How to Start a Dog Walking Business
The pet industry, and specifically the dog walking industry offers potentially significant prospects. During covid, there was a significant number of new dog owners and this number just keeps growing. When dog owners are at the office all day, it can be reassuring for them to know that their dog can get a stimulating and fun walk with a professional dog walker.
If you are thinking of starting up a dog-walking business, there are lots of important business decisions you need to make. This article will walk you through some of the steps you need to take when starting up a new business.
Why Start a Dog Walking Business?
If you are thinking of starting up a new dog-walking business you are going to love dogs. Have you thought about all dogs though? How would you feel if you are asked to walk a large breed that pulls on the lead? How about a dog that barks at everyone it passes?
A great way to decide if this is the business for you is to go to your local dog shelter and volunteer. You could also volunteer to walk dogs at your local veterinary center. If you have a great time, then this could be the business for you. There are lots of courses and many are online that are affordable and offer expertise in dog care.
A dog walking business allows you to be flexible with your timings. You can offer time slots that work for you. You can have the freedom to be your own boss and take charge of your workload.
Dog walking is a business that’s going to be outside in the fresh air getting you exercise. Just make sure you enjoy being out in all weather! You’ll also need to spend time at the desk contacting clients, marketing your business and finances, etc.
Statistics for the Dog Walking Industry
Here are some of the most interesting statistics for the dog walking industry.
- In the US the average charge for a dog walking service is just over $24 per hour.
- About 40% of the charges go on costs (insurance, marketing, permits, etc.)
- Over 70% of dog walkers are female.
- The potential market is huge with 30-60% of dog owners admitting they need the service.
- There are 69 million homes in the USA with at least one dog family member.
- Growth of the service is 5.5% year-on-year.
- Most dog walkers earn additional income through other services.
- Startup costs can be relatively low, about $2000 in the first year. In comparison, a retailer can spend more than $40,000.
How to Start a Dog Walking Business
So you have decided to start a dog walking business and have some experience and hopefully a certificate in dog care. So what do you need to do to start a dog-walking business? Take a look at our steps below.
Step 1 - Choose Niche
First of all, decide what is special about your dog walking business. This is your USP, your unique selling point. It’s what makes your service stand out from other dog walkers. You do need to offer something unique.
Perhaps you offer dog running as well as walks. Perhaps you only walk one dog at a time so the owner knows their dog will get your undivided attention. You might offer a clean and play service so when the dog is returned after a walk you clean him and prep some toys!
There are so many options, take a look at what is available in your area, you could even get out and ask some local dog walkers what they would look for!
Step 2 – Choose a Business Name
Next, you’ll need to choose a great name for your dog-walking business. You will need to choose a unique name. It’s essential that you come up with an original name and you’ll need to check carefully that any names you’re considering are not already taken. You should check Google, business registers, domain names, social media, etc.
You can use a business name generator to help you come up with lots of potential name ideas.
Step 3 – Register Your Business
In the US, you must register your business with state business registers for the states you wish to operate in. You must have an original name that isn’t the same as any other business. This is a legal requirement for some states. You might want to consider registering as an LLC as this offers you additional protection and benefits.
You should also register your business name as a domain and on social media sites. You should also set up your insurance for your dog-walking business.
You might also want to register your domain name.
Step 4 – Build Website
Once you have registered your domain name you can get going with designing your website. A WordPress website would be a good option, or Squarespace, or Wix.
You should use keyword checkers, which are free to use, to make sure the text on your website is SEO (search engine optimization) friendly so you can rank well on Google and other search engines. Good SEO will help potential customers find your services.
All new websites have a 6-month penalty by Google which affects your ranking so you will need to be prepared for this and wait it out. You should also update your local business information on Google.
Step 5 – Marketing
You will need to market your new dog-walking business to attract new customers. Writing blogs using keywords is a great way to reach potential customers online. You should publish regularly on social media and join groups for dog owners. Do check social media groups’ commercial posting rules as they can have stipulations, like only post adverts on Mondays for example.
It might be a good idea to print some flyers or business cards to hand out to dog owners you meet. You could ask to put flyers in local stores. You should also register on business directories online.
Final Word: How to Start a Dog Walking Business
Starting a dog-walking business is a really exciting time! You’ll need to come up with a unique concept, and a great name, register everywhere and then market your business including setting up your new website. Having experience in dog care and some certification are also great options. Good luck with your new business venture!