How to Start a Dog Walking Business
To start a dog walking business is a good option if you love dogs and are usually out every day walking your own anyway. Many dog owners are working longer and longer hours and just don’t have the time they need every day to exercise their dogs – added to which, most responsible dog owners just don’t like the idea of him being stuck in the kitchen all day while they’re out.
So to start a dog walking business in your immediate area is a good way to begin. You could start by asking friends or family if they know of anyone who has a dog and may be in need of your services. It’s always a good idea to offer reductions at first, just until you get known and gain the experience that gives potential customers confidence in you.
What training & qualifications do I need to start a dog walking business?
You don’t really need any specific training or qualifications to start a dog walking business but obviously it’s useful to have experience of owning and walking dogs and a love for dogs in general. It’s also worth walking a few different dogs as favours for friends occasionally, just to get used to it – not all dogs will be as well trained or responsive as yours! It also means you can collect some references.
Advertising your dog walking business
Obviously this is key when you start a dog walking business.
1. Think of a snazzy name for yourself – but not so snazzy that nobody knows what you do! Make sure you have ‘dog walking’ or ‘dog walker’ in there somewhere, and a location helps too!
2. You will need your own dog walking website with the details of your business including the services your provide, the areas you cover, your costs and your contact information. It might seems bit over the top when you are starting out, but potential customers will be looking for dog walking services in your location online (isn’t that where you would look? On Google?) and it is a very worthwhile investment, with just one regular customer covering the costs of the investment over a year. I’m offering very reasonable terms on websites at the moment – give me a call or check here.
3. Create a Google Places page so you can be found locally. (I can help you with this if you contact me).
4. Create some flyers for yourself and deliver them to all the houses in the area where you are willing to pick dogs up from. You could also display these in local pet shops, park notice boards and supermarkets.
5. Speak to some other dog businesses in your area (not dog walkers, but places like groomers, trainers etc), tell them you are about to start a dog walking business and see if they would be willing to advertise your business with their customers if you do the same for them. You could even come to an agreement about linking to each other’s websites.
6. Happy customers are the best way to advertise. If they are pleased with your service, ask them to tell their friends, or even provide a reference on your Google Places page or website.
How much can I charge?
Have a look at some of the other dog walkers in your area. Usually there’s a sliding fee depending on how long you walk the dog for, and how many you are walking at the same time. £10 for a hour is pretty standard. Probably best not to walk more than four at the same time or people might not feel they’re getting their money’s worth! When you start a dog walking business you may want to offer discounts or special offers just to get people on board.
A few other points
Make sure you go and meet the owner and the dog before you agree anything with them. First of all you’re going to want to meet that dog for yourself and make sure it is as socialised and okay with other dogs as the owner promises… Secondly, in most cases you will be given a key to the house so you can collect that dog to walk it- which is a pretty big thing really. I would certainly want to meet anyone who was having access to my house!
You may also want to consider taking out some public liability insurance – just in case the dog damages himself or someone else or their property while you are out with him. It might seem a high and unnecessary expense when you are only just starting but you may be very glad you did!
I’ve also just discovered an excellent website which advertises (free) dog walkers across the UK. Well worth getting a free listing on there to get started! It also offers lots of hints and tips for dog walkers.
For more information to start a dog walking business, please click here for details of a really excellent ebook which gives you all the details I haven’t space to go into here!
Good luck in starting your dog walking business!