Reading Practice

Read the following texts. Put your answers on this answer  sheet. 

Answer sheet (open link)

Text 1 Questions 1-14

Professional dog walkers in London sound alarm over curbs on numbers of pets

Cap of 40 licences on Hampstead Heath means up to 700 animals could miss daily exercise

The Guardian 1st August 2021

Questions 1-8 Read the text and complete the sentences.

When drizzle engulfs the northern edge of Hampstead Heath, the only people to be seen are dog walkers.

Alex Marchant prefers it this way. On sunny weekends, he and most of the other members of the Hampstead Professional Dog Walkers Association (HPDWA) avoid the heath.

“It gets quite busy,” he says. “You don’t want to disturb people who are sunbathing.”

On hot weekdays, he arrives early to avoid the dogs getting too hot. In the afternoons, he helps dogs with behavioural problems by going dog running: a 5km jog to give them a proper workout.

Maybe not for much longer though. The City of London Corporation is introducing a licensing scheme for professional dog walkers. The proposals will limit walkers to four dogs and cap the number of licences at 40 per year.

That means Marchant could be one of about 100 professional dog-walkers who the HPDWA believes will be barred from Hampstead Heath, Queen’s Park and Highgate Wood, part of the 11,000 acres of green space that the corporation looks after.

“We’re worried about what will happen to the dogs,” Marchant says. “Our calculation is that it will leave 700 dogs a day without walking services. They could be rehomed or even abandoned.”

If dog owners without a walker leave their pets at home during the day, that can lead to behavioural problems, Marchant says. Not all owners would be prepared to stick by their pet if it begins to cause problems, and one in five people who bought a puppy during the pandemic are already considering rehoming them, according to a Kennel Club survey.

“We’re also worried that the cost will go up and make dog-walking something for only rich people,” Marchant says. His firm, Forest and Fur, charges £25 for a two-hour walk. “That’s the higher end of the spectrum,” he says. “With the cap, some people could end up charging upwards of £40, even £50.”

Questions 1-8. Complete the sentences. Use no more than 3 words from the text.

  1. On a rainy day in Hampstead Heath……………………………………….. be seen.
  2. Sunbathers shouldn’t ……………………………………………….dog walkers.
  3. Alex Marchant jogs ………………………………………………… dogs that have behavioural problems.
  4. Dog walkers ………………………..  to four dogs.

5.    Marchant is at risk of ………………………………………… Hampstead Heath.

6.    700 dogs could be rehomed or abandoned if they are left…………………………………

7.    Behavioural problems are very likely to occur when……………………………..dogs at home.

8.    If the cap for 40 licenses is put in place, prices will have to increase so, it goes without saying that,………………….……………………will be able to access to the service.

Questions 9-14 Read the text and answer TRUE, FALSE or  INFORMATION NOT GIVEN

In discussions with the HPDWA, the City of London has cited safety concerns, suggesting that some walkers have more than 10 dogs with them, an uncontrollable amount.

“We don’t object to the idea of having a maximum of four dogs,” Marchant says. He is walking with five: Marcel, Vegas, Margot, Maude and Mochi, but insurers already limit their policies for professionals to cover a maximum of six dogs, he says. “All we’re asking for is for the same rights as walkers in other parks, like the Royal Parks – they have no cap.”

Margot’s owner, Tracy Short, a self-employed career coach, told the Observer she was “really concerned” about the proposed rules.

“Socialisation with other dogs is key, and she’s a much happier dog as a result of her regular twice-weekly walks,” Short said. “But my husband and I are both self-employed, and if the price goes up we won’t be able to afford it any more. This is going to hit a lot of people where it hurts.”

More than 4,400 people have signed a petition against the restrictions, and when walking around the heath’s northern extension with Marchant, it’s clear that many private dog owners are equally concerned by the changes.

“I’m a barrister and I ordinarily work outside London,” says Kerrie Croxford, who is with her two dogs, Orlando and Hardy. “At the moment we’re doing remote hearings but it looks like I’ll be back in court from November. I’m worried about how I’m going to get my dogs looked after.”

Rachel Morris, who is out with Dodger, says the professionals are a vital part of the dog-walking community, helping to find lost dogs and spot potential dog thieves. “It’s a family,” she says. “We look out for other people’s dogs, we make play dates, we educate each other. Dogs are pack animals, so meeting other dogs is really important to get them socialised.”

The Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest animal welfare charity, is also concerned about the limit of 40 licences and urged the corporation to reconsider. Hannah Evans, senior public affairs officer, said restrictions would have “a detrimental effect on dog welfare, for example with dogs being left home alone for long periods of time,” she said. “Where owners do not have other sources of support, we are concerned that limiting options for professional walkers could result in some owners having to give up their dogs.”

But the rise in dog ownership has brought other problems. In March, the Royal Parks asked dog owners to stick to paths and keep their pets on leads to protect skylarks, which nest on the ground. The RSPCA said it backed the idea of licensing professional dog walkers.

Dr Sam Gaines, the RSPCA’s dog welfare expert, said: “Currently, only a small number of local authorities have anything that resembles regulations for dog walkers, which means there are no checks on who these people are and how they ensure the needs of the dogs in their care are being met.”

