Are you an animal lover, specifically the ever so loving and loyal Dog kind? Would you like to do something for or with them and earn a living out of it? If yes, you may just want to become a dog walker and start a dog walking business. Dog walking business is the best way to bring together your passion for dogs and your career. In fact, it is fairly a straightforward and low-cost business you can start in the animal industry.
We have mentioned the steps involved in starting a successful dog walking business. Go through them, understand the process, take actions and you are all ready to start walking with the fur babies.
Becoming A Dog Walker – Take the Baby Steps
There are some things to consider before you plunge into the business. First, we suggest you do some volunteering work at local kennels, animal first-aid centers, or dog clubs around your city. You can also work at rescue centers. This is important for you to understand the behaviors of each dog breed, their habits and their way of communication.
For instance, you’d need to understand canine behavior or the pooches’ regular antics. Dogs can be a handful just like human babies. So, you will have to gain the first-hand experience in dealing with them.
Other than this, you needn’t have to obtain any special license or certification for your business. However, you will want to refine your interpersonal and communication skills to deal with the pet owners. Communication skills are important in growing your client base and networking
Since the walks could be long and full of fun, and since dogs, such as the Labs, Alsatians, or German Shepard can be extremely strong, you will need to be physically fit to run after them, lest they start chasing a bird or butterfly.
You have to be a healthy person too with the strong immune system. Dogs are very demanding and walks are very important to them. You can hardly miss any session. Raise hell or high water, you have to be there on time.
These were the common prerequisites to become a professional dog walker and make this profession your income generating business.
Running a Dog Walking Business – Getting Started
Dog Walking business is like any other small-scale business and you will work as a small business owner. You will have responsibilities for a number of business elements, such as banking, accounting, advertising, marketing, payroll, invoices and other things that help run a business successfully. From doing your taxes and maintaining your websites to answering phone calls and implementing advertising strategies, you’ll have to take care of everything.
But unlike any other service-oriented business, Dog Walking Business comes with several advantages. You must have thought about this career line only because you love dogs, and that itself is more than enough to stir your passion and do something that you love.
This is more about caring for the community and giving back something meaningful. Dogs are like children for many human children-less people and these folks would need to know that you are going to treat their four-legged kids with as much care as you would treat two-legged babies.
Step 1: Understand Dog Walking Rules and Regulations
If you check any Pet Sitters and Dog Walker Association site on the internet, you will find a lot of information about how to start a dog walking. These associations are formed in order to outline the key rules and regulations, some of which are:
- Meet owners, get to know them
- Provide a valid office address, phone number, and email
- Get your Criminal Record Checked and prove yourself clean
- Number of dogs that can be walked should not exceed four
- Keep records of all work done, including customer details and dog details
- Protect the client’s personal information
- Make sure the dogs taken for the walk are collared with owner’s name and address hanging from a badge
- Clean up dog poops and put them in the trash.
You could be penalized for not cleaning up dog poops and you can be fined up to $1000.
Joining renowned Pets Association will give you useful information and aids on setting up business in the animal industry. Your clients may also like the idea of you being a member of a reputed Dog Walking Association.
Step 2: Register Your Business
You will have to consider choosing a legal form of business entity. You can either form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or establish as a sole proprietorship. As a sole proprietorship, your personal and business assets will not be two separate elements; you will be responsible for your debts and you will also be the fruit bearer of the profits.
On the other hand, as an LLC owner, your personal and business assets will be separate. And you will not be personally liable for the debts of the business. Before you decide on the type, make sure you speak to a business consultant or a lawyer or an accountant and ask them to walk you through with the pros and cons of both types of organizations.
Step 3: Get an Insurance Coverage
Dog owners expect a level of care and reliability from you as they are going to put you in charge of a family member. Getting yourself a personalized insurance coverage can help show your clients that you are quite serious about your profession. It would also help you to relax a lot knowing there is a support lest something goes haywire.
There are special insurance coverages tailored for pet sitters and dog walkers. These kinds of coverages protect you from damages caused by the pet while under your supervision. Public liability insurance will save you from shedding money if in case the pet damages the public.
The insurance policy will not cost you a lot, probably a few hundred dollars only. You can find more information about it on Pet Sitter Association or Dog Walker Association.
Step 4: Licensing and Local Rules and Permits
Most jurisdiction does not ask per special business license that is specific to dog walking business, However, you will have to obtain a general business license to run your business on legal terms if your state requires for it. Licensing requirement usually varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from country to country.
You will also have to obtain permits and oblige to local laws, such as sanitization law or leashing law. Check with your local authorities for more details that will affect your business. You can also offer a dog sitting service at home along with a dog walking service. The choice is up to you, however, make sure you know the local rules and oblige them.
Step 5: Create a Dog Walking Contract
It’s important that you create a written agreement between you (business) and your clients. A contract will generally outline your responsibilities towards the owner and the dogs, the nature of your relationship with client, compensation terms and expected obligations from the client.
You don’t have to legally bind the written contract. You can use one of the ready-made templates available on the internet and customize it to suit your requirements.
You should also include special mentions concerning dog walking, such as permission to aid the client’s dog medically in case of injury or holding the owner responsible for the damages caused by the doggy.
Step 6: Your Services and Pricing
Your Price will be determined by the kind of Service you provide. Most dog offers work on time; they offer blocks of time, such as 30 minutes or 20 minutes and so on. Your customer location will also determine your working operation. For example, you have 3 clients from the same apartment or residential street, you can walk the dogs of these clients together as a pack.
For promotion and branding, you can offer a special discount for clients from the same complex or street, or provide related services, such as dog obedience training, pooping training and pet sitting at a reduced cost.
To decide your price, check out your competitors and current market position. For instance, if you are planning to serve an area that as no dog sitters or dog walkers nearby, but the demand is huge, you can charge the clients a little higher than the current market price. And if you are serving an area where the competition is tough, you can charge the owners lower rates and provide additional comprehensive services mentioned earlier.
Step 7: Market to Get the Word Out
Best places to market are pet stores, vet clinics, dog spa, dog groomers, and supermarket. You can also directly sell your services from door to door in your targeted neighborhood. Create a flyer and a business card and mention the services you offer. You can also consider designing a logo magnet with contact information and display it on your car doors and rear window.
Use newsletters, church bulletins and local magazine for advertising. Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals, and to request your clients to spread the word.
Don’t forget to protect the dogs from strays, invest in proper footwear for brisk walking and also invest in comfortable and stretchable clothes, suitable for all season. Start Walking. If you enjoyed reading the post, we request you to share with fellow dog lovers and amateur entrepreneurs for inspiration.