The Complete Guide to Dog Walking Contracts — Updated for 2023!

Michael Grenier
Michael Grenier December 21, 2023

A helpful guide to everything you should include in your dog walking contract!


We get lots of questions when it comes to creating a dog walking contract for your clients. While not the most fun item to work on, your dog walking contract is essential when it comes to providing services to your clients and their pets. It will be necessary to speak with a legal professional when creating your contracts to ensure they satisfy all legal regulations and liabilities (especially any local regulations your city or state may have). These will vary from business to business based on the type of company you’re running, its location, services offered, and a variety of other factors. That is why it’s always best to work with a professional when creating any legal documents. We do have a few sample agreements included in this blog. Those are purely for educational and informational purposes and should not be copied.

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While no two contracts will look the same, we have created this guide to help get you started with some of the most crucial items to include in your dog walking contract.

Service Agreement

The Service Agreement is the primary document and foremost element of any dog walking contract. It describes all of the services you will be providing to a client and outlines the different terms and conditions you require clients to agree to before they can become a customer of your company. You may even have more than one Service Agreement for your company, depending on the type of services you offer and what your client is requesting. For example, you may have one Service Agreement for dog walks and cat visits and a separate Service Agreement for overnight stays. Perhaps you’ll decide to have a separate Service Agreement for each service type you offer if your rules and expectations for each service vary. Our general recommendation is to keep things simple, but ensure you are protecting your business. A legal professional can provide more information on how many agreements they recommend for your company.

Regardless of the services you offer, Service Agreements are vital, and it is imperative to get them right. Not only do they outline your policies and procedures and set expectations for your clients, but they also act to protect you, your staff, and your company in situations where you may be held liable. For that reason, you need to ensure that you and your clients are on the same page and that every client agrees to your terms and policies before you provide them with any services.

Depending on the types of services you offer, where your company is located, as well as the personal stylings of the author or legal professional drafting the document, Service Agreements can vary from business to business. Some standard policies you should include in your agreement are your company’s payment terms, how late payment fees are handled, cancellation fees, holiday fees, vaccination requirements, who is responsible for any damages or medical costs, and emergency policies, though there are many more.

To help you get started on putting together your agreement, we have provided a sample Service Agreement for you to review. Please note that this document is just for your reference and should not be copied verbatim. We strongly recommend consulting with a legal professional (and even better, a local legal professional) when creating your own Service Agreement to ensure that you make a legally sound document that will serve your business and clients well.

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Medical History and Vet Release

When taking on any new dog walking clients, it is essential to have a detailed record of their pet’s medical history and the contact information for their veterinarian. You will also want to make sure that the pets are up to date on all of their vaccines, and if they have particular medical conditions that require special assistance from your team or medications that need to be prescribed, you will want to make sure you are aware of it. After all, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and you never want to send yourself or a staff member into a client’s house without all of the necessary information. Especially when it comes to matters of the pet’s health.

That is why it’s highly recommended that your clients sign a Veterinary Release Form as part of your dog walking contact. This form will authorize you and your company to seek out professional medical care from a veterinarian in case of an emergency concerning the pet’s health or well-being. When crafting your Veterinary Release form, you should include terms that clearly outline your company’s emergency procedures and how you plan to keep in contact with the client. It is also a good idea to have your client indicate a maximum dollar amount for treatment provided to their pets, especially in the instance that they are unreachable. In the event your client is unavailable, it is vital to ensure you have an emergency contact on file for them who can speak in their and their pet’s stead, as well.

Time To Pet has a sample Veterinary Release Form for you to reference to help give you an idea of what to include in this section of your dog walking contract. As a reminder, we always recommend having a legal professional review any legal documents your company uses.

In addition to getting your client and their pet’s medical needs squared away in your dog walking contract, it’s also essential to get yourself some pet sitting insurance when starting a new pet care business in case of emergencies, too! For more information on pet sitting insurance and why it’s important, check out our Definitive Guide to Pet Sitting Insurance!


Key Handling and House Rules

If your pet sitting or dog walking business keeps keys on file, or if you will need to access a client’s home when they are not present, we highly recommend including a key handling form in your dog walking contract. Access to a client’s residence is a sensitive topic, and it’s one you want to treat with the importance it deserves. Clients entrusting both their furry family members to your care and the unfettered ability to come and go from their home is a big deal and goes a long way to establishing (or breaking) trust between them and your company.

Even though many pet care businesses have stopped keeping keeps on file and the industry as a whole has leaned into using lockboxes and digital combinations when available, it’s still important to address your access to a client’s home and how that will work when they’re away. If your company uses lockboxes instead of keys, consider drafting a key lockbox form instead of a key handling one.

