Starting a dog-walking business is a great way to do something you love, make your own schedule, and work with pups and their parents.
You need to keep many different things in mind when learning how to start a dog-walking business—and it's not as simple as it seems.
Here are some tips from experts on how to get your business up and running and ensure that it's successful.
Get Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is essential when you're providing pet-walking services. The insurance can cover you if one of the dogs you're walking gets sick or injured.
The insurance shouldn't cost too much, but it can save you thousands of dollars that you'd have to pay out of pocket if anything happened. You can also get an additional level of insurance, also called bonding.
"I would suggest getting pet insurance and bonding," says Diana Ludwiczak, a canine scent-detection trainer and CEO of Wolfie's Place. "Having this will let your clients know that you take the safety of their dog very seriously."
With so many liability insurance providers out there, go for the one with the most coverage at the lowest price point, and make sure they have a good reputation.
Become First-Aid Certified
When clients use pet-walking services, they want to know that their dog is safe with you. That's why Colby Lehew, who owns the Chicago-based dog-walking business Dogletics, recommends learning first aid for dogs.
"The first thing you need is a business license, liability insurance, first-aid certification, and a website," she says. "The canine first aid is a must. Most customers will not use you without it."
Learn About Safety and Equipment
Along with becoming first-aid certified, take extra precautions by learning about dog-walking safety and the different types of equipment you'll need. For instance, you could enroll in a dog-walking certification course online and go to a pet store to investigate the best leashes, collars, and harnesses to use.
While there, pick up some essentials for your dog-walking business, too. "I would recommend [buying] a leash, poop bags, and treats," Lehew says. "It is crazy that most clients do not have the basics."
Hire People With Dog-Walking Experience
When you grow your dog-walking business, you'll need to hire employees who can walk dogs. According to Jen Jones, founder of Your Dog Advisor, you shouldn't hire just anyone.
"Hire people who are experienced and well-versed in dogs," she says. "Do not hire people who have no experience with animals, as this could be detrimental to your company. Remember, your employees are the face of your business."
Invest in a Pet Software System
To ensure your dog-walking business runs smoothly, you need the right tools, such as pet software. Lehew says you can use companies like TimeToPet and Barkly Pets for online scheduling, invoicing, GPS tracking, and more. They will not only make your job easier but be much more convenient for clients as well.
"Doing it by paper and pen is super frustrating to clients," Lehew says. "Also, people do not want to deal with cash these days."
Market Your Business
When starting a dog-walking business, you need to set aside time and money to market it. According to Jones, you should ask current clients for help with word-of-mouth marketing since dog-walking businesses are usually local.
Dale Buchanan, owner of K9 Business Coach, says you should start building a following on social media sites such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. "Post photos and videos of the dogs you walk daily," he says.
Additionally, he suggests networking with dog trainers, groomers, vets, and other related businesses.
Getting Your Dog-Walking Business Up and Running
When starting your pet-walking service, keep in mind that it takes a commitment.
"This is a serious business and should not just be treated as a side hustle," Ludwiczak says. "The most important thing to consider is that dogs are treated as family members, and caring for someone's beloved family member needs to be taken seriously."
People need dog walkers for different reasons. Some work in an office full time and have to hire help to care for their dogs. Others work from home and don't have the time to take their pups out during the day.
Whatever the reason, you could potentially build a lucrative dog-walking business and become an entrepreneurial success just by following these tips.