Starting a Dog Walking Business – Home Business Ideas

Dog walker sitting on bench and enjoying in park with dogs.

Starting a Dog Walking Business for Fun and Profit

I'm a huge dog lover. I can't remember a time in my life where there wasn't a furry, canine family member. And we've owned all kinds of dogs. Growing up it was basset hounds and sheepdogs. Once on my own, it was mixed breeds and Labradors. My last lab, Graycie — sadly passed away in 2016. I do have three kitty cats, but I've not ventured forth on getting another dog. It crosses my mind all the time though.

So – what about you? Are you a dog lover? How about someone that loves getting outside and getting exercise? For some – this type of home business could be a boon for your wallet AND your health. Another added perk is an extremely flexible schedule. You can build it around your family's needs or another job you might have.

I guess the main thing here though, is that if you're not good with dogs, if you're not comfortable with picking up dog poop…. if you're just not an animal lover – stop reading. This isn't going to work for you.

Steps for Starting Your Dog Walking Business

1. Are you going to run this as a business entity or just as an individual?

Remember, there are tax repercussions either way. Uncle Sam will always want his share. At the very minimum, I would open a business checking account and deposit all your dog walking profits in it. As well, purchase all your business needs out of it too. This allows for simple tracking and easy end of the year tax prep. I use Quickbooks and have since I incorporated MoneyMakingMommy.com years ago. I find it super easy to use and my accountant recommended it. I have to run one report every quarter and one report at the end of the year. My accountant tax care of the rest. And even though I have a tiny little blog business, it's worth it to not sweat business taxes in my opinion.

2. Promote yourself!

This seems like a non-brainer, and I almost said to buy supplies first (leashes, poop bags, treats, reflective vest for walking at night…etc) — but I would wait until you have a client or two before dropping tons of money into supplies.

So back to promoting… if you already live in a big populated neighborhood or area, then I'd go the route of flyers or door to door with business cards and info sheets. I know PrintngForLess offers cheap business cards and even cute little promotional items if you ever want to hand out holiday thank you gifts to clients or something along those lines. You might even look into putting a decal on your back windshield or vehicle door. I did this for years on my minivan. I believe eDecals is where I got mine and it was very affordable.

Ideas for where to promote your dog walking business:

1. Veterinarians
2. Grooming shops
3. Pet Supply Stores
4. Dog Training Facilities
5. Dog Parks
6. Your local Humane societies/shelters
7. ASPCA Offices
8. Spay and neuter clinics

And don't forget your neighbors. Sites like Nextdoor.com can be a great way to let people know that you offer dog walking services.

Have a website that tells more about you, your qualifications, your rates and more might be nice to have. I don't think it's necessary, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Especially if you don't live in a big populated area, this is a good way to send people to a place where they can get more info. For instance, if you post a flyer at an apartment building, library or coffee shop – you can send them right to your site where they can get details and the areas your service covers and fill out a form so that you can call them. GoDaddy has deals where you can get web hosting for a $1 a month and domain names are very inexpensive too. I buy domain names exclusively through GoDaddy and I have two sites hosted there and have never had a single issue.

3. Scheduling

Once you have a few clients lined up, you might want to use Outlook if you have it already, or some other type of calendar to schedule your clients. This could even be just a day planner. You don't have to use a computer. But having your calendar handy, even on your smartphone could come in handy.

How Many Clients Should I Take On?

Well – that's really up to you and your time. If I personally were going to start this kind of business, I would initially start with 3 clients. Most clients will want their dog(s) walked more than once a day. Not always, but it's very possible. So maybe schedule the A.M. walks like this (if they are in close proximity):

Client 1
8:00 – 8:45am

Client 2
9:00 – 9:45am

Client 3
10:00 – 10:45am

Maybe break for lunch or just have some down time and then if those same client need and afternoon walk…

Client 1
1:00 – 1:45pm

Client 2
2:00 – 2:45pm

Client 3
3:00 – 3:45pm

By 4:00 you're done for the day. Maybe the walks are shorter or longer, maybe it's more than one dogs… that all has to be factored in. But it's just an example of how it could work.

You eventually bring on a partner or family member to help out if it seems like you'd well together and the other person is super dependable. And on that note, keep in mind – that clients will expect to have their dogs walked rain or shine. Have a dependable car that can make it in snowy conditions if you live in those types of areas.

Final Thoughts

Having a dog walking business is something I always thought I'd like to do if I weren't already working as a blogger. I like the idea of being outside and getting exercise while I work. It's not strenuous and seems enjoyable. Almost like it's “not work”. For a dog lover, it just seems like a dream. Of course, I'm sure it's not all fun. There is poop to grab and dogs that might not be the most calm or easy to walk. These are things to keep in mind. But ultimately I think this is a great idea for those animal lovers out there.

Even More Helpful Info on Starting a Dog Walking Business

I understand one article isn't even to just jump in and start a business. You can also look over all the positions offered for dog walkers and pet care on Indeed.com. They usually have around 100 jobs like that posted.

Hearing From Dog Walkers

Though I've never done this business myself – I know that not only I would love to hear from those that do, but other readers would too. If you currently work as a dog walker or have in the past – please share with us. Any advice or tips on a dog walking business or pet sitting business would be awesome. Feel free to comment below.

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  1. I can chime in! I’ve been researching to start my own dog walking business. I have always had a full time, 9-5 job with dog sitting in the side. I have decided to leave my 9-5 behind to start my own business.

    Some helpful info I found along the way: Google dog walkers in your area to find out what they charge. Do you want to do just “Drop in” visits that last 15 minutes and you leave for the next appointment? Or do you want to offer a 30 minute visit where you walk the dog, get mail, take in trash cans, freshen water and feed the dog? Are you going to ignore the cat, if there is one? Scoop litter? The best part is, it’s your business! You can set it to be whatever it is you want it to be. I have found most people want one walk a day, while they are at work. Do you want to offer overnight stays at a client’s home while they travel? As for multi dogs. Do competitors in the area charge a full rate for adding the second dog? Or do they offer a “bundle” package ($5-10 for second dog, if walked at the same time as their first). Do you charge more for “difficult” dogs? Do you want to become a licensed vet tech and be able to administer medication? How about injecting subcutaneous fluids? Maybe you want to become a dog trainer and you can use your clients to practice?

    As for start up costs. I do agree with flyers, business cards and a website (or a Facebook page at the very least). Drop those off at local veterinarian offices, apartment buildings, convenience stores, rescues, shelters, retirement homes etc. I agree that attire is important as well. Get a rain coat, weather appropriate footwear and shirts with company name. Maybe a jacket with company on it? As for leashes, I understand the thought but most clients have their own. Maybe keep an extra one or two in your car for the emergency situation. Reliable transportation is imperative.

    These are just a few things to consider when starting a dog walking business.

  2. Linda McEachern says:

    I’m wondering how much to charge to walk dogs? Would I charge by the hour, by the number of dogs,..?

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