How to set up a dog walking business | Start Up Loans (2023)

The UK is a nation of dog lovers with over 8.5m dogs in the UK. According to Tailster, UK owners spend around £1.5bn on dog walking services each year. Setting up a dog walking business could therefore be the key to launching a successful start up.

Why set up a dog walking business?

Starting a dog walking business has plenty of benefits. The average dog walker earns around £15 per hour in the UK – nearly twice the National Living Wage – according to jobs website Indeed. Professional dog walkers can earn around £64,000 each year according to 2015 research by Direct Line published in the Daily Mail, walking up to 13 dogs per day solo or in groups, as well as looking after dogs while owners are away.

Costs are relatively low, making it cheap to get started. You don’t need qualifications or special licences, either. Dog walking can be good for your health, too. Walking dogs means it’s easy to chalk up miles of healthy walking, improving physical and mental well-being. It’s also a flexible business that you can run from your home and fit in around your lifestyle.

However, being a dog lover alone doesn’t automatically guarantee success. You’ll need good business and organisational skills. You’ll also need to consider pricing, pet insurance, paperwork and marketing.

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How to set up a dog walking business

If you’re considering setting up a dog walking business, make sure it’s the right business for you. You must know about canine behaviour and dog welfare including pet first aid, along with the rules and regulations that govern controlling a dog in public. You’ll need adequate pet insurance along with the correct equipment and a marketing plan to attract new customers.

Setting up a dog walking business – is it right for you?

Before advertising your business, it’s worth ensuring that dog walking is a suitable venture for you.

(Video) How to Start a Dog Walking Business

  • You should love or have a genuine interest in dogs.
  • You need strong interpersonal and communication skills for dealing with pet owners.
  • You must be physically fit. Dog walking is a physically demanding activity, with many hours spent on long walks with strong dogs pulling on leads.
  • You need to be happy walking outside no matter the weather – including when it is cold, raining or snowing.

Dog walking qualifications and experience

You don’t need any training or qualifications to become a dog walker, but recognised qualifications can be useful in boosting your credibility with clients and can help with marketing. Consider taking a course in animal first aid, animal behaviour, and animal care. The National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers (NarpsUK) operates a range of courses designed to help dog walkers get up and running, with prices starting at £25.

Experience with handling dogs is essential. You need to be confident around dogs and have experience walking family or friends’ dogs, ideally with a number of different breeds and temperaments. Understanding canine behaviour is essential, especially if walking more than one dog. Consider volunteering at your local kennels or rescue centre to boost your experience with dogs. This will give you a good grounding in dealing with dogs of all sizes, ages and temperaments. The Pet Industry Federation operates My Pet People that lists member kennels, or you can find a local rescue centre at the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals.

Dog walking rules and regulations

While there aren’t specific rules for dog walking businesses, there are laws that govern how dogs are controlled in public. It’s important to keep up with the latest laws and rules to keep others safe and not put your business at risk. Gov.uk has a useful guide to controlling your dog in public, and you must ensure that you’re familiar with all legal requirements including:

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  • Dogs in public must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address on it.
  • You can face a fine of up to £1,000 if you fail to clean up your dog’s faeces, allow it to enter land from which dogs are excluded or fail to keep a dog on a lead or put it on the lead when directed to do so.
  • It is against the law for a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place, so you must be able to keep a dog under control at all times. A dog chasing, barking or jumping up at a person or child could be cause for complaints.
  • Dogs must be on a lead at all times on roads.
  • It is against the law to allow a dog to worry livestock on farmland. A farmer has the right to stop a dog if caught worrying his livestock – and that can include shooting it.
  • If you hold a dog owner’s keys and enter their house to collect a dog for a walk, you must have a Criminal Record Check.

Consider joining the trade association NarpsUK (National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers). It offers lots of information and advice on how to start a dog walking business, including the importance of meeting owners first and the maximum number of dogs to be walked at any one time. Telling customers that you’re a member may also give them peace of mind. Membership of the NarpsUK costs £25 per month, or you can pay a joining fee of £173 and then pay an £8 per month subscription fee.

Insurance for your dog walking business

As your start up dog walking business will provide a service that sees you spending time around people, you must get public liability insurance. This offers protection should a member of the public be injured because of your business – such as falling over a dog or lead – and decides to take legal action and sue for damages. It also covers you should their property or possessions be damaged by you or a dog under your control.

While it isn’t a legal requirement, it can be a good idea to get dog walking insurance for your dog walking business. Dogs can get lost, be injured by other dogs or can injure people while in your care. A dog walking business insurance policy offers protection, just in case something happens to the dogs you walk while in your charge. It should be able to cover any specialist equipment that you use such as leads and harnesses, and more general business items such as your laptop. If they are damaged or stolen, business insurance can get you up and running quickly to keep your business on track.

