How to Start a Dog Walking Business

How to Start a Dog Walking Business
With more dog owners, demand for dog walking services has boomed. Learn everything you need to dive in and start a dog walking business.
by Square Apr 30, 2024 — 7 min read
How to Start a Dog Walking Business

This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

Research shows that dogs are the most popular pet in the world. Globally, approximately one-third of all households have at least one dog. With the growing number of dog owners, demand for dog-walking services has boomed. And as some newer pet parents navigate finding the time to walk their dogs, the need for dog walkers is only likely to continue. In fact, some countries are imposing fines for those who don’t walk their dogs at least once every 24 hours. For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, dog owners could face fines up to $4,000 for not walking their pet.

If you’re looking to set up a dog-walking business, this step-by-step guide will walk you through how to start. From relevant qualifications, regulations, and marketing, we’ve got you covered.

What are the benefits of starting a dog-walking business?

Before you prepare for your puppy-focused profession, here are a few of the benefits of starting a dog-walking business:

How to set up a dog-walking business

So, what do you need to set up a dog-walking business, and what extra ideas might you want to consider?

What qualifications do you need to be a dog walker?

While there are no required qualifications or certifications to becoming a professional dog walker, there are a few things to look into to ensure a smooth operation:

Pets and dogs are precious members of your client’s family, so it’s important to take care while enjoying your new profession. Showing commitment to your role will benefit your business as you begin to advertise services.

What regulations are there for dog walkers?

As a dog walker, dogs in your care become your responsibility. While each city and county has different local regulations, here are a few to keep in mind:

To find out more information about the regulations for controlling your client’s dog in public, visit your local government’s website. 

Other things to consider before starting up

Before you start daydreaming about playing fetch with your new furry pals, there may be a few other details to iron out ahead of getting started.

How many dogs can you walk?

In some cities, the number of dogs that can be walked at a time is regulated. In San Francisco, the limit is eight dogs per person. Be sure to check local laws and regulations to help protect your business.

You may also want to consider your own realistic expectations — how many dogs you can handle at once, as well as per day or week. The latter may be easier to determine once you build your client base. Otherwise, this might depend on your preferred working hours.

What areas will you serve?

Where do you plan to offer dog-walking services? Think about how you’ll get between clients and whether you’ll need to factor transport times and costs into your business plan. Consider the competition in the area too.

Will you offer other services on top of dog walking?

Such as:

What vehicle might you need?

Think about whether your current vehicle is up to the task of transporting dogs. You might need something larger if you plan on transporting multiple dogs at a time. If using your current vehicle, you may need to inform your car insurance provider.

What kind of insurance does a dog walker need?

Insurance is important to protect you and your clients (of both the human and hairy variety) in case anything goes wrong while a client’s dog is in your care.

This will cover you if a client or member of the public is accidentally injured, or their property is damaged, while you’re rendering services.

Here are the different types to consider:

There may be other types of insurance that your business needs that aren’t listed above. Do your research on all of the types of insurance available to dog walkers. If you plan to use your home or personal car as part of your business, you should speak with your home and car insurance provider in case it invalidates your current policy.

How to register your dog-walking business

Before welcoming your four-legged friends, you’ll also need to register your dog walking business, choose a business name, and determine a legal business structure and business entity, such as a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. 

The Small Business Administration’s business guide can help you register your business and determine which licenses you need.

How to set prices for dog walks

Research local competitors before setting your prices. This way, you can gauge the average rate at your location and choose your charges from there.

The average price for a dog walker in the US is $24.84 for a 30-minute dog-walking service. Keep in mind that this price can increase or decrease depending on location, number of animals, and other services, including transport.

If you’re starting from scratch, you could offer introductory rates to boost new business. It’s also a good idea to consider drawing up a service agreement with your clients to set expectations for services in case anything goes wrong.

How to organize your business

Keep your dog-walking business on a tight leash and organize your schedule. The best way to stay organized is to create a business plan tailored to your goals and stick to it.

Plan your time efficiently and stay ahead of busy schedules by setting time aside to assess your workload each week. You can even use scheduling software such as Square Appointments to manage your availability and payments for you. Using a handy booking tool can take away the pressure caused by manually organizing your schedule.

It’s sometimes easy for work to get away from you when you’re self-employed. Make sure to factor in time for your own well-being, too. You’ll be your own boss, after all.

How to take payments

Before you start accepting dog walks, determine how you plan to accept payments.

Will you charge per walk? Alternatively, you might consider weekly or monthly charges for regular clients. Along with payment cadence, you might expect to negotiate fee amounts with clients as you go.

Once you start charging for dog-walking services and invoicing your clients, make sure to keep an organized record — save copies of invoices and back them up safely. You can automate your invoice system online with the help of Square Invoices to manage your payments in one place.

Accept card payments with Square Virtual Terminal for easy remote billing. Or, if you regularly see clients in person, check out Square Reader to make simple card and contactless payments at collection time.

How to market your dog-walking business to customers

The idea of starting a dog walking business is very exciting, but how are new clients going to find out about your services? Here are a few ways to market to customers:

If you love all breeds of dogs, getting lots of fresh air, and marching to the beat of your own drum, starting a dog-walking business could be the smart path for you.

Invest time in doing your research, creating a solid business plan, and ensuring all your legal requirements are underway, and you’ll have tails wagging in no time. Don’t forget to have fun and get a little creative along the way.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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