How to start a dog walking business
If you’re interested in working with animals, but don’t have the qualifications to become a veterinary nurse or dog groomer, have you ever considered setting up your own dog walking business? It requires only minimal investment and no formal qualifications. It’s ideal for someone who loves dogs and who wishes to keep fit.
Dog walking is something you can enjoy, whilst earning money at the same time. For dog owners who work long hours, or who are unable to walk their pet due to being housebound, the services of a dog walker are vital.
How to start a dog walking business?
First, you need to obtain specialist pet business insurance, with public liability cover. This is a legal requirement. Search online to get the best deal, as there are several insurance companies which provide this type of cover.
You may also find it helpful to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, providing a written report showing whether you have a criminal record. Although not a legal requirement, it will reassure customers that you’re trustworthy. Details are available from the direct.gov website.
Although not mandatory, a pet first aid certificate would be similarly reassuring. Search online to see if any courses are available in your area.
When working out how much to charge, ring round other local dog walking businesses posing as a potential customer to find out what the going rate is.
What’s the next step?
Think of a memorable name for your business and advertise your services. There are numerous free templates online which you can use to set up a website – even a beginner can navigate them. List your business on other pet and dog websites.
Put adverts in shop windows, vets’ surgeries, pet shops and on supermarket noticeboards. Set up a page on Facebook. Print some leaflets that you can post door-to-door. Contact local dog training classes to see if they will promote your service. If you have enough money, advertise in the Yellow Pages and Thomson local directory.
Once you get your first customer, you will find word of mouth nets you more clients, as people chat to their friends and neighbours if you provide a good service.
The practicalities of dog walking
Although having a car helps, as it enables you to collect multiple dogs, you can still run a dog walking business without one. Target a client base in a smaller local area if you don’t have transport, or invest in a bicycle to travel between jobs. Organise your diary to allow yourself enough travelling time and take one dog at a time if necessary.
Make sure you have comfortable shoes and waterproof clothing. Have a good local knowledge of suitable areas for walks. Always check with the dog’s owner whether their pet is dog aggressive, or can be let off the lead. Keep a list of emergency numbers handy, such as the local vet.
Always issue invoices, keep receipts for your expenses and keep your books up to date, as, once earning, you will need to register on the HMRC website as self-employed and submit your accounts annually.
Although it may seem daunting at first, once you become established, it will be an enjoyable way to earn a living.
We hope this was helpful and you now know a bit more about how to start a dog walking business.
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