how to start a dog walking business

How to Start a Dog Walking Business: The Complete Guide

Elena Hudgens
By Elena Hudgens 21 Min Read

Have you ever dreamed of spending your day outside and hanging out with furry, four-legged co-workers? You may have wondered how to start a business that does just that. After all, creating a dog walking business is the opposite of typical office jobs: You get to spend time outdoors and stay active! What could be better than that? It can be a rewarding experience starting your dog walking business. Many entrepreneurs are starting their own dog walking businesses because there is a demand for expert dog care on the up. This demand is due to many reasons, including the increasing popularity of pet-friendly living and the influx of new people into cities. Besides the obvious perks (free time and freedom!), it also provides plenty of flexibility, so you can focus on what you do best. In this guide, we’ll detail how to start a dog walking business, from licensing and insurance requirements to financial solutions that can help make your dream possible. 

How to Become a Dog Walker?

If you want to become a dog walker, you don’t need formal training and qualifications. But dogs can be pretty tricky, so it’s essential to understand their behavior and have their best interests at heart. Some dog walkers walk multiple dogs at once- it’s necessary to know their needs and have their best interests at heart! If you’d like more experience with dogs, volunteer at your local kennels or rescue center.

You need strong communication skills – this is useful when dealing with the owners and growing your network. You should be physically fit too- the walks can be long, and dogs can be stronger than you anticipate! And if you’re someone who doesn’t like braving the outdoors when it’s cold, wet, or muddy, we recommend preparing for bad weather by getting some proper gear, including a jacket/hat! To know more about how to start a dog walking business? Read this article carefully.

What Type of Services Will You Offer?

Deciding which services you will offer is essential for starting and growing your dog walking or pet sitting business. You can focus on being the best you can at what you offer- offering the most options that suit your business and goals the best.

We recommend keeping services as simple as possible. You can always add more services later on by expanding your business idea! While it’s always better to keep it simple- remember that more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to expansion! 

Here is a list of services you can offer:

  • Dog walking
  • Dog running
  • Dog hiking
  • Dog park visits
  • Training
  • Pet sitting for any animal type or time duration
  • Overnight stays
  • Emergency visits
  • Medications and vitamins administered as needed

What is the Startup Cost for Starting a Dog Walking Business?

How to start a dog walking business and the cost of creating it are two essential questions. Starting a dog walking business is an affordable way to start the pet industry. It’s possible to start this business for less than $500 if you operate on a shoestring budget. You can consider these costs when starting your dog walking business:

  • Registering Your Business($50-$500+): There are two main legal structures for dog walking businesses- LLC (Limited Liability Company) and DBA (Doing Business As). Both systems allow you to operate your business under a name other than your legal given name. 
  • Opening a bank account($0-varies): We recommend opening a separate bank account for your dog walking business. It will help you keep track of profits expenses and account for taxes at the end of the year.
  • Obtaining Professional Pet Care Insurance ($130+): Having dog walking insurance is a must for all pet owners. It will protect you and your clients in the event of an accident or injury to one of your animals. Additionally, it can be a deal-breaker for pet parents when booking services if they don’t have it on their list of priorities.
  • Building a Website($15-$50+): A website is vital for your dog walking business. Most clients will search for dog walking services online. Dog walking website can be your digital storefront and local listing page. Your website is often the first thing clients will see and base their first impressions on(Go Digital).
  • Dog Walking Supplies($5+): Starting with dog walking supplies is a great way to get started. You’ll need a leash, water bowl treats, and poop bags- these are the essentials. After some time working in this business and going on walks with your pup, you’ll quickly learn what additional items you need to bring along on your next walk!. 

Who is the Target Market?

