When you decide to turn your love for animals into a business, it’s no longer about putting on leashes and jogging for a few minutes. Being a dog walker is like running a day-care. You have to really care for the canines as if they were your own but rest assured.. Running your very own Dog Walking Business is hugely rewarding and it doesn’t cost thousands to start!
The best thing about starting a dog walking business is that you don’t need lots of training to do it. In this industry, it’s more about passion than skill. But like all businesses, you have to start small before making your way up the success ladder.
If you know someone who has a dog but is always caught up with work, go to him and offer to walk his dog. Or maybe you know of friends who are leaving for a vacation and can’t travel with their dog. You can offer to pet-sit for them.
If you do a really good job, you’ll be called to do it several other times. As you make a little extra cash, you’ll also be slowly building your reputation among dog owners and this will make them loyal customers once you’re fully established. But then again, it’s not all about the canines. You should start developing a good relationship with your clients too because they are the ones who will connect you to other potential customers. As you take on more clients, you might even need to start hiring some extra people to help with the workload. Dog walking is a huge responsibility. If someone refers to their dog as being part of the family, then it’s like they’ve given you their own child to look after.
Usually, a dog walker’s education comes into question only when he or she is planning to join an agency. In the United Kingdom (UK), different agencies have different requirements, and having a degree is certainly not a requirement to start a professional dog walking agency. You don’t need a degree to be a good dog walker.
The educational aspect of becoming a dog walker mostly applies to the business sense of things because there is no way you can successfully run a business if you don’t know what you’re doing. In order to get into the dog walking world, you’ll need to educate yourself about things that are directly related to dog training and dog care. These include first-aid, knowledge of each breed’s characteristics, and how to get a dog to listen to commands.
- Pack Management – You need to be well-versed in “pack management”, which is the art of walking up to 10 dogs at once without the leashes tangling up, and having the dogs chase each other uncontrollably before the walk even begins.
- Understand Aggression – As a professional dog walker in business, you’ll need to be adept at handling aggression in dogs. You’ll need to know how aggression is portrayed and how to handle it safely. The last thing you’ll need is for a client’s guard dog to start attacking people while out on a routine walk.
- Canine First-aid – During the training period, you should pick up some first-aid techniques. Knowing how to break up a dog fight is one thing, but knowing what to do with the injured one is another important aspect that should not be overlooked.
Returning a dog back to its owner with injuries will hurt your relationship with the client. Apart from fights, there are lots of other ways that dogs could injure themselves, and you will need to learn how to take care of minor cuts and bruises. A certificate in canine first-aid can be obtained by attending a short Animal Aiders course.
- Understand Dog Behaviours – Learning the different characteristics of different dog breeds. Some dogs are more guarded than others, and every breed has their own set of unique personalities. For examples, miniature schnauzers are generally good around children, but an improperly socialized Chow Chow may pose a danger to kids. Knowing this, you’ll be able to avoid places where children frequent (i.e. playgrounds and parks) while out on walks.
Having a licence to operate your business is basically what separates a legitimate business from the rest. In the UK, a dog walking license is required for you to run your operation, which you can get here. If you fail to attain a license to run your business, you might even be on the receiving end of some hefty legal repercussions
A general license is issued by the local authority in your area after you have complied with all their regulations. Clients will also usually ask their dog walkers to show some documentation in order to assure themselves that you’re a legitimate business.
There are separate licences for dog walkers who wish to walk dogs in parks. That’s right – you can’t just stroll into any park with 8 howling dogs and expect not to get kicked out. Although park licences are optional, a park is one of the best places to walk dogs in because of the open spaces and fresh air.
There are lots of different parks to choose from, and they all charge different dog walking fees. You may want to consider obtaining a licence at a park that offers all you need with a price that you can manage. As your business grows and your rates increase, you’ll soon be able to get licences from the high-end parks.
Dog Walking Business Insurance
Insurance is a must-have when it comes to dog walking. Some people may look at insurance as just another way to get money off you but it’s actually for your own good. Wait until your dog runs off in the middle of the road and causes an accident, and then you’ll wish you had insurance. There are a lot of dog walker insurers in the UK such as Pet Business Insurance, Cliverton and the National Association of Registered Petsitters (NARP).
Dog walking is as much fun as it is risky. As you already know, people all say that their dogs are friendly… But you never know what might happen on a routine walk. There are cases where dogs have attacked people and even caused damage to property. The UK has over 8 million registered dogs, and a basic dog walker insurance policy will protect you from unforeseen risks.
- Public Liability – This means that you will be covered for all costs arising from damage of private or public property by the dogs while you were walking them.
- Employer’s Liability – This will protect your business if an employee makes a claim against you or your business.
- Professional Indemnity – This is financial cover against claims of negligence or mistakes made in your dog walking activities. The policy covers all settlement claims.
- Equipment Cover – This will help you replace any of loss or damage of your business equipment.
I don’t think there is a professional dog walker out there who hates his or her job. This is one of those rare chances you get to actually pursue something that you actually love doing. You get to help busy dog owners exercise their dogs while getting paid to get into shape – just how cool does that sound? As you walk the dogs, you’re in a great position to get in shape and keep fit. Many studies have shown that dog owners who walk their dogs get a lot more exercise as compared to another person with a gym membership.
Owning a your own business is indeed enjoyable. First, the dog you’re walking gets to stay happy, healthy, and is able to socialise with other dogs. And secondly, you get paid to stay fit.
Once you’ve established the business and you already have a few regular clients, you can now start thinking about expanding. Start by adding extra services such as pet sitting or pet boarding, and as your workload grows, you’ll need to start hiring equally passionate people to help you out.
The extra services that you offer will give you experience with not only dogs, but other animals as well. Before you know it, you’ll have saved enough money to start all over again in a different place. This is how a franchise starts.
For as long as there are people who own dogs but are too busy to take them out for walks, your business will flourish. As always though, there is a lot of competition, and the only way you’ll be able to expand your business is to keep clients happy. Consider throwing in some free walks for your most loyal customers to make them happy.
I’m sure this guide will be of great use to all dog lovers out there who would like to get into dog walking. As long as you’re passionate about dogs and willing to work hard to attain the necessary training, then you’ll definitely be able to find happiness in a job that you love.