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How do I start my own dog walking business?

I enjoy working with animals and am interested in becoming a dog walker. I have applied to grooming and animal care facilities but opening are limited. I want to start my own dog walking business but not sure how to get started.
I am a 21 year old job seeker
# Dog-walker Small-business

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John’s Answer

Iris professional dog walkers should be comfortable working with and sympathetic to dogs, as well as their owners. They should be able to control animals of varying size and strength, capable of walking for extended periods, comfortable working in all weather conditions and willing to dispose of animal droppings. Professional dog owners should also be familiar with the use of animal transportation cages, knowledgeable about animal nutrition, skilled in animal first aid treatments and understand how to use animal leashes and other restraints. Self-motivation is key to working as a self-employed dog walker. Professional dog walkers employed by a business need to be aware of laws and licensing requirements related to dogs and animal care. For example, some cities have limits on how many dogs a person can walk at one time. There are also policies regarding animal leash laws and animal transportation safety, dog waste disposal and lost animal reporting procedures. Self-employed professional dog walkers usually have to file for business licenses with local government agencies or obtain permits for walking animals within city parks. They may also need liability insurance in case something happens to the dog walker, dog, or owner. Self-employed professional dog walkers may need to record dog license numbers and vaccination history. People who want to start their own dog walking businesses can gain experience by working with established professionals. As a staff member, they can observe how managers schedule dog walker shifts, talk with clientele, run promotional campaigns, and control finances.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide information specific to dog walkers, it does project an 16%, or faster-than-average, increase in employment for animal care and service workers, including pet sitters, from 2018-2028. According to PayScale.com, in 2020 dog walkers earned a median wage of $15.00 an hour.

Hope this was helpful Iris

John recommends the following next steps:

Before starting out, you may want to explore business practices related to this field. Some universities and organizations offer business courses and certificate programs that teach skills specific to the animal care industry. Topics include creating a business plan, obtaining insurance, operating and promoting an animal care business and setting fees.
There are several organizations that provide training programs for pet owners and aspiring animal caretakers. Some colleges offer certificate programs or coursework related to dog walking or animal care. Coursework may cover topics in animal behavior and nutrition, dog obedience, disease prevention and pet grooming.
Aspiring professional dog walkers can also receive on-the-job training through entry-level positions at established dog walking businesses or volunteer positions at animal welfare organizations. Under close supervision, they may learn how to feed animals and transport them safely, control leashed animals, and properly dispose of animal waste.
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Wilson’s Answer

Hi Iris - the first thing before starting any business is to gain knowledge about the subject/domain/industry you are interested in. That means, volunteering or working for a dog-walking or a dog-care business. This will help you gain precious knowledge about what works and what does not in that industry. You will learn a lot about running a small business, hiring/managing employees, customer service as well. That's where I'd start. Good luck to you.
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Harmony’s Answer

Hi Iris - I think a good first step is to reach out to some dog-walking businesses in your area. There tends to be a good amount of turnover in these positions and people are always looking for skilled, reliable employees. Small business owners can be excellent mentors and supporters as you work to transition to owning your own business as well.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to reach out to your friends, neighbors, family who have dogs and offer your services. Starting small with a few clients is always a good first step.
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