train recall to a dog you only see twice a week check out this article.


No, the customer is not always right, and that person at the park won’t be either. They may not have seen something happening properly or they’ve misinterpreted the event, or they’ve just had a bad experience with another walker and are just waiting for you to fail.

Either way, there is absolutely no point engaging with someone in the park whilst you have dogs with you. Your aim should be to apologise, gather your dogs and walk away.

If you need to leave the situation with the other person feeling as though they are right (when you know they’re not) then so be it. Your business will not suffer, your reputation will not get worse and the situation won’t escalate if you walk away. If they leave a bad review, check this article for how to deal with that.

And never forget, you’ve got the best job in the world.


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