He said it was “a positive step that some councils are choosing to license professional dog walking” and said schemes needed to require professionals to have up-to-date knowledge about their responsibilities.

A City of London Corporation spokesperson said it would keep licence numbers “under review”, and “if additional licences can be issued without the commercial activity impacting on wildlife, the amenity of the heath, and without causing disruption to recreational users, this will be considered.”

A review would come too late for the dog walkers, Marchant said. “Who can afford to keep their business on hold for a year?”

Questions 9-14 Read the text and answer TRUE, FALSE or  INFORMATION NOT GIVEN 

9. CoL state that too many walkers have more than 10 dogs.

10. At least one of the owners who was interviewed would not be able to afford to pay more.  

11. Private dog owners are not concerned about all this.

12. Dog walkers are considered to be a burden for the local community.

13.  The RSPCA backs the scheme.

14. Dog walkers who are not given a licence will be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings.

Text 2 Questions 15 -28 Read the text and answer the questions.

Hampstead Heath is limiting the number of dog walkers allowed in the park.  Professional dog walkers will need to apply for a license to take their pooches for walkies

Written by Rhian Daly Wednesday 4 August 2021

Fewer dogs could be given their daily walks on Hampstead Heath soon as the City of London seeks to introduce a licensing scheme for professional dog walkers. 

The new scheme would see only 40 licenses issued a year and would cover the Heath, Queen’s Park and Highgate Wood. Initially it was suggested that walkers would be given a permit to walk their canine charges in either the morning (between 7am and 12pm) or the afternoon (12pm-5pm), but this has since been dropped from the scheme by the City of London.

The licenses would also only allow walkers to take four dogs onto the Heath at one time. The City of London has introduced the measure over safety concerns, saying it had received complaints about walkers exercising 10 dogs at once and struggling to control them.

More than 4,800 people have signed a petition against the scheme, which was started by the Hampstead Professional Dog Walkers Association (HPDWA), since it was first announced last year. They say the restrictions, which will begin in October 2021, will mean small businesses that have already been under pressure during the pandemic will not be able to continue under the new regulations. 

The HPDWA has asked the City of London to increase the dog limit per walk to six, with a maximum of four dogs off the lead at one time. They also want there to be no cap on the number of licenses available or at least 100 to be available, no time restrictions on the licenses and to make the licenses transferable between dog walkers working at the same company. 

The City of London has said the number of licenses would be kept under review and that additional licenses would be considered as long as they wouldn’t impact wildlife and disrupt the Heath’s recreational users. The RSPCA has also backed the scheme, of which similar ones are already in operation in boroughs including Wandsworth and Battersea, and in the Royal Parks. Wandsworth’s scheme has 50 licenses available allowing walkers to walk a maximum of eight dogs at once, while the Royal Parks’ scheme allows licenses to be transferred between colleagues. 

‘Currently, only a small number of local authorities have anything that resembles regulations for dog walkers, which means there are no checks on who these people are and how they ensure the needs of the dogs in their care are being met,’ the charity’s dog welfare expert Dr Sam Gaines told the Guardian

The HPDWA say they are still in negotiations with the Hampstead Heath Management Committee and are hopeful that a scheme will be introduced that is equal to ones in operation in other parts of London.

15/16. Two other words are used for ‘dog’ in the text. What are they and in what contexts can they be used?

17. Explain the meaning of  ‘struggling’ as used in the context on this  text.

18/19. Which word in the  text could be replaced with ‘omitted’? Write a sentence using the word in a different scenario.

20/21. Which word could be replaced with ‘supports’? Write a sentence using the word in a different scenario.

22. Complete the following sentence with your own words. 

A maximum of four dogs……………………………………………………

23. Complete the following sentence with your own words.

The pandemic has……………………………………………………………. 

24. Complete the following sentence with your own words. Include the word ‘underway”


25. Complete the following sentence with your own words. Include the word ‘impossible’

Without checking……………………………………………………………….

26. Complete the following sentence with your own words. Include the word ‘awareness’

A petition……………………………………………………………………………

27/28. Summarise the extract below starting with ‘With similar schemes already in existence……………

 The RSPCA has also backed the scheme, of which similar ones are already in operation in boroughs including Wandsworth and Battersea, and in the Royal Parks. Wandsworth’s scheme has 50 licenses available allowing walkers to walk a maximum of eight dogs at once, while the Royal Parks’ scheme allows licenses to be transferred between colleagues. 

Text 3 Questions 29-40

Improve the new licensing scheme for professional dog walkers on Hampstead Heath.



Hampstead professional dog walkers association started this petition to the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath, Highgate Woods and Queen’s Park Committee

A.The City of London (CoL) are introducing a new licensing scheme for dog walkers on Hampstead Heath, Queens Park & Highgate Wood that will impact local businesses and dog owners across North London. The restrictions, now rescheduled for introduction in October 2021, are being introduced amidst the Covid-19 crisis, meaning that small businesses already under severe financial pressures, cannot carry on under this new regulatory burden. 

