Tips to Start your own Dog Walking Business

Walking a dog gives him much more than only an opportunity to do his physiological needs. A lot of pets, when they’re left alone too often for too much time, start acting destructively – they will bite and scratch and break everything in their range. Of course, it doesn’t mean that people should quit their job to stay with their dogs (though it would certainly be nice) – that’s why dog walking businesses are growing in numbers and popularity. Experts from PetPlace recommend hiring a dog walker if you’re away more than 8-10 hours a day. Providing that only a small part of working people can work remotely, it will apply to most regular dog owners.

dog walking

So, do you love dogs? Do you feel like you could be spending all days with them, whether they’re yours or not? Here are some tips on how to start your own dog walking business:

Make sure you’re properly educated

It’s not about graduating from a dog walking school, but the love for dogs is not enough. You need to understand all canine behaviours so that nothing surprises you on the job. Of course, just like people, animals have their characters, likes and preferences, so it’s important to listen to their owners, but you have to know, for example, their fears, irritating stimulants, or pet first aid. Try to understand which collars are best for specific dogs, or which leashes are harmless – sometimes even the owners may not be aware so you can always recommend something better and build your authority.

Start your business officially and legally

When you have decided on a catchy name and you’re absolutely sure that you want to go for it, you need to register your company. As a sole practitioner you will be responsible for all decisions, payments and taxes. If you choose a different name for your company than your own, you will need to register that name. You may need a special license or, just like many other dog walking businesses, choose an LCC (limited liability company) structure. An LCC structure will allow you to separate your business from your personal assets. It may be a good idea to consult with an accountant or another specialist who will be able to explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of each option. 

Get insurance

Yes, there’s even special insurance for people who work as pet sitters or walkers, as there are some specific cases that need to be covered. There’s always a risk that a pet you’re taking care of will cause some damage – not everything can be controlled. Animals may destroy something, injure themselves or attack each other. That’s when insurance may protect you from taking responsibility for their actions.

Get your name out

It’s good to start with a website like Rover.com where you can find dog walkers, groomers, pet stores, and more people working in animal business or looking for such services. You need to know both your potential customers and competitors. Search for places in your area where there’s maybe a bigger need for dog walkers than you initially thought. You may also try cooperating with shelters and rescues that probably won’t pay as much (or at all) but may help you build your brand, and provide you with experience that may be important to some dog owners.

Focus on marketing

There’s no thriving business without a good marketing strategy these days. You should probably start with a good-looking website where you can provide your potential clients with all necessary information about you and your services, and you can use it to experiment with local SEO to allow people to find you online. Make sure that all your personal details are consistent across the web, publish relevant and useful content from time to time and engage in the life of your community. Well-developed partnerships can get you far, both online and offline. 

It’s also beneficial to build your social media presence – publish your content, update your status, share photos of happy pets and yourself to allow people to get to know you a little better. Be transparent – that’s what customers truly appreciate in today’s obscure world where all marketers seem to lie. Engage in discussions, respond to comments and don’t ever ignore opinions, especially the bad ones.

Then, you may work on promoting yourself in real life – it will never hurt to make some cards and flyers, and figure out places where they can make a difference (e.g. at a veterinary clinic, a dog groomer or a pet store, but also a local library or coffee shops). You may also have your logo and information made into magnets that you can put on your car and become a living, driving advertisement.

Last, but not least, consider customizing your clothes. Wear a sweatshirt with your logo and phone number every time you walk a dog.

Be patient

What’s most important – don’t get discouraged. It’s always hard to start a business, and you can’t expect to make profit from the very beginning. If it’s something that you really like, it may be worth it to put some additional work in promoting your company and improving your services. Keep up to date with all changes in your industry and don’t take your eyes off of your competition. Enjoy the company of dogs and good luck!

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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