This proposal is written in response to the Marin County Open Space District’s request for assistance in redefining and streamlining the permit process for commercial dog walkers on open space land. The goal of this proposal is to provide a process that works for the Open Space District, dog walkers, both commercial and private, and anyone who uses and enjoys open space. 

The proposal committee, Dog Walkers of Marin, focused on the following key issues:

Open Space (OS) Key Issues:
1. Protection and Preservation of the Land
2. Administrative Workload
3. Financial Costs
4. Enforcement

Dog Walkers of Marin (DWOM) Key Issues:
1. Education—Commercial and Private community
2. Fire Road/Trail Usage
3. Public Perception

The following elements are essential parts of the permit process that we would like to implement. We believe these fundamental changes, in addition to the proposed changes we have made to the permit application process will, in effect:

reduce the administrative duties and costs of OS
help beautify and maintain trails on OS land
educate the public and commercial dog walkers about trail etiquette and usage
reduce the number of complaints about dog walkers
support responsible dog walkers
provide an outlet for commercial dog walkers to self regulate

1.  Dog Walkers of Marin (DWOM) becomes an official organization similar to The Marin Horse Council or the Marin Bicycle Coalition.  DWOM will:

a) Partner with OS and/or a 3rd party administrator such as the Marin Humane Society (MHS) to assist in the policing of dog walkers not in compliance on OS land, educating commercial dog walkers, dog owners and the general public about rules and regulations and trail etiquette, as well as maintaining open communication with OS and/or 3rd party officials.

b) Provide educational materials such as brochures and informational cards about trail etiquette and the rules and regulations for dog owners and commercial dog walkers. These will be distributed by DWOM members to vet hospitals, pet stores, etc as well as can be handed out to people on OS land.

c) Require those who would like to obtain a permit for dog walking to become a member. Members do not need to be commercial dog walkers.

d) Membership to DWOM would have a code of ethics relating to trail etiquette, dog handling, etc. Dues would cover administrative costs, educational brochures, website maintenance as well as donations to partnering organizations.

e) Participate in Trail Manners class instruction.

f) Provide continuing education via events, classes, online newsletters, etc.

g) Coordinate volunteer days to pick up poop and clean trails on OS as well as take part in other community services.

2.  New and improved Trail Manners Class will:

a) Have representatives from DWOM involved in trail etiquette classes.

b) Include information on Open Space such as its mission, compliance and noncompliance, and the permit process.

c) Have a two part class, one in the classroom and the other that takes place on an actual fire road with dogs and a small class group.  Curriculum to be created in cooperation between DWOM, MHS and OS.

d) Be offered more frequently by authorized companies or representatives such as DWOM member companies, Dog Tech, and/or MHS (all using the same curriculum).

3.  Fire road and trail access for dog walkers:

a) Fire roads will be accessible to any permitted dog walker except in certain high traffic areas.

b) Signage at trailheads will indicate permitted walkers can walk up to 6 dogs, on fire roads.  A DWOM phone number can be added to call for dog related, questions, complaints, etc.


Applicants and their representatives (i.e. employees, contractors, or other qualified handlers) must obey all applicable regulations, including Marin County Open Space District ordinances as well as the following conditions:

1.  Any person who walks or exercises more than 3 dogs for a fee or who walks more than three personal dogs on OS must obtain a permit.

2.  Walking more than 3 dogs at one time is permitted only Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.  Any other days and/or times must be approved by OS.

3.  Any person, private or commercial, must first register with OS in order to obtain a permit. The fee for registration is $300.  **See Requirements for Obtaining a Dog Walking Permit prior to registering.

4.  Once registered, the dog owner or company must obtain a permit for a fee of $25 per permit. Additional permits may be obtained for any employee, contractor, or other qualified representative.

5.  Permits are valid for two years after the date of registration.

6.  Permitted handlers are limited to 6 dogs total per handler on designated fire roads only. A three dog off-leash limit is allowed, with any other dogs walked by the handler on leash.

7.  Handlers must carry one leash per dog when on OS land.

8.  Handlers must carry waste removal bags while on OS land.

9.  Dogs off-leash must remain on fire roads at all times due to sensitive habitats and species preservation.

10.  Dogs must be kept under the immediate control and direction of the handler. This includes: All dogs must be in view and no more than 30 feet from handler when off leash on fire roads. All dogs must return to the handler within 2 calls and within 15 seconds.

11.  Dogs must not disturb other users of OS and must be controlled in their presence (disturbance is defined as physically harming, displaying threatening behavior, jumping on, or unwelcome touching).

12.  Handlers must pick up their dogs’ waste while on OS land and remove it to an off-site location or dispose of it in available receptacles provided by DWOM.

13.  All dogs four months of age or more are required to wear current dog licenses while on OS land or the handler must carry proof of vaccinations for any unlicensed dog.

14.  Handler must screen dogs for behavior problems prior to walking on OS land. This includes but is not limited to aggression towards other dogs, people or wildlife, inability to control a dog due to poor obedience, etc. Aggressive or dangerous dogs are NOT allowed on OS land and must be removed immediately.

15.  Every handler shall carry their permit and DWOM membership photo ID with them while using OS and make it available when requested.

16.  Permits are suspended and dog walking is prohibited during periods of Red Flag Warnings (high fire danger). For information on fire conditions call (415) 499-7191. Permits may be suspended for other dangerous conditions as well. Call (415) 507-2816 for current information.

17.  Reasonable excessive complaints about a permitted handler’s use of OS lands or non-compliance with permit rules and regulations, District ordinances or other laws may result in permit suspension or cancellation.

18.  Permit holders are responsible for notifying OS District for loss, theft or transfer of permit(s).

19.  Transferring a permit is only allowed by companies or dog owners who are registered and hold permits with OS. A permit may be transferred to another person who has successfully completed all requirements for obtaining a dog walking permit and who is registered under the original permit holder.  *See Requirements for Obtaining a Dog Walking Permit.


Eligible persons must:

•  Be members of Dog Walkers of Marin (DWOM) and maintain their membership as long as they hold a permit.

•  Complete classes in trail manners provided by a designated trainer, company or organization (i.e. MHS, DWOM, Soulmates Animal Care, Paws and Claws Pet Care, Dog Tech, etc.).  These classes must provide hands-on experience

•  Complete a class in basic dog obedience provided by a qualified trainer, company or organization that includes hands-on experience.

•  Obtain and provide a copy to the OS District a Certificate of Commercial General Liability Insurance in an amount not less than $1,000,000 which shall be maintained for the term of the permit. Said policies shall remain in force through the life of this permit and shall be payable on a “per occurrence” basis.  ETC……


Increase the number of permitted fire roads to decrease congestion on other existing fire roads.

Trail accessibility can be subject to change based on assessment by OS of each trail and the overall needs and requirements based on OS District’s mission.

(Formerly Dog Walkers of Marin)