B.The professional dog walking community welcomes regulation in principle, where it will help to protect members of the public, dogs, dog walkers and the Heath. However the measures proposed are so arbitrary and so draconian that more than sixty successful, small and medium sized enterprises, built with love and hard work over the years, will be forced to close as a result of the changes.  

C.With the rapid rise in puppy sales since the first lockdown back in March 2020, we expect to see a spike in demand for dog walking and dog sitting services across the city when many will be returning to work. If people are unable to access reliable dog daycare services it could have devastating repercussions for our customers and the dogs involved. These repercussions could include shelters becoming overwhelmed with dogs and dogs being left alone for prolonged periods of time, causing separation anxiety in the dogs as well as behavioural problems linked to a lack of socialisation. Dog walkers are an important part of the community. We do not just walk the dogs of the rich and the famous - a trope the media seem to love! We walk the dogs of the elderly and infirm, the mobility restricted and the key workers who will not be able to keep their pet without our services. 

D.The professional dog walkers submitted our concerns and suggestions to the CoL who agreed to engage in a meaningful dialogue with us. In those discussions, some small progress has been made.

However, on the really important elements of the scheme, we have still not received a substantive response to our concerns or proposals. In fact, we have been told that “competing priorities have meant that officers have had to focus on other matters”. CoL promised us an Expression of Interest form which would enable them to gauge the level of demand for dog walking licenses. They promised this in November 2020 and it has not yet arrived. 

E.This dismally conceived policy is (re)scheduled to start in October. That does not give us professional dog walkers much time to help them shape a policy that is practical when they won’t meaningfully engage with us. Or to look for another job, and consolidate our debts, if the policy is to be introduced in its current form. CoL has still not obtained any real feedback from the professional dog walking community at large and they are unwilling to engage further with the Association on the principles that matter most.

F. December last year we asked the City of London to amend the licensing scheme before it was too late, and this is what we asked them.

To delay the rollout of this policy, for a year, until businesses have had a chance to recover from the recession caused by Covid-19.
Continue to permit a six dog limit per walker, with a maximum of four dogs off lead at one time.
Not to introduce a cap on the number of licences available.
Not to introduce time-restricted slots for walkers.
To make the new licenses transferrable between people working within a company.
G.To ensure that the application process is simple and accessible. 

We invite you to read our position paper and to see why we have made these proposals. They are entirely reasonable and satisfy the stated objectives of the CoL Heath strategy. CoL agreed to our Requests 1, 4, 5 and 6. Although we are grateful for those concessions please do not be under the illusion that they represent a gift. They were part of a rushed and ill-considered policy, full of conditions that do not exist anywhere else and are not appropriate to these parks and these businesses. The withdrawal of those elements, when we explained how pointlessly damaging they would be, is a relief but hardly a compromise. 

H.The core elements of the licensing scheme remain unchanged:  forty licensees are allowed to walk four dogs per walk. We have explained to CoL that there are more than sixty companies operating. Some of whom (with multiple employees) will need more than one license. Four dogs, one of which is usually the dog walkers’ own dog, is, in reality, three dogs. Three dogs, after cancellations, sick days, holidays etc. is in reality two dogs. Two dogs per walk, if you are one of the lucky ones who obtain a license… is not a business. And how do you run a business when every year you have to enter a lottery to see if you are still allowed to run a business!? 

I.The arguments against the 40 licence/ 4 dog limit are too many for a summary like this one. But everything boils down to this: We are small businesses trying to stand on our own two feet. We don’t ask for handouts, we pay our taxes, we clean up after ourselves and we love our community. We welcome a licensing scheme but not one that suffocates us. We apologise for the language. But this is our livelihoods, under threat, without cause. 

If you would like to express your support please sign our petition. 

J. This is what is fair: 

1. ’No limit on licenses’ so that everyone is able to continue working. Instead of limiting them at the outset, licenses should in the future be withdrawn from operators who breach their licensing conditions. 

2. Walkers should be allowed to continue to walk up to six dogs on the condition that only four are allowed off-lead at once. Walkers are insured to do so, they are trained to do so, and their license will only permit them to walk dogs professionally if they are competent. If they are not, the license can be withdrawn. 

If you leave us your email address we might send you one more request for help in the future. We will not bombard you with updates or requests and we will not be fund-raising. We might need to marshal letters of support from the broader community who agree with us that this policy is unnecessarily oppressive and can be improved for the benefit of everyone.  

You can find us on social media @hampsteadpdwa.


Questions 29- 38

Identify the paragraph ( letters A-J)  with the following information.


29.CoL do not consider this as an utmost priority.

30. Not all businesses will survive

31. Dogs and their owners will suffer the consequences

32. The whole process was carried out  far too quickly

33. Incompetent dog walkers will be penalised

34. Owners only pay when a dog is walked.

35. The document is not long enough to explain everything

36. 2022 should be the initiation of the restrictions 

37. The pandemic is not over

38. CoL have not sought further communication with the Association.

Questions 39-40

Write a formal email to the CoL supporting the Association’s request to review the policy. ( 100 words maximum)


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