Today’s post is all about starting a dog walking business. We’ll cover some tips and tricks on how to get started so that you can start making money!
Dog walking is honestly one of the most fun business ideas, because, well you get to hang out with dogs all day!
Not to mention it’s one of the few businesses you can start with no money!
A dog walking business can be pretty profitable too!
After all, so many people out there are busy and just don’t have the time to walk their dog. So, there’s plenty of demand for dogwalkers. You could make money walking people’s dogs.
What will I learn?
Pawsitive Profits: Launching a Successful Dog Walking Business
Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting a dog walking business.
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1. Research your market
The first step in starting a dog walking business is to research your market. Knowing your market really is key.
You should research other dog walking businesses in your area and see what services they are offering.
This will provide you will a good idea of what the competition in your area is like and also what there’s a demand for.
If there are businesses in the same market as you, then consider what extra services or features you can offer or how you could somehow differentiate your business from theirs.
It’s also a good idea to read reviews of other local dog walking businesses on sites like Google and Yelp. This will show you what people’s main compliments and complaints are with these businesses.
Then, you could see what other businesses are doing right, and implement those things, and then see what these businesses are getting wrong and then fill that gap in the market.
2. Register and structure your business
You will need to register your business. So, you’ll need to register your dog walking company’s name and choose a business structure.
So, there are many options such as:
- Sole proprietorship
What type of business structure you decide on is really up to you. You may want to register as a sole proprietorship if you want complete control over your business.
You’ll need to register as a partnership if you are opening your dog walking business with two or more people.
A limited liability company, or LLC, is best for medium or higher-risk businesses.
It’s a good idea to research all of your business structure options to choose the one that best suits your needs.
If your state requires it, then you may also need an employment identification number (EIN) when you’re registering your company.
If you aren’t sure what the local ordinances and regulations are for dog walking businesses in your area, then simply enter “[name of your city] and business laws” into Google and hit search. This should provide you with more information.
3. Create a business plan
You will also need to create a business plan. Aside from deciding on a name and structure for your business, you will also need to consider things like:
- Where you want to offer your dog walking services. (I’ll cover this in more detail in the section below.)
- What your target demographic is.
- What types of services you want to offer (I’ll go into more detail about this in the section below).
There’s a lot to consider when you’re creating your business plan, but having a business plan is useful as it helps you to get everything down in one place.
Also, if you need to get outside capital to start your business, then you’ll need to provide a business plan for funding consideration.
Whether you need funding to start your dog walking business or want to leave funding for expansion later on, having a solid business plan from the outset can make the process easier.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re first starting your dog walking business, but the more you plan, the better. Having a strong concept can help set your dog walking business up for success.
4. Decide what services you’ll offer
You will need to decide on which types of services you will offer.
Here are some services that you may want to consider offering:
- Dog walking
- Dog running
- Dog hiking
- Dog park visits
- Pet sitting
- Overnight stays
- Pet food pickup and delivery
- Medications and/or vitamins administered as needed
- Pet taxi
It can be a good idea to keep services simple in the beginning. Then, you can add more services later if you want to expand your business a little.
5. Decide where you’ll offer your services
You’ll need to decide where you want to offer your dog walking services. Of course, to be a successful business, you’re going to want to get as many clients as you can.
So, you may need to offer services outside of your neighborhood. You may need to expand your service area.
You could offer services across your entire city or service several areas and zip codes.
The important thing to remember is your profit. You might find a lot of customers in an area that’s far from where you live, and this seems like it could up your profits. But, then you factor in the cost of the gas you’ll use driving over there and also the effort of traveling far and it may not be as profitable as you think.
You don’t want to overextend yourself.
It’s a good idea to start small, and then you can expand your business as you gain more experience.
You may also want to consider your competition and where they are offering their services. This can help you to decide on your service area.
If you live in a densely populated area where there’s lots of demand and little competition, then you might be able to provide your services in a smaller area, like your neighborhood.
On the other hand, if you see that there’s a demand decrease, and an increase in competition, then you may need to start expanding your service area.
