How to Start a Dog Walking Business

I really want to help you learn how to start your own dog walking business and come up with a business plan.

I quit my job at a newspaper in 2008 to start a dog walking business, and I haven’t looked back.

This post applies to anyone interested in starting a dog walking business, dog running business or pet sitting business.

16 tips for how to start a dog walking business:

1. Determine your dog walking rates.

I recommend you take a look at what your competition is charging, and charge something similar. I charged $28 per hour to walk or run a dog in Fargo and $20 for a half-hour walk or run. Dog runners in other cities are able to charge as much as $50 for a 60-minute run. On the other hand, there are students everywhere charging just $10. I know my services are worth more than this.

If someone is not willing to pay me at least $25 to run her dog for a half-hour, then she doesn’t appreciate my value and is not worth my time. I am an experienced dog trainer and athlete and people are getting the best possible service when they hire me as a dog runner. My clients know that.

2. Purchase my dog walking ebook.

ORDER NOW

My ebook on how to start a dog walking business is the best resource available.

Ebook by Lindsay StordahlThe ebook is available for $17 and includes detailed information about how to successfully gain clients fast, market your business and get everything squared away.

I also offer packages that include my dog walking business forms and an hour of consulting over the phone with me. No matter what your vision is, I’d love to help you be successful with your business and come up with a business plan.

3. Don’t go without dog walking insurance.

There are several companies out there that offer insurance for dog walkers and pet sitters. Don’t worry about insurance immediately, but do so once you have a handful of clients. Insurance is very affordable and runs around $200 per year. It’s worth having in case a pet causes bodily injury or property damage while under your care.

How to start a dog walking business or how to start a pet sitting business

4. Advertise your dog walking business like crazy.

I did some advertising that worked and some that didn’t. The best advertising is word of mouth and getting support from local rescues and dog businesses and town. I hung fliers at the dog park and at a few businesses like our dog training club. I dropped off brochures and business cards at certain veterinarians’ offices and grooming shops in town. Overall, though, the best advertising is still word of mouth.

Don’t waste your time on newspaper ads. They are overpriced, and people don’t read the paper. I bought a few one-inch by one-inch classified ads to run every day with a small photo for $140 a month. I got very little return from these ads. Instead, it’s worth it to set up some free Craigslist ads. My Craigslist ads are very simple and redirect people to my web site. I’ve had a lot of success through Craigslist without spending any money.

5. Invest in your dog walking web site.

You need a web site to be taken seriously as a dog walker, and it has to be a good one. I’ve always preferred WordPress, which offers cheap or even free blog templates which can work well for a business site. There are plenty of computer nerds willing to help if you ask. If you don’t know any, it’s definitely worth it to hire a designer, which will cost about $1,000.

Make sure to include photos and information about yourself on your site. Be honest and personal. Don’t hide behind words like “we” or “our company.” This won’t impress anyone. If you’re the only one involved in the business, then say so. I also recommend keeping the site clean with as little information as possible. Don’t overwhelm your visitors.

How to start a dog walking business

6. Create a new client questionnaire.

All of my new clients fill out a questionnaire form that includes information about their dogs such as allergies, aggression issues, old injuries, medications and emergency contacts. You can create your own form or you can purchase my business forms bundle here.

7. Hire someone to help with taxes for your dog walking business.

Yes, you need to pay your taxes, but don’t use your fear of accounting as your reason not to start your business. The IRS is not going to kidnap your first born for not reporting the $100 you made during your first month of dog walking. Just chill out about taxes and wait until you have a substantial amount of money coming in. If you need help, definitely find a professional in your area who can answer all your tax questions.

8. Start walking shelter dogs.

I began volunteering to walk dogs with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo long before I started a professional dog walking business. This gave me extra experience walking and running the strongest, worst-behaved dogs you can imagine.

It’s not that all rescue dogs are bad dogs, but a lot of them have some serious pent-up energy. By volunteering with the rescue, I gained a lot of support from passionate dog lovers. Dog rescue and shelter volunteers are some of the most hardworking, passionate people out there. You need them on your side when you are learning how to start a dog walking business.

Walking dogs for free as a volunteer is also a good way to find out how serious you really are about this as a career. Do you enjoy it? Do you love it so much that you will do it for free? And do you mind being out in all weather?

9. Create a business card and logo for your dog walking business.

I hired a graphic and web designer to design my logo and dog walking business cards for a reasonable fee. Then I printed my cards at Kinkos. This was convenient, but you can also have cards printed with online companies for a little less. I designed and printed my own brochures, but I recommend paying a designer to do that as well.

10. Outlast your competition.

Most people who start a dog running business will give up within a month. The rest will give up after six months. It takes a lot of time and work to gain enough clients to feel and be successful. The job itself is hard work. Those who can maintain a successful dog running business are the people who give 100 percent and truly believe in what they are doing. Whoever works the hardest will gain the most clients and be successful.

11. Believe you are an authority on dogs.

It takes more than an animal lover to be a dog runner. You need to be able to handle powerful dogs, and you need to know what to do in an emergency.

I have lived with sporting breeds my whole life, and I worked at a boarding kennel throughout high school and college. I took my golden retriever through formal obedience training and trained my out of control mutt into a decent pet. I’m very knowledgeable on dog behavior. That’s why I started this dog blog.

Now that I run dogs, people trust that I am knowledgeable about dogs’ needs. I don’t let the dogs run out in front. They are always at my side. I work on basic obedience and manners, but most of all I give the dogs a good mental and physical workout. I know how to control large dogs that pull, jump or want to attack other dogs. I’m comfortable running with two or three dogs, but I also know and admit my limits.

12. Find one person who believes your dog walking service is valuable.

If one person thinks you’re the greatest, she will tell others. This will give you confidence, and at least you will be getting paid for something you love. Starting out small will give you a sense of whether or not this is something you truly want to do.

I found a couple people in my apartment complex who were in need of a dog walker. These neighbors of mine worked 12-hour shifts and were leaving their dogs home without a bathroom break. When they saw my fliers, they were thrilled I could walk their dogs for them. I didn’t even have to quit my job. Sometimes I walked these dogs on my days off. Sometimes it was before work, and sometimes it was on my break.

13. Offer many services, and be creative. This is your dog walking business.

Be flexible and think about the variety of services you can offer and what you’d like to offer. You can always make changes later on.

I offer pet sitting where I visit pets in people’s homes. I allow dogs to stay in my home overnight or for dog daycare when it works with my schedule. In addition to dog walking and dog running, I simply let dogs out to go to the bathroom when their owners can’t make it home from work.

There is so much more I could say about a dog walking or pet sitting business. My best advice is don’t copy everything I’ve said or everything someone else did. Use your own ideas and creativity.

14. Don’t worry (too much) about money.

If you do what you love and do it well, the money will follow.

Unfortunately, if you do start a dog walking business, there will be people who will make comments like, “Is that really a good idea?” or even flat out, “How much money do you make?”

When I quit my job, not all my friends and family members supported my choice. Most of them voiced no opinion at all, seemingly hoping I would forget about the idea and get a “real job.” I was lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend who was basically begging me to quit the job I hated. Thanks, Josh!

I would have been laid off by now had I stayed at The Forum newspaper. Instead, I got out of there on my own and now I’m doing something better. Think of it this way, what would you do if you were “laid off” today? Might as well get started on your dog walking business plan.

15. Admit if you are athletic or not.

I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete, but I am. I swam butterfly and freestyle sprints in high school. I played rugby for eight years. In college, I began running six days a week and later started running half marathons. I’ve since complete a marathon, and now I run up to 18 miles in an average day.

I am not a fast runner. My average pace is about a 10-minute mile. But what I can do is run forever. I am one of the toughest people I know. I run outside when it’s –20 degrees or colder, and I run when it’s 90 degrees and humid. If it’s snowing, I run. Same is true if it’s raining or if it’s windy. I run when I’m in pain.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to strictly dog walking, but it’s a lot better for your business if you can offer dog running or jogging or hiking. Can you run 10 miles without stopping? Can you handle 30 miles in a week? 50 miles? Have you been running for at least a few years?

16. Create a liability form for your dog walking business.

I will not run someone’s dog until they have signed my liability form that states the owner is responsible for providing ID tags and vaccinations. The owner is also responsible for any damage the pet causes on or off his or her property. I also gain permission to take the animal to a vet if necessary.

*You can purchase an editable copy of my liability form in my business form bundle here. (These are word docs you can download and edit.)

Good luck with starting your own dog walking business!

-Lindsay

P.S., do not skimp on running shoes. Buy a good pair. Replace them often!

283 thoughts on “How to Start a Dog Walking Business”

  1. Lindsay,
    I love the depth of your post here. Would be interested to learn about your advertising, what worked and didn’t. Can you describe the details of your advertising?

  2. Quitting my job and working for myself in my own dog training business was the best decision I ever made as well. I’m glad you’re having so much fun.

  3. Lindsay Stordahl

    All I do for advertising is hang up fliers and hand out business cards and brochures. Other than that I have a web site that ranks high for Google terms like Fargo dog runner or Fargo dog walker. Craigslist also works well.

    Thanks, Ty! I’m glad you’re having fun as well!

  4. What a great blog. It has given me the inspiration to do this myself with my partner. Well done, and keep walking and keeping all those dogs happy. Just want to ask you, if I may, I’m finding it hard to set up my blog properly. Have you any ideas to make this a bit easier?

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well, I see you’re using Blogspot. I have a few Blogspot sites, but I don’t do a whole lot with them, so I am not the one to ask. For my dog walking site http://www.runthatmutt.com, I just bought the domain name for a few dollars and then used a free WordPress blog template on it. If you want to use Blogspot, I’d just find a site on there you admire and ask that person what they did.

    Here are a couple Blogspot dog walking sites:
    diary-of-a-dog-walker.blogspot.com
    allaboutpawsdogwalking.blogspot.com

    Good luck with your dog walking business!!

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    Good question. That is when it is a good idea to have a contract worker or employee. I haven’t been sick since I started walking dogs. I do take vacations and time off, but that can be planned so people have time to make other arrangements.