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Decide how much to charge for dog walking

Dog walking rates vary by location. While there’s no set rate, expect to be able to charge between £8 and £20 per dog per hour. You can earn significantly more if walking more than one dog at a time – though there is a maximum number of dogs you can walk at once. This is set by your local council and tends to be around four dogs at once.

The amount your dog walking business earns also depends on how many hours a day you walk, and business overheads. Clients may want to negotiate lower prices, and it can be worth offering a discount for long-term customers. Find out what other dog walking businesses are charging by calling them and then set your own rates accordingly. You could also try offering a lower rate compared to your competitors when first starting out to help grow customer numbers.

How to market your dog walking business

  • Word of mouth – recommendations from friends, family and existing clients is a good place to start. Ask for referrals from existing clients. Use testimonials on social media, flyers, websites and any advertising you do.
  • Flyers – this is a good way to target local customers. Design and print flyers, then post them through the letterboxes of the houses in your local area. Put up flyers and cards in local vets, rescue centres, pet stores and newsagents.
  • Advertise – use local newspapers, magazines and website directories for dog walking services.
  • Social media – using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can help you reach a larger number of local customers. Try posting daily photos and videos of your dog walks. Remember to get permission from the dog owner first.
  • Find a USP (unique selling point) – research your competitors to see what services they offer and how much they charge. Think about what you can do to stand out. Offering additional services, such as dog grooming, can give you an edge over your competitors.
  • Great customer service – never forget dogs are treasured members of their owner’s family. Carefully listen to your customers need and provide a truly personal service, resolving any issues that arise quickly.

Don’t forget it’s a business

Getting paid to walk other people’s dogs may seem a fun way to earn money, but it’s important to remember you’re running a business. You have to fulfil the requirements all small business owners face such as informing HMRC of your business revenue and paying tax and national insurance on any income. Read about choosing the best business structure for your dog walking business and how to set up self-assessment.

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You also need a basic understanding of bookkeeping, and a good understanding of marketing and self-promotion. Make sure you have all paperwork in place such as a service contract, veterinary release forms, booking form, report card, key release form and terms and conditions. You also need to keep client details securely stored, and ensure any personal data is collected in line with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

FAQs

Do you need anything to start a dog walking business? ›

The truth is that anyone can start a dog walking business. No formal qualifications are needed, though you do need to have the confidence to manage different dog's behaviour. You may also need to set up things like a business bank account and insurance to help get your business off the ground.

How easy is it to set up a dog walking business? ›

Running a dog walking businesses is a relatively easy and straightforward endeavour. However, sharpening your business skills and knowledge can help you take your business to another level. For instance, knowledge of accounting, marketing and customer care can increase your profits in the dog walking industry.

What qualifications do I need to be a dog walker? ›

Qualifications and training

Whist there are no specific qualifications required to become a dog walker/pet sitter, having qualifications in areas such as animal first aid, animal behaviour, or animal care, will enhance your professional standing.

What are some risks of a dog walking business? ›

A dog walking business presents special risks because you are dealing with live animals and engaged in physical activity. Dogs may be injured or even killed, and you or someone else could be injured as well. Insurance does exist specifically for businesses that deal with caring for pets.

How much do self employed dog walkers make? ›

The average salary for dog walkers is £9.86 per hour. This can vary depending on the level of experience you have and by the number of competing dog walkers operating in the local area. There's also some level of regional variation, as salaries are typically slightly higher in the south of England than in the north.

How many dogs can a dog walker walk? ›

How many dogs can I walk? Dog walkers typically walk around 13 dogs per day, but the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers (NARPS) suggest walking a maximum of 4 dogs at a time.

Is there good money in dog walking? ›

Dog walkers charge per dog, per hour. Rates range from about £10-15 per dog, per hour (or half hour in some cases). If you're able to take several dogs at once that means you can earn significant amounts per day. However, to start off with you need to be careful not to take on too many dogs for one walking slot.

How do dog walkers find clients? ›

No-cost marketing tips
  1. Post on local notice boards. Pop into your local supermarket or general store and it's highly likely they'll have a community notice board. ...
  2. Use social media. ...
  3. Get in touch with like minded businesses. ...
  4. Market yourself. ...
  5. Advertise in local newspaper. ...
  6. Partnerships. ...
  7. Referral discounts. ...
  8. Flyers.
20 Mar 2020

How do dog walkers build clientele? ›

How to Get Dog Walking Clients
  1. Set up a Dog Walking Website (most recommended).
  2. Carry out 'targeted' social media.
  3. Land a High-Quality Ad in the local Paper.
  4. Use Effective Posters & Flyers.
  5. Network — The Right Way.
  6. Create and Leverage Partnerships.
  7. Conjure up listings to gain more presence online.
15 Mar 2019

How much should I get paid to walk a dog for an hour? ›

Dog walkers charge an average of $20 per 30-minute walk with prices ranging between $10 and $35. Hourly rates typically cost $30 to $60 depending on your location, but overall you'll pay $0.50 to $1 per minute to have your dog(s) walked, no matter how long the walk is.