So, do your research to see what the competition is like. You may find that there is an underserved area nearby that has a high demand for dog walking services.
6. Fund your business
Okay, so you may want to consider funding when starting your dog walking business.
Fortunately, the costs of starting a dog walking business are relatively low. But, the costs of things like registering your business and insurance can add up.
Not everyone will require outside funding. You may already have the funds you need to start your dog walking business.
Others may need to find funds. This could be through small business loans or spending on credit.
Whichever funding option you decide on, you will need to have a good idea of what your budget is before you go into finding the funds that you need.
Honestly though, starting up a dog walking business is fairly cheap, especially compared to other businesses like opening a restaurant or a coffee shop.
If you are on a tight budget, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to start a dog walking business for less than $500.
Here are some costs that you may want to consider (Cost estimates are from Time To Pet):
Registering your business
- $10 to $500 or more
When you’re first starting out, like I mentioned before, you will need to decide on which type of legal structure your business will have. If you choose to structure your business as an LLC or you are registering a doing business as (DBA), you will need to pay anywhere from $10 to $500 or more.
A business license
- $0 to $400 or more
Business licenses are not always required for dog walking businesses, but you should check with your state to be sure.
You can simply Google the phrase, “Do you need a business license for a dog walking business in [name of your state].” And that should give you the information you need for your state.
The Small Business Administration is also a good resource for finding out what licenses you might need in your state.
If your city or state requires it, then you may also need an employment identification number (EIN) when you’re registering your company.
It’s free to register for an EIN on the IRS website.
Joining professional organizations
- $0 to $300 or more
This one is definitely not a requirement, but it can provide you with benefits when starting your business. Two prominent organizations are the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International (PSI). The membership fees and application fees vary. Both organizations also offer certifications for professional dog walkers and pet sitters.
- $129 or more
Having dog walking insurance is really important. Dogs can be unpredictable, and you don’t want to be personally liable for any damage that a pet causes to property or other people. I’ll cover more about dog walking insurance later in the post.
Building a website
- $15 to $50 or more
Again, a website is not a necessity, but it can greatly help your business. Many potential clients will search for local dog walking services online, so having a site where they can find you is a good idea.
You will need website hosting and a domain name, both of which will cost you money.
- $10 or more
Creating marketing materials can also cost you money. You may want to get a few old school marketing materials, like business cards and flyers. This is relatively cheap. You can get marketing materials for your business from Vistaprint and plenty of other places. Have a search online for more companies that print things like flyers, business cards, and other marketing materials.
Pet first aid class
- $50 to $200 or more
Taking a pet first aid class can be a good idea. Pet first aid and CPR skills can prove incredibly useful in emergencies. Also, pet owners will likely appreciate knowing that you are trained in pet first aid. So, this could help your business.
One place that offers a lot of classes and resources on pet first aid is Pet Tech.
Also, if you are interested in taking an online pet first aid class, then PetProHero has lots of options.
Dog walking supplies
- $5 or more
Perhaps most obviously, if you want to start a dog walking business, then you will need dog walking supplies. Fortunately, these are pretty cheap, which is why starting a dog walking business can be less costly than other types of businesses.
You can start out with the basics, like a leash, a collapsible water bowl, dog poop bags, and dog treats.
After some time going on dog walks, you’ll learn what supplies you need. So, you can add items as you need them.
7. Set your rates
Once you have set up your business, you will need to decide on your rates.
Keep your price structure simple. You could simply offer 30-minute, 45-minute, and 60-minute walks. If you see another type of service that gets requested often, such as home visits, then you can easily add it to your list of offerings.
It’s a good idea to know how much your competitors are charging. So, do some research into your competitors and check their prices.
How much you set your prices for is up to you, but obviously, it should be a realistic amount that people will actually pay.
You want to ensure that you also factor in your expenses when setting your rates, so that you are making enough of a profit from your business.
8. Promote your business
Okay, so once you have set up your business and have set your rates, you’ll need to find customers.
So, you’re going to need to promote your business.
There are lots of different marketing options, such as:
- Social media, like Facebook, Nextdoor, Instagram, and Twitter.
