How to Start a Dog Walking Business – What You Need to be Successful
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In this economy, it can be tough to find a stable job that pays the bills. If you're looking for a way to make some extra cash, a dog walking business might be the perfect opportunity for you. It's a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and it's also a fun way to meet new people. In this article, we'll outline everything you need to know about how to start a dog walking business.
In this step-by-step guide, we'll discuss how to market your services, what equipment you'll need, and how to charge your clients. So read on and start planning your new business today!
- What's the difference between dog walking and dog sitting?
- How to start a dog walking business - Calculate startup costs
- Creating your business: name, logo and website
- Gain skills and experience
- Find a means of transport
- Get professional photos done
- Invest in professional dog walking equipment
- Upgrade your business skills
- How to start a dog walking business - final thoughts...
What's the difference between dog walking and dog sitting?
Many dog owners think of dog walkers and pet sitters as two interchangeable roles. After all, both involve taking care of someone's dog while they're away, right? Well, not quite. While there are some similarities between the two services, there are also some key differences.
Dog walkers typically take dogs out for a walk around the block or to the park for some exercise.
A pet sitting business, on the other hand, is where the pet sitter stays at the owner's home and takes care of the dog while they're gone. This can involve taking the dog for walks, feeding and watering them, providing them with affection and attention, and more. Some dog walking businesses also offer services similar to that of a pet sitter.
How to start a dog walking business - Calculate startup costs
Have you ever thought about starting your own business? If you love dogs and enjoy spending time outdoors, then starting a dog walking business could be the perfect solution. But how do you know how much it will cost to get started as a dog walker?
Cost of starting a dog walking business
The dog walking industry has a low barrier to entry. That means it doesn't cost a lot of money to get started. In fact, most dog walkers start up with not much more than a good pair of walking shoes and a love for dogs!
However, there are a few other things you'll need to consider when calculating the business expenses of starting your dog walking enterprise.
For example, you'll need to factor in the cost of a professional website, marketing, and advertising, as well as any licenses or permits that may be required in your area.
Insurance is another must-have. Additionally, you'll need to purchase some basic supplies, like leashes, waste bags, and dog treats.
Formal training in how to care for dogs, canine behavior, and a pet first aid class is also very important. And, of course, you'll also need to factor in the cost of your time. If you're planning on doing this full-time, you'll need to account for the loss of income from your current job.
Make a list of expenses you expect to incur as part of your dog walking business plan. Then, research the average cost of each item on your list. This will give you a good ballpark estimate of how much it will cost to get your business up and running.
Items to consider when calculating the cost of starting a dog walking business:
- Marketing and advertising
- Licenses and permits
- Pet business insurance
- Supplies (leashes, waste bags, dog treats, etc.)
- Formal training
- Professional memberships
- Canine first aid course
Another important factor to consider when starting your own dog walking business is the time commitment involved.
You'll need to be available to walk dogs during the day, which means you'll have to be flexible with your schedule.
The average dog owner who works standard office hours will want dog walking services in the middle of the day to break up Fido's alone time, so you'll need to be available during those times.
You'll also need to factor in time for marketing, advertising, and administrative tasks.
Understand the rules and regulations - Licenses and permits
You'll need to register your new dog walking business with your local authorities. This is usually a simple process, but it's important to make sure that everything is done correctly in order to avoid any legal problems down the road.
Before starting your dog walking service, it's important to understand the rules and regulations in your area. Depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a business license or permit in order to operate legally.
There may also be restrictions on where you're allowed to walk dogs and how many dogs you can walk at one time, so be sure to check with your local authorities.
The cost of a business license or permit can vary depending on the location and type of business, but it's important to factor this cost into your overall startup expenses.
You will also need to start a separate business bank account. It's a good idea for small business owners to keep personal finances separate to make things easy to track.
Creating your business: name, logo and website
The first step in starting any business is to come up with a name and logo. This is an important part of establishing your brand and making your business recognizable.
You'll also need to create a website, which can be done easily and cheaply with one of the many website builder tools available online. Check out our article on Carrd review to discover just how easy it is to produce a one-page website.
