- How to Start a Dog Walking Business
This guide is designed to help anyone who is interested in starting their own dog walking or pet sitting business. It includes all the resources you need to get started.
The information in the guide comes from our experience working in the pet care industry and from research on thousands of dog walking and pet sitting businesses. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the dog walking industry, from the basics to the more advanced aspects. In addition, remember that starting a business is a journey and you will always have to adapt to changes, keep learning, and stay updated with the industry.
Both dog walking and pet sitting services provide important benefits to pet owners, as they allow them to leave their pets in the care of a responsible and trustworthy professional while they are away. These services also provide benefits to pets, as they help to ensure that they receive the exercise, companionship, and care that they need.
In order to provide high-quality services, dog walkers and pet sitters must have a deep understanding of animal behavior, knowledge of basic obedience training, be physically fit and have good organizational skills. They also must have a good communication skills to be able to connect with the pet owners and update them on their pet's activities and well-being. They also must have reliable transportation and be comfortable working with different types of dogs and pets.
For a successful dog walking and pet sitting business, it's best to keep the services you offer simple. You don't want to overwhelm your clients with too many options. It's also important to make sure you have the resources and staff to provide the services you offer, so that you can deliver them in a high-quality and consistent manner.
✔️Dog park visits
✔️Cat litter maintenance
✔️Poop 'n Scoop
✔️Pet Transport / Taxi
✔️Food pick up and delivery
Additionally, you may also want to consider offering services such as dog grooming or dog training depending on your expertise.
It's essential to keep a balance between the services you offer and the resources you have available. While it may be tempting to offer a wide variety of services such as cat sitting, dog running, dog walking, pet sitting, evening sitting, early morning walks, night walks, etc. it's important to remember that it's better to focus on providing a few high-quality services than to spread yourself too thin. As your business grows, you can always expand your services. The key is to establish yourself as a trusted expert in the services you do offer, and to be able to deliver them consistently and with high-quality.
Another important consideration for a dog walker is the competition in their service area. It is important to research the competition and find out where they are currently running their service area, so that the dog walker can position their business in an area where there is less competition. This will help to increase the chances of success for the dog walking business.
Overall, a dog walker should carefully evaluate the demand, location and competition in their service area to ensure that their business is successful.
Next, think about the services you will offer. If you're going to be walking dogs, consider whether you'll be doing group walks or individual walks, and whether you'll be providing additional services such as dog training or pet grooming. The more services you offer, the more you can charge.
It's also important to think about the location and time of day when setting your prices. Dog walking and pet sitting services tend to be more in-demand during the workweek and peak hours, so you can charge more for these times. Additionally, if you're located in an affluent area, you can charge more than in a more rural or less affluent area.
Another factor to consider when pricing your services is the number of pets you will be taking care of. For pet sitting, you can charge more for multiple pets, but for dog walking it's best to set a flat rate.
Finally, when setting your prices, make sure they are clearly communicated on your website, social media or in your brochure, and that you are transparent about what is included in the price. You can also offer different packages, like a weekly package which could be cheaper than a daily one, or a customized package for those specific clients needs.
Pricing a dog walking or pet sitting service requires a balance between being competitive, fair and profitable. By researching the competition, considering the services offered, location and time, as well as the number of pets, you can set prices that will attract and retain customers while keeping your business financially viable.
Here are some specific pricing options you can use for your dog walking or pet sitting service. Note that pricing can vary significantly across the country, so these are more of an average that we've seen working with thousands of pet care businesses:
If you also offer training or grooming, the prices can range drastically depending on the expertise and program. Refer to this pricing article to learn more.
You could also offer a weekly or monthly package:
Weekly dog walking package: $150 for 5 walks (30 minutes each)
Monthly pet sitting package: $600 for 10 overnight stays
✔️Equipment: You will need a few basic pieces of equipment to start your business, such as leashes, collars, and waste bags, which can cost around $100-$300. You may also need to purchase a vehicle or other transportation if you will be traveling to different locations, that can cost from $5,000 to $25,000.
✔️Marketing and advertising: To promote your business and attract clients, you will need to invest in some form of marketing and advertising. This could include creating a website, business cards, flyers, or online advertising. These costs can range from $500 to $3000.
✔️Training and certifications: If you plan to offer additional services like dog training or pet grooming, you may need to invest in additional training and certifications, which can cost from $500 to $3000.
✔️Website: Having a website for your business is a must in today's market and you can create it yourself with website builders. There are so many options. Choose the pet centric website builder from Easy Busy Pets or use a template from providers like Wix or Squarespace. Also you can hire a web developer to create it for you, but that can get very costly. One-time costs can range from $0 to $5000, and your website needs to be hosted ranging $10 - $50 per month.
✔️Software: You can use top dog walking software like Easy Busy Pets to manage your scheduling, billing, and client communications. It also comes with free website hosting for subscribers. This can help you save time and increase efficiency. The base price for professional dog walking and pet sitting software can range from $15 to $247 per month.
✔️Insurance: As a dog walker or pet sitter, you will need liability insurance to protect yourself and your business in case of accidents or injuries. Some providers of dog walking and pet sitting insurance in the United States include
In Canada, you can check providers such as Pet Sitters International, Pet Sitters Canada, and The Canadian Pet Sitters Network. These costs can range from $200 to $1000 annually.