To know how to start a dog walking business, you must also know the target market of the dog walking business. Who needs a dog walker? This question is fundamental, as not everyone does. The majority of the clients could fit into three customer segments: 

  • Business Professionals: These people work 9 to 12 hours a day, but they have no time for walks because their dog needs one. They love having someone come and walk their dog during the afternoon or evening. Even though many of them do come back at night, it’s not on their mind to walk their dog. These people hire someone else to do that for them.
  • The Elderly are a different type of client than the working-age population. They’re not as active, and they don’t have as many hours in their day. The best elderly client has a dog that requires a lot of exercise (they can afford to pay for longer walks).
  • The frequent travelers are the type of clients our business loves. Most people can’t bring their dogs with them when they travel, especially when flying. So you can get to walk their dog and take care of it! Plus, since walking a dog isn’t just about giving it a walk, such as feeding, watering, and entertaining it, you could also charge more for these services than just the amount given throughout the day. It is an excellent way to make money and have less time-consuming work.

What Insurance Do You Need For Dog Walking?

To know how to start a dog walking business, you need to understand the importance of insurance for this business. If you are serious about your dog-walking business, getting insurance is a smart move. The reason? It covers costs if your dog sustains an injury while under our care. At the same time, it is never our intention to have a dog hurt while under our supervision. Some things can happen that we cannot control, such as an attack from another dog. There are many options for dog walking insurance, but four primary providers in the United States are: 

  1. Pet Sitters Associates: Offering a variety of different coverages for pet businesses. The primary coverage starts at $190, with all sorts of add-on policy options for other specialties like pet grooming, dog training, and boarding.
  2. Business Insurers of the Carolinas: An insurance provider for PSI and NAPPS members, you must belong to any of these organizations to be eligible for their coverage. The Business Insurers of the Carolinas offer General Liability and Bonding specifically for pet care businesses.
  3. Kennel Pro: Offering comprehensive dog walking insurance and various other types of insurance for pet care professionals.
  4. Pet Care Insurance: Offers several types of insurance from $129 per year up to $5 million per business!

What are the Training and Certifications for Dog Walking?

Becoming a dog walker is not necessary on the same level as becoming a veterinarian or an animal behavior consultant. However, having a certification can show that you are experienced and qualified in these areas. You’ll have more credibility when referring your clients to other professionals who hold similar degrees and experience in those fields. Additionally, having an accredited industry certification demonstrates that you are committed to upholding specific professional standards- something many people might not consider if they only rely on their skills as a pet caretaker!. 

There are a few benefits of being certified in a profession, including:

  • You can show your customers that you take your work and the welfare of their pets seriously. This helps build trust and rapport with potential customers.
  • Certifications like First Aid and CPR can be critical to saving lives-for example if someone is injured while walking or pet sitting.
  • Becoming certified can help you stand out from your competition.
  • By constantly learning about new trends and ways to grow your business, you’ll stay ahead of the curve and ensure that everyone else falls behind!

Steps To Starting A Dog Walking Business

To know how to start a dog walking business, follow these essential steps:

Step 1: Plan your business

A business plan is not only a critical document for starting and growing your dog walking business, but it can also help determine the right strategies to help you grow. The first step is to know what you want your business to be. Once that’s established, come up with a sense of what kind of competition you expect within your industry and area- this will help determine how aggressive or soft-spoken you should be in marketing and advertising. Finally, make sure to include plans on how you’ll organize your business (especially if hiring other walkers or administrative staff). You could also consider including house-sitting or boarding services as part of your walking services!

Step 2: Secure the necessary business licenses

In most cases, businesses operating lawfully in a municipality or state require company licenses. That’s true for big corporations as well as individuals and solopreneurs. Even if you want to start a dog walking business that is just you and your furry friends, you’ll still need to register with your local governing body to make sure what you’re doing is above board and lawful. In most cases, getting a license doesn’t involve too much trouble- unless the company in question falls into one of the more controversial or illegal categories (like dogfighting). If there are any doubts about whether what you plan on doing has a legal sanction, it may be worth consulting with an attorney specializing in this field- even if it means paying a bit more than usual. 

For information about licenses and permits:

Step 3: Create your business name, logo, and website

You control how your customers identify you. You can choose to get creative with your name and logo or keep it simple and easy to remember. Ensure that all of your website content is user-friendly so that people will easily find what they are looking for! 

