How to Start a Dog Walking Business: A Detailed Guide

How to Start a Dog Walking Business

Love animals and keep fit? Dog walking business is an easy way to increase your income. You can start it in several stages by following our instructions.

Important Steps Before Starting a Business 

To start successfully, carry out preparatory work: upgrade your skills and make a plan. 

Special education

Since you will be responsible for pets, you need to be able to handle them, read signals of behavior, and be able to act in unusual situations. Although it is not necessary to receive specialized education for this, remember that it will increase your credibility in front of customers and give you a head start on a competitive market:

  • take specialized courses: for example, on animal behavior, caring for them or providing first aid;
  • gain experience by volunteering for a while in a kennel for stray dogs or a dog training center.

Certificate of Good Conduct

People will trust you with the keys to their homes. So that they do not doubt you, show a certificate of good conduct – it is easy to get it at the local authorities. In different countries, the conditions and cost of processing a document differ, for example:

  • USA: on ways to get proof of good conduct read on the Tourism Office website ;
  • UK: how to order a certificate can be found on the government portal ; 
  • Russia: a certificate can be ordered on the website of the State Service.

Basic rules: what you need to know before you get started

  • Be sure to be physically fit. Firstly, you have to walk a lot in any weather and season, and secondly, to cope with animals: think over the maximum size and weight of the dogs with which you are ready to work. 
  • Remember that you should always control the situation: decide how many dogs are ready to walk at one time. Experienced dog handlers recommend taking no more than four animals for a walk.
  • Prepare a document for accounting work: Google spreadsheets or any other service convenient for you. It is necessary to write down the contact details of each client and detailed information about the animals: name, breed, color, medical history, contacts of the veterinarian. Remember that you should not disclose personal information to customers.

Starting a business: customer search, budget, and legal aspects

How to calculate prices, where to look for customers, whether it is necessary to conclude an agreement and how to develop a business – we answer the basic questions.

How to find the first customers?

  • The inner circle. Offer services to friends and acquaintances, ask them to recommend you – so you start word of mouth. 
  • Outdoor advertising. Print flyers or service brochures. Distribute them in places where the target audience is: pet stores, veterinary clinics, supermarkets.
  • Social networks. Keep an account on professional topics in social networks that your customers prefer. Demonstrate knowledge and experience, publish useful content, shoot funny videos from walking with animals.
  • Own niche. Set yourself apart from competitors – this will help to stand out in the market and interest customers. Analyze who is already working in the selected area, what services they provide. Think about something new you can offer: it can be additional care for animals or training.

To steadily increase the number of customers:

  • Provide excellent service. In addition to professionalism, several other factors influence the success of a business: personal approach, punctuality and goodwill. Do not be indifferent, because you are trusted by family favorites. Ask people what their pets like, what features they need to pay attention to, what health problems to consider. 
  • Ask customers to leave feedback: publish them on social networks, post on advertising flyers or on the site.
  • Adjust your marketing strategy. When new customers contact you, ask how they learned about the service. Analyze which promotion methods work more efficiently and direct more efforts there.

How to create a budget?

Although a pet-walking business can be started without investment, you should think about the following nuances in advance:

  • invest in comfortable wear-resistant clothes and comfortable shoes for your climate and area;
  • think about how you will get to work: by car, public transport or on foot.

After that, form the tariffs:

  • study the prices of competitors in your area: at the start you can offer a slightly lower tariff to attract customers;
  • plan the tariff packages: write down the amount for the service or a certain time of the walk, offer a preferential program (for example, a discount for walking two dogs of one client);
  • if you provide additional services (training, delivery to the veterinarian), consider their cost.

Do I need insurance and contract?

Although insurance is not required to start a livestock business, it will demonstrate your serious approach to business. The insurance policy will protect against a possible lawsuit if an emergency occurs during a walk:

  • liability insurance can protect you in case of damage to other people’s property;
  • accident insurance provides compensation for injuries or death.

The contract governs the relationship between you as a service provider and the owner of the animal as a client. Write down the maximum of nuances in it, in particular:

  • a list of all the services that you provide;
  • their cost;
  • clarification of time and conditions: how long the walk lasts, how many animals you will walk at the same time;
  • emergency actions: for example, do you have the right to independently seek veterinary care.

How to come up with an original name for a business

One of the basic elements of branding is a catchy name. We prepared three tips that will help in naming:

  • Your task is to create a friendly and not too serious image. Add a drop of humor, plug in a pun or rhyme.
  • Use non-standard ideas: to stimulate a brainstorm, write down all the associations that come to mind in connection with pets.
  • Do not forget about simplicity: a good name reflects the essence of the business, it should be easy to remember and pronounce.

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