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How to Become a Dog Walker

Aastha Dogra
Planning to start your own dog walking service? If yes, the tips will surely help you out. Read on...
Dog walking might seem like a cake walk, but if you are serious about making some good money from it and starting a small business, it requires as much hard work, patience, planning and organization as any other business.

Tips on Starting a Dog Walking Service

A Part-time or a Full-time Business?

If you are a student who wants to earn some pocket money from dog walking, then you can simply get some fliers printed (you can do it yourself at home too) and distribute them around your neighborhood.
You can offer your pet sitting services at your home as well as at the owner's home. Lots of couples, who have hectic job schedule will be willing to pay you for looking after their dog, walking, bathing, feeding and taking care of him, while they are away.
On the other hand, if you are planning to start a full-fledged dog walking business, you need to check with the local authorities whether there is any license to be obtained or rules/regulations to be followed, to start such a business. Also, you would need to plan on the number of clients that you can cater to, how many hours daily you would devote to this business, etc.

The Investment...

The amount of investment that you need initially depends upon the number of clients that you wish to take up. For instance, for those of you who want to start a large business, hiring pet sitters and walkers to do the jobs for you will obviously cost extra money. You might also need insurance and become bonded.
Some of the supplies that you would have to invest in, on a regular basis, are - toys for dogs, pooper scooper, dog leashes, dog treats, advertisement leaflets and fliers, a telephone and business cards. As the business grows, you would have to undertake financial planning, payment of salaries, timely taxes and ensure that your investments are well utilized.

The Charges...

A very important thing to decide when starting such a business is the rates that you will charge and the kind of services you will provide. For this, a good idea is to call up a few dog walkers in your area and ask them the same.
In the beginning, for the same amount of money that your competitors charge, you can offer some additional services to your clients, such as dog training or increasing the length of the walk. This will help you to get and hold on to the new clients.

The Services...

Word of mouth is the best publicity for such a business. So, always be directly in touch with your clients (even if you have hired dog walkers), note down their instructions, discuss the length of the walk and the kind of services you will provide and accordingly, deliver the same.
If you have an ample office space, you can offer additional services (at extra charges), such as dog bathing, grooming, training, feeding, pet-sitting, medical services for the dogs, amongst others.

Advertising for the Business...

Get your initial clients from amongst your friends and family. If they refer you to someone else, carry references of past employers or teachers, to prove to the potential clients that you are trustworthy.
Building your own website, getting yourself registered in an online dog walker's directory, fliers and leaflets - these are some of the ways to advertise your business.

The Training...

Learn as much as you can about dogs and educate your employees on the same. For this, check the Internet, talk with dog owners, meet vets, read books and attend trainings. By doing this, you will come to know about a lot of things which will help you do your job well.
You will know how to handle situations like when a dog is in heat or what to do if a dog becomes aggressive or how to give him first-aid, etc. Update yourself on dog health topics and give tips on the same to your clients.
This will leave a favorable impression on your clients, as you will come across as someone who is professional, reliable and knows his job well.
To be a success in this business, you should have a passion for dogs. You should love them and enjoy taking care of them. Another important thing is that you should have good communication and networking skills, only then the clients will like you and come back to you.
If these things as well as the ones mentioned above are in place, there are no two ways that you can make this venture profitable.