How to Start a Dog Walking Business
If you love dogs, why not combine your passion with a lucrative career option. One of the most important needs of a dog can be converted into a successful business by cracking into the professional dog walking market. But remember, being a successful dog walker needs no less meticulousness than any other business. Walking dogs is a fun thing to do and getting paid to do it can be an added bonus. You might be excited to setup a business that is going to be so much fun, but you need to remember that with any other business, dog walking also requires hard work and diligence. oneHOWTO will tell you how to start a dog walking business, so you know what to consider when you make your passion your livelihood.
Set your goals
Although you will be spending most of your working time with dogs, you need to approach the work professionally. Like any other business owner, you should be prepared to handle a number of things other than the main work. These include banking, invoicing, marketing, advertising, etc. Smaller things include answering the phones, returning calls, replying to emails, communicating with dog owners, etc. Larger things include getting taxes done, hosting a website, creating advertising campaign, etc. You can do all these things yourself, or set aside budget to get them done by other professionals.
In addition to the responsibilities you would be undertaking while running your dog walking business, one advantage is that you would be doing something that you really love. The more you give back to your community, the more your business will prosper. When clients see that you are caring for their four legged children, they feel encouraged to be involved with your business. Your clients need to know that you are treating their pets as your own and that you are the most trusted for the job.
Although you may have a passion for dogs and get on well with them, that’s not always enough to make a successful business. It might seem leisurely, but dog walking isn't always a walk in the park. As a dog walker, you will need both training and experience to control dogs while walking them. Although past careers with animals is not imperative, you at least need confidence while being around dogs.
You can either take a professional dog training course or volunteer at a local shelter, rescue center or kennel. They often have a wide range of dogs of different ages, sizes and temperaments. By doing this, you will gain some hands-on experience to interact with a different variety of dog breeds. This will prepare you for the most significant aspect of your business and allow you to offer your services with more confidence and assurance.
You may also consider attending a course in pet medication, animal first aid or animal psychology. This will not only give you some enhanced knowledge and qualifications, but will also showcase your commitment towards dog’s welfare to impress clients.
Knowledge about dogs and their behavior is a necessity if you want to be successful at your dog walking business. Get some knowledge of the most popular dog breeds and their particular behavioral tendencies. You also need to have some good skills in dog handling, along with an understanding of pet socialization techniques. Having knowledge of dog body language will be an added bonus.
Make a business plan
Before you start your dog walking business, you need to make a business plan. You need to do some research first, including the expenses and income you would need to consider for the first year. Find out what other dog walkers charge for their service. You also need some knowledge about marketing and accounting, along with an ability to write and understand a contract. Set your goals in terms of marketing strategy, working hours, revenue projections and others.
Just as some dogs are not comfortable around some types of people, they may not be great around other types of dog. You need to be sure you can keep them together and ensure you don't have some dogs endangering the safety of others.
Every now and then, you will have to handle a dog that gets off its leash. They may even try to bite someone or run away out of fear or anxiety. In order to handle such a situation, you should be knowledgeable enough to read a dog’s body language and perceive its intentions. While you are walking a dog, keep scanning the surrounding area and be watchful. If there are other people in the park walking with their dogs, avoid walking beside them. Change your path so other dogs do not pass each other.
It is important to set your boundaries and determine what you will and will not do. If you are a dog walker, do not accept any clients who contact you for pet sitting. Discuss beforehand whether you are ready to offer other services, such as taking a dog to the grooming service. If you don’t have any problem with that, you can determine whether you want to charge extra for it or you would be happy doing that within the same rate. You may also decide to diversify your business services and understand your business goals, availability and costs.
Do your research
Once you know how to provide the desired kind of pet care service to your clients, you need to do some research on the market. There are numerous things you should check out at the initial level, so that you can be sure your business will turn out to be a success. One of the most significant things you need to know is whether or not there is any demand for dog walking business in your area. You also need to find out how much competition is there in the market. All in all, if there is no demand for your business in the market, it doesn’t make sense to start this business in your locality.
To find out the demand in your area, visit pet stores and pet groomers in your area. Go through online and offline classified ads and take a look at the ads offering similar services. If there is high demand for them, that’s a good thing for you, but that means more competition as well. Also have a look at the types of services they are offering and the rates they are charging. You can use this information as a guideline to start your dog walking business.
Advertise your business
People won’t buy into your service if they are not aware of it. To market any new business, you need to handle both online and offline marketing aspects of it.
Most importantly, create a professional looking website for your business and make sure that it is as attractive as it is informative. These days, whenever people want something, the first thing they do is to search online. If you don’t have budget to get your website made by a professional, you can use website building tools like Weebly, Wix and Squarespace to create it on your own for free.
Once you have created your business website, you need to spread it among your potential customers. Create social media accounts to attract customers and share whatever you are doing over there. When you share your website link on social media, you will encourage customers to talk about your business and post their feedback. Post pictures of your business proceedings and of cute dogs that you handle. Show how good you are at managing dogs and how happy the dogs are with you. This doesn't stop once you get going, but should continue to grow alongside your business, providing updates and celebrating achievements.
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