Do dog walkers have to pay tax? ›

How do dog walkers pay tax? Most dog walkers will be self-employed meaning they don't work for a company and they're not at the scale of having their own limited company. This means they pay tax as part of a self-assessment tax return.

Do you need to be bonded to be a dog walker? ›

Bonding helps ensure that the job the sitter has been hired to do is performed and that the customer is protected against losses from theft or damage done by a company's employees or contractors. If a pet sitting business does not have employees or independent contractors, bonding isn't a requirement.

Can you make a living as a dog walker? ›

The average pay for the job is $15.11 per hour, which translates to $31,428 per year. However, dog walkers can earn more or less depending on where they work in the U.S., additional services they offer, and whether they work for an employer or for themselves.

What are the disadvantages of dog walking? ›

For example, the dog you're walking might get into a fight with another dog. It might have an unusual behavioural change or it might break free of its lead and run away. In general though, drama is fairly minimal for professional dog walkers.

Is the dog walking industry growing? ›

The market size, measured by revenue, of the Dog Walking Services industry is $1.0bn in 2022. What is the growth rate of the Dog Walking Services industry in the US in 2022? The market size of the Dog Walking Services industry is expected to increase 5.5% in 2022.

Is dog walking a growing business? ›

The Dog Walking Services industry has expanded in recent years, with industry revenue anticipated to rise at an annualized rate of 1.7% to $979.2 million over the five years to 2021.

How much can I earn dog sitting? ›

How much can I earn as a dog-sitter? From Care.com, we found out that the average hourly rate for pet carers in London is between £7 and £8 as you can see from the ads below. Remember that these are just an example and depending on where you live (and the competition) you could earn more or less than this.

How many dogs can you legally walk at once UK? ›

To be on the safe side and bypass the £100 fine imposed on lawbreakers, just walk no more than four dogs at any one time. Also, make sure that you have a lead for each dog.

How far can a dog walk daily? ›

Most dogs can handle 5 km (3 miles) without extra training but need at least a month to get up to 20 km. Walks above 5 km should always be followed by a light rest day. If you go too far too quickly you could cause all sorts of muscle, tendon, ligament, joint or bone problems.

How long should daily dog walks be? ›

While 45 minutes or more is ideal, a 30- minute walk is usually an achievable goal for most dog owners and will help to keep your dog fit and well balanced. For puppies, a walk that lasts 15 minutes is recommended until they are fully grown so that they do not damage their joints by doing long walks.

How far can a fit dog walk in a day? ›

There's really no limit to how far you walk your dog as long as they're comfortable. For some dogs, that's around the block. For others, it's ten miles. Just remember to build distance and stamina gradually over time.

How much can you make dog walking a week? ›

As of Nov 21, 2022, the average weekly pay for a DOG Walker in the United States is $616 a week. While ZipRecruiter is seeing weekly wages as high as $1,000 and as low as $260, the majority of DOG Walker wages currently range between $480 (25th percentile) to $721 (75th percentile) across the United States.

How much do dog walking Apps pay? ›

We talked to dog walkers to find out. Wag cofounder and CEO Joshua Viner told BuzzFeed News that “on average, a walker makes around $17.50 per walk.” Private, professional walkers, however, can make between $20 and $40 — and, because they don't need to pay Wag a cut, they keep more of that cash for themselves.

Is dog sitting a side hustle? ›

Whether you are boarding dogs at your house or sitting at the pet's house, you are getting paid to play with dogs. I can't think of a better side hustle!

How much do walk dog walkers make? ›

To give you a general idea of a dog walker's earnings, HomeGuide reports the following national average rates for low, medium, and high-end dog walkers: Low-end dog walking services: $10 per 30-minute walk. Mid-range dog walking services: $20 per 30-minute walk.

What should I ask a dog walking client? ›

5 Questions To Ask A Potential New Pet Care Client
  • Essential Questions To Ask New Dog Walking, Pet Sitting, And Pet Care Clients. ...
  • 1 - Where are you located? ...
  • 2 - What types of services are you looking for? ...
  • 3 - What dates do you need services? ...
  • 4 - Have you used a pet sitter or dog walker before?
5 Jan 2022

How much is a 20 minute walk with WAG? ›

Walk duration

Express Walks are 20 minutes, with an average cost of $12.75 to $19.99 for one dog; Wag! Walks are 30 minutes, with an average cost of $17 to $26.99 for one dog; and Deluxe Walks are 60 minutes, with an average cost of $25.50 to $36.99 for one dog.

