Many people love to walk dogs, but perhaps are not in a position to adopt or foster a dog due to various lifestyles or circumstances. But many people who perhaps adopted a dog and then became ill, are no longer able to walk their dogs, who often are happier remaining with their human guardians. This is where volunteer dog walkers come in. You can volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter, this is a great idea as well-exercised dogs are often fitter and happier and less boisterous when people visit shelters to find a new addition to the family. It also helps take some of the work off the hands of those running shelters, who are often very over-stretched for little pay.
If walking dogs (volunteer or otherwise), take time to research local parks and beaches (including which ones have bans before you travel). Read this book to keep your dog safe, to learn of toxic foods, plants and other items to avoid (it covers heatstroke and collar safety, and has a simple illustrated first aid guide).
You can volunteer to walk dogs in your community by word-of-mouth. Of course there is nothing wrong with good paid dog-walkers, but sometimes people on low budgets (say people who are elderly and disabled) may not be able to afford hourly fees. You may wish even to walk dogs for relatives, or for people who are temporarily ill or in hospital.
The charity for volunteer dog walkers in England is The Cinnamon Trust. Named after the founder’s 17-year old Corgi (who sadly died just before the charity came into being), it has thousands of registered dog walking volunteers nationwide). Demand outstrips supply, so look on their map to see if volunteer dog walkers are needed in your area. You can apply and after simple training and reference checks, you’ll be asked where you could walk dogs, and for how long.
going beyond volunteer dog walks
Dog walking charities don’t stop at just taking dogs for a walk. They often offer other help like pet-sitting, cleaning litter trays, taking pets to the vet and fostering (if someone has to go to hospital).
do you need a volunteer dog walker?
There are some age restrictions and other criteria for people needing volunteer dog walkers. But if you are looking for help, it’s worth applying. If not, then contact local care agencies, as often those who volunteer to help people who are disabled locally, often are willing to also walk dogs.
prepare your pets for the future
The Cinnamon Trust holds a list of pet-friendly care homes, so this is a suitable option for you both. If you are older or terminally ill, speak with the charity to try to arrange adoption beforehand, and leave a Codicil in your Will, listing those you have (with permission) nominated to take care of animal friends, if you die before them.
Dogs Trust Canine Care Card is free to order, then can keep with your Will. The charity will then try to find loving homes (together if needed) for pets if you die. They never put healthy animals to sleep.