How To Start A Dog Walking Business

You might well ask how can I start a dog walking business and make money and we aim to answer that question in our guide below.

Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. That means that if you choose to make a purchase through my links, you will not have to pay any extra money, but I may earn a commission.

Having worked for a dog walking / dog boarding business as a VA I have some insight into the dog walking setup costs, how much to charge per dog walk and considerations you should think about before you can start a dog walking business.

How to Start a Dog Walking Business and make money.

Table of Contents

Firstly, we will look at some considerations you should think about before deciding to start a dog walking business.   

When you’ve read all the considerations and decided that you still want to go ahead with setting up your own dog walking business, I will walk you through the steps. In addition, I have created some great professional forms that you can use in your business.   

So let’s look at some considerations.

Do I need any training or qualifications to start a dog walking business?

When it comes to starting a career as a dog walker, the question of qualifications often arises.

Do you need formal credentials to walk dogs professionally?

Or is a passion for pups and a genuine love for animals enough to kickstart your venture?

Let’s dive into the discussion surrounding qualifications for dog walkers, exploring both perspectives and helping you make an informed decision on your path forward.

The Qualifications Debate:

Should a Dog Walker Have Formal Credentials?

Formal Credentials

Dog Behaviour and Training: Some qualifications, such as certifications in dog behaviour and training, can equip you with valuable insights into canine behaviour, enabling you to handle different temperaments confidently.

First Aid Certification: Obtaining a first aid certification can be crucial for dealing with emergencies and ensuring the safety of the dogs under your care.

Professionalism: Formal qualifications can provide a sense of professionalism and credibility that reassures clients of your commitment to their pets’ well-being.

Real-World Experience

Practical Knowledge: While formal qualifications have their merits, hands-on experience gained through interacting with dogs in various situations can be equally valuable in understanding their behaviour.

Personalised Approach: Your ability to build rapport with dogs and cater to their individual needs might be more influenced by your natural affinity for animals than by formal training.

Learning on the Job: Many successful dog walkers start with a passion for dogs and learn the ropes through practical experience, refining their skills as they go.

Factors to Consider:

Client Expectations

Market Demands: Depending on your location and the competition, clients may expect different levels of qualifications from dog walkers.

Premium Services: Offering specialized services, such as behavioral training or dog fitness programs, may require additional qualifications to set you apart.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Local Regulations: Some regions have specific requirements or regulations for professional dog walkers, including potential licensing or certification. At the moment in the UK there is no such requirement.

Your Personal Goals

Career Aspirations: If you plan to expand your services to include pet training, behaviour modification, or pet-sitting, formal qualifications could be beneficial.

Balancing Passion and Professionalism

Both passion and qualifications have their place in the dog walking industry. The key lies in finding the right balance that aligns with your goals, your clients’ expectations, and your local regulations. Whether you choose to pursue formal credentials or rely on your innate love for dogs, remember that dedication to the well-being of the animals in your care is paramount.

In conclusion

The answer to whether you need qualifications to be a dog walker depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and the expectations of your potential clients. While qualifications can offer an edge in terms of knowledge and credibility, genuine passion and hands-on experience are equally valuable. It’s about finding the approach that resonates with you and allows you to provide exceptional care to your furry clients.

Dog walking in all weathers

Dog walking is not a fair-weather job.  You will need to be prepared to go out in all sorts of weather, rain, wind and maybe snow! (If it is safe to do so).  If you are a person who enjoys the warmth of your house on cold days (like me!) then this may not be the ideal job for you.  Furthermore,  you may need a pair of wellies! Click on the image below to check out the wellies.

Do I need to have insurance when starting a dog walking business?

Among the various considerations in the process of starting a dog walking business is the question of insurance.

Do you really need insurance to kickstart your dog walking venture?

We will delve into the reasons why insurance is a crucial aspect of running a successful and responsible dog walking business.

Understanding the Risks:

Injury and Accidents:

Dogs, like any living beings, can be unpredictable. Accidents, bites, or other unforeseen incidents can occur, potentially leading to injury to the dogs you’re responsible for, other pets, or even individuals.

Third-Party Liability:

Dogs under your care might inadvertently cause damage to property, vehicles, or other pets. Insurance helps cover the costs associated with such incidents.

If a dog you’re walking bites or injures someone, you could face legal liabilities. Having insurance can provide financial protection in case legal action is taken.

Types of Insurance for Dog Walkers:

General Liability Insurance:

This type of insurance covers bodily injury and property damage claims that could arise from your dog walking activities. It provides financial protection against unexpected incidents.

Professional Liability Insurance:

Also known as Errors and Omissions insurance, this covers claims related to negligence or mistakes in your services. It’s especially relevant if you provide additional services like pet training or grooming.

Animal Bailee Coverage:

If you’re responsible for a client’s pet and something happens to the pet while it’s under your care, this coverage can help with the associated costs.

Bonding:

A bond is a form of insurance that protects clients against theft or damage caused by the dog walker.

Benefits of Insurance:

Credibility and Professionalism:

Having insurance signals to clients that you take your business seriously and are committed to their pets’ well-being.

Peace of Mind:

Insurance offers peace of mind to both you and your clients. It ensures that unexpected events won’t jeopardise your financial stability or reputation.

In some regions, insurance might be a legal requirement for operating a dog walking business. It’s essential to check local regulations.

In conclusion, while it might be tempting to cut costs by skipping insurance, I believe the risks are too high to do this. Insurance isn’t just a financial safeguard; it’s a testament to your professionalism, commitment to the well-being of the animals you care for, and your responsibility as a business owner. As you embark on your dog walking journey, remember that insurance is a valuable investment that contributes to the longevity and success of your business.

What are the rules for carrying dogs in cars in the UK?

It wouldn’t be viable to transport dogs using public transport.  So you would need to have a vehicle to transport dogs.   

As Rule 57 of the Highway Code states “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

Therefore it is a good idea to separate the dogs from the driver in order to avoid unnecessary distractions. The options would be a pet barrier or cages, crates or dog car seats as below:

How many dogs can a dog walker legally walk?

The number of dogs a dog walker can legally walk will depend on your insurance policy and local authority policies.  The Control of Dogs Act 2010 allows local authorities to set their own limits for the maximum amount of dogs that can be walked at once.  However, The Dogs Trust in the UK advises to only walk 4 dogs at a time.  But you would need to check with your local authority.  Also, if you take out insurance they will stipulate the maximum amount of dogs that can be walked at any one time.

How many dogs can you walk legally as a dog walker?  Find out how many dogs you can safely walk in your dog walking business.

Do I need a licence to start a dog walking business?

You will need to check with your local authority but in the UK you don’t need a licence for dog walking.  However, if you plan to offer dog day care or dog boarding then you will.  That is because on 1 October 2018 The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force.  So the activities below DO require a licence: 

How much does dog walking pay per hour?

Working out how much dog walking pays per hour will need you to take in the following considerations:

How long will your walks be?  The average is between half an hour to an hour.

How many dogs will you walk at once? Some customers may not be comfortable with their dogs being walked with other dogs.  In this case, you may want to have a higher rate for this type of customer.

Where you live will also be a consideration.  When looking at the UK if you live in the south then you could charge more than somebody in the north.

How much can a dog walker make?  The amount a dog walker can make varies depending on a number of factors, such as location, experience, and the number of dogs being walked.  Find out what an average dog walker can earn.

Will you offer a lower rate for a second dog e.g. if a customer has two dogs will you offer 50% off for the two?

The price for dog walking services is generally between £5 to £10 per dog, per walk.  Do a check on Google for what people are charging locally (DON’T click on their ads though as that will cost their business money!)

Is dog walking profitable?

Dog walking can be profitable.  Let’s say you do walk 4 dogs per session this would roughly be about £30-£40 per hour.  Obviously, as with any business, it takes time to build up a client base.  Once you have a good client base you may find you are turning away clients and this is when you can start hiring other dog walkers if you wish to expand.  As with anything in life if you are good at something and are professional it will be profitable.

Do I need to have a DBS check to start a dog walking business?

Again, like insurance, it is not a legal requirement to have a DBS check to start a dog walking business, but a customer may feel more comfortable with you in their house alone if you have a DBS check done.

What is a dog walking service agreement and do I need one?

A dog walking service agreement would document your dog walking payment policy, what services you are providing, the length of the walk, the cost and amount of notice a customer needs to give you before stopping the services. 

Although you don’t need a dog walking service agreement, it is highly advisable to have one, as it could help to settle any disputes that may arise.  So if you don’t know how to make a dog walking contract then we’ve done all the hard work for you and you can easily purchase one – click on the image below.

Do I need to register the dog walking business?

Yes, as with any business, a dog walking business would need to be registered.  In the UK you can simply register as self-employed at https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself.  It’s extremely easy to do and as a business owner myself this is the route I took. 

As a business owner, you will need to submit your income and expenditure yearly so you will need to have a good robust way of recording these.  We will discuss this in more depth later.

Right, having read over all the considerations above and you’ve decided that you still want to go ahead let’s look at the steps to start a dog walking business.

Steps to start a dog walking business

Write a business plan for a dog walking business

When I started my virtual assistant business in order to get finance I had to write a business plan.  Although, this is not necessary a business plan makes you think about your strengths and weaknesses.  In addition, you check out your competitors and what they are doing well or not so well.

Decide on a dog walking business name

During this process you should decide on a business name. 

Are you struggling with choosing a name?  Then search Google for a name generator and try using that to come up with a name.  Alternatively, ask friends and family for ideas.  In fact, I asked my husband and he was the one who came up with Help on Tap.

Check that the domain is available on the internet (if you decide you want a website).  Also, by doing this you can check that there are no other businesses with the same name.  In addition, check the name is available on Facebook and other social media channels.

Where do I get a DBS check done for a dog walking business?

This is not a necessity but customers may ask if you have one.  You can get a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in England and Wales for £23.  To apply click here https://www.gov.uk/request-copy-criminal-record.

Purchase public liability insurance

As previously mentioned although not necessary it is highly advisable to purchase Public Liability insurance for your dog walking business in case of damage or injury.

Modifications to dog vehicle

Purchasing a new vehicle for dog walking is a massive investment.  Alternatively, adapting a vehicle for dog use, would be much cheaper.  Check out the dog barriers on Amazon.

Purchase forms needed to start a dog walking business

Recording your walks

You must accurately record all your walks.  I worked for a dog walking / boarding business and updated their business forms to look more professional.  Hence, I have adapted these forms and they can be purchased here.

Keep up to date financial records

You will need to submit accurate yearly financial records of your business income and expenditure.  But accounting software can be expensive.  Thus, I created a very simple spreadsheet which I have used for my business over the past 14 years.  It is ideal for a small dog walking business.

Check it out – it would work well for a dog walking business and I have added a daily planner and customer information worksheet.

Pet Services Excel Accounts Income and Expenditure for Dog Services

Write a dog walking client contract

It is important to have an agreement between your business and your clients.  This dog walking client contact shouldn’t be difficult to write.  It simply outlines the service that you are planning to provide to your client and the cost of your services.  If the thought of writing an agreement is daunting then this simple editable terms and conditions Word document is ideal.

Dog Walking Services Agreement for Dog Walking Business

Dog walking service registration form

It is advisable that you meet up with your client and their dog to see that you are a good fit.  Once you have decided that you want to work together then having a professional dog walking service enrolment form is a must.  It is important that this form collects emergency contact details.  In addition to the registration form it is also advisable to have a dog walking service agreement as mentioned earlier.  Click on the image below to check out this dog walking enrolment form.

Dog Walking Client Intake Form for a Dog Walker

Dog walking accessories

Dog walking bags

Best dog walking bags for either a dog walker or a dog owner.

Dog walking bags are handy accessories designed to carry essential items while walking your dog or for a dog walker.

They help keep everything organised and easily accessible during your outdoor adventures with your furry friend.

These are the quality you should look for in a good dog walking bag:

  1. Water-Resistant or Waterproof: Look for bags made from water-resistant or waterproof materials to protect your supplies from rain or accidental spills.
  2. Durable Construction: Ensure the bag is made from durable materials, especially if you plan to use it frequently for outdoor activities.
  3. Reflective Elements: For walks in low-light conditions or at night, bags with reflective strips or accents enhance visibility and safety.
  4. Easy to Clean: Opt for bags with removable or washable liners for easy cleaning, especially if you carry dog treats or wet items.

Here are some popular types and features of dog walking bags:

Treat pouch bags:

These small, compact bags are specifically designed to hold dog treats. The zip allows quick access opening and closing to allow easy retrieval of treats during training sessions or walks.

Leash bags:

Leash bags are attached to the dog’s leash and can hold small items like poop bags, keys, or a few treats. They are convenient for shorter walks when you don’t need to carry a lot of supplies.

Crossbody dog walking bags:

Crossbody bags are worn over the shoulder and across the chest, leaving your hands free for holding the leash and managing your dog. They typically have multiple compartments for treats, waste bags, a water bottle, and personal items like your phone and wallet.

Backpacks for dog walking:

Dog walking backpacks are larger and offer more storage space.

They are suitable for longer walks or outings and can carry not only treats and waste bags but also items like a collapsible water bowl, a small first aid kit, and a toy or two. This backpack can be personalised.

Waist Packs:

Also known as fanny packs or belt bags, waist packs are worn around the waist and provide easy access to essentials. They are lightweight and comfortable, making them ideal for shorter walks.

Convertible dog walking bags:

Some dog walking bags can be converted into different styles, like switching from a backpack to a crossbody bag. These versatile bags offer flexibility for various activities and outings. This one can be worn three ways.

Etsy is a great site to find personalised dog accessories.  I love the personalised high vis dog coats that you could advertise your business on.  Also, the dog walking bags are fab.  Plus it’s great for personalised gifts to give to your clients.

Now you’ve got your processes in place let’s look at an extremely important aspect of your business.

How to market dog walking business to get clients

Add Listing to Google My Business

This is by far one of the most important marketing tips for beginners with a small business. Ensure you add your business to Google Maps, which is known as Google My Business. This is a free listing.

By adding your small business listing to Google My Business local people who are searching for a dog walking business should see your listing.

Most importantly people like to deal with local people when possible.

Plus, you don’t need to have a website to add your small business details.

Tell friends and family

Tell everyone you know what you are doing. I was advised this when I first started my VA business.  Subsequently, I have actually worked with all my siblings and some friends.  Just remember to charge them! You are running a business after all.

Facebook business page

A lot of businesses these days opt for a Facebook business page rather than a website.  I would recommend this to start out.  Furthermore, I believe more people would use Facebook for recommendations and to search for local services.  In fact, I have found myself using it more recently for beauty shops and dog boarding services (I have a cockerspaniel!). 

Facebook groups

Find groups where local dog owners hang out on Facebook and join those groups.   Once joined be helpful with your comments but DON’T push your business.  If someone asks for recommendations for a dog walker you can say this is what you do.  It is becoming increasingly popular for businesses to find clients through Facebook groups.  One Facebook group I have joined as a VA has job opportunities posted every day.

Flyers to start your dog walking business

These are a great way to advertise a dog walking service.  I wouldn’t recommend them for all businesses.  However, a dog owner would want to work with someone local to them and who knows the local dog walking areas.  Perhaps, you could offer the first x amount of walks at a reduced price to entice clients to sign up.  Check out flyers on Etsy.  Just start off with a small amount as you may want to change some of the details on them at a later date.  Then deliver them to local houses or people you see walking dogs.

If you’re looking for more marketing tips check out these 17 powerful marketing tips for businesses.

Okay so you’ve done all that and your business is now expanding what next?

How to set up a dog walking business website

Some people believe that having a website costs a lot of money but it doesn’t have to.  Let’s take you through setting up a WordPress dog walking website.  If you’ve never heard of WordPress then check out this post that explains it all simply.

1. Select a name for your business

Now if you followed the step by step process for setting up a business then you will have already done this during the business plan step.  But if not, then we will go over that again.  If you’re struggling to come up with a name try asking Google or family and friends.  By inputted the term “name generator” into Google it will come up with software that will generate a name from inputted words. 

Once you have selected a name check it is available on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  I can hear you say now but I will never use Twitter but you never know.  Instagram is a great visual tool and would be great for putting up photos of dog walks.

Next check the domain is available for your website.

When you know they are all available set them all up.  If you’re no good with tech then find a techy Virtual Assistant!

2. Select your hosting provider

Hosting is where your website files will be located.  I am currently using siteground (aff link) for this site and have never had any problems.

Look how easy it is to set up a WordPress website in the screenshots below:

3. Install WordPress

Siteground makes it so easy to set up your website. Check out the screenshots below to see how it will take you less than 5 minutes (depending on your typing speed!) to set up.

To install WordPress using the Website Setup Wizard access your Client Area and go to Websites > New Website button.

A new section would appear where you will be prompted to select the domain name that you want to use with your new WordPress installation.

Click the Continue button once you have the chosen the desired option to proceed to the next step.

On this next step you should select to Start a New Website or to Migrate an existing one. Click on Select under Start New Website.

Siteground installation

Choose WordPress and enter the preferred login details for your new WordPress application. Once you are ready, click on Continue.

Next, choose what enhancements you wish to add to your website – if you want to add any. When you are ready with this step – click on Finish.

That’s it! You can now go to the front page of your site or access the WordPress admin to start adding content to your website.

4. Choose a WordPress template for your dog walking business

There are some great WordPress templates that you can use for your dog walking service business.  Check them out below:

Onleash 

Petsitter

Pet sitting themeforest theme

A world for pets

World of pets theme

Woof Pet

Farewell Thoughts:  There are many things to consider when starting a dog walking business such as do you want a website or just a Facebook business page.  To look professional you will need to have processes in place such as professional forms and a way to track your income and expenditure. If you are looking for a customised form then please feel to contact me.  Good luck with starting your dog walking service and drop me a line with how your business is doing.

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