You love dogs and walking and need some extra cash, so why not combine it all and start a dog walking business?
As easy as this may sound, there are some steps you should know in order to start off on the right foot. Check out our 7 ways to become a successful dog walker.
1. Must Love/Know Dogs
It’s one thing to “love” dogs from afar, but when it comes to walking them, it can be a challenge. Before you embark on a dog walking adventure, we suggest;
- Doing some research on the net into the common breeds
- Volunteering to walk dogs at your local shelter to gain experience when it comes to walking dogs. If you have friends or neighbors with dogs offer to walk those, as well…you can never have too much experience.
- Learning about canine posturing to avoid incidents
- Having a good basis of dog handling
- Knowing dog socialization techniques
The more knowledge you have about dogs, the more confident folks will be leaving their pets in your care.
2. Is There a Demand?
Whether you live in a big city or a small community, knowing if there’s a demand for a dog walker is key. Look through your local ads, public bulletin boards, veterinarians and the animal shelter to see if there are already ads placed for this service or ask around about known dog walkers. If there is, that doesn’t mean you can’t start a dog walking business, it just means you may have some competition.
3. Start Off Small
Don’t overload yourself with numerous dogs when you first start out. Gaining experience in handling one or two dogs successfully is more important than mishandling several.
This is also a great time to enlist the help of those friends, family and neighbors we mentioned earlier. Whether you charge them full-price, a fraction of what you want or just do it on a volunteer basis, the experience and the word-of-mouth advertising you will receive is priceless.
4. Get Your Name Out There!
You can’t run a successful dog walking business if no one knows you’re out there, so advertise, advertise and advertise some more.
Even if you don’t have a ton of expendable cash on hand just yet, advertising doesn’t have to be expensive.
First. Make up a professional-looking flyer on your computer (no handwritten ones).
Second. Distribute these to people you know (and give a few extra for people they know).
Third. Ask if you can leave your flyers with the local rescue group, veterinarians and pet retailers.
Fourth. Pin the flyer onto public bulletin boards.
Fifth. Many local city web sites have a classified section that can be advertised on for free, so put your info up there with a professional-reading ad.
5. Know Your Limits
It may be exhilarating when you have calls coming in from many clients, but know your limits. Having too many dogs can make controlling them more difficult. Plus, giving each one the time and attention the pet parent is paying for, and the canine deserves, gets even harder.
Additionally, know your limits as to which clients you can take on. If you have difficulty walking large breeds, those that are more rambunctious or non-compliant to your commands, then you may want to leave those pets to another walker.
Giving your client’s the best service is paramount, whether that means doing your best or referring them to another dog walker.
6. Know Your Walking Areas
Although, dog parks are very popular spots for people to let their dogs off-leash, being at the dog park with other people’s canines may not be the best choice. Some pet parents do not have or feel they need to control their dogs at these locations, so there’s a higher risk of incidents happening. Finding less populated places to walk your crew can be less stressful for both you and the dog(s). In addition, some places in the world get very hot during the midday hours, so be aware of walking during this time. If a client needs the dog walked during hot weather, be sure to go to shaded areas and bring plenty of water.
Remember: Avoid if you can, but plan when in demand.
7. The Extras
When starting out a dog walking business, you will have to establish your rates. If you can, check with other dog walkers in your area to see what they are charging to get a gauge on the rate. In bigger cities or those with a higher income ratio, you can charge from $10 to $20 for a half hour, $20 to $40 for a full hour.
Some cities may also insist you have a license to start a dog walking business. A simple call to your “city hall” will tell you if this is required.
Once you start getting a number of clients you may also want to look into dog walking insurance. Some insurance brokers are now carrying this type of liability claim service, so research around to see what they cover and the monthly fee. Having both of these will only make your dog walking service more desirable to potential and long-term clients.
A standard contract should also be written up. This doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should include the dates, times of walking, and your rate. Plus, there should be portion where the pet parent signs verifying that the canine has been vaccinated, microchipped or with proper collar-tags and that they will be liable for any property damage their dog may do.
Dog Walk Your Way to Success
Being a great dog walker can be a lucrative business. Follow these helpful tips and ways to dog walk your way to success.
About the Author: Sandie lee is a regular contributor to the The Pet God. She enjoys writing informational articles to help pet parents everywhere. She hails from a small town in Ontario Canada, with her three rescue cats, two goldfish and a hubby of 20 years. Check out her latest article about wireless dog fences.