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How to Start a Dog Walking Business: A Simple Guide

How to Start a Dog Walking Business

“Are you bonded and insured?”. Expect this question from fellow pet walkers when you start your own dog-walking business! But what are other questions you need to have answers for?

Do you want to start providing pet services, such as individual or group dog walking, dog training, etc., but don’t know where to start?

In this simple guide, we’re explaining various aspects of starting a dog walker business. Whether you are a natural animal lover or looking to build a business on the local pet care market, there are similar things to consider.

Let’s start with an actual obligation of a dog walking professional as well as a typical client type so that you know what you’ll do!

  1. Services: feeding, watering, playtime (may vary), and walking. Get prepared so that your schedule will never be the same every day.
  2. A typical client situation is a busy workday schedule.
  3. Location of care is mainly walks that take place outdoors.
  4. The work may involve doing your job in any weather and holiday period.
  5. A lot of business and marketing things are involved: logo, colors, website, apps, pet care software, and more.

Moreover, dog walking businesses can function as both a one-person job and a team effort: a solo dog walker can manage a smaller client base and keep overhead costs low – this can be even working with your neighbors! 

Right from the beginning or as the business grows, a dog walker might consider hiring additional walkers, expanding your service area, and taking on more clients. So your initial expenses will pretty much depend on how many people you want to be involved in the business.

Starting a Dog Walking Business

Starting a Dog Walking Business

Many dog walkers start by working for a local pet care business, where it’s easy to learn the ins and outs of pet care. But with so much information available online and in various workshops, you may even skip this part and start from scratch.

Choose services you can offer

What services would you love to offer in addition to just walking dogs? Which ones are popular among your potential customers? Research and consider various types of services possible:

  • Dog Walking
  • Dog running
  • Dog hiking
  • Dog training
  • Pet sitting (scheduled) 
  • Emergency visits
  • Pet waste cleanup
  • Pet food pick up and delivery.

Know dog vaccination requirements

You’ll need to ask for proof of up-to-date vaccinations for dogs you walk. Common vaccinations required include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and bordetella (kennel cough).

Get bonded and insured

As a dog walker (pet sitters should do the same), you must carry pet liability insurance to protect yourself from financial responsibility in case of accidents or injuries involving the dogs in their care. Bonding can also be an option, providing additional financial protection for pet owners in case of theft or loss. Acquiring pet walking insurance is necessary to keep yourself protected and have great peace of mind. Read about the main insurance providers in your area.

Set your pricing and find clients

Set your pricing and find clients

How much to charge to be cost-effective and attractive to your clients? You can compare prices of your competitors in the area by, for example, checking such apps as PetPocketbook or Scout. Using such apps, you won’t be just able to find the needed information but can also create your profile and start finding clients in your area or even remote places. For smaller towns, serving a wider area may be better.

Needless to say, you can even build your own pet website and allow clients to book dog walking services only at times when you are available. All pricing tags can also be featured in the booking forms. With solutions like BookingPress, you can even allow clients to choose recurring appointments to get your services scheduled on a regular basis.

Understanding Costs & Licensing

Understanding Costs & Licensing

Even if you are a one-person dog walker, you need to get into the nuance of the legal structure you’d need to choose. The most common options include:

  • LLC (Limited Liability Company) is expensive to form but at the same time offers greater personal liability protection.
  • DBA (Doing Business As) is cheaper but sets your personal assets at risk.

Both allow you to have your own business name (different from your own) and open a separate business bank account.

Obtaining business licenses and permits specific to your business activity is also crucial, in some areas it’s important to obtain even a few ones. As a rule, it’s not that expensive, up to $600.

Another important thing is having a dog walking contract in place – a service agreement should clearly outline the services you will provide to a client and the conditions under which you are able to provide them.

Extras: Dog Walking Supplies, Software, Education & More

Extras: Dog Walking Supplies, Software, Education & More

Consider other – not so obvious – things that might take your business as a dog walker to the next level or simplify your routines. 

  1. Take your skills further with pet first aid classes, dog training classes, etc. This will help you be more self-assured and at the same time become more attractive to a wider range of clients. You can even take the challenge of becoming a certified dog walker.
  2. Leashes, collars, treats, water bowls, poop bags, etc. – your list of dog walking supplies should be well-thought. But don’t try to buy everything at once, you might want to learn your needs when you start working. Maybe we can prioritize a few key items now, and then you can add more later.
  3. Design materials for your dog walking business brand: your name, logo, and colors. You can use it in printed flyers, social networks, and your own dog walking business website.
  4. Think of how you can improve your “meets and greets” (a preliminary meeting between you and a potential client (the dog owner) and their dog.
  5. Think of pet care software and apps that can help you manage and improve your business.

What You Need to Know to Start a Dog Walking Business

Don’t let fear hold you back from starting your dog walking business. ​​As a dedicated dog walker and small business owner, you can build a successful business and become happy in what you do. Here are a few tips to consider when you are just getting started with the dog walking business:

  • Think of where you will offer your dog walking business services, in a preferred app, on popular dedicated platforms, or even on your own site.
  • If you live in a small rural area and want to work in a bigger city, consider the cost of extra travel expenses.
  • Study the legal requirements of the business before creating marketing and brand materials.

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Brian is a WordPress expert with a decade of developing experience & technical-writing. He enjoys blogging, movies & hiking.