How to Start a Dog Walking Business

by Danielle Bloom

3 min read

If you love dogs, a dog walking business may be the perfect opportunity for you. You get to spend the day with furry friends, watching their tails wag as they get some exercise. Best of all, aside from being fun, a dog walking business is relatively easy to start. It doesn’t have a lot of start up costs, and it’s something you can start in your spare time.

Licenses and Registration

In most cases, you don’t need a business license to run a dog walking business in Canada, but you may want to check with your local government to see if there are any municipal requirements. In the early days of your business, you can use your social insurance number as your business number, but if you eventually hire employees or collect sales tax on your services, you need to register for a business number with the Canada Revenue Agency. Finally, you may want to take out a small business liability insurance policy just in case anything happens with one of the dogs while in your care.

Build Up References

If you haven’t worked professionally with dogs before, you may want to spend some time building up references. Find friends or neighbours and offer your services for free in exchange for an endorsement on your website. Alternatively, volunteer at a local dog shelter — many shelters need volunteers to walk dogs, and that’s a great way to get experience with a range of different breeds and personalities.

Consider Finding a Niche

Many dog walkers offer a range of services in addition to dog walking, and to attract customers, you may want to offer additional services such as bringing in the mail, feeding animals, or watering plants. Those are all things you can do easily when you pick up Fido for his daily walk. When developing your list of services, you may also want to focus on a niche. In a small community, a niche is not necessarily important, but if you live in a large area with a lot of potential competition, you may need to carve out a niche to help your business rise above the fray. For example, you may want to offer grooming services, focus on puppy play dates, cater to owners of highly strung breeds, or take another niche approach.

Create a Map

If you are running all over town from client to client, you lose a lot of time between each appointment, and that can drive down your profits. To prevent this from happening, use a map when creating your business plans. For example, you may want to focus on a different section of town each day of the week.

Set Rates

When setting rates, think about what clients are willing to pay you, and do market research to find out average dog walking prices in the area. Crunch the numbers to make sure your rates are worth your while. For example, if you charge $20 per appointment and you estimate 30 minutes for walking and travel time, you could potentially see 16 clients in a busy 8-hour day. That gives you a potential income of $320 per day.

Write Up Contracts

When you are finally ready for your first client, you may want to create a contract. The contract should outline things such as when you walk the dog and how much you charge, but it should also include a waiver that you can seek emergency veterinary care for the client’s dog if necessary. Walking dogs is a lot of fun, and many busy professionals need someone to help with this task. In addition to working through the above steps, you need to do some marketing so people can find you. Then, you simply have to book clients, walk dogs, and watch the income roll in.

References & Resources

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