Are you madly in love with dogs? If you just nodded your head with a big yes, then starting a dog walking business could be a great idea. But remember, dogs are not always easy to handle. There may be times when the sun is boiling up or it’s raining. In spite of these unfavourable situations, a dog walker often still has to be outside. That means, to setup a dog walking business you also need your physical strength. To become a professional dog walker you also need to be very alert and focussed on all the factors that can affect a dog.
The following are the various steps to be kept in mind while setting up a dog walking business.
- Training and qualification
It is always a good idea to get a professional certification, training, and qualifications to build trust amongst your potential clients. Even though becoming a professional dog walker does not necessarily require any certification, it is always an added advantage if you have a license or training and qualification in animal first aid, animal behaviour and animal care. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters in the US provides certification courses for dog walkers.
- Identify the kind of company to be created
The most crucial aspect is to identify the clientele that your dog walking company would cater to and how many prospective clients live in your vicinity. Potential clients are likely to be people who don’t have enough time to walk their dogs, such as the elderly. Setting a limited distance is another good idea when prospecting clients as it will curb your traveling time and give you more time to walk more dogs at a time. Living in a suburban area will always be advantageous.
- Tools and equipment required
Another essential aspect to consider is the tools and equipment that you require to run the business. These tools can be dog collars, dog leashes, waste bags, and such. You would also need a vehicle in the later stages of your business to make it easier to transport dogs if the owners do not live close to the place where you would take the dogs for a walk.
All this will require funds and so it is advised that you also prepare a budget and work on the pricing of all these requirements to run a successful business.
Decide the offerings of your business. Apart from dog walking, you can also offer services like dog training, dog day-care, and nutrition. Study your competition and charge a price, keeping in mind the costs and wages and the frequency of services being offered. You can charge depending upon the number of dogs per walk, and the number of hours you walk every day. Most dog walkers provide their services in blocks of time, i.e., for every 15 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour. Choose a pricing structure that benefits you after meeting all the overheads. After all, this is a business!
- Following rules and regulations
You must run your business per the rules and regulations that have been laid down for pet care in your respective country/areas. Some rules restrict the number of dogs that can be walked together in a public domain at a given time, rules for making sure that the dogs wear a collar with the owner details on it or rules for cleaning up faeces. In the UK, the trade association, National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers can be helpful in understanding these rules and regulations.
- Naming and advertising the business
Naming the business should be done with careful attention keeping in mind that the name should be clear, creative and attractive and should be able to relate to the nature of your work- dog walking. Next, advertising the business effectively is yet another step towards making the business popular. Advertising at grocery stores, dog parks using flyers, social media, and referrals, are the most common ways to market your business.
- Dog Walking insurance
Getting an insurance can assure you relief from any potential legal hassles that might arise if a pet causes damage to a third- party property or cause any injury to a member of the public. Dog walkers and pet sitters can avail the coverage of insurance. There are chances when under your supervision, a pet may cause damage and that’s the time you can safeguard yourself from legal actions with adequate insurance coverage. Companies like Pet Sitters Associates LLC and Pet Sitter Insurance provide insurance like personal accident insurance, Business legal protection etc.
- Maintain records
Last but not the least, maintain records of all the dog owners who are using your services. In addition, keeping a record of the breed, health history and the health history of the dogs will be handy in case of any emergency.
Dog walking business are a new sector that is full of opportunities for dog-lovers. When you really love something, then the chances to get success in that field rises. Pamper them, care for them, forgive them, understand them and most of all love them. Commercial factors are definitely important when starting a business, but it doesn’t mean that you can ignore the fact that pets too can feel and react. Now you are now ready to fly high with your new dog walking business.