What is needed to start a dog walking business

Written by sherrie scott
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What is needed to start a dog walking business
Dog walkers work with multiple pets at a time. (Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

A dog-walking business can be an exciting endeavour. Dog walkers' clients include people with disabilities, professionals who work long hours and people with hyperactive pets. Dog walkers help pet owners manage the responsibility of caring for their dogs while they're away. Like any other business venture, starting a dog-walking business requires planning and a solid business concept to be successful.

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Education and Training

You need certain qualifications to start a dog-walking business. For example, you need to be able to stay in control of your animals. Misbehaving dogs require a firm dog walker to correct their inappropriate behaviour. Although it isn't a requirement, consider professional dog training certification before opening your business. Certification programs cover animal learning and methods of teaching, such as positive and negative reinforcement. Programs also cover dog behaviour and breed characteristics.

Insurance

You need insurance to start a dog-walking business. Liability insurance is necessary in case a dog causes an injury or damages property while in your care. Dogs are a liability because they bite, scratch and have the ability to knock you down when they get angry or excited. Even unintentional accidents carry the potential for a lawsuit. The insurance will protect you and your business in case you're sued for negligence.

Materials

You need certain materials to maintain a dog-walking business. You shouldn't expect dog owners to supply you with items to walk the dogs. Although most dogs have their own leashes, you'll need a couple of good quality leashes as backup in case a leash breaks. You also need a scooper and plastic bags to clean up after the dogs. In rare cases, you may come across an unfriendly dog on your walks. Carry pepper spray to combat attacks from stray dogs.

Skills

Running a successful dog-walking business requires only basic skills. If you're serious about success, you should develop good time management and organizational skills to efficiently handle day-to-day operations, such as managing clients and vendors. You should have a genuine fondness for dogs and a mellow personality. Because much of your time will be spent serving clients, you'll need the physical stamina to walk and successfully control several dogs at once.

Marketing

To start a dog-walking business, you need a solid marketing and advertising plan to target potential customers. Market your dog-walking business to prospects in your immediate area through local classifieds, online and print "want-ads", as well as through your local yellow pages. Get your business message out to the public through e-mails and postcard solicitations. Create a website to establish an Internet presence and use it to provide information about your company, services and fees.

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