In 2020, for the first time, many animal shelters found themselves empty.
As many Americans found themselves working and going to school from home, more and more people decided to become pet parents. With many workers returning to the office and campus, the need for professional dog walkers is on the rise. He US Bureau of Labor Statistics also waits animal care and service grow 33% by 2030.
Becoming a pet care professional can be a rewarding career choice for pet lovers. Read on to find out what you need to know before starting a dog walking business.
Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Dog Walking Business
If you’re just starting to think about starting your own business, you probably have a lot of questions. You are not alone! It is very important to consider all aspects before becoming a business owner.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful dog walking business?
The most obvious is that you are an animal lover at heart. Many pet owners consider their fur babies to be children. Just as they are looking for the best sitter or daycare provider, they also want the best sitter for their dogs.
In addition to getting along with animals, you must also be able to communicate well with humans. Communication skills and compassion are a must, as is patience. It can take time to build trust with your new customers. That goes for both dog owners and dogs.
A dog walker needs to control the animal and handle any problematic situations that may arise while you are away from home. If you have your own dog, you already know that it is not only his dog to worry about when you go for a walk. You may come across other dogs that are not as well behaved. There will also be distractions and potentially dangerous situations. Therefore, a pet sitter must be physically strong enough to handle these situations and mentally sharp and quick to solve problems.
While no formal training is required to become a dog walker, it may be beneficial for you to learn canine first aid and basic behavior skills. This will be an advantage when it comes to marketing to new clients.
You must also be reliable and have good time management skills. Keeping a schedule is very important for pets. And no pet owner wants to come home to a disaster because his sitter didn’t show up. Just like the postman needs to deliver the mail in the rain, sleet, or snow, a dog walker needs to walk that dog.
What happens during a typical day at a dog walking business?
As a dog walker, you probably make a trip to each client’s house at least once a day to walk their dog and give them time to play. This visit usually takes place in the middle of the day after the pet has been home for a few hours and is ready to go potty. If your client is away for an extended period of time or the pet requires more frequent care, that may require more than one trip.
While at your client’s home, you may also need to check the pet’s food and water and notify the owner or vet if there are any problems with the dog.
How much should you charge to walk dogs?
How much you can earn for dog walking will largely depend on your location and clientele. According Glass doora average salary of a dog walker it is about $35,000 per year. When calculating your rates, don’t forget to include your expenses, such as gas and vehicle wear and tear from traveling to and from clients’ homes. You may want to provide your own dog products and treats or waste disposal bags. There may also be insurance or license fees to consider.
Most dog walkers report charging $10 to $20 per walk. Your prices may also vary if you walk. various dogs at a time or each dog receives individual attention.
Licenses and insurance required for a serious dog walking business
The licenses you will need to start walking dogs or pet sitting business will be dictated by your location. It is always best to consult a professional who knows the ins and outs of starting a business from home. SCORE eitherIt offers many free resources, including volunteer business mentors who can help you make sure your Ts are crossed and your Is are dotted.
They can also advise you on the types of insurance to consider, such as safe to walk dogs and personal or commercial property insurance.
You’ll also want to consider the structure of your business, which is how the business is organized to operate. A sole proprietorship is the most common, but a Limited Liability Company (LLC) may be worth considering, as it protects your personal assets in case someone sues the company.
How to Find Dog Walking Clients
Once you have a business plan and know the type of clients, both dogs and humans, you’d like to work with, it’s time to spread the word. The good news is that marketing this type of service business doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, if at all.
You may want to reach out to family, friends, and colleagues to get some good reviews under your belt. These people can also refer you to other people if they feel you can do a good job. Never be afraid to ask clients for references. This is the most powerful form of marketing. You can even choose to offer them an incentive, for example a free dog walk, in case your referral signs a long-term contract with you.
You may also want to create a simple website that introduces yourself and your business that you can easily point people to through social media posts, business cards, and flyers.
You can also fill in your schedule as you get started with a dog walking app like Rover or Wag! This dog walking software can help you connect locally with those in need of your pet sitting services.
Growth potential for a dog walking business
There are a limited number of hours in a day and the window for midday walks can be short. Therefore, you may want to consider other income opportunities for your successful dog walking business.
Other services that you may be interested in offering include:
- Overnight stays and weekend stays when the dog owner is out of town
- Basic dog training
- Care homes
- Boarding at your house
- Killjoy Pickup Services
- pet taxi service
The bottom line
It is always in your best interest to consider alternative avenues of income and have a backup plan. When the pandemic hit, many of those who walked dogs for a living found themselves out of work for several months as pet parents were confined to their homes and did not need a dog walking service. Our current and future outlook is still a bit shaky. Be sure to save your pennies for a rainy day and always have a Plan B.