- A website for your dog walking services
- If you have a company vehicle, or are even using your regular car, you could add decals or wraps to the vehicle to advertise your business.
- Business cards
- Paid advertising, like Google Local Services Ads.
Promoting your business will help you to find clients and start getting work, and therefore, earn money!
9. Get dog walking insurance
Okay, so dog walking insurance is definitely something to consider if you want to start a dog walking business.
Dogs are animals after all and can behave in ways we don’t’ want them to, like they could damage property or even injure themselves or others.
So, since dogs are unpredictable and can cause damage to themselves, others, and property, you don’t want to be personally liable and end up having to pay out. So, get insurance.
There are a few different options for dog walking insurance, but the four primary options in the United States include:
10. Invoice and manage cash flow
Once you have found clients and have completed dog walking jobs, then you will need to invoice jobs and manage cash flow.
You’ll need to set up a process for taking payments and for checking in with customers who haven’t paid their invoices yet.
Here are some things you should consider with payments and invoices:
- Decide when to take payment: So, you will need to decide whether you are going to take payment upfront or after you’ve provided the service.
- Choose a payment provider: You will need to choose a system to collect payments from customers. There are lots of different payment options you could offer depending on your payment system, such as cash, check, credit card, or e-transfer.
- Send invoices: You will need to ensure that you’re sending invoices to your customers so that they know how much money they owe you.
- Follow-up on unpaid invoices: Some customers will be great and pay you right away. Others may require you to do a bit of chasing, which is obviously not ideal, but it’s something that you may come across as you run your business. After a certain amount of time has passed without your customer paying you, send out a reminder asking for payment. Early on in your business, you should decide how you’re going to deal with customers who pay late or not at all.
Starting a Dog Walking Business FAQs
In this section, I’m going to cover answers to some common questions that people have about how to start a dog walking business.
Is it hard to set up a dog walking business?
While starting any small business is hard, dog walking is easier to set up than some businesses, like, say a coffee shop where you need an actual premises. With a dog walking business, you don’t need much in the way of supplies compared to other types of businesses and the cost can be relatively low.
How much does it cost to start a dog walking business?
You can start a dog walking business for less than $500. The startup costs for a dog walking business are relatively low, in terms of things like supplies, and equipment. And, you don’t need any premises to start this type of business either. It’s a business that you can start from home.
How profitable is dog walking business?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average dog walker in the United States earns $17 an hour, $2,878 a month, and $34,539 a year. How much money you earn will depend on how many clients you get and what your rates are.
Also, whether you scale your business and hire employees will also affect how much you earn.
How do I start getting paid to walk my dog?
If you want to get paid to walk dogs, then follow our tips on how to start a dog walking business.
What are some risks of a dog walking business?
Starting a dog walking business can be super fun. You get to earn money while playing with dogs and enjoying the fresh air. But there are a couple of risks involved in dog walking. This can include accidental injuries.
Even a well-behaved dog can suddenly launch at a bird for example, and trip you with the leash. Dogs can also just be unpredictable and injure themselves and others. Also, the weather is a factor in dog walking. That’s why it’s a good idea to have insurance.
You might deal with bitterly cold weather, heavy rain, or scorching heat. So, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the elements. And when the weather is hot, bring plenty of water for you and the dog!
Are dog walking businesses successful?
A dog walking business can be successful, provided you can get enough customers and consistent work.
What are dog walking business prices?
Dog walkers make $17 an hour on average, according to ZipRecruiter, but can earn more than that. According to Time To Pet, a 30 minute dog walking service cost $24 in 2022. So, you’ll see quite the variation in estimated income figures across different platforms.
You can use the calculator from Time To Pet to decide what dog walking rates your company should charge. The tool can help you to determine your rates based on your location, so that you can better understand how much money you should charge customers for your dog walking services.
Dog Walking Business Takeaway
If you want to know how to start a dog walking business, then follow the tips on our list. Dog walking can be a fun business and, if you can get enough clients, it can also be lucrative.
What’s great about a dog walking business is that the startup costs are pretty low, so you don’t need a ton of money to start a dog walking business.