How much should I charge someone to walk their dog for 30 minutes? ›

Dog walkers typically charge between $20 and $30 for a 30-minute dog walking service. The average cost across the US for a 30-minute dog walking service is $24.84 in 2022.

How much do Wag Walkers make a day? ›

Average Wag! Dog Walker hourly pay in California is approximately $17.50, which is 18% below the national average.

Can you write off dog expenses? ›

Veterinary bills, pet insurance, food, supplies, training, grooming, boarding, and transportation costs are all examples of pet expenses you can write off on taxes. However, you can only claim pets on taxes if they meet certain criteria, such as contributing to income or serving a medical need.

Can you write off dog training expenses? ›

Pet businesses

One way you may be able to claim pet-related expenses — such as food, veterinary care, and specialized training — is when your pet can be considered a business expense. In order for that to occur, you must show that your pet provides some service for your business.

Is a walker tax deductible? ›

According to the IRS website, a deduction can be taken for medical expenses incurred by you, your spouse, or a dependent. The IRS defines DME as “certain medical equipment that is ordered by a doctor for use in the home.” Walkers, wheelchairs, and hospital beds are listed as examples.

Do dog walkers use their own leads? ›

Leads, leads and more leads

For some, having each dog on it's own individual lead will be no problem. For others though, buying a lead 'coupler' may be a solution to reduce the amount of leads you need to carry.

What are dog walkers responsibilities? ›

Dog walkers walk dogs for clients and follow agreed-upon routes and schedules. They provide food and water, and dispose of waste products. They provide companionship during work hours or vacation absences as well. They are also responsible for taking pets to the veterinarian in the event of an emergency.

How much do you get paid on Rover? ›

How much does Rover pay? According to Rover, you can earn up to $1,000 a month as a dog walker or dog sitter. Additionally, for dog sitters willing to also become a dog boarder, it's possible to earn up to two times more than those who just offer dog-sitting services.

How much should I set aside for taxes Rover? ›

Set aside 20-30% of your income for self-employment taxes due next year. Keep receipts for all Rover-related purchases, advertising, etc, any expenses related to your business.

Is it worth working for Rover? ›

The average earning of Rover pet sitters is about $17 per hour according to Glassdoor. However, the amount you make is dependent on you as you set your own rate. Is Rover worth working for? Rover is worth working for as a pet sitter or dog lover who enjoys taking care of dogs and needs extra income.

Do you need a Licence to be a dog walker UK? ›

Do I Need a License to Dog Walk in the UK? In the UK, it's currently not necessary to have a dog walking licence, qualification, or certification. With no universal minimum requirements in place, all you need to legally operate a successful dog walking business is a love of dogs and adequate spare time.

How profitable is a dog walking business? ›

In this instance, that's an annual salary of $83,200. And this is based on your services alone. As the business owner, you'll collect a portion of the fees each additional dog walker is able to charge, which could add an additional $15k - $17k per year, per walker.

How much should I be paid to walk a dog? ›

To give you a general idea of a dog walker's earnings, HomeGuide reports the following national average rates for low, medium, and high-end dog walkers: Low-end dog walking services: $10 per 30-minute walk. Mid-range dog walking services: $20 per 30-minute walk.

How many dogs can a dog walker legally walk UK? ›

In the majority of other parks and open spaces and on the public highway, the number of dogs that can be walked by an individual is limited to a maximum of four.

How much does it cost to start a dog walking business UK? ›

Setting up a dog walking business can cost anything between £100 to over £1,000 depending on how big you want your business to be.

How much should you walk 2 dogs? ›

Dog walking prices range from $10 to $60 depending on your location with most pet owners spending $15 to 25 per walk. You can find discounts of $5 to $10 off if you don't mind your dog walking with other dogs.

Can I make a living as a dog walker? ›

How much do dog walkers make per day? There are over 15,000 dog walkers in the United States. The average pay for the job is $15.11 per hour, which translates to $31,428 per year.

How long should you walk a dog? ›

A dog in good general shape can enjoy a 15 to 30 minute walk daily. Most breeds may need routine walks several times per day. Moreover, dogs with excellent health can enjoy long walks of up to two or more hours. Some will even hike with their owners for a couple of hours.

Is being a WAG Walker worth it? ›

Good to work on your own schedule

Loved being able to meet new furry friends, and the idea of Wag! is great. The 2 biggest cons are the compensation is not enough especially if you have to drive to more populated areas to get walks or sittings, and Wag! support will side with the customer more than us walkers/sitters.

How do I advertise my dog walking? ›

No-cost marketing tips
  1. Post on local notice boards. Pop into your local supermarket or general store and it's highly likely they'll have a community notice board. ...
  2. Use social media. ...
  3. Get in touch with like minded businesses. ...
  4. Market yourself. ...
  5. Advertise in local newspaper. ...
  6. Partnerships. ...
  7. Referral discounts. ...
  8. Flyers.
20 Mar 2020

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