  7. I had a much more boring workload than you – I was a freelance writer and analyst (statistics and other numbers-related gobbledygook). I would like to be a pro golfer or surfer now or just golf and surf every day instead of work!

  8. Lindsay, great advice for anyone thinking of starting a Dog business of their own. You certainly can’t beat working for yourself, whatever field it may be in.

    No office politics and no need to answer to “The Man”. Being your own boss actually makes you more determined to succeed. You know that all your work pays off and it is you that reaps the rewards not someone else.

    I would advise everyone to go for it if they possibly can. You may start off a little poorer but you will be determined to succeed.

  9. I love your post! I said before that I wish I could run and I have zero lung capacity on one side, but I shocked me the other day! I drove 1 1/2 hours to get to a shelter and there was a dog there that they told me was unadoptable because he is high energy. We started out for a walk and he wanted to run. I was in flips flops and it was muddy and crazy out. We ran anyway. He wore out before I did. There is something about a dog that makes me well again. Makes me well and happy!

  10. i forgot! when i began dog walking, i never had to go back to the chiropractor again. i had been seeing a dr for back and neck pain for years. dog walking fixed that problem. it had something to do with sitting in a chair doing accounting at work all day or something.

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    That’s great, Lori! A dog is never unadoptable because of high energy! The dog just needs someone willing to exercise it. I’m glad your back and neck are better. Humans were not meant to sit in a chair all day.

    Thanks so much for the writing compliment, Mayra!

  12. Hi Lindsay,
    I just about work for myself now. Making my way in the online game of niche blogging. Not as rich as I once was (yet) but slowly getting there. Certainly better than construction work which I have been doing on and off since I moved to Spain. High temperatures and mixing concrete are NOT a good combination!

    I guess you know the sense of satisfaction of knowing you have built something from scratch because of your own hard work and knowing that it will never disappear if you keep doing the work.

    Whatever type of business you run it is so much more rewarding to know it is from your own work and your time is not being dictated by someone else.

  13. Girl, Im so proud of you, for what you have achieved and your willingness to share that.

    When I worked shift-work, I would of gladly paid someone to walk Chels as there were times I was asleep when the rest of the world was awake. Perhaps there is an area for you to work your magic, nurses, factory workers, emergency services (police etc) as there are times when you dont have a choice in shifts and Chels used to miss out or Bella would take her walking. With 2 Danes it would of been near impossible.

    Now Im unemployed (2 g/f’s also were laid off) we’ve been mulling over working for ourselves or with each other. Not sure what in yet. We’re basically writing down our strengths & passions and seeing if we can work that into a job….tis not urgent yet 🙂

    I loved this post for the content and the effort you put into all your posts, your love of dogs and happiness comes through in all you do.

  14. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks so much, Abbey! I would have loved to walk Chels. I think you have a good point about the nurses, factory workers, etc.

    I’m glad to hear that things aren’t urgent yet, and you are thinking of what you are passionate about. I can’t wait to hear what you figure out. I wish you the best.

  15. This is an awesome post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I, too, am deciding to go full-time with dog walking.

    Money is a slight concern, but I’m pretty sure it won’t take long to build up a clientele. Especially since I’m living in a big city. And, I’m unhappy with the weird dynamics occuring at my “office” job. I think I’m just going to take a leap of faith!

    Sharon

  16. Lindsay Stordahl

    Great to hear, Sharon! I hope your dog walking business works out. Let me know how it goes! One way to look at it is knowing you can always get a part-time job if you need it down the road. You will be happier doing something you love and the added part-time job would just be temporary.

  17. Hi Lindsay, I decided to start up my own dog walking business three weeks ago. It’s been a very slow start, as I’ve not gotten my first client yet and I am wondering what further advice you can give me? I’ve put up tons of flyers and done the Craig’s List Ad and have the website. I’ve got the Google Analytics for the site and despite the fact people are indeed taking the tear-offs from my flyers, hardly anyone is coming into the website. I am in a big city too (Chicago!), and I realize the market is somewhat saturated. So I have been also trying to think of services to offer, that the others do not. But again, despite my marketing, I’m not getting the people into my site. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  18. Lindsay Stordahl

    Hey Kara,

    Congrats on starting your business. It will be slow at first, but if you stick with it and really love what you are doing it will work out. If you haven’t hung up fliers or dropped off biz cards or brochures at all the local vets offices, do that. Advertising at the dog park also works well. I use the plastic, three-ring binder sheets over my fliers to protect them from the rain and hang them with zip ties. I would also schedule a weekly appointment or two appointments a week to run or walk rescue dogs in your area for free. Ask the rescue if they will put a link to your web site on their web site. I’ve gotten a lot of clients that way because passionate dog people are always checking the rescue web sites. Offering pet sitting or other services will help, too.

  19. Hi Lindsay, great post 🙂 I’m in Miami and am doing all the research to start a dog walking/dog camp/cat sitting service. My husband and I are just about to move to one of the most dog friendly buildings in Miami (think big dogs, no problem!) which is full of young professionals. I’m really excited about the idea because we already work from home with another business that is more my husband’s and we have our little daughter at home as well so I figured this would be a great idea. What suggestions would you have to start out? I’ve got a dog walking book already ordered from Amazon and have been doing lots of research including polling dog owners at the building but could use more ideas. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  20. Lindsay Stordahl

    Sounds like you have everything figured out already and are doing a lot of good things. I would ask people specifically what they’d want for their dogs and try to be as flexible as possible for offering different services. For example, someone might want your dog to stay with you or someone might want you to just check on their dog two or three times per day. Some dogs might need medications, etc. You could offer to take them to a nearby dog park. And some people will want you to walk their dogs alone with no other dogs, so make sure that is an option for people with very strong, hyper or aggressive dogs.

  21. Lindsay Stordahl

    Of course! You can do whatever you want! Just be careful because most dog’s are not well behaved!

  22. I frequently walk/run my friend’s dog and love it. I live in a small apartment complex and can’t have a dog of my own. I am thinking about starting a dog walking business, but do you think it will hurt my credibility with clients that I don’t have a dog of my own?

  23. Lindsay Stordahl

    Maybe, but honestly, most people won’t even ask. They’ll just assume you have a dog. If you volunteer at a shelter and walk some of the worst dogs it will help your credibility. Or if you’ve owned a dog in the past.

  24. I live in a condo and there is a huge amount of residents in my development and the neighboring development as well. I was thinking of starting a little dog walking business just for my neighborhood and the one next door. I see and know people who walk their dogs in both neighborhoods. I have not had any experience in working for a shelter or at a dog walking company but i have owned dogs my whole life and own a dog now who has been quite a challenge to train but is getting there :). Would not having experience at a shelter or anything to do with dog walking affect my chance of successfully gaining clients?
    thanks!

  25. Lindsay Stordahl

    You should be OK because you still have experience with your own dogs. You should know whether or not you can handle big dogs that are poorly behaved.

  26. Colleen Phillips

    Get site, glad I came across it. I love dogs, have three and would like to soon have a 4th. I am working on a 4 year plan (that is when my children will be out of college) and am hoping to have a Dog Walking Business up and running at the end of that period of time. I am already doing many of the things you suggested and appreciate the additional suggestions as well. Your recommendation to volunteer at local dog shelters is excellent. It is one of the most rewarding mission fields I have ever stepped into! I still have a lot to accomplish, but I’m excited about the endeavor that awaits.

  27. I am so glad that I found your website, my name is also Lindsay and I am also a big, huge animal lover. I absolutely adore dogs. Right now I have a good job at an insurance company, but I am absolutely miserable and very unhappy. Sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week, really is taking a toll on me mentally and physically. I have gained 20 pounds in a year!! I have been wanting to start a dog-walking business for awhile now. I got my degree in business so I have always wanted to start my own business. I can’t seem to find anything about walking dogs that I would be unhappy about. I love dogs, I love walking/exercising, I would lose the weight I gained, I would be my own boss, etc…
    The only issue right now is money. I have a mortgage and a car payment. Plus my fiance is kinda iffy about it because he wants to make sure we will be able to afford our bills and pay for our wedding in July.
    So I have been researching online about this and that is how I came across your website. I am hoping to get a really good business plan down so that when I do quit my job I know that I will be able to pay my bills and my wedding!
    I would have employees working with me that would also be walking dogs too, so I would be making money from them and also have someone to cover for me in case I need someone.
    Do you have any advice for me? I appreciate any help that I can get!

  28. It does take quite some time to get going. My advice is to stick with it if you really love what you are doing and it will work out. If you are concerned about money, it might be easier for you if you start your dog walking business while you are still employed. Then as you have more clients, either quit your current job or switch to part time. You can always take on an extra part time job for awhile if you need extra money. Even if it’s something like delivering pizzas at night, at least you know it will only be temporary until you reach your goal.

  29. I read all your advice – and it really helped. Thanx.

    I have always loved animals – an animal nut! I have 2 boys aged 5 & 8 and am studying 1 day a week.

    I was thinking about starting a small dog walking business for some extra pocket money. From your knowledge do you think that it is possible to manage a dog walking business aroundother responsibilities.

    Thank you – sarah

  30. I think it is possible as long as your schedule is fairly flexible. But, if you’re doing it just for the money, there are a lot easier ways to make money. It does take time, consistency and patience to gain a number of clients. It’s all a matter of how badly you want to do it and how hard you are willing to work.

  31. Pingback: Why isn't my product selling despite marketing?

  32. Hello-

    Do you find it awkward asking the clients to sign the liability sheet? Do you ever find the clients to be bothered by this? Thank you.

  33. Lindsay Stordahl

    It’s not awkward. Any kennel or dog daycare will have a similar form. Most clients don’t care and are happy to see the form. They view it as professional.

  34. Hi Lindsay, I’m in the process of organizing my own dog walking business. I was thinking of starting it out of my own home doing local pick up to their home and walk the dogs around their location. Do you think that is a good idea? And do customers frown upon business running out of one’s personal home? Or should I get a little storefront? Even though that hurts my pockets.

