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Dogs are great companions that people often think about as being part of their family. They do require a lot of work which is why many owners hire others to do activities like walking their dogs. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, like to stay active, and have a passion for our furry, four-legged friends, a dog walking business could be the right endeavor.
Starting a business isn’t a straightforward process. Building a dog business from the ground up requires a lot of work and planning, but it’s another way for kids to make money and learn about entrepreneurship and responsibilities. We’ve put together this guide on how to start a dog walking business to tell you what you need to know.
How to start a dog walking business
Starting a dog walking business isn’t as easy as putting on some sneakers and packing some waste bags. There are a lot of things that you should consider beforehand. As a small business entrepreneur, you’ll need to handle all aspects of your venture. From handling administrative tasks like scheduling to marketing your services, you’ll need to be prepared for it all.
What does a dog walker do?
Dog walking is exactly what the name entails. If you love animals and enjoy taking care of them, a dog walking business would likely make a lot of sense. But above simply exercising dogs, you are responsible for their well-being and safety while they are in your care.
What that means is that you should know how to handle emergencies and handle pet first aid. Getting insured and bonded by an insurance company is another necessity.
You also have to be prepared for handling a changing schedule. Depending on your bookings, you may have to walk dogs at the crack of dawn. It might require trips across the town to visit different homes. You also have to make time to take phone calls and schedule walks. Each day could look very different.
Since you are the brand and image of your business, being professional is crucial. That means fulfilling the services that were agreed upon and showing up on time. Nowadays, there are apps that people can use to find a dog sitter. But many prefer having a local, reliable, and trustworthy dog walker to take care of their pets.
Why should you start a dog walking business?
A dog walking business is a great business venture if you have a love for a man’s best friend. It is a great time to start a dog walking service. The American Pet Products Association found that there are 89.7 million dogs in the U.S. That translates to a huge need for dog-walking services.
What are the pros and cons of a dog walking business
When considering starting a dog walking business, you have to make sure it’s the right route. Some of the pros include:
- Set your hours – work as much or as little as you want
- Possibility of making a steady income
- Is a rewarding job for pet entusantics
- It will allow you to get a lot of exercises
- Doesn’t require a lot of startup costs
- Customers tend to be loyal
- The chance to be your boss
Sounds great, doesn’t it? There are some potential cons to running a dog walking business to think about as well like:
- Lack of benefits like health insurance since you’re typically self-employed
- Must understand and pay self-employment taxes
- Your work might be inconsistent
- May not receive a steady paycheck each month
- Must be comfortable in social and business situations
- Work can be repetitive and get tiresome
What are the costs of a dog walking business?
Starting a business requires covering startup and ongoing costs. It’s important to have a good idea of what to expect with a dog walking business. Here are some startup costs that you’ll likely come across:
- LLC or DBA ($10-$500+) – These two are the most common legal structures. The cost depends on your state and the structure you choose.
- Business Bank account ($0 and up) – Having a separate bank account for your dog walking business will make it easier to track your expenses and handle your taxes.
- Business license ($0-$400+) – Depending on your state, you might need to have a business license to operate your business.
- Pet Sitting Insurance ($130+) – Getting insurance will protect you and your clients. Your clients may also ask if you have insurance.
- Pet First Aid Class ($50-$200+) – It’s a good idea to know about pet first aid so you can handle emergencies. Clients will also feel more assured that their beloved pet is in good hands.
In addition to these startup costs, you’ll have recurring expenses to budget for. Ongoing costs include:
- Website ($15-$50) – You’ll need a dog walking website for clients to learn more about your services. It’s not necessary to know how to code these days with options like Wix.
- Marketing ($10+) – Economical ways to promote your business include posting flyers and business cards in the area.
- Dog walking supplies ($5+) – A leash, collapsible water bowl, treats, and waste bags are the basics that you’ll need when starting. As you start taking on clients, you will need to replenish your supplies and learn about other things you may need.
How to start a dog walking business
Every entrepreneur has a different path. You might start your dog walking business as a side hustle that revolves around your day job. Then you might see it as a way to quit your 9-5. Whatever the case for wanting to start a dog walking business, you’ll want to follow the seven steps below to increase your chances of success.
Determine your name
You need a name for your dog walking business. Come up with a catchy, fun name to attract the attention of potential clients.
Get a business license
With your chosen name, you’re ready to set up your business. Determine if you want to go the LLC or DBA route. Then obtain a business license so you’re ready to start finding clients.
Research your market and area to determine potential customers
Find out more about your market before you start advertising your dog service. A Google search will quickly find your competitors and help you decide which areas you may want to work in. Talk to dog owners at places like a dog park and ask them about their experience with dog walkers and their pain points.
Prepare pricing and services
Your research will also give you an idea of what competitors are charging and the type of services they offer. With that information on hand, you can figure out how much you’ll charge for your services.
Do you want to add other services? A pet sitting business might be the type of service to add on. Pet owners have many needs that could provide multiple revenue streams.
Consider getting insurance
Accidents will happen and there is a chance you’ll have a dog that will injure itself or cause damage. That’s why you should protect yourself with dog walking insurance.
Market your business
To attract customers, you need to promote your business. Creating a website and leveraging social media are great tools to use. Use apps like Nextdoor, Facebook, Craigslist, and Yelp to market your business. When you have happy clients, ask them for referrals.
How to get paid
Collecting money is another important part of running your dog walking business. Decide how you’re going to invoice clients. Consider whether to take payment up-front or after service. Nowadays people are paying for transactions with payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash app. Make sure you choose your methods of payment and set up the necessary accounts.
Dog walking business FAQs
Do I need any training or certifications to be a dog walker?
There is no requirement for training or certification to become a professional dog walker. However, it is a good idea to pursue some professional training or certification to show you’re committed to the business. First Aid and CRP are important certifications that could help you in an emergency.
How much does a dog walking business make?
You could make anywhere from $28,000 to over six figures with a dog walking service. How much you make depends on factors like how many clients you have, the cost of living in your local area, if you scale your business and hire employees, and how much you’re willing to work.
According to IBISWorld, the dog walking services industry in the US was measured by revenue to be $1 billion in 2022. The dod walking business is a lucrative business model.
How hard is it to start a dog walking business?
Just like starting any other type of business, a successful dog walking business requires a lot of hard work. You’re responsible for building the business from the ground up. If you love dogs and are willing to work hard, it may well be worth it.
Is insurance required to become a dog walker?
You might be required to have insurance depending on where you live. That being said, you should get insurance whether or not it is required. What would happen to your business if a dog bites a person while you’re walking them? Protect yourself financially from these unexpected situations by getting dog walking insurance.
How can you find more dog walking clients?
A good place to start is to ask your friends and family if they need dog walking services. Don’t forget about traditional marketing methods like posting flyers on bulletin boards. Use social media outlets to get the word out about your dog walking services. Create a referral program that gives your current clients an incentive for referring their friends.
A dog walking service business could be the right match if you love dogs and want to own your own business. Starting a business is never easy and full of unexpected bumps in the road. Prepare yourself as much as possible by choosing the right type of legal structure, getting insurance, and researching the market. A dog walking business that serves your local area is great for the community!