The professional dog walking business is a growing one not only in the United States but in many other countries as well now. Many people work long hours or have busy schedules and don’t have the time they need for their furry friends. Still others have dogs that need regular daily care and attention such as those who need medication or regular care for a medical condition.
Here at ProfessionalDogWalkers.com, we understand that dog walking is about more than just grabbing a leash and getting some exercise. For many people, this is more than just a job; it is a passion. In addition to really caring about dogs and enjoying being with them, you also need to have a passion for business- your business in particular. If you are a dedicated dog-lover seeking your own business doing something you enjoy, the becoming a professional dog walker may be just the thing for you.
So how can you start this type of career in the first place? What is needed and how can you achieve your goals? Will you need schooling and training? How do you start your business and how do you let people know you are available? Where will you find your clients? Just like many businesses, this one comes with a lot of questions but if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for dogs, you can learn to be a professional dog walker.
We have gathered together some valuable information to help you with your dog walking career and to get you started on the right track to determining if this is the job for you and also how you can begin. We applaud you for your interest in taking care of animals and also in starting your own business doing something you love. So join us and read on to find out more!
What will you need to be a professional dog walker? Will you need to purchase a lot of equipment or supplies? The good thing about a job as a professional dog walker is that there is very little you actually need. While you may want to have some of your own supplies on hand, most dog owners will supply you with the things that you need such as collars, leashes, treats and other dog supplies. In many cases, you need to do little more than just show up ready to work!
While it is not required, one thing that you may want for your job as a professional dog walker is some stylish and professional business cards. Anyone who works for themselves wants to have some great business cards. This is how you can advertise to people that you meet what you do and it helps you network and bring in more customers. So what should go on your business cards? In addition to your contact information, you may want to add some additional info such as:
Your business card may be the first impression that some potential clients have of you so be sure it is professional but also that it expresses who you really are and what your business is all about. You want people to be able to feel they can trust you with their canine friend so they will hire you for your services.
While you may not need a lot of supplies, one thing that will be very important to your job as a professional dog walker is your personality. Attitude is everything in this industry and if you have a bad one, you probably won’t last very long. On that note, let’s move on to what experience or education is needed for this career.
What type of experience or education is needed to be a professional dog walker? The good news about this profession, just like many other freelance or entrepreneur opportunities, is that you don’t necessarily need college or a specific degree to be a dog walker. If you work for a company, however, they may have certain requirements and qualifications that they ask of you so be sure to consult them before applying.
However, just because you don’t need a degree does not mean that there are no requirements. The more experience you have and the more proof you have of your trustworthiness and ability with animal care, the easier it will be to get and keep clients.
You also need to know how to run a business. If you have never run a business of your own, you will want to learn all that you can to be successful. You may want to attend classes or courses in small business administration and other courses which can help you learn to properly run and manage your career. Some things you will also need to determine are:
To determine the answers to these questions will require some research on your part. In addition to setting your own goals and fees, you will also want to research the market, possible competition in your area and other determining factors to answer these issues properly and accurately.
On the topic of money now, how much can you actually make as a professional dog walker? This is a popular question and for good reason. While many people think that you simply can’t make a living walking dogs, still others go to the other extreme and think that you can get rich doing next to nothing. So what is the real truth about making money as a dog walker?
Well, the truth of the matter is that it depends on many different factors such as your experience, the area you live in, how much you charge per visit and how many visits you make in a day. For example, let’s say you charge $15 a visit (a bit on the cheap side) and each visit lasts 30 minutes. Now let’s say you can do 12 visits in one day. The math would be:
$15 x 12 visits= $180 per day
Now look at how many days a week you do this. Let’s say you work a full 5-day workweek like most people. That would be:
$180 day x 5 days = $900 week
$900 x 4 weeks = $3600 month
You can see that there is great potential for money to be made here. Even if you don’t work five days a week and you only work four, or if you only do 8 visits in a day instead of 12, there is potential to make money. If there are multiple dogs in the home, it is customary to charge additional fees so this can also increase your earnings. If you add extra services such as grooming, feeding, giving medications, etc, then you may also increase your earnings.
In fact, it is a great idea to consider adding other valuable services to your routine such as:
Depending on your skill set, this could be a great way to make more money doing what you do and to increase the value of your own services to your clients.
When setting your own fees, remember not to largely overcharge or undercut. You want to be affordable enough that people will want to use your business yet you need to be able to make enough to support yourself as well. Undercutting too much can also make you look unprofessional or like a teen seeking a summer job and not someone with a serious career and business of their own. Instead you need to focus on reasonable prices and giving people quality service that they will feel good paying for.
Keep in mind it’s also going to be important to advertise. Once you get a few clients and a good reputation, word of mouth advertising will work in your favor but until then, you may need to put up flyers, yellow page ads, Internet ads and more.
If this is all starting to sound pretty good, maybe you are wondering if you are really right for this job. Could you make a living out of spending time with dogs? The kind of person who is right for this job first has to love dogs and love caring for dogs. This includes all types of dogs since you never know what breed your clients will have. In addition, you need to be understanding, compassionate and patient but with your canine clients and their human counterparts.
It’s important to understand that many clients may have expectations or worries of their own about hiring you. They may feel guilty that they are unable to spend the needed time with their own dogs and they may be nervous of leaving their family pet in your care. You must be patient, calm and generous in your advice and in the way that you speak to your clients. Be sure to always address their concerns and be reliable and dependable by always doing what you say you will do.
Next comes your canine clients and it’s true they are the ones you will be spending the most time with. It’s important that you have a true love and passion for dogs to take up this career. You might be able to fake it around people but a dog will sense it if you are not a “dog person”. Additionally, you need to know as much as possible about dogs, different breeds, dog behaviors, dog health and even the dog laws in your area.
You need to be willing to constantly learn and update yourself on things related to dogs and your career. You need to have a desire and a passion for improving the lives of the dogs you come into contact with. You should always have the dog’s best interest – and not your pocketbook- in mind when caring for a dog in your dog walking business.
So is all of this starting to sounds pretty good? Are you shocked to learn that you may be able to make a living doing what you love? Are you ready to start your own business built on something you are passionate about? If you’re ready to get started in this career, there are some things you should do first.
Initially you want to create a business plan. Even if it just for your own personal use, the business plan will help you see your goals and plans for your professional dog walking business. It allows you to see each detail and goal in writing which makes it easier to obtain these goals.
Now you need to ask yourself how big your dog walking business will be. How much time do you have to devote to this job? Are you currently working another job? Will you be going to school or handling other family or life responsibilities that will interfere with the amount of time you have for dog walking? How many hours can you realistically devote in a day? In a week? In a month? These questions will help define your business.
Now look into educational options. How can you learn more about dogs and their care? What types of programs or certifications can you take? Have you taken a dog training course or program? These are all things that can help you at your job and also increase client trust if you are certified and able to provide proof of this. Professional dog walking is a lucrative and rewarding career choice. If you think it’s right for you, then get on out there and get started!