How to Start a Dog Walking Business: The Basics
I wanted to create a quick and easy reference for all the steps that you should consider when starting a dog walking business. The steps range from your first decisions when first starting, to managing the business after you have many clients.
I have summarized the main points from the previous five articles with a brief explanation of why each point is important. At the end of the article, I add some final thoughts on how to start a dog walking business and start making money.
Also, I have a more detailed pdf file for download with the basic steps on how to start a dog walking business. I also will have an eBook and online course on how to start your dog walking business. They both will be very detailed and with many insights that I did not include in this series of articles. They will both be available sometime in 2019. Here are some basics steps to follow:
- You need to determine whether or not you will offer services other than dog walking.
- Most companies offer additional services. The most common are pet sitting, boarding, and pet taxi.
- How far are you willing to travel? What kind of transportation will you use?
- The farther you travel, the fewer visits you will be able to do, so get a map and get a rough idea of the limits of your service area. I need to get to my dogs in about 5 minutes. Any longer and I will be on the late end for the last dogs.
- Hours of operation
- What times of the day are you not available or do not want to work? This will determine whether or not you can offer various services. Dog walking is in the middle of the weekday. Pet sitting involves weekends, holidays, mornings, and nights. Boarding is similar to pet sitting – 3 walks per day plus feedings. And you have the dog with you when you are home.
- How much will you charge for your services?
- This is when you research the competition to see what other services are offered in your area and what other companies charge. You have to meet or beat the rates of established companies. You can raise your rates after a couple of years.
- Professional Experience, Requirements, and Certifications
- Do you have any pet experience? If not, can you get some? Try volunteering at rescues or shelters. Also, you need to look into getting a pet CPR certification and Bond and Insurance. Your competition most likely has all those things – so should you.
- Getting Clients
- There are various methods that you need to do right away so that you can get clients and start making money. The easiest are flyers and talking to people you meet. After that start using online techniques: get on social media and get your business listed on various sites.
- You’ll need to come up with a business name and logo but get the clients as soon as you can.
- Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Tips & Tricks
- There are do’s and don’t and things to watch for when walking dogs. You need to identify problems before they happen. The tricks come with experience, but definitely check out my article specifically on this topic.
- Gear and Supplies
- You will need great footwear, poop bags and treats, foul-weather gear, etc.
- References, Reviews, and Testimonials
- You need your clients to not only act as references for you but to also create online reviews for your business.
- You can then use those reviews as testimonials on your website.
- There are a number of daily and weekly things that you need to manage: walk and sitting schedules, payments, emailing clients, etc. I use an Excel spreadsheet but you can use Google Sheets. It’s easy to forget how much someone owes you, whether or not they overpaid or underpaid, etc.
I hope that list helps you out. But always remember that the well-being of the pets you care for comes first. If you have that as your main focus, then you will be able to handle anything. And that is easier said than done.
There will be difficult times, I guarantee it. You can do it. Just imagine every pet as your own pet and you’ll figure out any problems that arise.
Here are links to the previous five articles:
- How to start a dog walking business
- Setting up a Dog Walking Business Pt 2: Research the Competition
- How to Start Your Own Dog Walking Business, Pt 3
- Starting a Dog Walking Business Part 4: Tips and Tricks
- Starting a Dog Walking Business Part 5: Testimonials & Management
Here’s an infographic of the main points and feel free to contact me if you have any questions: