How to Start a Dog Walking Business

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Image of a woman walking a dog

Dog Walking Business Overview

Owning a dog walking business can be a fun way to get out and enjoy nature with man’s best friend.

A normal day for a dog walker consists of arriving at other people’s homes and taking their dog(s) for walks. You may take them to a park to play for a while. After returning the dogs to their homes you may pick up another dog or group of dogs, and you’re off again.

Considerations:

There are a couple of things to consider before starting. First, think about your ability to handle dogs. Some people have a strong fear of dogs and cannot walk even small dogs. Obviously, this is not an ideal job for someone who dislikes dogs.

Consider walking several dogs at a time. If the dogs are friendly and can be walked with other dogs at the same time you can maximize your earnings.

Also, consider offering extra services such as dog sitting, grooming, or training to give you a larger scope of work.

Skill Set:
  • Scheduling walks and routes
  • Interviewing owners about their dogs
  • Walking dogs according to a schedule
  • Cleaning up after dogs
  • List of Common Business Skills
Employee and Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

General Hours of Operation: This varies according to the dog owners needs, it may be during the day or later in the evening.

Also, plan a few minutes to prepare, schedule, gather treats, and complete your billing.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • A good pair of walking shoes
  • Extra leashes and collars
  • Bags for dog waste
  • Water containers
  • Dog treats and toys
  • Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:
Licenses:

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

The average startup cost is minimal, $100 to $200 USD. This may vary since all you need is a good pair of walking shoes and enough extra leashes to accommodate all the dogs you will be walking.

Special Requirements and Considerations:

  • You should have a service contract that includes the name and address of the home you will be working in as well as your name to show it is an agreement between yourself and the dog owner.
  • Some of your policies should include liability issues such as damage, aggression, illnesses, accidents, etc. You should also list your cancellation policy, payment policy, etc.
  • Provide clients with a dog information sheet to fill out on each of their dogs that you will be walking. The sheet should include all of the dog’s information such as breed, color, microchip number, shot record, birthday, etc. Then it should ask questions about how the client wants you to take care of the dog. This sheet should be pre-filled with all the questions so you will not forget to ask the client any important questions.
  • Make sure to obtain a veterinarian release. This is written permission to take the dog to the vet without bearing the responsibility of payment (the dog owner would pay). It will list the dog’s normal vet and give permission to take the dog to another vet if necessary.
  • You may also want to get insurance. The one-stop shop is Pet Sitters Associates. For $174 a year they will cover you, the dogs, your employees, and your client’s home and property. For a few dollars a month.
Type of Customers You Need to Attract:

Your customers will include people in your area who are ill, going on vacation, traveling business people, and those who work all day.

Statistics:

At this time both pet sitting and dog walking are still in their infancy as recognized professions. There are an estimated 78.2 million dogs owned in the US. According to an industry expert, only 3 percent of households nationally use a pet sitter or dog walker. Even so, that adds up to 50 to 60 million visits annually, according to the same source and that number is on the rise.

In fact, the outlook for pet sitters and dog walkers has never been better. Some estimates put the number of bonded and insured pet-sitter businesses nationwide at 10,000. Regrettably, there are no stats on the number of dog walkers yet.

Revenue:

One of the best ways to gauge pricing in your areas is to investigate what others are charging in your area. Check your local papers for ads and go ahead and give the person a call. Check the Internet as well as classified websites such as Craigslist.org

Lindsey Stordahl, a professional dog walker, states: “I charge $20 to walk or run a dog for an hour in Fargo and $15 for a half-hour walk or run.

“Dog runners in other cities are able to charge as much as $50 for a half-hour. On the other hand, there are students in Fargo who charge $5 for a half-hour walk. I know my service is worth more than this.

If someone is not willing to pay me $15 to run her dog for a half-hour, then she doesn’t appreciate my value and is not worth my time.

I am an experienced dog trainer and athlete and people are getting the best possible service in Fargo when they hire me as a dog runner. My clients know that.”

Sample:

8 visits x $16/visit = $128/day

$128/day x 5 days/week = $640/week

$640 x 50 weeks (two weeks off for good behavior!) = $32,000/year

Keep in mind that in some cases you may be able to walk several dogs at a time. This will multiply your earnings.

Resources:

Courses:

DogZanny Walker’s Kit

That Mutt

Forums:

Dog Forum