How to start a dog walking business
Passionate about pooches? Why not turn your passion into a career?
If you enjoy being outside and spending time with dogs, and like the idea of being your own boss, then starting a dog walking business could be the perfect career move for you. Whether you want to make dog walking your full-time job, or even if you’re just looking for a side-hustle to make some extra cash.
Here’s everything you need to know about starting a dog walking business:
What is a dog walking business?
A dog walking business involves walking people’s dogs when the owners can’t do it themselves. Maybe because the owner is working, on holiday or they find it difficult to leave the house.
Offering dog walking services typically involves picking up the dog from the owner’s home, walking the dog and then returning it to the owner. Some dog walkers choose to walk one dog at a time, while others walk several dogs together.
You may decide to work on your own, or if there’s more business than you can handle yourself, you could choose to employ people to work with you.
If you want to get some experience before setting up your own dog walking business, search all of our open dog walking jobs.
Who can start a dog walking business?
The truth is that anyone can start a dog walking business. No formal qualifications are needed, though you do need to have the confidence to manage different dog’s behaviour. You may also need to set up things like a business bank account and insurance to help get your business off the ground.
What skills are needed to start a dog walking business?
Firstly, you’ll need experience of being around and managing dogs. A good way to gain experience is by offering to walk your friends’, family or neighbours’ dogs for free. Volunteering at a dog kennel or with a dog charity may also help you to understand dog behaviour and how different breeds act.
In addition, you’ll need good communication skills, excellent time management and some basic business acumen so that you can understand how to make your business profitable.
How much does it cost to set up a dog walking business?
A dog walking business has few startup costs. The main costs you’re likely to incur are insurance, marketing and paying for criminal checks (if you’re going to be in possession of clients’ house keys):
It’s important to have liability insurance as this covers you from claims made by members of the public incase of an injury. The cost of liability insurance varies, but expect to pay up to £150 per year.
Marketing can be the highest cost as, in order to get clients, you first have to get people to know about your business and what it does. However, there are low cost marketing options available, such as posting on local community forums or Facebook groups and advertising on supermarket community boards, for example.
You’re not obliged to have a criminal record check, also known as a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). However, if you want to grow your business it’s something you’ll need as most pet owners won’t work with someone who doesn’t have one. A criminal record check costs around £23.
Do I need dog walking insurance?
It isn’t a legal requirement to have dog walking insurance, but it’s a good idea to get it. Some dogs are a target for dog thieves, or a dog could suddenly decide to run off. Additionally, a dog you’re walking may get injured by another animal or could injure another animal or human. Dog walking insurance offers you protection in case something like this happens when dogs are in your care.
What are the main dog walking rules and regulations?
Dog walkers need to adhere to specific rules and regulations that govern how dogs need to be controlled in public and to protect the welfare of dogs that are in your care. Some of the main rules and regulations to take note of are:
- Dogs in public must wear a collar that details the owner’s name and address
- You must clean up after dogs. Failure to do so could lead to a £1,000 fine
- You must ensure a dog doesn’t enter land it’s not allowed to. When asked to do so, you must ensure a dog is on a lead. Failure to comply could lead to a £1,000 fine
- It’s against the law for dogs to be dangerously out of control in public spaces. You must remain in control of all dogs at all times
- Dogs must be on a lead at all times when on roads
- If you have possession of a dog owner’s keys and you enter the property, you must have a Criminal Record Check
While there’s no legal limit on the number of dogs you can walk at one time, it must not exceed what’s stated in your insurance policy.
Tips for starting a dog walking business
Starting a dog walking business is exciting but, for it to be successful, there are some things to decide on first:
- A business name: The name you choose needs to clearly explain what your business offers. Also, the name shouldn’t be used by any other dog walking business. A quick Google search will tell you this
- Pricing: As a dog walker you can set your own prices, but if you choose to charge more than your competitors, you may not get much business. Do your research to see what other dog walkers in your local area are charging
- Where you’ll walk the dogs: If you’re going out of your local area, you’ll probably need a vehicle that’s suitable to transport animals in
- Hours you’ll work: Is this going to be a full-time or part-time business? Can you work mornings, evenings or weekends?
- How you’ll market your business: What budget do you have for marketing? If it’s not much, then look at free or low-cost ways to market your dog walking business, like word of mouth or social media. If you have some money to spend, consider printing flyers or advertising on local communities or news websites
- Additional training: Although it might seem simple to start a dog walking business, there are a number of options out there to help get your business up and walking. Taking a dog walking course, for example, will help you ensure you cover the basics needed to set up your business – as well as covering specific areas such as marketing and insurance. Who said you can’t teach an old dog walker new tricks?
Looking to learn more about dog walking? View all dog walking courses now.