Naming your business
Your business name is an important part of your brand (and we have an entire guide on how to name your business). It should be something that's easy to remember and represents what your business is all about. When choosing a name for your dog walking business, try to come up with something that's unique and catchy.
You can also use your own name as the business name, which is a common practice for sole proprietorships, although if you ever want to sell the business in the future, using your own name may limit your options.
Avoid using location-based keywords in your business name. You might not envisage moving home right now, but who knows what the future holds.
Once you've decided upon a catchy name, pop it into Google to make sure there are no other businesses with the exact same or similar name in your area. Once you've checked that, head over to Namecheap to make sure the domain name for your chosen business name is available too.
Creating a logo
Your logo is another important part of your brand and helps your business stand out. It should be simple and easy to remember, and it should represent what your business is all about.
Most dog walkers either hire a professional graphic designer to create a logo or use one of the many free logo-maker tools available online. Check out our article on the best place to get a logo designed for more info.
Pro tip: 99designs is an excellent place to get any of your design needs well taken care of!
Building a website
Whilst a website is not absolutely necessary to start a dog walking business, it's certainly a very good idea. In today's digital world, it's important to have a website for your business.
A website will give you a professional online presence and make it easy for potential customers to find you and learn more about your business. It also gives you a platform to sell products or services online.
The cost of a website varies depending on the complexity of the site and whether you hire someone to build a business website for you. You can do it yourself using one of the many free or low-cost website builder tools available online.
You can easily build a simple website for less than $100. See our article "How much does it cost to start a website" for more info.
If you want to delve a bit deeper into the world of websites to be in with a chance of your website becoming a source of income in its own right, you most likely will want take a look at The Authority Site System by Authority Hackers.
Gain skills and experience
If you don't have any previous experience with dogs, it's a good idea to gain some skills and knowledge. This can be done by taking a dog training course, volunteering at a local animal shelter, or simply spending time around dogs.
The more experience you have, the better equipped you'll be to handle any situation that may arise while you're dog walking.
Volunteer at a shelter
One of the best ways to gain practical handling experience with dogs is to volunteer at a local animal shelter. This will give you a chance to work with a variety of different breeds and temperaments, and you'll learn how to handle dogs in a safe and humane way.
Most shelters also offer training courses for volunteers, so you can learn even more about working with dogs. This can also lead to opportunities for paid work, as many people adopting dogs from shelters may be in need of a dog walker.
Join a professional organization
Another good way to gain experience and knowledge is to join a professional organization such as the International Organization of Professional Dog Walkers. Many organizations offer training courses, resources, and networking opportunities for dog walkers. Being a member of one of these organizations can help you to build credibility and attract clients.
Take dog walking training courses
There are a number of dog walking training courses available online and in person. These courses can teach you everything from understanding animal behavior to dog first aid.
Taking a course on animal care can help you to feel more confident when starting out, and it will give you the skills you need to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for your clients' dogs.
Find a means of transport
If you're planning on sticking to your local area, you'll need to find a way to get around. This can be done on foot, by bicycle, or even by car. If you're planning on walking dogs in multiple neighborhoods, it may be necessary to use public transportation or invest in a vehicle that can accommodate all the dogs you'll be walking.
Invest in a dog-walking vehicle
If you're planning on walking groups of dogs, you may want to invest in a dog-walking vehicle. This can be anything from a wagon to a van or SUV. Having a dedicated dog-walking vehicle provides a safe and comfortable space for them and will make it easier to transport dogs to and from their walks.
Get professional photos done
Another important part of marketing your dog walking business is to have professional photos taken for use on your website, social media posts, and on printed materials such as flyers and business cards. Having high-quality photos will make your business look more professional and attract potential clients.
Invest in professional dog walking equipment
Investing in professional dog walking equipment can make your business look more credible and attract clients. Some items you may want to consider are a branded dog walking vest or jacket, waste bags, and treat pouches.
Having high-quality equipment will also make your job easier and help to keep dogs safe while they're in your care.
Upgrade your business skills
If you want to be a successful professional dog walker, it's important to upgrade your business skills by taking courses (check out our list of the best courses for businesses), reading books and articles, or attending seminars and workshops. The more knowledgeable you are about running a business, the better equipped you'll be to attract and keep clients.