  35. Lindsay Stordahl

    Chad, I don’t see why you would need a storefront for dog walking unless you wanted to sell treats and food and collars, stuff like that. People will expect you to come to their homes and walk the dogs from there. The price really depends on where you live. I’d shoot for $20 per hour and $15 for a half-hour. You could always offer discounts, like 10 percent off when you buy 10 walks or something like that.

  36. Oh, alright, thanks, apperciate the advice. Would you say this a profitable business? Because one day I want to get a storefront and move into selling a little merchandise and sitting from 7 to 5, then get into doing the overnights when I get a bigger place. I want to start my own 24-hour daycare. But for now I’m trying to start with the walking first. I was aiming for $15 to bring in and attract cutsomers. But do you think I should just list it as $20 and make a whole bunch of coupons and project sales at $15 a walk? Do you ever get complaints for $20 a walk?

  37. Lindsay Stordahl

    It is profitable but it takes a lot of time and patience. No. 13 in my post is very important. I truly believe that the majority of people who start a dog walking business will fail. They want instant success and will give up within six months. If this is something you are truly passionate about and are willing to put a lot of work into, then you will find a way to be successful and profitable.

    If your goal is to bring in as many customers as possible right now, then go ahead and charge a little less. You can always increase your rates later on. It depends a lot on the community you live in. I live in Fargo which is about 100,000 people. Some think $20 an hour is a bargain and others would never pay that much. But if someone doesn’t see the value in my service, then they are not the kind of customers I want to attract. You could try something in the middle like $17 per hour and $13 per half-hour.

    By comparison, the dog daycares in my town charge about $20 per day for daycare. I’m not in direct competition with these businesses because we offer different services, but it gives me an idea of what people spend.

  38. Hi Lindsay,

    Congratulations on starting a business that you love and that provides a valuable service! And thank you for sharing so much great information with all of us.

    When you charge per half-hour or hour, is that entire time frame devoted to dog running or does the time frame include all the other things you do such as unlocking the door, greeting the dog, putting on the leash and when you return, perhaps wiping off muddy paws, re-filling the water dish, etc.?

  39. Lindsay Stordahl

    No problem. Glad you found it helpful. I don’t count all those extra things in the 30 minutes or 60 minutes.

  40. Awesome blog! I found it totally helpful and will definitely come back to it in the future for more tips. Curious Lindsay, up to how many dogs can you walk/run/sit in one day? By count, what is a good day and what is a bad day? Also, I am a veterinary assistant and am looking into starting my own dog walking/running business. I am definitely familiar with aggressive dogs. Have you ever been injured on the job? If so, what then takes place? Also, have you ever had to turn away clients due to aggression? This blog is great! Thanks for the help!

  41. Lindsay Stordahl

    Hi Andrea, glad I can help.

    A busy day for me is about 8 dogs. I will run up to 15 miles per day and will pet sit only 2-3 dogs at one time so I can give each dog the attention it deserves. Scheduling is more of an issue for me rather than running or walking too much.

    I have dealt with many dogs that are dog aggressive or leash aggressive. Their owners give me a heads up as I always do a sort of “meet and great” before I get started and have them fill out a form about the dog’s personality. I use appropriate collars for control and work with the dog on its issues. I’ve never had to turn away a dog because of behavior but I would if I felt I could not safely control it. I have never been injured on the job except for a few scratches and a nip that did not break the skin. Making sure the dogs are vaccinated and carrying pet sitting insurance should help with this.

  42. Your story is such an inspiration. I used to have a job where I ran around and was on my feet six to eight hours per day and I miss it so much! My boring desk job now is doing nothing for me. Reading this blog may have been just the kick in the butt I needed to get back out on my feet. Thanks!

  43. Hi Lindsay! This blog has really been an inspiration for myself. I live in a city outside of Toronto, Canada called Mississauga and I have been thinking about starting a dog walking business in my area for some time now. I have my own Miniature Schnauzer named Rook who I absolutely adore and I would love to give other dogs much needed exercise and love while their owners are out at work or other commitments. While I do have experience with my own dog and my friend’s dogs, I really would like to gain some more experience with other types of breeds before I start up my business. Do you have any suggestions on how to get myself around other breeds? I am going to volunteer at my local shelter but I am not sure how much hands on experience I will get with the dogs there. Let me know what you think…I really appreciate all your advice, it’s really helpful!

    Lisa

  44. Lindsay Stordahl

    Hey Lisa! To get more experience around different breeds, I would definitely volunteer at a shelter. Also look into dog rescue organizations. These groups usually don’t have shelters but they have foster homes. You could offer to take dogs to adoption events or even walk the dogs. Also, attend as many dog events as you can – dog shows, obedience trials, stuff like that. And visit the dog park and pet stores that allow dogs to visit. There are also tons of books and web sites out there that explain each breed.

  45. Thanks for the details! I am considering starting up this type of business because I love dogs and running alike. We waited a year and a half before attempting to run with our Willie (Black Lab) but it was worth because he’s the greatest run partner I’ve got. It wasn’t until we moved into our neighborhood and I would run by fenced in pups time and time again that I started to consider doing this. I feel sorry for those poor pups being locked in all day. So, for the love of it, I wanted to get certified as a pet sitter and get this going. Your blog has given me a great amount of insight…thank you!

    AS

  46. Hi Lindsay! Thank you for the very informative blog. It was such a relief to see that I am not the only one who has quit their job to start their own dog walking business. I was beginning to think I may be making a mistake. But I am hopeful now 🙂
    I am in the process of getting my business started, but I was wondering if you had any tips regarding scheduling. My concern is that once the middle of the day hours are booked, I won’t be able to get schedule any more clients during the earlier or later parts of the day. How do you handle these situations? Thanks for your help!

    Diana

  47. Lindsay Stordahl

    Hey Diana,

    I guess I don’t understand what you mean. If you are full in the middle of the day, why wouldn’t you be able to take clients in the earlier or later part of the day?

    There are definitely times when I have to turn people away because I’m too full. The solution to that is to charge more or hire some help.

  48. Thanks for your response, Lindsay 🙂 What I meant was that clients will probably prefer the midday hours, right? Or do you have a steady flow of clients throughout the day? If the midday hours are booked for me, then how can I promote my early or late day hours when I am also free?

    Diana

  49. Lindsay Stordahl

    I haven’t had that problem because so many people don’t work the usual 9-5 hours. Many of my clients are actually home during the day but don’t have time to exercise the dogs, so they don’t care what time I come. A good way to promote the later afternoon walks, like between 2 and 4 is to say the dog will be nice and tired when its owner comes home. A way to promote earlier exercise is to say if the dog is exercised right away, he is less likely to get into trouble the rest of the day.

  50. Hi Lindsay! It’s Lisa again with another question! (Also, thank you for your great response to my first question). I know you mentioned that it does take time to build up your business and gain clientele. I’m probably going to be taking up a part-time job in order to have some money flow during the early stages of starting up my business. I see you said to give it at least 6 months or so, and I was wondering how long it took yourself to build up your clients, six months? More than that? Less? Also, did you start your business part time at first or did you jump in with both feet?

    Thanks in advance for your reply!

    Frequent visitor,

    Lisa

  51. Taking a part time job is a good idea, even if it’s something like delivering pizzas in the evening. It took me 11 months to feel like I could fully support myself through Run That Mutt. Until then (and still), I had a very supportive boyfriend, and I worked some random part-tme jobs. I quit my demanding full-time job right away so I could really focus on dog walking. You really do have to stick with it and work your butt off. My best advice is to treat your clients very well so they will continue to use your service and recommend you to others.

  52. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. It is amazing that you take the time to reply to all of the posts. My son (25 years) and I (45 years) are getting ready to put out flyers for our dog walking business. It will be running and walking. We plan on 20-minute runs. I have been running with my own dogs for about nine months. I cover 1 1/4 miles per day. I will run for a block, then stop and walk about 50 steps, then run the next block and stop and walk about 50 steps, etc. I can’t seem to build endurance/stamina. Can you give any advice? I really want to be successful.

  53. Lindsay Stordahl

    I build endurance by slowly pushing myself a little further, working the muscles more than they are used to. So, if you can run a block comfortably, then push yourself to two blocks. Then three, etc. Of course, build up slowly over the course of a week or more and always give yourself rest days.

    When I’m training for a marathon, I will increase my mileage for a week, but then the next week I will go back down to the mileage from a week before, then increase again, then take a step back, etc. The idea is to give the body some rest and recovery while slowly increasing the distance. You don’t want to injure yourself.

  54. I have been looking at setting up a dog walking business. Not dog running – definitely not my niche. But I do have other ideas for my niche! Your posting on starting a business and ideas about volunteering are more unique than any site I have seen so far (and I have seen quite a few). Thank you so much for your insight. Also, do you belong to a membership of some pet sitter organization? Please email me:) Alyssa

  55. I am considering starting a dog walking business next year and am very glad I found your blog. I appreciate you sharing your experience! Since there are many dog walkers in this area, I will need to do my homework and be very organized about this in order to compete. Thank you!

  56. Lindsay, do you have any rules about what types of dogs you will not take, for example a certain breed or perhaps a dog that has serious dog and/or people aggression issues? This is something I want to think through beforehand. Thank you, Susan

  57. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would never refuse to run a dog because of her breed, and I hope you wouldn’t either.

    I have never turned a dog away, but I would if I could not safely handle it. This has not happened because I have experience handling dog-aggresive dogs, powerful dogs, hyper dogs, etc. In some cases, I ask that the owner provides a specific training collar such as a prong collar, a Halti or even a muzzle, but in these cases the owner usually already has these kinds of tools because they are well aware of their dogs issues.

  58. Hi Lindsay,
    Love the information — thanks for sharing! I would like to start something like a dog-walking business and then one day include rehabilitating aggressive dogs. I have two questions: 1. Since you’re from Fargo (North Dakota?) what do you do in the winter for exercise? 2. Do you have any suggestions for gaining experience with aggressive dogs? Thank you!

