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How to start a dog walking business

Several reasons exist for why someone would want to become a dog walker. The desire to earn some good money might come from a passion for pooches, a desire to be physically active, or perhaps a love of pooches. Dog walking jobs can pay as much as £22,044 per year, according to research.

Setting up your own dog walking company may not necessarily be an easy undertaking. Prior to launching start a dog walking business, you should take a number of steps into consideration. Our team spoke with The Fairy Dog Mothers, a professional start a dog walking business, to get their thoughts on what you should keep in mind.

1. Experience and qualifications

It goes without saying that experience with dogs is a requirement for becoming a dog walker, regardless of your degree. To gain experience with dogs if you do not have your own, ask your friends, family, and neighbors if you can take theirs out. You’ll need to enjoy being around dogs and feel comfortable handling them if you want to run a dog walking start a dog walking business. It’s not just about playing with the ball.

As a volunteer, you might also opt to work at a local animal shelter where you will be able to learn about a variety of breeds and how to manage a number of animals simultaneously. When you manage more than one dog at a time, dogs usually behave differently, so it’s crucial that you have experience managing more than one animal at once before you start your start a dog walking business.

Additionally, there are courses available on pet first aid, dog handling, and animal care that can boost your ability to attract dog owners. Taking some basic business courses may also prove useful if this is your first start in a dog-walking business venture. The courses are not compulsory.

2. Adherence to the law

Establishing your dog walking service will require you to comply with a number of legal and regulatory requirements.

  • HMRC: Register with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) and become responsible for your tax and national insurance payments. Depending on how much you earn, self-employed people must complete a self-assessment tax return every year, and pay income tax and National Insurance as well.
  • Record keeping: Making sure you record all dogs you’ve walked and every payment is not only legally required, but will also ensure you pay the right amount of tax. Additionally, you need to keep track of ‘expendable’ items you bought for your start a dog walking business such as dog bowls, leads, and marketing. This will prevent you from paying too much. In addition to keeping records, you should also ensure that you comply with GDPR (The EU General Data Protection Regulation) and protect your customers’ information.

The law relating to dogs: Make sure you are aware of the various dog laws:

  • Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, 2005: Violations of Dog Control Orders introduced by some local authorities could result in a fine of up to £1,000. These offenses include not removing dog feces and failing to keep dogs on leads.
  • Dog Control Order 1992: It mandates that any dog present in a public place wear a collar with the owner’s name and address engraved on it or a tag with this information engraved on it
  • Dangerous Dog Act of 1991: Allowing an animal to become dangerously out of control is a crime
  • Animals (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953: Dogs are not allowed to chase (attack) livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and poultry on agricultural lands. You should know that the farmer has the right to stop your dog if it does this, including shooting it in certain circumstances.

You can find more information on dog law by downloading the Kennel Club’s handy flyer. You should also take into account that certain laws and regulations might differ slightly based on where you live, so you should contact your local council to find out whether there are any restrictions relevant to your area.

3. Consider how many dogs you can walk

You are not restricted to walking a certain number of dogs in any part of the country. This depends on where you live and the regulations of your council, as well as where you want to walk and what kind of dogs you intend to walk. The experience of walking three large Alsatians in an urban area is very different from walking three small terriers in the countryside.

Although the number of dogs you can walk at any given time is not set in many parts of the country, you should be careful if you walk more than four dogs at once. If you walk more dogs, you will have less control over them, which is especially problematic in areas where the dogs are more likely to trip or get hurt -such as at a busy road crossing or sheep-filled paddock. As you walk more dogs at the same time, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to provide each with the attention it requires. Walking a manageable number of dogs is important, because if one starts running after something then the others might follow. Additionally, you should take some time to learn what each dog’s temperament is, so you can pair them appropriately.

Do not just think about how many dogs you can walk at once; think about how many dogs you can walk over the course of a week as well. Maintaining client expectations and not taking on more than you can handle are both important. Every dog belongs to an individual, and they are trusting you to give them the right level of care, attention, and exercise.

4. Examine the costs

NARPs (National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers) membership may be an important step for start a dog walking business. Being a member of the association keeps you current on all things pertaining to the sector as well as reassures dog owners that you are taking your responsibilities seriously. Dues start at £25.00 per month (as of April 2019).

If you would like to demonstrate your trustworthiness to clients, you may want to consider getting a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service). A basic DBS check costs approximately £25 per person.

It is possible to publicize your business for free, such as putting a notice in your local shop, but most of these methods cost money, such as printing flyers and placing ads in your local newspaper or community magazine. Budgeting should take these costs into account.

You can also access a world of pet technology that can help you stand out from the crowd (and even your pet). Find out which ones are the most popular here.

To ensure your peace of mind, you should also consider insurance. Read more about our dog walker’s insurance.

How to start a dog walking business

5. Conditions of service

It’s important that you determine the terms of your service – what days of the week will you operate? Does your service exclude any breeds? Approximately how long will the walks last? It is also important to consider your hourly rate. In order to make sure your services are priced reasonably, you should check what your competitors charge. To attract new clients, it may be a good idea to offer lower rates than your competition in the beginning.

Having a dog sitting start a dog walking business can also grow into offering other support services such as dog grooming or even getting qualified as a dog groomer. Depending on how your start a dog walking business grows, you may need to hire temporary or full-time staff to support your needs.

It would also be a good idea to develop a contract or ‘terms of service’ that you can share with your clients that outline the service you provide and what coverage you will provide.

6. Identify your brand

When you are fully up to speed with the serious stuff, you can start thinking about your brand. How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? It’s a good idea to conduct some market research to figure out what your competition offers and how you can stand out.

A good place to start is with a start a dog walking business name. When starting a sole trader business, most people will use their names, but if you’re setting up a larger start a dog walking business, you may want to consider a brand name. Make sure that the name you choose is not already taken and that website domains related to your name are available. However, building a brand is so much more than just picking a name. In this article, we spoke to experts at Mediacom, a global marketing agency, for their branding tips.

If you are out walking your dog, you may also want to make branded jackets, hats, or dog toys that feature your logo to make your brand more noticeable to other dog owners. In addition, your brand will appear more professional.

7. Advertising your business

Marketing your business is a very important part of generating awareness about it in your local community. You can do this by using the following methods:

  • By word of mouth: ask your friends, family, and customers to recommend you to other dog owners they may know. Nothing is as powerful as recommendations from friends and family. It is extremely important to maintain great relationships with existing clients and provide fantastic customer service so that they are more likely to recommend you to their friends and family
  • Place ads: depending on where you live, it might be worth placing ads in local newspapers and magazines, as well as putting notices up in local shops.Track the success of your advertisements if you do this, so you can determine whether they are worth the investment
  • Printing out flyers: Consider printing out flyers and putting them through the letterboxes of your local area. Ensure that your contact information is clearly listed, along with the benefits of your service and your experience/accreditations. Keep it brief, though, as you want to present the information in a clear and concise fashion. If your flyer is too wordy, no one will read it
  • On social networks: Creating awareness locally is possible this way. Create a company page on a social media platform such as Facebook and ask friends to like and follow it. In addition, you can create social media advertisements and target them at dog lovers in your local area. Be sure to track your conversions – both phone calls to your start a dog walking business number and traffic to your website

8. Choose the right dog walking insurance

Furthermore, you must consider insurance as a means of easing your anxiety. It is important to take precautions and think about the unique potential hazards that can arise from being a dog walker. For example, if you are negligent and the dog you are responsible for hurts or damages someone’s property, or if the dog causes injury to another animal or person as a result of your actions. A specialist dog walker’s insurance will also reassure your clients that you take your responsibilities seriously.

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