Must Love Dogs — Here's How to Start a Dog Walking Business
If you love dogs and are looking for a side hustle, you may want to start a dog walking business. Is it profitable and easy? Here’s what to know.
Do you melt when you see a furry friend? Is barking your love language? If you’re a dog lover who’s looking for a side hustle, you may want to start a dog walking business.
With companies requiring a return to office, many pets will be left alone during the day. According to Psychology Today, 78% of dog owners would like their dogs walked twice a day, and they all think it’s a great way for their dog to relax and be healthy.
So, a professional dog walker may be the answer to their problem.
Follow these 9 steps to start a dog walking business.
It's easy to set up a dog walking business and it can be quite profitable. Follow these steps to get started and find out how much you should get paid to walk a dog.
1. Get trained
Take an online course or work with a dog training school to learn about safety for dog walking so you feel more comfortable and people will want to work with you.
If you have friends or family members with professional dog walking experience, you can ask them questions or follow them to get insights and find out what it’s like to walk dogs.
2. Decide on services
Figure out if you just want to stick with dog walking or add a few more services like pet sitting, overnight boarding, grooming services, medications, or pet transport.
You should determine your rates, location, weekly minimum of walks. It's also important for you to create a contract.
3. Write a business plan
A business plan outlines your company description and a breakdown of services, marketing strategies, financial outlook, terms, policies, and goals.
4. Research your competitors
The more you learn about the market and other pet sitting and dog walking businesses in your area, the more you’ll learn about demand and how to set rates.
Examples of pricing options:
Individual dog walk: $25 for 30 minutes, $30 for 60 minutes
Group dog walk (up to 4 dogs): $30 for 60 minutes
Overnight pet sitting: $75 per night
Daytime pet sitting: $30 per 20 minutes, $50 for twice a day
Additional services: Dog training ($50 per hour) or grooming ($50 each)
You could also offer weekly or monthly packages:
- Weekly dog walking package: $145 for 5 walks (30 minutes each)
- Monthly pet sitting package: $500 for 10 overnight stays
5. Choose a business name
Be unique so you stand out and choose a name that isn’t already taken or trademarked. Brainstorm word associations for your own name or pet-related terms. You could also use a free business name generator like Namelix.
Once you’ve decided on a name, purchase the website to market your business.
6. Decide on a legal business structure
Most independent dog walkers operate as a sole proprietorship or a one-person company. You may want to use a “doing business as” (DBA) name or register as an LLC to give you extra protection.
7. Obtain licenses and insurance
Find out if your state and local area require a business license and check the Small Business Administration site to find out state license requirements. You should get liability insurance to be protected in case there’s an accident.
8. Obtain a federal and state tax ID number
Register your side hustle as a business to get a federal and state tax ID number for tax reasons.
You’ll need to provide a W-9 to any third parties you work with, like a dog walking app and get an employer identification number so you don’t have to list your social security number.
9. Choose business tools
From booking to cancellations, invoicing and accounting, you'll need apps, tools, and accounting software that are easy to use and help you to:
- Accept digital payments
- Book or reschedule appointments
- Chat with clients
- Track income and mileage
What are some risks of a dog-walking business?
Like any venture, a dog-walking venture can come with some risks which include the potential for accidents or injuries, unpredictable weather, challenges managing clients, not getting paid, getting injured, or dealing with tricky and unpredictable schedules.
Is a dog walking business profitable?
Since your business will generate revenue from every dog you walk, the more you walk, the more you make. But dog walker rates vary by city, with the U.S. average hourly wage for dog walkers at $16/hour.
When you first start out, you may need another source of income, but if you keep it up, generate publicity and find more clients, you may find that a dog walking business can be quite profitable.