  59. Lindsay Stordahl

    I run outside with the dogs all year. On rare days when it’s not safe to be out, I will sometimes stop by and play with the dogs or just do a quick 15-minute run.

    If you want experience with aggressive dogs, volunteer with a local dog rescue. Rescues generally have more aggressive dogs than humane societies.

  60. Lindsay,

    I read all the posts on your fantastic blog..you are terrific really !! What an inspiration you are to so many of us..Thank you for giving honest advice to people wanting to get started in the dog business !!
    I started my dog walking business 1 1/2 years ago when the real estate market slowed down here in California (been selling real estate over 32 years) .. I just started passing out flyers in the neighborhood & only charge $12 for a walk instead of $17 (normal rate here)…I also do overnight dog sitting in their home…I have been charging $45-$55 a night from about 8am-8pm including a night & a morning walk..I have been asking if they want a mid day walk & let them know it will be $12..Do you think I should come up with a price that includes the mid day walk ? Most of the overnight prices here are anywhere from $40-$80 (some include the mid day walk & some don’t)…I want to be competitive..but want to be fair to everyone…Orange County Ca is a very expensive area to live, but I know how difficult the economy is and want to keep prices low..Do you have any ideas how I could market to the young professionals with a pet & no kids, but are working 10-12 hours a day and live in a condo or apartment ?
    I love your idea about working at the shelters..its wonderful to be able to play with those shelter dogs and give them some love & attention !!
    What do you honestly think one person could make in this business if they started having regular day walking customers & doing overnight sitting as well ? I would love to figure out a way I could make enough money walking dogs to live on !!
    I want to keep it simple and fun for everyone…By the way, my real estate customers never gave me flowers..wrote me nice notes..left me little gifts to thank me for just sending them text messages…In fact one of my favorite dog walking clients just bought a house from me…I think she trusts me as I take loving care of her 2 adorable doggies…
    I would really value any advice you would have time to give me..

    Thanks,
    Kris
    Owner: DogsandtheCity@aol.com

  61. Lindsay Stordahl

    I charge my visits based on time: $10 per 15-minute visit, $15 per 30-minute visit, $20 per 60-minute visit and $35 for an overnight visit (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Since my rates are based on time, I can include walking or running with the dogs during those times without charging extra. The owner can purchase one visit per day or as many visits as they want. This has worked out well for me.

    You can definitely make enough money to live by doing strictly dog walking and pet sitting. Just give it 100 percent and go for it! I know you have more competition than I do and it’s more expensive to live there, but you will be able to make it work. I’m working on an ebook with more detailed information about starting a dog running business, and can let you know when it’s ready if you are interested.

    Thanks for checking out my site. I checked out your web site, and one suggestion I have is to change the font to a darker color. I had difficulty reading the white font, and I’m only 26.

  62. Lindsay,

    Thanks for letting me know I need to change the color of the font…I appreciate it…What does the $35 over night visit include ? Do you stay at the dogs house overnight ? What do you say to people that are away for business..vacation etc about walking the dogs between your 7am and 10pm visit & how much extra do you charge…The overnight pricing is the most difficult one for me to figure out..
    Good luck with your ebook..Let me know when it comes out ok ?
    I will keep reading & sharing your blog with my doggie friends..

    Thanks again for your honesty !!

    Kris Olson
    DogandtheCity@aol.com

  63. Lindsay Stordahl

    The overnight visit only includes staying at the house with the dog, and whatever care the dog gets during that time. All additional visits are an extra charge and may include walks. The rates are listed in my above comment.

  64. What an inspiration you are Lindsay! I had dreamed of walking dogs for a living but did not know the industry existed. Wow!

  65. Thank you for this blog. I will be losing my job next month due to a business move. I have always loved dogs and have always wanted to work with dogs! Like you, I am a runner and love the outdoors, running in cold temps and snow! I love it! You inspire me to open my own dog walking business! Cheers!

  66. Hi
    I am a vet tech, older, and would like to start a dog walking business. No one talks about sick or vacation policy. Since it is just you, you’re bound to need a sick day, etc., at some point. Do you have backup, or do you have a notification policy? This is my biggest sticking point since I have kids, and other responsibilities as well. Thanks.

  67. Well the good thing about working for yourself is you can take time off whenever you want. I can tell you that I have never been sick or injured in the last two years. I believe staying fit and not working in an office has played a big role in this. If I were ever too sick to run or walk, I would simply call and cancel as far enough ahead as I could. If you have a lot of other responsibilities, you could always offer dog walking strictly on M, W, F or perhaps M-Th or something like that, doesn’t have to be every single day.

  68. Hi, I am so glad I discovered your blog! It’s like sitting down over coffee with a dear friend who is giving you all this great encouragement and advice! Yours is that “personal touch” that you won’t get from reading a book or article on the topic. Keep up the great work!

  69. Lindsay,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and will definitely be a frequent visitor. I have been playing around with the idea of starting my own pet walking/sitting business and after reading your blog I’m feeling much more confident and encouraged. I am currently in the medical field and although the money is great, I don’t look forward to going to work and started feeling burned out after a short time. My passion truly lies in caring for animals, and I’m excited to get started on building my dream career! My boyfriend has some concerns that I will not be able to obtain many clients as we live outside the city and a lot of people have fences for their animals. Do you find most of your clients to live in the city or do you foresee finding clients within subdivisions and apartment complexes a problem?

  70. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well my area is pretty suburban. Most people have yards and fences, but they are all in town. It does take a while to gain a consistent client base, but once you do you will always have customers and they will recommend you to others! Even people in the country will need pet sitters. I do not visit many animals out in the country. I do have quite a few customers who live in apartment complexes.

    I hope that helps! Good luck with your dog walking and pet sitting business!

  71. Lindsay,
    Thanks for your response. Sorry to bother you again, but I have so many questions and maybe your e-book can help. I was wondering, do you employ other walkers/runners in order to service more clients? If so, do you pay them a percentage or a flat rate? Also, do you use a pet sitting soft ware of sorts to help keep scheduling and payroll straight or what do you use? I’ve been doing some research and there are over 75 dog walking, pet sitting business serving Ga. Do you have that kind of competition and are still profitable? I think I need a pet sitters for dummies guide!

  72. Lindsay Stordahl

    I don’t employ other dog runners or dog walkers, although I have thought about it. I don’t want to manage anyone else at this point. If I ever do, I would pay them an hourly rate. I don’t do anything fancy for keeping track of scheduling, income, etc. I just write down all my appointments in a notebook and on a whiteboard and use Xcel for everything else.

    I don’t have the kind of competition you do! I don’t know of any other full-time dog walkers in my state. I have indirect competition because we have about 10 dog daycare/boarding places in town and a few full-time pet sitting businesses. The competition hasn’t been a problem so far. It just shows that there are enough dogs for all of us and that it’s a good market. You have more people in your are, which means more dogs and more competition. But I wouldn’t worry about it. If you offer a great service, the customers will come.

    I hope you find my ebook helpful!

  73. Hi! My name is Jared. I am starting my own dog walking business around my area. These are the prices I put up: $5 for down the block and back, $7 for around the block, $10 for around the park, and $15 for around the park and playing there. Are these reasonable prices?

  74. Lindsay Stordahl

    I wouldn’t charge anything less than $10 or it won’t be worth your time. Maybe offer a $10 option and a $15 option.

  75. Pingback: THAT MUTT: A Dog Blog » Pitbull for adoption, Fargo

  76. Pingback: CG NOW! » Blog Archive » Stating a Pet Business

  77. Lindsay, thanks for sharing your experience. Its kind of funny I ran across your website. I too work for the local paper in Bismarck, ND, delivering some papers in the morning. I wake up at 4:00 every morning and walk about 4 miles, 365 days a year. I have been doing this for two and a half years. Most people wouldn’t think of doing that amount of work about $20 a day, but its the only way that I can motivate myself to exercise. Plus I get paid.

    Anyway, I have been thinking about walking dogs in the morning instead of delivering papers. My thought was to charge something like $150 – $200 a month per dog and guarantee a brisk walk of about 45 minutes a day, five or six days a week. The walks would start at about 5:30 in the morning and be done before 7:00. I would pick up and return the dogs and walk about four at a time. Does this sound reasonable or just crazy? From your experience, are there a lot of problems getting dogs picked up this early in the morning? In order for this to work, I would need people to have their dogs ready so I wouldn’t be spending too much time just picking up dogs. What are some of your other concerns about this plan?

    I know I have the dedication to do this because I have been walking every morning in the worse kinds of weather even when sick or in pain from pulled muscles, etc. I really don’t need the money because I have a pretty good job otherwise, but I don’t want to do it for free either. I would like to clear about $500 per month. I have two dogs of my own and take them walking with me every morning.

    Thanks for your help.

  78. Lindsay Stordahl

    Good to hear from someone so close! What I find is that most people don’t want to pay for their dogs to be walked every single day, but maybe if you charge a flat rate per month like you suggested people would see it as a good deal ($10 per walk or so).

    I would think other people would have an issue being up so early in the morning to have their dogs ready. Still, I’m sure there are some people out there who would have no problem giving you a key to get the dogs. For example, I walk one woman’s dog three times a week early in the morning and come back before she is even out of bed. And some dogs just stay in the garage or an outdoor kennel and I can pick them up at my convenience. When I get dogs ready it doesn’t take any time – just put the leash on and go.

    Sometimes I walk four dogs at once, but most of the time I stick to 1-3 dogs all from the same family. You’ll find that most dogs are hyper and not as well trained as your own dogs. So I could see walking four dogs at once being an issue, especially when it’s icy. But who knows, maybe you will find the right group of dogs that all get along and walk well together.

    I think if you advertise what exactly you are offering, the right customers will find you. It won’t happen overnight but with time.

    Good luck! Keep in touch and let me know how it goes!

  79. I quit my job in London and started my own dog walking/doggy day care business. It was the best decision i’ve ever made. So much freedom, doing something I love and doing it all for myself and no one else! Feels fantastic!

