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Dog Walking Business

Starting a Dog Walking Service

A dog walking business is a good fit if you love dogs, walking and running your own business. Before you start, apply for dog walking jobs and see if starting a dog walking service is right for you. If you go ahead, make sure that you get dog walking insurance and set up your business properly.



Tips for Opening a Dog Walking Business

If you are looking for a way to make money and you love pets, a dog walking business is an excellent way to combine both things. In these difficult economic times, many of us are looking for new and inventive ways to cope with lost jobs and cut hours. Those who are still working are often required to put in extra hours to cover for the shortfall of layoffs. Their dogs are left at home unattended. Starting a dog walking business can help you both! Here's how to do it.



Starting a Dog Walking Service: Decide on Your Services

First, decide what services you want to offer. When will you be available to walk the dogs? Will you walk them early morning, during the day and or in the evening? Where will you walk them? Are you willing to take them to a park? Will you give them treats? How long will you have them out? Are you willing to pet-sit or to have a dog stay with you while the owners are away on vacation? Are you willing to feed the dog? Will you care for other pets as well? If so, what types of pets? Will you provide dog training services (for example, training dog to walk on leash, and more)?



Starting a Dog Walking Service: Decide on Your Fees

Next, decide how much you will charge for each service. One way to determine this is by figuring out how long it will take you to do each service and apply an hourly rate. For example, if it takes you one hour to take a dog to, and from, a park and then one hour for a walk (for a total of 2 hours), and you want to make $20 an hour, charge $40 for this service. You will have to keep your prices in line with any competition you may have and also consider what people are willing to pay for your service. Do a little research and see what other dog walking businesses in your area are charging. Don't forget to include the cost of transportation if you need to drive to and from the dog's home. Know your limitations – how many dogs can you handle?



Your Dog Walking Business: Set up Administration and Dog Walking Insurance

Then, choose a name for your dog walking service. The name should be catchy and be clearly understood; choose a name that reflects what the service does. It can be your best selling tool. Make sure you set up your business properly. For example, you'll need dog walking insurance (what happens if one of the dogs breaks loose and you can't find the dog or it's injured?). You need to set up your bookkeeping system. And more.



Marketing Your Dog Walking Business

Once you have chosen a name for your business and have decided what services you will provide and how much they will cost, it is time to advertise. Create a brochure describing your services in detail and your contact information. Make sure that you communicate your interest in dogs, your values, how you handle dogs and what your requirements are (non aggressive or muzzled dogs) in terms of behavior, number of dogs, and more. There are software programs that can help you do this or, if you do not feel able to design your own brochure, a local printing shop can do it for you.

Eventually, you might like to have business cards, and more marketing materials, but if you are on a limited budget, a basic brochure will get you started. If possible, include a quote from someone whose pet you have cared for in the past. Ask their permission and include their name if it is okay with them. Talk to local dog day care owners; some day cares are so full up they can't take any more dogs. Talk to the owners to get referrals to your business.

Lastly, distribute the brochure to your potential customers. You can do this through direct mail campaigns and/or by mailing through your local post office. You can also ask the local pet supplies store if you can put your brochure up on their bulletin board. Post a brochure at the local library or on grocery store bulletin board. Distribute as many brochures as you can and before you know it your phone will ring and you will have your first customer and be on your way.

Take a radio ad out or see if you can get a 10 minute interview on radio where you talk about your business (briefly) and give dog care and dog walking tips. If you know any dog owners, stop by their homes and talk to them about your new business and give them a brochure. Ask them if they know of anyone else who might be interested in your services. Word of mouth is the best way to generate a reliable customer base.

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