HOW TO START A DOG-WALKING BUSINESS: 2023 Ultimate Guide

How to start a dog walking business
The Success Bug

Are you an animal lover looking for a way to supplement your income? Then dog walking may be for you, and you can make a good living doing it! But how do you start a dog-walking business in your neighborhood? Running a dog-walking business is no easy task! However, if it is something you are passionate about, go ahead and pursue your dream. Be sure to research the risks of starting a dog-walking business so you can address them and escape from them.

What is the Job of a Dog Walker?

Dog walkers visit their clients’ homes and walk their dogs, allowing the dogs to get their daily exercise without the client having to walk them. A dog walker will walk the dogs for 30 minutes or an hour. You will also be responsible for checking the dog’s water and food supplies after the walk to ensure they are well-fed. They will also be responsible for cleaning up after the dog on walks and informing the owner of any injuries that require medical attention. You’ll walk the dog instead of the owner in exchange for cash. Dog walkers can walk one or more dogs, but they must be careful that the dogs do not fight with one another. Dog walkers must be in good shape because they walk a lot.

How to Start a Dog Walking Business in Your Neighborhood

#1. Decide Which Services To Offer

Before you start your dog walking business, you must decide which services you can offer. You can either provide pet sitting services, in which you care for the dog in their home for a short period, or pet grooming services, in which you clean and ensure the dog’s health. It will take more time to perform these extra services, but you will be paid more. You can read articles that detail all of the services that dogs require, such as this one. It includes seven jobs that you can add to your dog walking service.

#2. Purchase Insurance

After you’ve determined all the services you can offer, you should consider purchasing insurance. You don’t want to have to pay for all of your dog’s expensive veterinarian bills if one of them gets into an accident. You can get “Pet Sitter Insurance” to cover the costs. However, you must consider the cost, as if you are only working for one summer, it is unlikely that you will get into trouble, but if you are working full-time, it would be beneficial to purchase insurance.

#4. Find a Job 

Post a poster in your neighborhood listing all of the services you offer, but keep in mind that dog walking should be the focus of your poster. Don’t forget to include a phone number where potential customers can reach you. Craigslist is another excellent resource for finding customers. Craigslist is a website where people post job openings, which you can apply for. 

#5. Apply For The Job.

Homeowners will be very picky when hiring a dog walker, and for good reason. They entrust their dogs to someone daily. Their pets are very important to them, and they do not want their dogs to be harmed. To make the best impression, you should be polite during the interview.

You might get tired after a long walk, but it will all be worth it. It will be fantastic to be able to put a dog walker on your future resume, and it will exponentially increase your chances of finding work in the future. Persist in the face of adversity, and greater things will await you.

Risks of Starting a Dog Walking Business

Dog walking, like any other business, has its risks. These range from insurance and safety risks to practical and logistical issues that many new entrepreneurs fail to consider before launching their businesses. Here are some of the most common and frequently overlooked risks and ways to mitigate or avoid them. 

#1. Taking on a Difficult or Unruly Dog, or Failing to Meet the Owner and Dog Before Accepting Their Business.

Before accepting new clients, meet the owners and their dogs. Unruly dogs can be dangerous to you, the public, and your business, so get to know them first, even if it means going out of business.

When possible, offer a trial period or test walk to see how the dog reacts to the lead, different commands, other pedestrians, and other dogs. You can also include a clause stating that the contract can be terminated if a dog becomes uncontrollable. Peninsula Paws’ Eleanor Murray recommends taking dogs locally during their trial period if they need to be returned for their or your safety.

#2. Accepting New Clients Without Taking Geographical Constraints Into Account

It’s all about repeat customers when it comes to dog walking. If you want to allow your business to grow, taking on multiple clients on a single day who live far away may be fine when you start, but it will limit your options as your business grows.

Set a geographic boundary and assign days to areas to easily group clients. This allows you to devote more time to multiple clients while reducing travel.

Most businesses require some form of insurance to protect both the company and the customer. There are inherent dangers associated with working with animals and a heightened risk of something happening to your client’s asset – in this case, their highly valued dog.

As a bare minimum, we recommend basic public liability insurance. Your business is covered by public liability insurance if it causes bodily harm or property damage. For example, if a dog scratched a child or chewed on a fence post and your company was sued, your insurance would cover the costs. Any injury to a pet in your care will also be covered by public liability insurance. This is especially important if you intend to take your dogs to places where there may be misbehaved dogs or if you intend to take your dogs off-leash.

When working with animals, personal accident insurance is also recommended. If a dog becomes scared or anxious, it may bite, causing you to lose business or be seriously injured. You may be dragged if you underestimate a dog’s strength, resulting in injuries. Personal accident insurance will assist you in covering any costs incurred as a result of injuries sustained while working.

  • Other insurance options to consider are:
  • Employer’s liability insurance is a legal requirement if you hire anyone to work for your company.
  • Stock insurance is required if you intend to use your equipment, such as crates if you plan to drive the dogs to dog parks, leads treat, toys, or any other equipment used in your business.
  • Legal expense insurance protects you if your company is sued for any reason.