    Great post.

  80. Kimberly Swift

    I am doing a dog walking business, and whatever the time is, I take it in half and that is how much money. Example: 30 minutes = $15.00, five minutes = $2.50. And no, I am not related to Taylor Swift.

  81. Lindsay Stordahl

    That doesn’t sound like a bad way to do it. I also charge $15 for 30 minutes, but I only charge $20 for 60 minutes.

  82. Hi. Could you share some details on how often you walk a particular dog? How many times a week? And what are owners’ preferences on time of day while they’re at work? Do they give you a house key, etc.? There are no dog parks in my area and no dog walking services. It’s a small town of 5,000 people. I have a very flexible schedule, just wondering what to expect. And what to suggest to first-time clients. Thanks! Love your site and enthusiasm.

  83. I walk each individual dog on average twice a week, usually Monday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday. A few are once a week, some are three times a week, some are every day. It just depends on the owner and what they want to spend. Most people prefer the middle of the day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. while they are at work so they don’t have to come home during lunch. Many of my clients actually work from home or don’t work, and they have me come in the middle of the day as well. Almost all give me a key to their house. Some are home every time, and some give me a code to their garage doors.

  84. A dog walking business is good for an older person on social security. There no heavy lifting. Walking is good, because it keep the older person fit.

    Harry

  85. I came across your website today. It’s the best reference I have found. Easy, down to earth and straight shooting.

    I have worked like a dog (pun intended) for years in sales. I am in my early 30s and with my wife’s blessing have decided to try to take something I love and make it a career. I had to ask myself, “when are you happiest?” The answer is simple, when I am playing with a dog. Anyone who knows me would agree. If I go to a cocktail party and there is a dog, I am on my knees giving butt scratches (to the dog) all night.

    Anyhow, I just started planning. I know I can do this and be successful at it. Your site and your story has helped me today. I’m not telling my friends or family who I fear would suggest it’s nice, but not a “real job.”

    I am putting together a business plan and determining my target neighborhoods. There is one question I keep asking myself. Do I have enough time to walk enough dogs to make a living? $20 per half hour is the going rate for the two or three services in my town. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me people will want me to help them in the mid afternoon while they are at work. I am thinking 11:30 to 3:30 will be the most demanded times. Do you find that you are able to fill the day? Do people ask for you to come at 9 a.m.? Do you guarantee people a time?

    Maybe I should change my marketing to dog exercising/walking so people don’t look at me as someone who just opens the back door and stands there while their dogs pee. I intend to exercise it!

    Anyhow, I have lots to think about. Thanks so much for putting this together. I can’t wait to get started!

  86. Lindsay Stordahl

    So glad I could help, and good luck to you! It is a huge help to have a supportive significant other 🙂

    People ask me to walk and run their dogs at all hours of the day. People work odd schedules. I am probably the busiest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but a growing number of my customers are actually at home when I come to walk their dogs. They either work from home or they simply have other things to do so they hire me. I guarantee people a time within a half hour or so. Some people are more flexible than others.

    Yeah, you do want to make sure it’s clear that you are taking the dogs out for some exercise and fun. Some people won’t care, but most people prefer their dogs get walked.

  87. Thanks so much for the great feedback. 10-4 would be great, leaving time to travel to appointments you could see plenty of dogs in a day.

    I’m struggling with marketing. I am going to place adds in a few church bulletins as they are cheap, well circulated, and online. I am targeting a couple neighborhoods/towns and am struggling with marketing.

    My plan is to spend a month, maybe two, setting up meetings with people to let them interview me and allow me to be introduced to their dog. My motive in doing this is two fold however, it will give me an idea of how many people are serious before I launch as well. I wanted to advertise prior to the launch and allow people to get signed up and reserve spots for their dogs.

    I am hoping this will give me rough numbers, a decent start in terms of customer base, and a one up on scheduling and mapping my day.

    I don’t want to flyer and can’t afford much. I can put some signs up at the grocery stores, but I don’t look at those bulletin boards so I am not sure anyone does! I know word of mouth will be my best source. How did you get your first 5 or 6 customers before your name got around?

  88. Hello Lindsay,
    I have been thinking of a dog walking business for about a week and just ran across your blog today. Very informative – I will be making my way over to the site to purchase the e-book very shortly. One thing I didn’t see in the post – what kind of payments do you accept? How difficult/expensive is it to get set up to accept Visa, MasterCard, etc.?

  89. Oh I just use PayPal. That makes it easy. Or people can pay with cash or check if that’s easier for them. I’d say it’s about half check and half credit card through PayPal. And that is covered more in the ebook 🙂

  90. Pingback: Start a Dog Walking Business » Article Bundle

  91. I’m a thirteen-year-old looking for ways to make money. I live in Southern CA, so instead of extreme cold we get heat, heat, and more heat. I have a couple of dog owners in my neighborhood, but I’m not sure if they walk them regularly. I’d adore to have a dogwalking service go on, but I’ve given out a few fliers and nobody offered. I currently have a miniature dachshund and thirteen years of experience with animals (I’ve had at least nine pets at once throughout my lifetime). When I walk my dachshund, we (my father, little brothers and I) take her around a few blocks, but I’m willing to go multiple times the distance for more energetic/larger dogs. I still have a bunch of fliers and quite a bit of time on my hands (I’m a student so homework and studying’s always a bother, but I still have a decent amount of free time – I can always spare an hour or two).

    I’m also confused on what I should do for pricing. I want to be able to make a decent and steady income (to be honest, though, “decent”, in my definition, doesn’t mean that much; I have low standards), while not scaring potential customers away. You mentioned this in your post, but I honestly think $5.00/hour or the like would be as much as I can hope for in my community.

    I consider myself to be somewhat athletic for someone my age. I participate in a swim team in the summer and martial arts weekly, and find myself in the “competitive” section in P.E. despite my lousy hand-eye coordination. I can see myself walking large dogs daily.

    Another concern (sorry!) is the frightening amount of dog-owners not using leashes these days… They simply rely on their dog to know to stay on the sidewalk. There’s no way I’m doing the same, so I’d consider it a necessity for customers to provide their own leashes.

    Any advice? Thanks in advance!

  92. Lindsay Stordahl

    If you charge $5 per hour, you can always increase the rate later on once you get a few customers.

    I get more customers and experience, I recommend volunteering for a local dog rescue or humane society. Volunteer to walk those dogs. Then you can tell potential customers that you’ve walked the most unruly dogs. It’s good experience.

    If you set up a Craigslist ad for your area, that might help as well. I usually get a new customer every time I do a Craigslist ad.

    I agree, it’s absolutely necessary for dogs to be leashed.

  93. What a fantastic post. As an avid runner with multiple marathons under my belt, I think as a part-time job this would be awesome. I went out for a 4-mile run this morning and noticed all the dogs in the backyards were so excited. Why not combine my absolule passion of running about 40 miles a week with some dog running and make a little pocket change? I think I will spend a few months running friends and family members’ dogs along with some volenteer time at a local dog shelter. I am not looking for a career change at this point, but this looks like a heck of a lot of fun. I can’t wait to read your ebook. Thanks for the honest information.

    Stephen

  94. Thanks for the great information. I am just curious whether you think there is a market for this in smaller towns. I live in a town of about 12,000.

    Thanks for your help.

  95. Lindsay Stordahl

    I think there is. Smaller towns have even less options for dog daycares and dog boarding, so people may be more willing to look into a dog walker or pet sitter. You may have to adjust your rates. But if you do them too low, it won’t be worth it. I would start out with pretty low rates and then increase them in six months or so.

  96. Hey guys, great blog. I really like all the comments on this blog. I’ll definitely be sending some of our clients here who have been asking me how to start a bussiness in the pet industry. Great post, and thanks for the blog.

  97. This blog was great!
    I was thinking about starting a business also, but I have one question:
    When you’re running/walking the dogs, where do you carry the pooper scooper and stuff like that?

    Thanks (:

    1. Hi Lindsay!

      I keep coming across your website and finally decided to buy the e-book. As many as your fans have already said: you are extremely helpful, supportive and informative. I enjoyed reading your blog; as it seems to be the most helpful.

      I did buy the e-book today and look forward to start reading it soon! However, I must of missed a link on where to retrieve it! Could you help me out?

      Thanks a million!

  98. Hi Lindsay,
    Your blog is fantastic! I started my own dog walking business about six months ago in Washington, DC. So far, I really love it, but I am having one issue. I don’t have any employees (only have eight clients right now), and I don’t know what to do about vacation time. Any suggestions? I have contacted some of the larger dog walking operations in my area, but they don’t seem very interested in covering my walks while I’m out of town.
    Thanks! -Pat

  99. Lindsay Stordahl

    Just tell your clients you are taking a week off. That’s what I do at least twice a year. They understand you can’t work every day!

  100. Hi. I haven’t worked in five years. I love to walk every day. I was talking with my husband about starting a job. I’ve never had a puppy. I walk yesterday, and I ask to take a dog for a walk an he said yes. I want to start dog walking business. I do not know how.

  101. Hey, Lindsay! This is such great advice!

    What do you suggest for somebody who is already a dog walker through a dog walking business?

    I’d like to start up my own, but I really like my boss and respect her and her business. She’s given me such great advice, and I’ve learned a lot from her. The reason I’d like to branch off into my own business is because I am finding that I am investing a lot of time and energy into some of her clients. I love the dogs I walk! I think I deserve to be making more, and I feel like I have created a reputation for myself. I have started walking a few dogs on the side, but how do I basically wean myself from her business onto my own? I don’t want to hurt her feelings and burn any bridges. I know I need to be honest with her, but I just don’t want to lose my job totally until I feel comfortable with my own biz.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions you may have.

    Thanks so much!

  102. Lindsay Stordahl

    Just be honest and respectful. If she is a good business owner, she will understand without taking it personally. She can’t expect you to work for her forever. There’s plenty of business for you both. I used to work at a dog boarding kennel, and I learned a lot from the owner and his employees. If you keep the relationship in good standing, you can continue to help one another out during holidays and emergencies and such.