✔️Other expenses: You may also need to cover expenses such as office supplies, phone, internet, and other business-related expenses. These costs can be around $500 to $1000.
In total, the startup costs for a professional dog walking and pet sitting business can range from $7,500 to $35,000 (one-time) depending on the scale of the business and the specific expenses plus the monthly operating subscriptions for various software and services on-going. It's important to create a budget that takes into account all the costs and plan accordingly.
Here are a few strategies to help you think of a name for your business:
Use descriptive words: Consider using words that describe your services, such as "dog walking," "pet care," or "pet sitting." This will make it clear to potential customers what your business offers.
Incorporate your location: If you're planning to focus on a specific area, consider including the name of the city or neighborhood in your business name. This can help attract local customers who are searching for dog walking services in their area.
Be creative: Consider using a snappy name that will stand out and be easy to remember. This can help your business stand out from the competition and make it more memorable to potential customers.
Use your personal touch: Use your personal name or a nickname that reflects your personality, it can help to give your business a more personal touch.
Get inspired: Look for inspiration from other dog-related words, quotes, or even songs that you like.
By following these strategies, you can come up with a name that is memorable, easy to pronounce, and reflective of the services your business offers. It's important to have a name that is easy to remember and that clearly communicates the services your business offers. And don't be discouraged if you are having trouble finding the perfect name name: We've all been there, and it can take a few iterations.
Having a tagline or slogan is also important to establish your brand. A tagline should be short, memorable, and convey the main benefit of your services. A good tagline can help to differentiate your business from your competitors, and make it easy for customers to remember your business.
Here are some examples of great taglines for dog walking and pet sitting businesses:
Remember that a tagline should be short, memorable and convey the main benefit of your services. The idea is to create a memorable phrase that captures the essence of what your business is all about and sets you apart from your competitors.
Lastly, it's important to establish a consistent overall brand for your business. This includes creating a consistent look and feel across all marketing materials, from your website to business cards and flyers. This will help to create a sense of trust and credibility with your potential customers.
In conclusion, establishing a strong name, logo, tagline, and overall brand is critical for a dog walking business owner that wants to get the word out about their business. A strong brand will make your business more easily recognizable and increase the chances of attracting new clients. By investing the time and effort in creating a memorable and consistent brand, you'll be well on your way to building a successful dog walking business.
One of the most important steps in setting up a legal dog walking business is creating contracts, procedures, terms, and policies for your clients.
Contracts are legally binding agreements between you and your clients that outline the terms and conditions of your services. It's important to have a clear and detailed contract that outlines your services, costs, and policies, such as cancellation and payment policies. This will help to protect both you and your clients and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
As outlined in the article about Dog Walking Contract Template and Contract Writing Tips, most dog walking businesses consider the following documents for pet owners to sign:
Here are a few key elements to include in a dog walking cancellation policy:
It's important to have clear and detailed terms and policies in place to ensure that both you and your clients are aware of the expectations and responsibilities associated with your services.
In addition, it's important to obtain liability insurance to protect yourself and your business in case of accidents or injuries. This insurance will cover any medical expenses or damages that may occur during the course of your services.
Finally, it's important to follow all local and state laws and regulations related to dog walking businesses. This can include obtaining necessary permits and licenses, and following any rules and regulations regarding animal welfare and public safety. In conclusion, creating a legal dog walking business requires careful planning and attention to detail. By creating clear and detailed contracts, procedures, terms, and policies,
The following list is only recommended for startup dog walking businesses. The way you operate changes dramatically as your business expands, specifically as you onboard staff (no longer a solo business).
Here are a few types of software and tools that can be beneficial for a dog walking business:
Scheduling and booking software: This type of software allows clients to schedule and book services online, and can help to streamline the scheduling process for both you and your clients. There are loads of popular scheduling software options like Calendly, Setmore and Acuity. Check out what you can find on Google, and make sure to go through a few pages and research at least three before jumping in.
Communication and messaging software: This type of software can be used to communicate with clients and dog walkers, and can help to keep everyone informed and on the same page. Some popular communication and messaging software options include WhatsApp, Telegram, and Slack.
Billing and invoicing software: This type of software can be used to create and send invoices to clients, and can help to automate the billing process. Some popular billing and invoicing software options include QuickBooks, Xero, and Zoho Invoice.
Pet management software: This type of software is pet-centric can be used to manage client and pet information, schedule appointments, and keep track of customer payments. There are loads of popular pet management software options out there, so give yourself lots of time to decide which one works best for you.
On deciding which apps to go with, think about the usefulness of the tool when your business grows enough to hire people. Will the solution be able to scale with your growth - will it grow with you? Investing in your future is very important, and making the right decisions now, especially when it comes to software can make or break your business when the need for automation comes front and center.
It is very challenging (if not impossible in many cases) to merge data and processes between apps and online tools. Each one is made by a different company, and they don't really "talk" to one another, resulting in a lot of extra manual administrative work and human error to maintain information across the board. This gets worse and worse as your business grows (growing business = more people involved = more data to manage). This is where the all-in-one solution comes in.
Specifically in pet care, as you grow your dog walking business (usually after 5 staff hires), you will find that you need an all-in-one solution like Easy Busy Pets to bridge the features. Planning on growing your professional dog walking business quickly? An all-in-one can save you the frustration and time by helping run your business like clock-works.