#4. Not Being Aware of the Recommendations and Precautions

NarpsUK offers training courses, memberships, and guidelines for dog walkers. To start a dog-walking business, you should be fully aware of these guidelines. This is because they set the national standard. Following their guidelines protects yourself and your business practically and legally.

Among the most important pieces of advice are:

  • Having prior experience with animal care
  • Never use force on an animal, and only use reward-based training.
  • Before taking their business, always meet with the owners and ensure they fully understand the contract they are signing.
  • Walk no more than four dogs at once
  • Always ensure that excrement is disposed of properly.
  • Get local permits or permissions.
  • Have a current DBS clearance to show clients.

#5. Failure to Execute a Contract

Many new business owners start informally and don’t use legal documents like contracts until they’ve been in business for a while. This is a risk that should never be taken. Your dog walking business needs a contract to protect you from harm and keep unhappy pet owners from putting your business at risk. The contract will help you set clear boundaries with clients and ensure they know what to expect from the start. If you and your client are both aware of the expectations from the start, you are less likely to encounter any problems later. You may want to include the following in the contract:

  • Your service’s price
  • The amount of time/distance you will walk your dog.
  • How many dogs participate in each session?
  • Reasons why contract termination is permitted
  • Penalties for providing false information about a pet (such as recall ability or the extent of their training),
  • Who will provide dog walking equipment, and how will equipment damage be handled?
  • Policies for allowing dogs to run free
  • Where will the dogs be walked?
  • If you intend to walk the dog the entire time or transport it in your car to a suitable environment

Dog Walking Business Salary

Dog walkers have one of the most desirable jobs, but how much does this profession pay? Based on a survey of 1,000 people who work for themselves, the median income for dog walkers is $50,000.

How Much Do Dog Walkers Make Per Day?

In the United States, there are over 15,000 dog walkers. The average salary for the position is $15.11 per hour or $31,428 per year. However, dog walkers’ earnings vary depending on where they work in the United States, the additional services they provide, and whether they work for an employer or themselves. Self-employed dog walkers can earn $17 per hour or 12.5% more than other workers. The top 25% of self-employed dog walkers make $24.00 per hour or $49,920 per year.

How to Increase Your Salary as a Dog Walker

Wag your tail because there are numerous ways to increase your income as a dog walker. Try these methods.

  • Reconsider your pricing: Before you set your rates, do some research. Examine how other dog walkers in your area charge for their services. Consider bundling your services to increase client loyalty. For example, if a client pays in advance for ten walks, you can give them a 10% discount.
  • Extend your offerings: Many dog walkers choose to do more than walk dogs. Do you provide basic obedience training? What about pet care? As a dog walker, pet sitting can be a great way to supplement your income.
  • Increase your marketing efforts: Savvy dog walkers know how to hustle. Create a referral program for your clients in which they receive a discount for each dog they refer to you. More advertising ideas, such as business flyers, swag, and events, can be found on our blog.
  • Expand your business: Approximately half of the dog walkers we surveyed have employees, which increases the number of clients they can serve. You can still increase your earnings by walking multiple dogs at once (if your clients are okay with it).

Is a Dog Walking Business Profitable?

Dog walking is profitable, but it takes time to build a loyal customer base. Other professionals who walk dogs have used the following ways to make their businesses more profitable:

  • Walkers in larger cities can charge $30 for a 30-minute run or $200 for five 45-minute runs per week.
  • Dog running is available for high-energy dogs.
  • Services beyond basic care should be provided, such as feeding, watering, and strength and agility exercises.
  • Include overnight services/pet boarding in your list of services.
  • Learn how to become a certified dog trainer.
  • Teach dog training/educational classes – this can be done online or in person and can cover many subjects.

Is It Hard to Start a Dog-Walking Business?

To start a dog-walking business is straightforward. However, sharpening your knowledge can help you take your company to the next level. For example, accounting, marketing, and customer service skills can help you increase your profits in the dog-walking industry.

How Much Should I Get Paid to Walk a Dog for an Hour?

A dog walker, like any other worker, is paid hourly. So, what does a dog walker earn per hour? On average, dog walkers earn $13.69 per hour. 

Do You Need a License for Dog Walking?

Although a dog-walking business is unlikely to require a federal license, some businesses, such as fishing and agriculture, do. You must also obtain a federal and state tax ID number. This number is also known as an EIN or employer identification number.

How Do I Find Dog-Walking Clients?

Here are some tips to help you attract dog-walking clients and reach your business goals.

  • Create a website
  • Use social media to promote your company.
  • Create a YouTube channel.
  • Register for online directories.
  • Obtain certification
  • Plan a charity walk.
  • Collaboration with a shelter

Conclusion

A dog-walking business is ideal for an aspiring entrepreneur who loves animals. However, it only works if you find clients willing to pay for your services. You can also make profits when you’re very good and know how to avoid the risks that come with them.

References

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