  103. Elizabeth Martin

    Wow! That was great information! I am 14 years old and I would love to start a dog walking business, but I’m not so sure if adults will trust me with their dogs. I sure hope they will! I am going to start one and see if it works! Wish me luck!

    P.S. Thank you for that information. I needed the encouragement! God Bless!

  104. hi there! i find your blog extremely helpful and most inspiring! i’m currently working in a cube for 50 hours a week and I’m giving some serious thought to starting up my own dog walking/running business. how did you and when did you make the decision to start your business full time? i’m thinking of offering weekend and holiday services to start because my job wont allow time during the week. i’m becoming more active in my community and starting to meet and network without a lot of people. i just want to make sure i’m starting off right. any insight as to how you made the transition from your full time job with the paper to your own business would be very helpful. thank you and continued success with your company!

  105. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well, with the paper I was working from about noon to 11 p.m. four days per week. So that left my mornings open for dog walking and also three full days. That really helped me get started. But really, when I quit my job, I only had one real customer. I’d started advertising, but I didn’t get serious until I just decided to quit my job. The thrill/panic of not having my job to rely on is what motivated me to be successful with my own business. I know everyone is not able to do that, especially if he or she has kids. But I was living in a small apartment with a dog and cat and had very few expenses so it worked out great for me. Now I’m making more than I did at the paper. But more important, I’m happier and I have more free time.

  106. Lindsey Hickman

    Hello!!! my name is Lindsey, and i am eleven years old and i am trying to start my own dog walking and washing service. i am absolutly not doing for the money. i have always been a hudge dog love since i was 3. i had dog evreything!! dog bedset,dog wallpaper,dog clothing,dog stuffed animals, and ive had a big dream of getting a dog of my own. then when i was 5 years old, my dad told me he had a suprise for me. i thought it was a toy or makeup or somthing. but, it turns out him and my brother went to pet smart and saw a golden retriver mixed with chow. her name was Sadie. She was an abused animal in the past. she was ran over by cars and was shot in the foot by her previous owner. my dad came up to her and was told her story by one of the petsmart workers. Sadie looked very sad and lonley. so he bought her. he brought her home and i was so happy i about cryed. to this day me and sadie are best of friends. sadie is 11 years old and has a very bad hip. and i know some day, her time will come where she will be in doggy heaven. i will be sad, but gald in someway for her that she will no longer be in pain. a few months ago sadie twisted her tendon in her hip. my dad told me “sadie is very hert,she is in real pain. she might have to go to heaven soon.” i saw him shead a tear a little. he also said “if i did put her down,how will you feel about it?” i replyed weaping”sad, very sad” i knew there was nothing anyone can do but pray. so i prayed soooo hard. and soon sadie got better. i was so SUPRISED!! i was speechless. i was extramlly happy. sadie is my bestfriend, and a great doggy. i love her. so i would love to have a dog walking buisness of my own. my parents say im not ready and not old enough. 🙁 any advise?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would start by walking a few dogs in the neighborhood. I have to drive all over town to most of my appointments, and I realize you can’t drive yet, so I would definitely try to find some customers close by. If you know people in your neighborhood with dogs, offer to do some pet sitting services when they go out of town for the weekend. Offer to stop by three times a day or more and check on the dogs, walk them, feed them, etc. I used to do that before I could drive and they paid pretty well.

  107. michelle eddinger

    your post gives me some hope. i live in a small town and i am thinking about offering dog walks or running. i just dont know how it would do here. i can run. my first run was 9 miles but now i have slacked off a little and am up to 4 miles. what kind of insurance is the best? i am just scared to start and i think ppl will think its a stupid idea. i am afraid of falure. how can i over come this and get going?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You can’t worry about what everyone else thinks. People will definitely think it’s a waste of time to start a dog walking business. They will laugh at you and say, really?? And some of your best friends won’t say anything at all, which you can assume means they are not supportive.

      But, you have to believe in yourself and take action to do what you want to do. That is the only way you will be successful. I imagine you can run a successful dog walking business in a small town if you also offer pet sitting visits or take dogs in your home for pet sitting.

  108. Hi! Love reading your blog! I have been looking to starting a pet sitting business and I am confused about bonding. It is my understanding that bonding is only necessary if you have other employees. Are you bonded? I am worried that if I don’t get bonded, clients might not want to hire me. It seems to be the norm to be licensed, insured, and bonded. Thanks!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Every insurance company might have a different definition. The pet sitting company I use offers bonding which would cover me in case any of my employees or independent contractors damaged any property or stole something. Since I do not have employees, my company is insured but not bonded.

      I would ask the specific insurance company for clarification.

  109. Mekhi Williams

    Me and my friends are going to start dog walking, and I was asking how many should we walk at a time I thought two dogs was good for a half an hour.

  110. Lindsay Stordahl

    Two dogs at once is usually safe.

    I walk dogs for one family at a time. So, usually that ends up being two dogs. Sometimes it’s one or three dogs. There are a few groups of four dogs I will walk together but they are very well behaved.

  111. Erin McMahon Rock

    Hi Lindsay,
    First of all, I love your website and blog. It is very informative and unique. Anyway, I was just curious if you had ever had any problems with safety regarding your human customers. In these days with all of the drama surrounding Craigslist I worry that this danger would always be in the back of my mind. Would you recommend carrying pepper spray or doing background checks on new clients or any other tips?
    Thanks and best of luck! Erin

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ve never had any issues. Just use common sense. Tell people where you are going. Be aware of your surroundings. Talk over the phone first whenever you can vs. just talking through email. Set up meet and greets during daytime hours when there’s lots of people coming and going. Bring pepper spray or a whistle or anything that will make you feel safer and more comfortable. Always have your phone on you. Bring your own dog along in the car whenever the weather is safe enough for that.

      Good luck with your business!

  112. hi im 12 years old and love dogs and running and I want a summer job to earn money. so i want to start walking dogs in the summer

  113. I just came to Valencia, Spain without having a job, from america, but i came with the idea that if nothings works (i am engineer) i could do what always i loved…work with dogs and pets…and i start setting up my dog walker bussines, because i see that everybody have dogs in this city, many of them taked their pets to the park, but there are many that dont…and many also are old people…
    In this procesess (I havent start yet marketing), but i already create my bussiness card, make flyers, start a blog in wordpress and prepare forms, and in this process i get with your site, and after reading now i am sure that i am doing the things right…of course you make me think in other subjects i didnt.
    I taked in the past courses of dog behaviur and obedience training, compete in dogs exhibitions (with alaskan malamute…a tough dog), and all my life have been with dogs, loving and undertanding them, and almost study veterinary but in the last minute i decide for engineer. Now I think i am in the right way, and reading you, i am more confortable thinking that i am not crazy, and that its possible to make money from this.

    Thank you for your advise!!!

    Juan Carlos.

  114. Hi Lindsay. I am 13 years old and i am intrested in starting a small dog walking buisness in my neighborhood. How many fliers should i give out to start with?

  115. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would give one out to all your neighbors. Basically anyone within walking distance of where you plan to go. If they don’t have dogs, they might tell their friends.

  116. Do you think that a thirteen year old can be a dog walker? i have just put out some flyers around my neighbor hood, and i am not sure if there s anyway that i will actually get any clients. i put cards on every ones door with my logo, email, website, and prices. i was thinking about charging five dollars a dog, but i highly doubt anyone will even email me.

    : (

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hang in there. You might get a few customers yet! You may want to offer some pet sitting type options where you visit the dog three times per day when people are gone for the weekend. People always need someone to watch their dogs when they leave town.

  117. Hi Lindsay,

    I enjoyed reading all about your business, and have been seriously considering starting my own dog walking/sitting business. I used to be a veterinary technician, and would do a lot of sitting for the hospital clients, and it was fun, but it wasn’t enough to support myself with alone. After a few years away from working with animals, I have started to miss them and wonder if I should revisit the idea of this type of work. My question for you is, how do you keep yourself safe in terms of being in someone else’s house alone or hiking an out of the way trail by yourself? I am a smaller woman, and at times, I would feel a little vulnerable being on my own in unfamiliar homes, especially staying overnight. What precautions do you take when you walk/run and do home visits? Thanks!

    1. Always tell someone where you will be going. Bring a whistle or mace. Carry your phone at all times. Keep lights on. Keep your car locked. Bring your own dog along whenever you can. Don’t keep your list of customer addresses in your car in case someone steals them. Don’t keep all your customers’ keys in your car, either. Take a self defense class. Don’t walk or run after dark – just let the dog out in the yard to go to the bathroom.

  118. Hi Lindsay!,

    I believe in fate. I was laid off this past April from a “desk job” that I had worked for nine years. I live in upstate NY and have a six year old and a two year old. A neighbor approached me and asked if I would be willing to take her dog for a walk every day for about 10 minutes. She offered to pay me 10 dollars a day. I agreed and I love it! It’s great to get outside and she is flexible so I walk Zodi anytime between 11am and 1pm.

    My husband is encouraging me to make a go at a dog walking business. We are ok financially right now and I am interested in pursuing the idea however I want to take it slow. We pulled my 2 year old out of full time day care when I lost my job so she is home with me 3 days a week (which I love). She walks Zodi with me (which she loves!) She is a peanut and likes being carried on my back in her hiking pack. I learned from Zodi’s owner that Zodi does not like anything on wheels so my running stroller was out. This definitely limits me as far as only walking one dog at a time and making sure that the dog is safe to be around children even though she is technically not walking next to them. We plan on enrolling her in preschool next year.

    What would you view as “must dos” even with just a few clients. Am I out of my mind to think that I can take on a couple more dogs with a two year old in tow three days a week? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks so much,
    Heidi

    1. I don’t like the idea of a 2-year-old along. If I were going to hire you, that would be a huge setback and I would not take you seriously as a professional. I would want you to focus 100 percent on my dog and not on your child. And as a dog walker myself, I know I need to be able to focus on the dog I am walking. There are things that set every dog off – random dogs running up to us, bikers, loud noises that cause the dog to bolt forward, squirrels, rabbits, etc.. And even just dealing with walking on ice in the winter could be dangerous if you have a child and a dog.