There are even specific pet business coaches and consultants you can hire to help you grow your business. Investing in your business skills is an important part of making your dog walking business thrive.
Understand your market
When you're first starting out, it's important to take the time to do some market research. This helps you understand the needs and wants of your potential clients, as well as what they're willing to pay for your services. Once you have a good understanding of your market, you can start to tailor your services to meet their needs.
For example, if you live in an urban area, you may want to specialize in walking small dogs. This will allow you to focus your marketing efforts on pet owners who live in apartments or condos and don't have a lot of space for their pets.
Price your services correctly
Another important part of understanding your market is pricing your services correctly. If you charge too much, you'll struggle to attract clients. But if you charge too little, you won't be able to make a profit. The key is to find a happy medium that meets the needs of both you and your clients.
One way to stand out from the competition is to niche down your services. This means offering a unique service that meets the specific needs of your potential clients. For example, you could focus on dog walking for seniors or dog walking in high-traffic areas.
I know of one dog walker who specializes in poodle cross breeds, naming her doodle group walks "Curly Crusades." This helps her appeal to dog owners who are looking for a specific type of dog walker. By catering to individual needs, you'll be able to better meet the requirements of your clients and charge a premium for your services.
Promote your business - Marketing and advertising
Marketing and advertising are essential for any business, and a dog walking business is no different.
Once you've got everything in place, it's time to start promoting your business through a variety of channels, such as social media sites, flyers in other businesses, such as local dog groomers, pet stores, and vet clinics, and word-of-mouth.
Make a big splash by announcing your grand opening in the local papers! Word-of-mouth marketing is also a great way to promote your business, so be sure to tell your friends and family about your new venture.
There are many free or low-cost marketing and advertising options available, so be sure to take advantage of them! The key is to be creative and to get your name out there as much as possible.
Obtain dog walking insurance
Another important consideration when starting a dog walking business is insurance. Many dog owners require proof of insurance before they'll hire a dog walker, so this is something you'll need to factor into the cost of starting your business.
This will protect you in the event that a dog is injured while in your care. It's also a good idea to have liability insurance in case you're sued for damages so that you're not held personally liable.
There are a few different options when it comes to pet business insurers, so be sure to shop around and find the best policy for your business.
Prepare your forms and paperwork
Before you start taking on clients' pets, it's important to have all of your forms and paperwork in order. This includes a contract that outlines your terms and conditions, as well as liability waiver forms, veterinary release forms, off-leash consent, and home information forms.
Having everything in place will help to make the onboarding process smoother for both you and your clients. Plus, it will give you peace of mind knowing that you're prepared for any eventuality.
All small businesses know that if they want to attract clients, they need to promote themselves through a variety of channels, such as social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth. The key is to be creative and use whatever channels will reach your target market.
Some ideas for promoting yourself when you start a dog walking business include:
- Creating a website or blog
- Using social media to promote your business
- Handing out flyers in high-traffic areas
- Participating in local pet events
- Offering a free trial walk
By being creative and using a variety of offline and online marketing channels, you'll be able to reach your potential clients and grow your business.
Another important way to promote your dog walking business is to get reviews from happy clients on your website, social media, or other online directories. The key is to make it easy for potential clients to find your reviews and see that you're a reputable dog walker.
Sending a follow-up email or text with a link to your review page ad explaining why reviews are important is the best way to get your clients to leave a review.
The more reviews you have, the more likely potential clients will be to use your services. So make sure to ask for reviews from happy clients and post them prominently on your website and social media platforms.
Once you've got a few clients, it's important to keep growing your business to stay ahead of the competition and attract more clients.
Some ideas for growing your dog walking business include:
- Offering new services, such as dog sitting or dog baths
- Expanding your marketing efforts to reach a wider audience
- Raising your prices to reflect your experience and expertise
By constantly growing your business, you'll be able to attract new clients and keep your existing clients happy.
How to start a dog walking business - final thoughts...
Starting a dog walking business is a great way to be your own boss and make some extra money. But there's more to it than just walking dogs.
If you follow these steps, you'll be well on your way to starting a successful dog walking business. So get out there and start your new small business!
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