Do you love four-legged friends, moving your body, and getting outside? Are you looking for a way to supplement your income?
You’re not alone! Many people struggle to find a side gig they can feel passionate about.
If you love pups and being active, you might want to consider a dog-walking business.
Keep reading to learn how to start a dog walking business and start your path to becoming a dog-walking pro!
- How Profitable Is Owning a Dog Walking Business?
- What You’ll Need To Start a Dog Walking Business (and Associated Costs)
- Why You Should Consider Starting a Dog Walking Business as a Side Hustle
- How To Start a Dog Walking Business in Four Simple Steps
- Things To Consider When Building a Dog Walking Business
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Similar Businesses To Consider Starting
- Wrapping Up
How Profitable Is Owning a Dog Walking Business?
Several factors influence the profit margins of a dog-walking business.
Demand and cost of living in the area are two major ones.
For example, dog walkers in New York City and Los Angeles tend to charge a bit more than their counterparts in less populated areas.
Many veteran dog walkers suggest a fee of approximately a dollar per minute of walking time— between $20 and $30 for each 30-minute walk.
Research the market in your area first, though, as competitive rates vary by region.
The US Census reported that spending on pet care has doubled in the last decade.
With a total of $1.1 billion of that spent on dog-walking alone, this pie looks plenty large enough for you to take a piece, too.
How much time and effort you are willing to dedicate to this venture is another aspect to consider.
The more available you are, the more walks you can take, considerably increasing your cash flow.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average dog walker makes about $28,000 a year.
Many earn considerably more, up to $150,000 a year.
Your location makes a difference, as well as how many clients you score, the scale of your business, and of course, your overall work ethic.
What You’ll Need To Start a Dog Walking Business (and Associated Costs)
As with any small business, starting a dog walking business has some startup costs involved.
Luckily, these are typically much lower than other small businesses, such as cafés.
Leashes, Harnesses, and Collars
While many clients will likely have their own supplies for their canine companions, some will not.
Purchase a few of these in varying sizes to accommodate diversity within your clientele.
Your pet supply total (including the following items) will probably be around $400, depending on the location and the quantities you purchase.
Dog Treats and Portable Water Dishes
You can use them to reward a dog, teach it a trick, or help it trust you a little more.
Depending on what kind of dog walking service you offer and how far out of the neighborhood you wander, your clients might get thirsty.
Poop Cleanup Supplies
Most municipalities have laws requiring people to clean up after their pets—even if those pets are “borrowed.”
Comfortable, Durable Walking Attire
Spending most of your day on the move means investing in a good pair of walking shoes is advisable.
Buying a quality rain jacket is also recommended.
Set aside at least $50 for these items if you do not already own them.
And if your budget allows, you could also purchase branded t-shirts or jackets, to further advertise your business.
Even though liability insurance is not legally required, every reputable dog-walking business has it.
That way, if something unpredictable happens, your business will only take a fraction of the financial and reputational hit.
Rates vary, so research and budget according to your service area.
Branding and Marketing Materials
Establishing a logo and brand is key, as is a website.
Flyers, business cards, and posters will all help promote your new business.
How much you spend is up to you, but a minimum of $100 even for DIY endeavors would be prudent.
Do I Need a License or Certificates To Start a Dog Walking Business?
Although you don’t require a special dog-walking license, you will need a business license.
How much it costs depends greatly on where you live, but initial registration will probably run you between $50 and $500.
Why You Should Consider Starting a Dog Walking Business as a Side Hustle
Starting a dog walking business might seem like a strange side hustle, even for a pet lover.
However, there are some excellent reasons why a dog walking business makes an appealing side gig.
- Flexibility: Choosing your hours is appealing, especially to students, stay-at-home parents, or other freelancers.
- Health Benefits: Dog walking helps mitigate a myriad of health issues through the movement the job requires.
- Easy Entry: Unlike other industries, no specialized training is required.
- Sense of Community: You can develop a rapport with your neighbors and contribute to your community.
How To Start a Dog Walking Business in Four Simple Steps
Now that you have some background, here is how to start a dog-walking business in four simple steps.
Step 1: Gain Experience With Dogs
While no degree in dog handling is necessary, most clients will want to see that you have had some experience with dogs before entrusting you with their furry friend.
One way to gain experience is by offering dog-walking services to people you know for free or for a greatly reduced rate.
You can also use companies like Rover to test the waters of dog walking.
Rover and other platforms take a cut of your earnings but can be a good way to gain experience and see if starting your own dog-walking business is truly for you.