      On the other hand, you may be able to find some customers who don’t mind your 2-year-old coming along. I would think you would want to focus on smaller dogs or well-behaved dogs, though and one dog at a time, like you said.

      For “must dos” you should have each person fill out a contact form with info about the dog. Include questions like “does anything bring out aggression in your dog?” “can your dog have treats?” “Is your dog scared of anything?” Also have them sign a liability contract stating you will not be responsible for damage or injuries the dog causes.

  119. H Lindsay,

    I just wanted to thank you for all of the information and guidance you provide to everyone. I have a quick question. How do you get licensed? Do you have to do it through the city you live in, the city you will be working in, county or state…..

    Thank you
    TG

    1. That just depends on where you live. You do not need any kind of dog walking or pet sitting license, but the city you live in may require a business license. Check with your city’s government web site. Usually they will have a section for businesses. Do the same with your state. If you board dogs at your home, you may be required to get an additional boarding license.

  120. wow. this post was so incredibly helpful. thank you, lindsay. i just got laid off a couple of months ago, i volunteer for a rescue org out here in LA and i’m thinking, i must do something with dogs. thinking a dog-walking/running biz is the way to go. (p.s. i swam in college, but i was no sprinter 🙂

  121. Hey Lindsay,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. I teach kindergarten but have been thinking of starting to walk dogs on weekends and in the summer for now. I want to offer dog walking/rollerblading. I currently rollerblade with my own dog (big dog) and he loves it and I feel confident on the rollerblades. I am however stuck on what to charge between two different options.

    30 min walk: 10.00 or 15.00
    30 min rollerblades: 15.00 or 20.00
    60 min walk: 15.00 or 20.00
    60 min rollerblades: 20.00 or 25.00
    And 5.00 for each additional dog in the same family.

    Which do you think sounds best? At first I was thinking the lower prices, but now I am leaning more towards the higher of the 2. It’s just that I would like to make it affordable, but at the same time, worth my while, but not too expensive that people won’t call. Especially since I live in Phoenix and summers get VERY hot.

    Oh and I have researched the area, there is not much competition, but what there is is charging at least 15 and 20.00 per visit.

    Thoughts?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Definitely go for the higher end. You want it to be worth your time, and you want to find clients that appreciate what you are offering enough to pay the higher amount.

  122. Lindsay,
    Thank you for this. While I’m not starting a dog walking business my husband and I have started our very own farm. It’s an infant farm that one day we hope will support ourselves and members of our community. We’re like you, young professionals who really don’t want to spend the rest of our lives sitting at a desk doing something we don’t love. We’ve got a bit to go (with the drive to pay off the land before quitting our jobs) but I believe in us and he believes in us, which is really all that matters. Reading your words today was especially nice. I so enjoy when I see you’ve posted a new blog, I don’t know why it took me so long to read this page, but I’m glad I did.

    Congratulations to you. And yes, we support you…all the way from Pacific Northwest 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank YOU for writing your blog! You inspire me! I want to own my own farm/ranch some day. I don’t see myself making a living off the land, but it is the lifestyle I want. I hope to make a living through writing. My fiance went to high school in Washington and has family in Northern California and the middle of Washington, so we love visiting the Pacific Northwest!

  123. im 14 and just started walking i started walking dogs for the rspca with my mum since i was six and now want to start a bisnes doing it and i just want to know what to put on my flyers

    thankyou loved reading ur web page

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Put your business name and contact info like phone number and email. Maybe a picture of yourself with a dog. Also some benefits to hiring a dog walker.

  124. My dog Zeke is a three year old mix of pitt and something else. He is a smart dog and a very loving dog. He gets excited when i walk him at birds, squirrels, and gophers. He also gets aggressive with most that are unknown to him. While he has never been allowed to fight at all we arenʻt sure if he is dangerous but he seems to have the confidence and the hostility to maim or kill. He weighs about 80 lbs. And has the look of a pitt except his neck is longer and his snout is longer. He is black and white – we have both had a thought that he has some boarder collie in him but donʻt know because he is a rescue dog with no momma at 5 weeks. We love him and i just want to have him not disgrace his breed with several convictions and then a final third strike so to speak. PS He tries to listen when i am commanding him to “stay” but seems he cannot help it. But more often he behaves even if he has a hard time of it but then he smiles at me wagging for acknowledgement. Help?

  125. Zeke is a three year old mix of pitt and something else. He is a smart dog and a very loving dog. He gets excited when i walk him at birds, squirrels, and gophers. He also gets aggressive with most that are unknown to him. While he has never been allowed to fight at all we arenʻt sure if he is dangerous but he seems to have the confidence and the hostility to maim or kill. He weighs about 80 lbs. And has the look of a pitt except his neck is longer and his snout is longer. He is black and white – we have both had a thought that he has some boarder collie in him but donʻt know because he is a rescue dog with no momma at 5 weeks. We love him and i just want to have him not disgrace his breed with several convictions and then a final third strike so to speak. PS He tries to listen when i am commanding him to “stay” but seems he cannot help it. But more often he behaves even if he has a hard time of it but then he smiles at me wagging for acknowledgement. Help?

  126. So as i am not too use to this kind of e-com let me clarify that Zeke is only aggressive with other dogs that are strangers to him. And i believe pitts to be worthwhile dogs that just simply need real and proven dog training methods because when they act out well they are good at defending and attacking people or dogs and were originally bred for that. I do not believe these beautiful animals should be killed off. I love my dog Zeke very much and know now that i am and always was a dog person. I need to learn proper technique to not let the slathering beast within get to where he has tasted blood or he may turn all bad. Even if he would still love me. Love you for giving me confidence in doing what i like: one on one walking the dogs(i walk three dogs several times a day over strenuous terrain up hills ect. In this country small town in northern cali. Advice on training – or do i really just wallop him once hard and thatʻll do it (as many say so about pitts)?

  127. Zeke 3rd & final – you need to know that when he doesnʻt back off as i am strongly urging in every way possible he seems to fight with everything he has to get at the dog he is furious at and doesnʻt even seem to feel pain (spiked choke collar full size doesnʻt matter when he is in this state- but does enable me to subdue his attack. He has on three occasions gotten other dogs his size or larger on the ground and seem to be going for thier belly with his teeth but was pulled back before he got his teeth into them. Now i donʻt take him to dogpark like we use to and i donʻt waste time allowing him around where another dog is. Yeah, itʻs that bad. hope itʻs not too late to really train him and make up for just having him be a family dog. He kust needs or needed a disaplined training program – but i want to do right by him. Thank you

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Mark, your dog needs a consistent, calm and loving leader. I hope you will treat him right. I would suggest taking him to a group obedience class where he can learn to focus on you while walking along other dogs.

    2. Hi Mark,

      I am a dog walker in BC and have worked with a few aggressive dogs, including a Belgian Malinois who used to have a similar problem. (she now walks like a pro and ignores any aggressive or barking dogs etc along the way)

      You have to learn to recognize your dogs behaviour BEFORE he goes into the attack mode. There are subtle clues that let you know your dog is going into aggression mode before he actually does. His ears will per up and stiffly point at what he is aiming his aggression at, he will stare with his eyes in a very focused way, and he may even close his mouth and tense his jaw, or lift his tail and stiffen his back. You want to snap him out of that behaviour before it escalates and he actually goes into attack mode. Rather than bracing yourself and holding the leash as he tries to drag you along in his attack, give a quick snap on the leash, you dont want to pull so hard that you take his head off but you do need to get his attention, and pull him off balance. If he doesn’t snap out of it you have to be a little tougher.

      If he is numb to the leash you can back that up with a bump of your foot to his side or hindquarters, it doesn’t have to be hard, its just to redirect his attention and snap him out of attack mode. What you want to do is first give a firm tug on the leash, and if he does not instantly respond, then back it up with a bump with your foot (or hand) right away either on his hip, hindquarters, or side. Chances are if he’s never been tapped on his side he’s going to be distracted because he’s not used to it. Make sure you get him BEFORE he goes into attack mode though, as you don’t want him to turn his aggression back on you.

      If it makes you feel more confident you can look at putting a muzzle on him while in training so you don’t have to worry about anyone getting a bite. The more confident you are the more your dog will respect you as a leader and listen to you on your walks.

      As your walking you want to never let his shoulders pass infront of your hips. Having him behind you tells him that you are the leader and he will learn to trust and respect you and eventually learn that you will protect him and he does not need to get aggressive to protect his pack.

      I strongly reccomend you find someone in the area to help you train your dog because the last thing you want is for him to actually harm someone elses dog, or worse! A human or a child could be harmed in the process, which would end in either a law suit, or your dog being put down.

      Try to stay calm and controlled. Patience and repetition is key! and if you get lost along the way read a few of Caesars books, he really understands dogs and is a huge help.

      I hope this helps!!
      -Renata

  128. Hi Lindsay,

    I used to be so scared of dogs since I was small. 10 years ago, I lived with my friend who had 2 collie dogs called Benny and Glinny which made me feel more comfortable with dogs because they were nice dogs and I was confident that I would not be attacked by them.
    Later on Benny was put down and a few years later we had Molly as a puppy to join Glinny. Molly was adorable and I had connection with her whilst Glinny was very gentle and subdue ( Glinny died 2 years ago ). At the moment Molly is a teenager, I have not been around her for about 5 years now but every time I meet her, she would greet me with excitement ( I am not sure if she could remember me after 5 years not seeing her ).
    I am now very interested in starting up this business but I am not sure if other dogs will be as nice as Benny, Glinny and Molly.
    However, I would really love to give it a try.
    Please let me know your thoughts.

    Kind Regards,
    Angela

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Most dogs are friendly but also hard to handle on the leash and very excited. You may want to try walking some of your friends dogs or a variety of shelter dogs to see if it’s something you enjoy.

