Dear Doctor: How many dogs should a dog walker walk?


Q. I’ll sometimes see a professional dog walker exercising six or more dogs at a time in my neighborhood. That seems like an awful lot. Is there a maximum number of dogs that a dog walker should take out at once?

Lily Detweiler
Cohasset, Massachuetts

Dear Ms. Detweiler,

A. There is no set answer, but in general, the fewer the better even though more dogs means more income for the dog walker. It’s hard to keep an eye on how all the dogs are doing when you have more than just two or three. Granted, a professional dog walker may be adept at holding four or more leashes at once, and the dogs may be well behaved. But that doesn’t mean the person in charge of them is getting a clear read on whether they’re happy, walking too fast or slowly for their own comfort, and so on.

Also, what if one of the dogs wants to stop and sniff something? Do you give in and make the other dogs wait, or does he just have to come along even though he may not be ready? And what if one of the dogs likes to charge at squirrels or at dogs coming toward him? It can get tricky. With different dogs having different levels of energy and different attention spans, making all of them feel content and keeping everyone safe on their outdoor excursions could prove challenging.

In the UK, one insurance company will not cover a professional dog walking business if more than six dogs are walked at once, but many municipalities have their own Public Space Protection Orders limiting the maximum to four.

We are all for hiring a dog walker if you’re not able to get your dog out for enough walks yourself. But if you can afford it, go with one who charges a little more to take just your dog — or maybe your dog and another who is of a similar temperament and energy level and who your own pet would enjoy as a pal.


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