Are you a dog lover who is passionate about anything canine? Are you ready to start your own small business, being your own boss and doing what you love? Are you professional and well organized? If you just answered all these questions in the affirmative, then you can consider starting a dog walking business. One of the best things about the dog walking business is that anyone can do it. No formal qualifications are required to get started. And startup costs are minimal.
However, you must bear in mind that dog walking can be taxing on your arms and legs, so physical fitness is necessary for a professional dog walker. In addition, being a professional dog walker means you will spend a lot of time outside, playing and interacting with dogs more than you will do with humans. But you will make a pretty good wage.
The professional dog walking business is growing not only in the united states, but in every other country where dogs are widely kept as pets. Many people who keep dogs as pets work long hours or have busy schedules and don’t have the time they need for their furry friends. Yet, others have dogs that need regular daily care and attention such as those battling with a medical condition and are on medications.
If you love the idea of becoming a professional dog walker and would like to take a plunge, here are steps you should follow:
How to Become a Professional Dog Walker
1. Learn more about dogs
Since you will be spending most of your time with dogs, you need to learn more about them as well as how to take good care of them before you start a dog walking business. Even if you have kept a dog all your life, you still need to understand other dog breeds and how to handle them. You should visit a local dog shelter or rescue organization to learn about the behavior of the various dog breeds and how they react to different situations.
Observe how dogs interact with other dogs and with humans, and learn about what can get the irritated or angered. In addition, you should contact a veterinarian and ask about what types of foods to avoid with different dog breeds. Most importantly, take your time to interact with dogs of various breed to learn how to stay in control at all times.
2. Get education / certification and training
Having a passion for dogs might not be enough to make you a good dog walker. You need to be well versed in learning theory, dog body language, pack composition, basic obedience, leash handling skills, and a good number of additional topics.
You won’t know all these by osmosis. You need to enroll with a dog walking certification program at a reputable institution. Following your certification, you need to join a dog walking agency for some on-the-job training. This will provide you the opportunity to implement and perfect the lessons you learned at your certification program.
3. Obtain necessary licenses and permits
Aside mandating Business Name registration, some cities and states require that professional dog walkers have special licenses and permits. Some even required dog walkers to be covered by insurance. Generally, governments require that businesses are licensed, so even if your local or state government doesn’t have special regulations for dog walkers, there will be some for businesses in general.
4. Know the ins and outs of your city
You must bear in mind that you need to understand your city’s layout. You need to understand what routes to ply with your clients’ dogs when you are taking them on walking sessions. Know the parks, the hidden hideaway spots, the dog parks, and back trails you can frolic with your new furry friends. Most importantly, know what routes could be dangerous to dogs.
5. Define your services and rates
Most dog walkers offer various services, including full one-hour walks, shorter walks, individual and group walks, and short 15-minute breaks, all at different prices. Define what service options you will offer your clients.
Dog owners will want to know how much you charge for your dog walking services before deciding to hire you or not. So, you need to have defined your rates before starting out. Find out what the going rates are in your area from other professional dog walkers or dog owners who pay for dog walking services
6. Start finding clients
Finding clients is usually the most challenging aspect for dog walkers who are new to the business. While word of mouth marketing may be one of the best ways to find clients, it doesn’t really help newbies. So, you will need to do some advertising on both online and offline media.
Contact pet shops and dog owner organizations to tell them about your services. You can also advertise in your local newspaper. Having a nice looking website and social media profiles will also help you get noticed by potential clients. And don’t forget the good old business cards; hand out business cards to keep your business in the minds of potential clients.