Dog walking is increasingly becoming popular in the UK. According to the annual Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) pet population report, the number of owned dogs in the U.K hit 9 million in 2014.
Many people are choosing to start dog walking businesses because there are minimal qualifications required. Perhaps the only thing that can stop aspiring dog walkers from starting a professional walking service is the cost involved in setting up their businesses. Fortunately, establishing a dog walking business requires a lesser investment as compared to other pet services such as grooming or canine massage. If you’re interested in setting up a dog walking service in the UK, here’s what you need to know…
Apply for D.B.S
Applying for a Disclosure & Baring Service is not a legal requirement for dog walkers, but getting this document is highly recommended. The D.B.S, formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau, does a background check to ascertain your conduct. Passing this background check will show your prospective clients that your business is trustworthy.
Get a Pet First Aid Certificate
Just like the D.B.S check, a pet first aid certificate is not a mandatory requirement that one should have in order to start a dog walking business in the UK. However, holding this credential will give you a competitive edge. Dog owners will have peace of mind knowing that their beloved pets are in safe hands if you have a certificate in canine first aid. The best part about getting first aid training for dogs is that it’s cheap. What’s more, some courses such as those offered by Animal Aiders only take one afternoon to complete.
Acquire Dog Walking Insurance
All dog walkers in the UK are required by law to acquire public liability insurance in order to walk dogs. This legal requirement not only protects the clients, but also your business. Some companies cover vet charges incurred while tending to dogs in your care. Keep in mind, though, that each policy and scope of coverage varies amongst different companies.
Set up a Website
Creating a website to advertise your dog walking business makes it easier for prospective clients to find you. It also offers an easy way to let clients get in touch with you if they’re interested in what you have to offer. Although there are many free website builders these days, buying a domain name and finding a reliable hosting service will give you more control over your website. You may also want to hire a graphics designer to create your official dog walking business logo. Hosting fees and the overall expense of setting up a dog walking website are relatively low compared to other traditional forms of advertising.
Advertise Your Business
Advertising your dog walking services is important if you want to reach out to more clients. Even if you have a small marketing budget, there are cheap ways to promote your business. For instance, you can give out business cards or use word of mouth advertising. Alternatively, take advantage of free online local directories to post listings of your business with a link pointing to your website. You can also print flyers and distribute them in places where potential clients frequent such as the local vet facility, pet shops, animal feed stores, and the public park noticeboard.
Last but certainly not least, make sure to invest in comfortable walking shoes and clothing. Because dog walking requires you to be on your feet most of the time and brave all kinds of weather, it makes sense to spend a little more than you would to acquire a good pair of shoes that won’t fall apart so quickly from daily walks.