Professional dog walking on the Mottisfont estate

Dog walking on a lead

Obtaining a license for professional dog walking across the Mottisfont and South West Hampshire estate will allow you to undertake your work in one of the area's more picturesque settings - whatever the season.

We want people to use and enjoy our countryside but need to balance this with caring for these special places and covering the cost of maintenance and conservation.

The Mottisfont estate, Stockbridge Down/Marsh and Curbridge Nature Reserve have become very popular places to walk dogs. In recent years we have witnessed significant issues around dog control and dog fouling, and a big rise in professional dog walking.

Professional dog walking is a business. A licence is required for each of the National Trust-managed countryside sites of South West Hampshire, allowing professional dog walkers to legally walk up to four dogs at any one time.

We can issue licences for the following sites:

  • Mottisfont estate woodlands (Spearywell, Great Copse, and Cadbury woods)
  • Stockbridge Down
  • Stockbridge Marsh
  • Curbridge Nature Reserve

Licences come with a map plan of the sites.

How to obtain a licence

You can get a licence for professional dog walking across our sites of Mottisfont and South West Hampshire by contacting Area Ranger Catherine Hadler:  

We will need to see evidence of your public liability insurance cover. Please be aware that most public liability insurance policies will be invalidated if you are walking dogs on land where you do not have the express consent of the landowner.

The licensing scheme will help ensure that:

  • We are able to effectively manage commercial dog walking on our sites for the benefit of all visitors.
  • All professional dog walkers are operating safely, considerately and complying with National Trust bylaws.
  • Harm to deer, livestock and other wild animals is reduced.
  • Professional dog walkers using our land have valid public liability insurance (to the value of £10,000,000).
  • A financial contribution is made to the National Trust for business use of our land as with any other commercial activity such as filming, photography and catering concessions.

How much does it cost?

The annual licence costs £150 per site and is valid from 1 February - 31 January. Licences bought partway through a year will be charged pro-rata (£12.50 per month) based on the number of months remaining to the end of the licensing year in January.  Licences will need to be renewed each year.


Why do professional dog walkers have to pay a licence fee?
Anyone using our land for commercial purposes of any kind needs our consent. This includes, for example, people taking photos for commercial use or running club activities.

Why have you set the limit at four dogs per walker?
We’ve looked at other schemes operating across southern England, as well as our own experience out on the estate. We feel that four is the maximum number that can safely be walked and kept under full control at any one time. However, this scheme is only just being rolled out, so we are prepared to keep this under review if it proves to be unnecessary.

Why have you set the fee at £150 per year?
We've looked at other licensing schemes and at the charges dog walkers advertise on their websites. We felt this was a fair sum that reflects the value to walkers of being able to use our sites for their business. It works out at less than £3 a week. 

Why do the licences all run for a fixed year from 1 February each year?
We are a small team and so it is administratively much easier to run renewals for all licensed dog walkers once a year.

Does this mean I have to wait until 1 February to get a licence?
No. You can purchase a licence at any time of the year. If you purchase it partway through a year, we’ll charge you pro-rata for the months the licence has left to run. So, if you buy it in August, it will have 6 months to run, so we will charge you £75.

If I walk fewer than four dogs at a time, will it cost less?
We want to the scheme to be simple and consistent, so the fee has been set for walkers walking up to four dogs at a time.

Can you have a discount if you’re a National Trust member?
The National Trust is a charity that relies on its members for support and on the gift aid contributions from membership fees. In order to comply with HMRC rules, we are unable to offer monetary discounts to our members on commercial activities.

Why are you doing this now?
We want people to use and enjoy our countryside, but the increase in recreational activity each year creates pressures on both the landscapes that we care for and our resources.

Where other groups such as organised running events, use our sites for commercial events and activities, they all pay fees. We believe that professional dog walkers, who make use of our sites as part of their commercial enterprise, will acknowledge the fairness of making a contribution to the upkeep of the area and the restrictions imposed by the licence will help protect the habitat and its wildlife.  

The rules of the licence will also help reduce wildlife disturbance and attacks on livestock.

What do we get in exchange for signing up?
Licensed dog walkers will be able to advertise the fact that they are properly licensed to walk on our listed sites on their advertising materials. Dog owners will be able to check with us that they have the licence to walk these sites and therefore the dogs are safely and fully insured. Dog walkers are advised to check their insurance, as walking dogs on land where they don’t have the consent of the land owner may invalidate their insurance.

How will you enforce against dog walkers who aren’t licensed?
We’re a small team and we want to work with our visitors and users. We will make approaches to unlicensed dog walkers and urge them to become licensed. We’ll stress the benefits of being correctly licensed. We’ll also advise them to check the terms of their insurance to make sure that they are not contravening the terms of either by failing to obtain the correct licence to use our sites for this purpose.

We will also promote awareness among dog owners who use companies, to ensure they check the company has the correct licence for the site and therefore that their dog is safely and fully insured. We have community volunteers who patrol our sites and can report back on unlicensed dog companies they see parked in the carparks or walking on site.