How to Become a Professional Dog Walker
Walking dogs for a living is more than just clicking on a leash and getting
some exercise together. You need to be a dog-lover who is in tune with the ways
of dogs and ready to run a business. Yet, it can be a rewarding job for a
dedicated person who is well-organized, professional and human and dog
client-oriented. Here are some suggestions on how to start your professional
dog walking career.
1. Consider how big you want your dog walking career to be. Be realistic
- you'll probably need to start small, and allow yourself to grow. Do you want
it to be a part time or a full-time career? How much time can you devote to
dog-walking? If you are young and want to make money by dog walking, make flyers
and offer around your neighborhood, or put up notices on notice boards or in
shop windows. For example, consider these scenarios:
• If you are a student who needs income during studies, you
will have crunch times around exams and essay due dates but you will likely be
fairly flexible during the rest of the time. Be honest with a potential client
and explain your availability, including the possibility that there may be
certain times when you will be very busy and may need to reschedule temporarily
at such times. Always let them know you'll make up for it during vacation etc.
• If you want to start a permanent business, consider whether
it is something you want to work 9 - 5 (or extended hours) 5 - 7 days a week,
or is it something that only interests you part-time, say 2 - 3 days a week of
a few hours here and there? These are important considerations that will either
expand or limit your options and availability. More hours means more clients
and a likelihood of referrals. Less hours will mean more devotion to a small
corps of clients and a need to make it clear to them that your availability
is limited to them.
2. Be prepared for running a business. If you want a large business,
are you prepared to manage employees and cover a larger part of the city than
you could do alone? If you make your business large, you will need employees.
You will need to:
• Get insurance and become bonded.
• Interview pet sitters, check them for reliability, train
them and pay them.
• Be able to trust them to do their dog-walking according
to your instructions.
• Keep good financial records, manage a payroll system, pay
taxes on business income, and manage other worker's requirements.Keep a tight
leash (no pun intended) on the client arrangements. As owner of the business,
you should make all arrangements for dog-walking directly with clients and
then provide the instructions, keys etc. to your employees. That way, if things
don't work out with your dog-walker employee, you keep the client and substitute
with a new employee.