Starting a Dog Walking Business
Dog walking...a growing business?
It seems that with the recession hitting most of us, people are growing more and more resourceful and starting to look for ways in which they can work for themselves, and dog walking businesses are becoming more and more popular. But what do "dogwalkers" do?
Well, a dogwalker will come along to your home and collect your dog, take him out for a walk, and return him an hour or so later. So if you have a passion for the outdoors, and share a love of animals, then this money making opportunity might sound a tad too easy. In reality, as with most businesses, there are a number of downsides - which at first glance the casual observer would not see, seeing only the "rose coloured spectacles" version.
Pros and Cons
Window of opportunity
The main disadvantage to starting a dog walking business would appear to be that most people would want you to collect their dog for them while they are working, collecting him at lunchtime to break up his day and allow him some fresh air and a "toilet break".
This in fact limits your activities tremendously, as the window in which you can work is drastically reduced from, say, 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. - and the number of dogs you can take out at any one time will not be that high a number. However, if you can factor in the occasional job for an elderly person who has become housebound, or someone who is perhaps ill and needs help with their pet on a short term basis, then these jobs can be spread out over the course of the morning of afternoon, thereby filling your day up nicely.
One of the highest costs involved is probably going to be the marketing and advertising of your new dog walking business venture. However, if money is tight then this can be done on more of a "shoestring" and without the need for terrific expenditure. You could in fact organise a mailshot, and deliver leaflets on a door to door basis, targeting the areas you feel would specifically welcome your services.
Be sure to let the local newspaper know that you have started up your own business; they are always interested in stories of this nature and, together with a photograph, can make a good article which would be inserted as a press release. The excellent news about this form of advertising is that it is free!
Remember also to deliver your brochures/leaflets to all the local dog kennels. This may sound rather a strange place to deliver them, but in reality kennels actually employ people to walk their dogs, and if those people are off sick or absent on holiday - then you may be able to fill their shoes for a period. Likewise, don't forget to ask the local vets if you can put your leaflet on their noticeboards.
Another great way of advertising is to use the internet. If you are serious about your business, then you really should get a website, detailing all the services you offer. Don't worry that you are not able to set up your own website. Enlist the services of a professional to help you in this regard - it really should be worth your while as in this day and age most people use the internet rather than the telephone directory!
Another expense you will incur is insurance. You will definitely need to have some form of insurance to cover the dogs in your care, and also equally importantly, public liability insurance - in case one of the dogs in your care, heaven forbid, should bite a member of the public!
On the question of insurance, you will of course also need some form of transport to collect the dogs and take them to a specific place for their "walkies". This transporting of dogs to and fro may require you to advise your car insurance company that you are, in fact, using your vehicle for business purposes, which could lead to an increase in your premiums.
The excellent news is that the dog walking business is one which, quite literally, anyone could start. No special training is required, no exams are needed to be taken - but it may be a benefit to your particular business if you can claim that you have an understanding of dog behaviour and that you have a good technique for controlling dogs on their leads.
Add On Services
You may also like to consider services such as pet sitting while people go away on holiday - an extra which could prove very lucrative for your business.
Lastly, and quite importantly, remember always to have a few treats in your pockets for the canines in your care!
A dog walking business can be a brilliant way to earn money whilst also doing something you love. There are things to consider before starting a dog walking business, however.