Dog owners value professional and dependable pet services and are willing to pay for them – helping to make the pet segment the 7th largest retail segment of the U.S. economy. Operating a pet-care business from home brings the added bonus of convenience for you and your client. You can easily and inexpesively build a small business to supplement your income by offering pet services such as dog walking, dog sitting, dog training, or pet photography. In this article you will find helpful information to get you started on a dog walking business. This is a great small business idea for those who love dogs and who genuinely enjoy participating in a dog’s life!
A dog walker is a valuable service for full-time professionals who have pets at home alone all day. Hiring a dog walker to visit once a day to play, walk and feed Fido is a often a more convenient and less expensive solution than day care. You may already have walked your own dog hundreds of times, so you have some experience, but here are some things to keep in mind before starting your own dog walking business:
Educate yourself: especially if you are planning on walking more than one dog at a time, make sure to learn about typical differences in breeds and temperaments.
Decrease liability: Get yourself bonded and insured. Evidence of police background checks will make your clients feel more secure when you enter their home regularly, and make your dog walking business seem more legitimate.
Establish credentials: Take dog training and first aid classes. Learn how to handle aggressive dogs, dogs in heat, and any injuries that may happen. Your clients will appreciate this expertise and it shows you are a knowledgeable professional.
Add value to your services: Set competitive prices but undersell your service; charge a fair price and add value by offering services that set you apart from other dog walkers in the area. A brushing after a walk? On leash training? Socialization with like-minded dogs?
Be prepared: Keep phone numbers of veterinarians, and back up walkers as well as all clients on you while walking the dogs. Make sure that treats and toys are out of reach of the dogs as you walk and keep extra supplies available, such as collars, poop bags, water, portable water dishes and more. Providing the right items and accessories that your dog needs is one of the best ways to keep them happy and satisfied.
With experience and establishing a great reputation with your clients, word of mouth will spread fast and your dog walking business will grow. But beyond word-of-mouth, good marketing strategies can help accelerate that growth – here are some inexpensive ideas to bring you more customers:
Post flyers and business cards on community bulletin boards, and in pet shops, vet offices and apartment building lobbies.
Keep business cards with you always, especially when you are providing dog-walking services. Visit dog parks and make friends with pet owners.
Build a website and social network page to create a community of customers and expand your network.
The dog walking business is a win-win enterprise. Successful dog walkers enjoy the freedom of being their own boss, earning money, doing what they love, and providing an invaluable service people need. A happy, well cared for dog generates happy humans!