Additional certifications in dog behavior, canine first aid, and dog training can build credibility in the eyes of your human clients and enable you to add extra features like obedience training to your business.
Step 2: Research!
Now that you have experience with dogs and a few loyal human clients, you will probably want to think about expanding your business.
This will require extensive research of your local market.
What is the going rate for dog walkers in your area?
Who or what is your competition, and how are they doing?
Is there a similar niche in the pet care market that you could fill?
What exactly will your service area be?
Another research topic will be initial costs.
What, if any, supplies do you already have?
How much are business registration and insurance fees in your area?
How much will you spend on marketing materials such as flyers and your website?
Will you be buying a separate phone or special software for this endeavor?
Last, but certainly not least, you will want to choose a name for your business and develop a logo and brand around it, including a website.
Step 3: Register
Once you know your budget and develop your brand, you are ready to register for your business license.
You can do this at your county clerk’s office or online.
While you’re at it, you can register for your insurance plan as well.
Creating a separate bank account for your business transactions may also be necessary.
Step 4: Build Your Client Base
While you gain experience handling dogs, you are also building connections with their owners.
Maintaining these connections, especially when you are first starting, can be incredibly helpful to your business later.
Many dog-walking clients come through word of mouth, so make sure you leave a good impression.
You can also look for local dog groups on Facebook.
While most groups will not allow direct self-promotion, they might let you reply to dog-walking requests on the page.
Check with the moderators first if you are unsure.
Additionally, pet grooming stores and veterinarian offices near your service area can also be great sources of clients.
Things To Consider When Building a Dog Walking Business
While we’ve covered a lot, you probably have a few lingering questions about starting a dog-walking business.
Hopefully these sections will fill in the gaps.
Can You Run a Dog Walking Business by Yourself?
It is absolutely possible to run a dog-walking business solo.
And by doing so, you get to keep all the profits, unlike with Rover.
You may even be able to turn it into your full-time job.
Can You Grow a Dog-Walking Business and Hire Employees?
However, if your business is booming, it might be worth at least developing a scaling plan.
This way, if you need to hire sooner rather than later, you are prepared.
Honestly, developing a business plan during the research phase could pay off.
If you decide to go it alone, consider investing in accounting software to help keep track of everything.
You might also think about getting an app for you and your clients.
There are dog-walking apps that allow them to make payments and book appointments with a click or swipe on their smartphone.
These investments in your business may just take it to the next level.
INSPIRATION: Dog Walking Business Ideas
Looking for niche dog-walking business ideas?
Here are four alternative dog-walking jobs:
Dog Running Business
Instead of focusing on walking, you can offer dog running to owners with high-energy breeds.
Since running is more demanding than walking, you can also charge more than for a regular walk.
- Dog Hiking Business: Enjoy exploring the great outdoors, but want to earn some money and have some companionship while doing so? Consider starting a dog hiking business, where you take a dog on a hike with you.
- Dog Obedience Training Business: If you have or decide to pursue further certification, you can offer obedience courses alongside your walking services.
- Dog-Sitting Business: If your schedule allows, you can develop a dog-sitting business to care for people’s pooches while they are on vacation.
In addition to walking the dog, you would also be responsible for feeding it, letting it out as needed, and handling any emergencies that may come up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check out these popular questions about starting a dog-walking business.
How much should I charge for dog walking?
Many experienced dog walkers propose a rate of between $20 and $30 per 30-minute walk.
Fifty cents to one dollar per minute per dog tends to be the general rule.
However, your own price may vary based on your location and experience level.
Do I need insurance to be a dog walker?
Legally, probably not.
But from a business standpoint, yes.
While you are not legally obligated in most places to have insurance to be a dog walker, it helps immensely with credibility and protects you in case of an accident or incident.
Similar Businesses To Consider Starting
If getting paid to walk dogs does not interest you, perhaps these are more to your taste:
- How to Start a Homecare Business: If you prefer watching people’s property more than their pets, consider starting a home care business.
- How to Start a Babysitting Business: If you prefer watching and caring for children more than animals, a babysitting business would be a good match for your interests.
- How to Start a Dog Breeding Business: If you want to breed your dogs, a dog breeding business would add profits and puppies to your life.
While starting a dog walking business is simple, it is not always a walk in the park.
But with some hard work and good planning, it can make a good side gig.
Depending on how dedicated you are, you might even be able to do it full-time.
Have you ever started a dog-walking business?
What did you think about this advice?
Let us know in the comments, and share this article if you liked it!