As a professional dog walker, one of the important considerations you have to make is whether to provide a service contract to
your clients or not. Most professionals in this industry would argue that having a signed and legal client agreement is one of the important aspects of running a successful pet sitting or dog walking business. But do you really need a dog walking contract? Unlike liability insurance, service contracts are not a legal requirement for running a dog walking business in the UK. Before opting out, however, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of having a dog walking agreement.
Is Having a Dog Walking Contract Worth It?
Even if you have a very close relationship with your clients, having a pet sitting or dog-walking contract is essential because this will protect you and your clients in case of unforeseen events. In fact, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters advises dog walkers to have a service contract because having one will enable you to:
Protect Your Interests
Together with pet-sitter liability insurance, your service contract provides your business with the best possible defense against legal claims.
Portray a Professional Image
A pet sitting contract makes your business look professional because it clearly outlines the type of services you offer, the limitations, fees, and possible requirements about the client’s pet care needs.
Have Peace of Mind
For your peace of mind, you want to make sure that all clients clearly understand the services you will be providing, your policies and procedures, and obligations to the pet owners. A good contract should outline all of these aspects, making your business easier to run.
The only disadvantage of trying to acquire a pet sitting contract is that it might cost you a little to get a solid legal document. Although there are many free dog walking contract templates on the internet, paying a legal advisor to review your pet-sitting agreement is worth the cost as this will ensure that your business meets the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.
Important Details to Include in Your Dog Walking Contract
If you find it necessary to prepare a dog walking contract, it’s important to ensure that the document covers all the key aspects of your business. Although the scope of services offered by different dog walkers may vary, any professional client agreement should at least include the following details:
Types of Services
It’s important to include what services you will be providing to pet owners. Is it just walking dogs or does it also involve pet sitting, feeding and playtime? Make sure that you also specify how many times a day you can manage to make visits.
Rates and Payment Terms
It’s important to provide detailed and clear information about rates and payment terms to clients as this is one of the major determining factors that they will consider before taking up your services. Do clients have to put down a deposit at the time of booking, make full upfront payment, or pay a monthly fee based on the number of visits? You’ll also want to include details about the forms of payment that you accept such as cash, cheque or credit cards.
Pet Behaviour, Routines and Other Special Needs
Note any health condition, medications, and routines of all pets plus their temperament – meaning how they behave around other animals and people. This will enable you to give the best possible care to the pets when they are in your custody.
Cancellations and Extensions
It’s good business practice to let your clients know your business policy on cancellations and extension. Do you prefer to be given 24-hour notice on a cancellation? Will clients be charged for making last minute cancellations? Will you charge an extra fee for extensions to make up for money that could be lost when running late for another client? Putting all of these details in writing will allow you to avoid any misunderstandings with your clients.
Other details you may want to include in your dog-walking contract include basic client information, number of pets you can walk at a time (note that this will depend on your local council laws), and home rules if your dog walking business also involves pet sitting at your client’s home. Some provisions like injures to people and other pets can be covered in your dog walking liability insurance. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it covers the important details that you should not leave out when preparing your dog walking contract.