With more than half of all households in the US owning a dog or some form of pet, it is no surprise that pet care businesses rake in billions of dollars every year. One of the niches in the pet care industry is dog walking, which is increasingly gaining traction with more and more people having to work longer hours to survive. Such people have little to no time to adequately care for their dogs, much less take them for walks as recommended by vets. As usual, business opportunities exist where there are gaps, and in this case, the demand and opportunities are plenty.
Without further ado, below are 5 ways to start a successful dog walking business:
1. Develop a Deep Understanding of Dogs
Whether you want to be a part time dog walker or run a full-time business, you will achieve more success if you know what you’re doing in the first place. Dedicate some time to go through online tutorials or even enroll for a class on dog behavior and psychology. Note that owning a pet for a years does not teach you everything you need to start and succeed in a dog walker career. Learning new dog handling skills and techniques such as how to stop pack fights or manage emergencies will help you to attract and maintain clients in the long term. And even when you master everything, you’ll still find lots of other things to know about dogs.
2. Conduct Thorough Market Research
The demand for dog walking services vary from city to city and depend on things such as prices, additional services, availability of dog walking places, and so on. So, before committing your resources, conduct a market survey both online and physically to determine potential risks and returns. Do a Google search of all dog walking businesses in your city, their rates, and locations and if possible, their client numbers. Also, go through Craigslist or your local newspaper and see if you can find ads from people looking to hire dog walker. While at it, research on what particular breeds are more profitable to handle and which won’t give you much stress. The key is only to get started when you have all the necessary information and when you’re sure that you can actually make money walking dogs in your area.
3. Inquire About, and Sort The Paperwork
Every state has its own pet care rules and regulations which you need to comply with before getting a license to practice your trade. License and insurance requirements will also depend on whether you want to base your business at home or somewhere else and the number of animals you plan on handling daily. Whatever the case, don’t assume things. Confirm everything with your local government.
4. Craft a Marketing Strategy for Your Dog Walking Business
After sorting out everything with the authorities, you can’t start walking pets right away. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to have ready clientele. Otherwise, you need to sit and think of an affordable but effective way to market your new business. For most areas, some brochures, flyers and local newspaper ads will suffice, but you can also advertise on Craigslist and Google for more visibility. It will be much better if you also have a dedicated website listing all the services you offer, prices, pics of your business premises and your contact information.
5. Get Started
After getting the word out about your new business, you will inevitably get your first customer(s). Before you serve them, determine your prices and services as well as your terms and conditions. For instance, how long will an average walk be? Does the owner need insurance? Most importantly, which are the best breeds of dogs for you based on your knowledge and preferences?
We recommend having your clients sign detailed contracts before leaving their dogs to avoid conflicts. It is also good to note down details of every dog you receive, including its age, known illnesses or allergies, and vaccination history.
If you don’t already know, starting a dog walking business is quite easy (in America at least) and is quite the fun venture. When you get the hang of it, you may also start other part time dog jobs, e.g., washing or training dogs to supplement your income. Above all, seek to have fun and find joy in your newfound hustle as apart from being potentially rewarding, taking care of dogs is a vocation.
So, are you now ready to start your dog walking business?
About the writer: Rachel Burns is an animal lover and journalist based in Dallas. Writing about animals is a job of her dreams. When she’s not writing or spending time with her beloved dog, Charles, she enjoys road cycling. Connect with Rachel on Facebook.