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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. As a matter of fact, I have a lab at my feet right now. She's a 13 year old chocolate lab named Graycie.
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 123Print 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.
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.
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. Calendars.com has cute calendars, money pouches and other dog themed items you might like.
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):
8:00 – 8:45am
9:00 – 9:45am
10:00 – 10:45am
Maybe break for lunch or just have some down time and then if those same client need and afternoon walk…
1:00 – 1:45pm
2:00 – 2:45pm
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.
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. Therefore, I want to offer other resources that might be helpful in your research. You might find Robert O'Hearne's story interesting. He makes over $5,400 a month with his pet sitting business and offers a Pet Sitting Profits Guide. As well, you might like Justin Bryce's ebook that offers 400 dog treat recipes.
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.