Name

When you choose a name for your dog walking business, it can be hard to determine what exactly you are offering. Do you plan on providing just pet care services, or do you also want to provide veterinary and medical animal care? If so, pick a name that describes what is offered. Are your customers likely to hear about your business from others? How playful should the title be? You also want the domain name available, and all social media handles should be public so that potential clients know of your presence!

Logo

You need a logo for your business! Make sure it represents your brand and is easy to identify. There are tons of great resources online like Fiverr and Canva, where you can get affordable graphic designs made.

Website

Website building is a quick and easy way to create a professional-looking website for your business. Several website builders are available that use drag and drop style tools, so you can quickly build a site for your dog walking business. Wix and Squarespace are two easy-to-use website builders that use drag and drop style building tools.

Step 4: Price your services correctly

Price is a crucial factor when clients hire a pet sitter or dog walker. It is also likely that price will be one of the first things potential clients will look at when visiting your website. That’s why you need an easy-to-understand pricing structure so that potential customers understand what they are paying for. You’ll be more reliable and less likely to have misunderstandings about rates, which leads to fewer complaints and better customer service. The key questions you can look after for determining your service charge are:

  • What services will you offer? 
  • Where are you located? 
  • What is your competition charging? 
  • What are your expenses? 
  • How much do you want/need to make to sustain your workers and business? 

Step 5: Obtain a signed contract

After understanding how to start a dog walking business, you should learn about contracts. You should always sign a contract with your clients to protect yourself and your business from potential legal issues. Terms of service agreements spell out the relationship between the client (dog owner) and the service provider (you). Be specific in what is and is not included in the contract. If the dog is walked as part of a group or walked alone, you should have this information in the agreement or contract. You may want to also include vet release terms in your contract so that if something does happen during your work with the dog, you are aware of it before anything happens to them! 

Step 6: Promote your business

After completing all the above steps and securing excellent knowledge about how to start a dog walking business, it’s time to market your business to attract more customers. To market your business, you need to think about how you can generate awareness within your local community. There are several ways for promoting your dog walking business:

Word of mouth: You should ask your friends, family, and customers to recommend you to other dog owners that they may know. You must maintain excellent relationships with existing clients and provide fantastic customer service so that they wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to others. 

Place adverts: There are several ways to put adverts into local newspapers and magazines. One way is to place them in local newspapers. Another way is to put notices up in local shops. If you do this, make sure you’re able to track the success of your ads so you can find out whether they are worth the investment.

Flyers: Printing out flyers and putting them through the letterboxes of your local community is a great way to communicate with people. You can also put them up in public places like schools and libraries. The benefits of our service are clear and concise, so make sure you highlight them! No one will read a flyer that is too wordy. 

Social media: Social media can be a great way to generate awareness for your business locally. For example, you start a company page on Facebook and ask friends to like and follow it. You can also develop social media adverts and target them at dog lovers within your local community. Make sure you track conversions – either phone calls made to your business number or traffic to your website.

Step 7: Get the right dog walking insurance

As we have already discussed, you need to consider insurance if you are a dog walker. In addition, there are unique potential hazards that you will want to take into account when walking your dog. For example, if the dog is negligent and causes damage or injury to someone else’s property or if they cause injury to another animal on-site as a result of negligence on your part. Dog walkers’ insurance can help reassure clients that you take these precautions seriously. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide on “how to start a dog walking business”  has taught you everything you need to start and manage a successful lawn care business. Dog walking is a popular activity that anyone can enjoy, but it can be more challenging for those not experienced in the business. To start a dog walking business successfully, you will need to secure necessary licenses and insurance and find the right financing. This guide covers everything from securing required permits and insurance to seeing the actual cost involved. If you are considering starting your dog walking business, make sure to check back on this guide often, as we will keep you updated with new and relevant information.

Share this Article
Posted by Elena Hudgens
Follow:
Elena Hudgens is an entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience. She started her journey by building her own e-commerce website on Shopify and turned her $1000 savings to millions in just 2 years. Soon she started different ventures in which she failed and succeeded. And now, she's on a mission to help other entrepreneurs with her life and business lessons.
1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *