How To Start A Dog Walking
So, How Do You Start A Dog Walking Business?
Our step-by-step guide on how to start a dog walking business. From choosing your name to pricing,
marketing and much more.
At the moment it seems like everyone in the UK has a dog or is considering getting a dog and with over three million animals obtained during lockdown (don't get us started on that subject!), there has never been a better time to set yourself up as a dog walker by starting your very own dog walking business.
Whilst the idea of walking and chatting to people whilst out with your furry friends might seem like the perfect job, you might be asking yourself how on earth do I start my own dog walking business? Rest easy because our setup guide will explain each step in setting up your own local dog walking business so that you will be walking, woofing, and earning in no time!
And as a bonus, If the thought of going through the process of setting up your dog walking business from scratch fills you with dread we have a range of ready-made dog walking businesses and websites for sale that will allow you to hit the ground running and be the proud owner of your very own local and independent dog walking business in no time. Raed on and learn how to start your own dog walking business.
So, What Do We Know About Start A Dog Walking Business You May be Asking!
Before starting We Walk Woofs we had both spent the past twenty-five years as estate agents being involved in various aspects of the UK property market. In late 2017 we had what we like to think of as our epiphany (that was in fact more of a massive nudge!) and we suddenly realised that we had spent way too long sitting on a chair in the office wearing a tie!
So, one Friday night just before Christmas 2017 we settled down with a curry and a glass of wine in front of the wood burner to set about planning the next stage of our working lives. We had always loved the outdoors, had always had dogs and enjoyed massive walks with them, had always been very sociable (some may say annoyingly chatty!), and are what some may call a little unconventional liking to put things on the line for a bit of excitement and a challenge and so after around ten minutes, a bowl of daal and rice and a couple of swigs of good Malbec we had decided that we were going to reinvent ourselves as dog walkers and it that very moment We Walk Woofs was born!
The very next day we set about registering the domain name We Walk Woofs, working out what we would charge and what areas we would cover, and then cobbled together a website and the design for some business cards and we were off!
The next six to twelve months were a massive learning curve and we learned a lot very quickly! It wasn't easy but getting the business up and running was very enjoyable and once the teething period was over we realised that once we had got our systems, procedures, and timetables in place it was fairly easy to run and
keep on top of it.
By the end of the first year, we were running a thriving, viable, and profitable dog walking and cat sitting business and were the market leader and go-to company not only in our local area but in Birmingham. We were listed at the top of Google search results, were getting around twenty enquiries per month and were as busy as we wanted to be.
Six years on and we are still happily trotting out with the dogs every day! What's changed is that we have totally streamlined the business to exactly how we want it to run, have made it more profitable, have nailed our advertising, and are now receiving anywhere from thirty to sixty enquiries per month from our marketing as well as a seemingly never-ending stream of word of mouth recommendations.
"Anyone can write about a subject but the people that you need to listen to are the ones
that have actually done what they are writing about"
Why Start A Dog Walking Business?
If you enjoy working with animals, being outdoors (in all weathers remember!), spending most of your day with lovely dogs, and chatting to lovely people then starting a dog walking business could be the ideal job for you as it can be a
very flexible and profitable way to work. The UK love their pooches and pet care is a high priority for most owners so your new dog walking business will provide dogs with the care and attention required when their owners aren't around whilst allowing you to earn whilst working hours that suit your lifestyle.
Although you do not require formal qualifications to start a dog walking business it is advisable to have experience in dog walking and dog behavior.
A dog walking business will give you the flexibility to work as and when you want and will allow you to fit your hours around your existing commitments like school drop-offs and pickups and once set up your dog walking business can provide you with flexible working alongside a profitable income.
Is Dog Walking For You?
Although on paper the idea of running a dog walking business conjures up images of days spent frolicking in Summer meadows with your band of furry friends the reality can be somewhat different! If you wake up and it's raining from 8am until 5pm the dogs will still need walking!. If you wake up with a sniffle the dogs will still need walking!. If it's minus ten, icy, and snowing the dogs will still need walking !! And don't forget picking up poo! There is a good chance that there will be quite a lot of this during your average day! Important items to obtain when you start your dog walking business are good quality dog walking waterproofs, a pair of dog walking good boots, a high quality dog drying bag to clean the muddy mutts and a positive mental attitude!
Will I Need Training & Qualifications?
You won’t need any formal qualifications or training to initially start your dog walking business but depending on how you wish to progress and especially if you wish to specialise in for example dog behavior and training then they might be something to consider further down the line.
Some may advise that holding a professional qualification can give your new business more credibility when first starting out but in our opinion rapport with potential clients & especially their pets count for way more. Unfortunately, we have lost count of the so-called 'professionals' that we have met that have really poor animal and people skills.
If you genuinely love animals then that will come across in your dealing with both pets and owners.
If you feel that you would like to gain a qualification and some experience before starting your dog walking business then the resources below offer free and paid training:
IMDT offers a huge range of paid for courses including canine body language, perfect puppy training, advanced dog training & behaviour, separation anxiety in dogs & dealing with dog to human aggression with courses ranging from £80 to £650.
Understand The National & Local Dog Walking Rules & Regulations Required When
Starting A Dog Walking Business
There are certain rules that need to be followed when starting your dog walking business. Some of these rules are common sense when starting any business but some of the rules are imposed regionally or nationally either by government or local councils and include:
Always meeting owners and dogs prior to the first booking
Restricting the number of dogs walked to no more than four at a time although two is preferable
Keeping records of all walks and work undertaken
Protecting your clients’ personal information
Make sure that all dogs out in public are wearing a collar with the owner's name and address on it
Cleaning up doggy doo (if you don’t do this, you could be fined up to £1,000
Keeping dogs on leads in designated areas
Restrictions on which open spaces dogs are allowed on including beaches
How to manage dogs around livestock
Research Your Local Market & Other Dog Walkers
In most areas, there will already be other dog walking businesses that are already operating so now is the time for you to carry out your research on the other local dog care companies. Using Google and directories like Yellow Pages you can soon find a list of local companies with links to their websites.
Make a note of how much they charge per walk, what areas they cover, what their branding and marketing are like, and what kind of reviews they have.
With most businesses, there is absolutely no point in trying to reinvent the wheel. Find out what your competitors are doing, look at the best aspects of their business, and aim to do it better!
Your aim when starting your dog walking business is to establish yourself as quickly as possible as the leading go-to dog walking company in your local area.
Start-Up Costs For Starting A Dog Walking Business
Start-up costs for starting a dog walking business can usually be kept to a minimum although there are some essential costs that you will need to factor in.
Insurance for a dog walking business is important as is a website and a social media presence. Business cards and leaflets can be either printed at home to keep costs down or sent to reasonably priced printers. Transport costs when starting your dog walking business will also need to be factored in whether they are vehicle running costs or fares on public transport. You will also need to purchase a couple of leads and HALTI's.
If you really want to provide a professional service we recommend investing in a high quality dog walking bag to store all of your equipment whilst walking, a portable dog shower to clean those muddy paws and a good quality dog drying bag to clean dry off your wet dogs.
Registration & Setup of Your Dog Walking Business
You can register your new dog walking business either as a sole trader, company, or partnership. How you set up your dog walking business depends on your personal and current financial situation so it might be advisable to obtain advice on the best way to structure your new dog walking business.
Although a dog walking business might not sound like a traditional business such as an accountant, electrician, or solicitor it is still a business and as such needs to be run and set up properly following a few simple regulations. You will have to notify certain bodies that you will be self-employed in your new dog walking business and will have to keep on top of day to day running of the business.
Notify HMRC of your new business and that you are self-employed and choose a suitable legal structure for your business.
You will be required to keep accurate records and receipts and will need to file your Self Assessment tax return when requested each year.
You will be required to keep on top of your business accounting including income, outgoings, and costs to enable you to submit your annual self-assessment return and you will need to set up a business bank account to process customer payments and receipts.
Register Your Dog Walking Business Name & Domain Name
Having a great business and domain name for your new dog walking business is pretty important as a memorable business and domain name can be used in conjunction with your website to cheaply advertise your dog walking business to new customers.
To find out whether the business name that you would like to use is available simply type it into Google and look at the results. If you are looking to set up a limited company for your new dog walking business then you can check names at companies house. For your website address, you can check domain name availability and register your new dog walking business name at 123 Reg.
Promoting Your New Dog Walking Business
A decent website along with a little SEO is one of the cheapest ways of promoting your new dog walking business on a budget by ensuring that your website shows in local search results when people search on Google. Wix.com allows you to build your own website for a small fee and helps with SEO for your new dog walking business. We can show you how to maximise your Google presence for very little cost and just a few hours of work. In our opinion, this is the key to building a solid brand and we will share the tips and tricks that we have learned whilst taking We Walk Woofs to the top of Google for our local area. If you know nothing about building dog walking company websites then we can help as we have a range of ready made, off the shelf dog walking websites available for sale and can even create a bespoke site designed around your ideas and your local area.
Facebook and social media including Instagram and TikTok are a fantastic way of reaching local customers and are a great way to promote your new dog walking business by setting up a company page and posting in local community groups.
Leafleting and handing out flyers might seem a little old fashioned but it can be an effective way to reach your local dog owners. You can get leaflets printed cheaply and then put them up in local shops, pet shops, and vets surgeries and even hand your dog walking company flyers out to prospective customers in local parks.
If you are looking for a ready made dog walking business then we have a range of dog walking businesses for sale that include everything that you need to start your very own dog walking business immediately including:
A fully functional website that is ranking on Google for your particular area and that is fully SEO optimised, is easy to edit, and comes with a ready made blog for you to start adding site content.
All social media channels set up and ready to start posting and sharing.
Branded marketing materials to include business cards, leaflets and flyers to promote your business.
A comprehensive 'How To' manual with full instructions on how to set up, promote and run your new dog walking business.
Help and support to set up and run your business.
If would be interested in your own dog walking business then please take a look at our dog walking businesses for sale page to see the areas that we currently have available. If your area is not currently listed please get in touch and we would be happy to chat about setting you up in your chosen area.
Click on the images above to read our reviews of the must have accessories that all dog walkers should buy when starting their dog walking business! The outstanding Mud Daddy portable dog shower, the game changing dog drying bag from Pawdaw Of London and the super useful range of dog walking bags from Barking bags.
Happy dog walking business setup!