A dog walking business is an excellent way to bring in steady cash flow. However, your love for dogs is not the only requirement needed to start a dog walking business. Just like any other business, offering dog walking services requires some hard work and training. Therefore, you need to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and experience before you venture into this business. Here are ten tips to start a successful dog walking business.

1. Research

Before you start your dog walking business, conduct a research on your area to find out whether there is a demand for dog walkers. Take time to conduct market research on your local competition to see what they are up to. Visit your local pet store to determine how much competition there is in that area. You can also check classified ads that are available online and locally to get this information. After all, it makes no sense opening up a dog walking business in an already flooded market. In addition, the demand should be high enough to support your business.

2. Training

Having a good understanding of dog behavior, body language and how to handle an aggressive dog are some of the most crucial areas of your business. This knowledge will not only help to make your job easier, but you will also be prepared for other instances that may arise during your dog walks. If you do not have any prior experience walking dogs, consider volunteering at your local kennel or rescue center, as they have a range of dogs of different sizes, age, and temperament.

For a beginner, it is advisable that you start with taking out a single dog or two for a walk to improve your dog handling skills.As your training progresses, try taking out at least 4 dogs on a group walk. You need to be able to handle all 4 personalities and bodies in a professional manner. Consider taking a course in dog first aid, pet medication or animal psychology. A diploma or certificate in any of these fields will help show your commitment to the dogs? welfare and will help to instill confidence in your clients.

3. Business plan

The key to a successful business is proper planning and organization. Fortunately, the internet is filled with all the necessary information you will need to create a business plan. Take time to research, plan and make key financial decisions before you start your business. Here are 5 factors to consider when creating a business plan.

? Your businesses purpose and potential

? Which areas you will target

? Decide on your services

? How many hours you plan to work daily

? How much you will charge for your services

4. Legal considerations

To prevent yourself from major fines and penalties, ensure that your business is properly licensed and meets all the local rules and regulations.

5. Pet sitting insurance

Accidents are unpredictable. Therefore, you need to safeguard yourself by purchasing a pet sitting insurance. This insurance package is specifically tailored to provide coverage for dog walkers. It will protect you from potential legal implications if one of your dogs causes damage while under your supervision. The pet sitting insurance costs a few hundred dollars, but may save you a lot of legal headache down the road.

6. Marketing your business

Dog walking advertising is very important especially when you are starting out. You need to get the word out about your business’ existence. You can do so by;

? Flyers and business cards

Create flyers and business cards that have your contact details, and logo displayed on them. Place them on entryway bulletin boards in pet stores, dog groomers, vet clinics and supermarkets. You can even have them made in large magnets that you can stick on the doors and rears of your vehicle to advertise your business.

? Dog walking website

Create a dog walking website with a personalized domain name. Ensure it has all the relevant information about your services and contact details.

? Word of mouth

This is also a great source of referrals. However, your services need to be top-notch if you want to make reap big from word of mouth marketing.

? Social media

Use your social media pages to advertise your business. Consider creating a business profile on a few of your social media pages. You can use these pages to connect with your clients and update them on the latest news about their pets. 7. Keep detailed records

Make sure you have a detailed record of every dog owner who uses your services. This record should include their name, physical address, email address, phone numbers and other emergency contact numbers. Also, keep records on each dog including, color and breed, date of birth, a health history, a vet?s name and their preferred clinic?s contact details.

8. Dog walking business prices

Pricing your services is an important aspect of your business. There are various factors you can consider when determining the right price for your services.

? Research what other dog walkers in your area charge

? Identify the spectrum of the services you will offer

? Decide if you will charge lower than your competitors or more, especially if plan on offering more services.

Come up with a detailed pricing structure that is easy to comprehend. On average, a 30-minute walk costs anywhere between $12 and &25 depending on your location.

9. Signed Contract

Create a standard written agreement between you and your clients. This contract should clearly set out your responsibilities, rates, payment options, damages, emergency health situations and cancellations. Make sure that you have a signed contract between you and the dog owner before you begin working for them.

10. Start walking

Before you start walking, invest in a proper dog walking kit. Your kit should include leads, collars, harnesses, treat bags, poop bags, wipes, and towels. Also, you should consider having an emergency dog first aid kit, as you never know what might happen while out on a walk. Invest in proper footwear and clothing for the season.

At a glance, starting your dog walking business may seem like a daunting task. However, with the right planning, you will be well-positioned for success. Consider wearing branded clothing with your business logo and phone number while working, to advertise your business.

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