How to Start a Dog Walking Business: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Things to consider before you start
  2. How to find clients, calculate your startup costs, and handle legal issues
  3. How to invent an original business name

If you love animals, it might be a good idea to start a dog walking business. It’s also a great way to stay fit because you’ll be moving around all the time! Dog walking is a simple and enjoyable way to boost your income. Read our detailed instruction and see how easy it is!  

Things to consider before you start

To launch a business, you need to acquire some additional skills, outline the range of your services, and find loyal clients.

Special training

Since you’ll be working with pets, you need to know how to take good care of them, read their behavior, and handle an emergency. Although you don’t necessarily need a special education or training, it can give a strong edge over competitors and make your clients trust you more. Here are the most common options:

  • You can do special courses where you’ll learn how to take care of pets.  
  • You can work as a volunteer at an animal shelter.   

Certificate of clean criminal record

Your clients will trust you not only with their pets, but also with keys to their apartments and houses. They need to be sure that you haven’t been in trouble with the law in the past. The procedure for obtaining a certificate of clean criminal record varies from country to country:   

More things to consider

  • Make sure you have the required physical stamina for the job. Keep in mind that you’ll have to walk dogs in any weather, be it rain, wind or snow.  
  • Think about how many dogs you can handle at the same time. Seasoned canine experts recommend walking no more than 4 dogs at a time. What about large dogs? Are you ready to deal with them too?
  • Start a document that will contain each client’s contact data and information on their pet (name, breed, color, medical history, vet contacts, etc.). Use Google Tables or any other service that you find convenient. Friendly reminder: Do not disclose your clients’ personal data to other people, even your friends.   

How to find clients, calculate your startup costs, and handle legal issues  

Now let’s see how to set a rate for your services, where to acquire clients, how to develop your business, and whether signing a contract is a necessity. 

How to find your first clients

  • Your inner circle. Offer your services to your friends and coworkers. Ask them to recommend you to other pet owners they know. In a business like dog walking, word of mouth is everything.  
  • Outdoor advertising. Design and print flyers (or brochures) advertising your services. Distributes them in pet shops, vet clinics, supermarkets, and other locations visited by your target audience. 
  • Social media. Create an account with major social platforms. Post engaging content, share insightful tips, make funny videos of your dog walks…It can be any type of content that your clients find interesting!
  • Your niche. To stand out from competition and win over clients, think about what related services you provide that may provide useful to your clientele. For example, it can be additional pet care or training.

Here are a few tricks for growing your client base:

  • Strive for an excellent level of service. To build a successful business that will feed you for years, you need to be professional, polite, punctual, and friendly. People will trust you with their four-legged friends, so you need to convince them that you care about their dogs. Go a step further and ask your clients what food and games their dogs like the most, what health problems they have, and what other things you need to know about their pets.
  • Ask your clients to five feedback on your work. Post their testimonials on your socials and website, add shortened versions of their reviews to your printed flyers, etc.  
  • Adjust your marketing strategy. Ask your new clients how they found out about you. Use the obtained information to identify the most effective promotion methods and focus on those.   

How to estimate your startup capital

A good thing about dog walking is that you can start it with zero investments. At the same time, you should consider the following things:

  • Buy yourself warm, weather-resistant clothes and comfortable shoes to be able to walk dogs in any weather. 
  • Think about the best way to commute to your clients’ homes. Will it be by public transport, by car, or by foot?   

Here are a few guidelines for pricing your services:

  • Find out how much other dog walkers in your city or region charge for their services. As a novice who needs to attract clients, you should probably start with a lower rate. 
  • Come up with several pricing plans that will differ by the duration of a walk. Also, if a client has two dogs to walk, it might be a nice gesture to offer them a discount.  
  • If you provide additional services (training, taking a pet to a vet clinic, etc.), set their prices as well. 

What about insurance and contract?

To work as a dog walker, you don’t need to purchase insurance. However, insurance can demonstrate that you take your job seriously. If you have an accident while walking a dog, an insurance policy will cover your expenses and possible medical treatment.

  • Public liability insurance will insure you against damage caused to other people’s property.  
  • Accident insurance will insure you against injury or death.

A contract outlines a business relationship between you as a contractor and pet owner as a client. Make sure your contract includes the following information and terms:

  • list of your services;
  • your rates;
  • how long one walk will last and how many pets you’ll be walking at the same time;
  • other terms, e.g. whether or not you’re allowed to take a pet to a vet clinic in case of emergency. 

How to invent an original business name

A memorable name is, hands down, the cornerstone of a successful branding. To help you come up with a smart name, we’ve prepared these three tips:

  • Your task is to build a friendly and welcoming image. Be sure to spice up your business name with a note of humor, pun or rhyme. 
  • Do a brainstorming session. Make a list of associations that pop to your head when you think about pets (and animals in general). 
  • Make sure your business name is easy to pronounce and memorize. Also, it must be short while reflecting the essence of what you do.  

Here are a few online services that you can use to generate a neat business name in seconds:

  • Businessnamegenerator. Enter the keywords related to your business. To obtain more accurate results, select your niche, desired of number of words and their length, etc.  
  • Namelix. Specify your preferences (number of characters, style, etc.) to help this smart algorithm come up with custom names for your business. On top of that, Namelix will show your business name written in your selected colors and fonts. 
  • Shopify. Along with generating an edgy business name, Shopify can check the availability of your selected domain name. Since the platform has no filters to narrow down your search, make sure that the keywords you enter are as accurate as possible.

Final words

Let’s sum up the most crucial guidelines that we’ve learned from this article:

  • Assess your physical capabilities and decide how many dogs and of what size you can walk at the same time.
  • Do a pet care course or any specialized training.
  • Coin a catch name for your business.
  • Spread a word about your business to get more clients. 
  • Sign a contract with each of your clients and purchase insurance. 
  • Grow your business by nurturing trustful relationships with your clients, tailoring marketing strategy, etc.

Categories: How To

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