The primary purpose of a key handling or lockbox form is to clearly describe how the key will be stored for the duration of the services the client has booked, who will have access to the keys, what security measures will be in place to protect the key and client’s privacy, and what will happen with the client’s key after it has been used. Will it be kept in a lockbox for the duration of the visits, or will the assigned sitter hold on to it? Will multiple sitters be accessing the keys? And once the visits are over, will you keep the keys on file for future services, and if so, where will they be kept? Will there be a fee to return the keys to a client? Like with most other details of your services, it’s best to have everything agreed upon ahead of time so there is less chance of confusion or misunderstandings later on between your team and your clients.

Time To Pet has also created a sample Key Handling Form to show you where to start. Just like with the Service Agreement and Vet Release Forms, a legal professional should review your final documents.

In addition to a key handling form, it may be a good idea to have some documentation of any house rules that you and your client agree upon prior to any visits or overnight stays. If you’re doing daily visits or walks, this could include things like turning off lights or appliances, keeping the thermostat at a specific temperature, opening and closing certain windows or doors, and house alarm codes and instructions. If our team is doing overnight stays, these rules may be more comprehensive and include any special requests a client might have regarding residence upkeep, such as trash collection or composting, what food or kitchenware your team is allowed to use, where they’ll be sleeping, and the password to the WiFi.


Dog Walker Cancellation Policy

With all the different moving parts of life, you must be adaptable when a client cancels services. There will always be the occasional cancellation for your dog walking services, and sometimes it will be last minute. While not a big deal (if only a tad inconvenient), you need to make sure that you have cancellation policies in place so there are no questions or confusion about what should happen if a client needs to cancel. It’s crucial that you and your staff are still compensated for your time and expenses, especially if they cancel at the very last minute or during a peak busy time (such as over Thanksgiving or Christmas). These cancellations often mean missed work opportunities, which can negatively impact not only your business but the livelihoods of your staff, as well. Hence, having cancellation fees and policies set in place is a must.

If you would like additional information on how to set up and decide your company’s cancellation fees and policies, you can check out our detailed blog post on the topic here: Setting and Enforcing Your Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Cancellation Policy.

Payment Authorization for Services

Getting paid is essential to any dog walking business – after all, you and your team need to make a living! In order to make the payment process as streamlined as possible for your clients, consider having your clients fill out a payment authorization form before you provide them services, especially if you plan for your business to accept debit or credit cards as a form of payment.

When drawing up the payment authorization form, you should ensure that it provides clear instructions to your clients on how they can pay their invoices. You should be sure to mention if you require a payment method on file before accepting service requests, if there’s a client portal through which clients should submit their payments, or when you’ll be charging the client if you plan to charge it manually or using an Automatic Charging system like we have available in Time To Pet. If you plan to disallow certain types of payment, be sure to mention that, as well, and make a list of the payment types your company accepts.

Whatever your company’s payment process is, be very, very clear in explaining how it works to avoid potential issues or disputes down the line.

As with the other forms mentioned in this post, we have a sample Payment Authorization Form for you to review. Please remember that it is just for educational purposes, and you should have an attorney or other legal professional review it and all of your other contracts and agreements before finalizing any of the documents.

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Signing the Contract

After you have an attorney or other qualified legal professional help you to finalize your dog walking contract, you’ll need a way for clients to sign your agreements. If you use Time To Pet, we provide a straightforward way for you to upload your contract into the system and capture a client’s e-signature on these agreements. This is called the Portal Policy, and after enabling the Client Agreements feature in your account settings and adding your agreement, you can require all new clients to review and e-sign the document. You can also require all of your existing clients to review and e-sign the document. If you make any changes or updates to your agreements down the line, Time To Pet also provides you the option to choose whether or not you would like your customers to review the updated version of the document and re-sign the agreement. If you ever need to print your agreements, you can also download a PDF for each person who has signed the contract directly from their client profiles.

You can also print out your contract and bring it to Meet & Greets for clients to sign, or you can use an e-signature tool like DocuSign. Regardless of how you capture signatures, it’s important to ensure that all of your clients have read and agreed to all the terms and conditions laid out in your contract and that they have provided their signatures.

The ink and paper aspect of operating a dog walking company might not be the most exciting part of managing your business, but if you make sure to have all your ducks in a row, as they say, it will save you a lot of headaches (and possible heartbreak) down the road. Having clear and well-defined policies will also act to protect your team and your business from being held liable or when a client attempts to make claims on something you never agreed to do for them. It will also make you look more professional in the eyes of your clients and better the reputation of your business.

So long as you dot all of your I’s and cross all of your T’s and have a qualified legal professional help you with the process along the way, you’ll be able to craft an airtight set of agreements that will do right by you, your company, and your clients.

Happy Dog Walking!

As always, we highly recommend having a legal professional review your service agreements or create them for you. Time To Pet is not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.

Make sure to check out our Time To Pet Academy and Blog for more great resources.


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