  129. Hey,
    I just started a dog walking business. I’m only 14 and I’m worried I might not get clients. I am an athlete, a runner a matter of fact, and I am in love with dogs. I started this because I wanted to raise awareness that you don’t have to love dogs to respect that they’re lovely. I also wanted this for my dogs, so they could socialize and bond with others. But, I’m really not sure if people would want to hire me. Should I keep trying?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You won’t know until you give it a shot! It took me a few months to get a few regular customers. Word of mouth works wonders but it does take some time.

  130. alexis antoine

    i am 11 years old and i want to start walking dogs .i want to start with my neighbors two godg baby and lulu.

  131. Alexis Antoine

    To morrow my mom is taking to to a pet grooming stoe so I can walk their dogs I will have so much fun I hopE it’s funny because I have a pet cat. But he does not want to step foot Out the house thank you Lindsay for your support

  132. Hi I’m eleven almost twelve I want to start a dog walking buisness but scared people wont take me seriously I have a boxer who I paralyzed and walk him in a wheel chair but some people don’t know that and I own a golden retriever who I have never let him in danger or let him loose do u think I could. Manage a buisness I saved up some money for extras so what would I need to buy please answer back

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      All you can do is give it a shot. I would make some fliers or business cards to hand out or hang in local dog-related businesses like grooming shops or vets offices.

  133. Rosiey anderson

    Hello(:
    your Website has really helped me out.. I am 14 years of age and i am just about too start dog walking.
    but could you give me a little more of a helping hand please..i was wondering if i have 2 dogs out at the same time and they decide too fight. what should i do, and do you think this is okay for a small village flyer;
    Large dog/per hour-£10
    medium dog/per hour-£7
    small dog/per hour-£5
    Would you say that is good for my first couple of weeks i have so many questions for you:) But that’ll do for now, please reply Thankyou(:?

  134. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would do the same price for all dogs, regardless of size. Larger dogs are not necessarily more work. Just charge your highest price for all sizes. That sounds like a reasonable price to start at.

  135. Number 8 and Number 9 really made me feel better. I’ve been working with dogs for 4 years in the boarding/ daycare aspect. Lately, the stress of working with only young dog lovers and, not very knowledgeable ones (knowing how to deal with basic obedience and even moderate behavioral issues) has taken its toll. Working for someone else puts a strain on my flexibility and makes it hard to pursue private dog training consults (I intern for a well know dog trainer in my area) Not to mention I miss the pride and challenges I gained, in handling under-socialized guests with great success; something I greatly miss in my current cage free kennel job.

    Deciding to take the leap and branch out on my own, the only thing I was concerned about was start up money, taxes, and insurance. Seeing someone else with experience saying, don’t worry about it right away, is putting me at ease. It makes it easier to focus on building the clientele. Thank You!

    For those who do read the comments… Definitely follow the liability form, and even a basic behaviors form, its a step you definitely wouldn’t want to skip. I have a client whose dog is perfect, but I found out the hard way (several months in) that he really wasn’t all that perfect. He almost got hit by car chasing a motorcycle (which apparently turns him into Cujo for some reason) Had I had the client fill out a dog behavior from, I would of known from the get go. Dog is totally fine, by the way, he didn’t get hit, just almost.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I agree, getting pet sitting insurance is important, as is having a liability form for each customer to sign.

  136. Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you so much for this article! I have always had a love of animals for as long as I can remember! I’ve been thinking about starting my own pet sitting/dog walking business and eventually dog training but I have received much encouragement. People have been saying that its not a good idea in this economy. Someone else said be prepared to never take a vacation and work 7 days a week 365 days a year. Thank you for being positive and giving me hope that I can actually acheive my dream!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      No problem! Good luck! I take about three weeks off per year and definitely do not work every weekend. You can pick your own schedule, and people are always looking for quality pet care in “this economy.”

  137. I’m so glad I came across this! I’ve been on the search for a new job for quite some time now and have never been able to figure out where my passion lies as far as a career is concerned. But after reading this I can’t believe it never occured to me to combine 2 things that I love- exercise and dogs! My question to u tho, is where do I get the liability forms and behavioral questionaires and such? Are those something I can find and print online somewhere or do I need to hire a lawyer or something to right them up for me?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I made my forms myself, and I offer them for sale on my site. You could certainly hire a lawyer to help you, although it is not necessary. Definitely get some pet sitting insurance, too.

  138. Hi Lindsay,

    I love reading your blog! I got laid off almost a year ago. The market right now still tought. I recenlty moved to California I live in apartment building I notice almost everyone owned a dog must of the people are business people. So, after reading your article I might start my on dog walking business. I have being doing some research on pricing, and services around this area. I even spoke to the building Manager about leaving my business cards on the front desk or the mail room and they told me it was fine. So, please wish me luck in my new adventure. You are 100% correct at the biginning is hard, but like any other business is always like that.

    p.s.
    Even our building have a dog park.
    By the way we owned a dog a bassat Hound.

  139. Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for this terrific blog! My daughter is 13 and very responsible. She wants to start a dog walking business this summer and our condo complex is full of dog owners who work long hours. I am very supportive about this but I’m nervous about her having to have keys to her customers’ homes. Is there any way around this? What advice can you offer? If she does take their key, I’m nervous that if anything is misplaced by the homeowner, their thoughts might go to her.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t see any way around it unless the customers are at home when your daughter walks the dogs. They could also give her a garage key code or something like that. Or leave a key in the mailbox, which opens up the same set of issues.

  140. Bridgett Lenox

    Hello:
    I have been researching this business and have a couple questions:
    Do you think this industry is already saturated?
    What business forms do you include in your kit?
    What if I purchase the book first and then decide I’d like the one-on-one help?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s definitely not saturated.

      The kit includes a liability form and info with contact questions for customers to fill out.

      If you want the one-on-one help later, you can purchase that and I will refund you the cost of the ebook.

      Thanks for your interest, and best of luck to you if you decide to start your own business!

  141. Lindsey,

    I currently have a full time job and no significant other to support me while I start my own dog walking business. I want to start it and hire walkers until I get to the point where I am making enough to quit my job.

    What are your thoughts on starting the business while working full time?

    Thanks,

    Debbie

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      The hardest part is most people will want their dogs walked during normal business hours, which is probably when you are working. It can definitely be done, just takes dedication on your part.

      1. Lindsey,

        I don’t plan on walking the dogs myself. I am going to hire walkers. I have a full time job and want to do this on the side.

        I use to walk dogs in college so I’ve done it before.

        I wanted to see what you thought about juggling this business with a full time job.

        Thanks,

        Debbie

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          If you are prepared to have two full-time jobs then it should work just fine. It will take a lot of time to advertise, market, manage employees, maintain your web site, bill customers and so on. You can certainly do it, but not if you are thinking it will be an easy side job. It will be a full-time job, even if you are not doing the actual walking.

  142. Hi Linday:
    I am considering your Dog Walking Business Starter kit, so I have been composing questions for you. I have a list that I’d like to address before I get my business started and I know it won’t take more than 20-30 minutes tops. And then I know once I’ve started I’m going to have a whole host of questions to ask you–and I know you said I could email at any time after the initial contact. But in the interest of time, my question is, can we split the initial consultation into two 30 minute increments? I would want to schedule the first consult right away, and the second probably for a month or so down the road. Would you consider this?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Actually, that is what most people do. That works for me! I’m pretty flexible. It makes sense that you would have questions right away and then more a bit later on as you get your business going.

  143. Grace Nzekwesi

    I am a 15 year old girl and was looking on how to start a dog- walking business just for the summer to make some extra money on the side. Is it really necessary to pay taxes, and make liability forms and if it is how do you? I am planning to charge like $20 for an hour and $10 for half an hour per dog. Is that a good price? I just would like some general advice.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      All of those questions are answered in my ebook. I would direct your tax questions to an accountant in your area.

  144. I am 12 and am trying to start a business of dog walking. Many of the people in my village are elderly and still have dogs. Do you think I have a good chance of starting a successful business? I made a website including all information but have not yet put it on the internet. I used to have a dog all my life until last year so i have a lot of experience. (Included on website) I have not yet made business cards or flyer’s but for my website I used a software on my laptop called Serif WebPlus and I made it completely free.

    The reason I am trying to start this business is that no one in my family works for money so we are scraping all the money we can. My mum said that if I get enough money, I can buy a dog of my own. I adore dogs and even when I am at a friend/family’s house and if they have a dog, I spend more time with the dog than them. It’s the best decision for a job because if you love taking care of dogs, you are doing what you love, and earning money for it!

    I have a question though… When you started as a small business, how much money did you make a week? Thanks and it was lovely reading your blog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I did not make a lot of money at first, but now that I have plenty of established customers I am making plenty. I wish you the best if you do decide to start your own business. You will start small, but if you offer a good service your business will grow.

  145. Thanks for the info you shared. I’m seriously considering starting a dog walking business (no running for this gal!), and you gave me much to think about. And you make me think that I can actually do this. 🙂 Will probably purchase your ebook to give me even more info, and the contracts which I know are so important in any service business.

    Again, thanks for sharing your business insight with us. I find it very helpful!

  146. cherylann mcfetridge

    For years I have considered doing this, and opportunity has presented itself to me. The time is perfect, but I have one question before I purchase your Ebook. How do you take vacation or if you get sick a day off? Dogs are depending on you to be there. I am the type of person who will drag herself out of bed with a 102. fever on a below zero day if a dog is depending on me to go to the bathroom. I do not want to have to do that, but what else can I do? Thanks so much for your advice

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      If I am sick, I simply call and cancel my regular dog walking appointments. People understand. If I am sick and I have pet sitting visits that day, I will still go to those since the owners are out of town.

  147. I purchased your ebook last night and I am very disappointed. Not at all worth $17. Perhaps $5, but not $17.
    I think for a person who is very young or who might have zero business experience then there may be some minor value, but your ebook offers nothing helpful for a person who is looking for the type of usable business information that one pays for.
    I found most of the info it did contain unhelpful and that which sounded like it could have some value–such as business forms–was NOT included, one has to purchase your ‘kit’ to obtain that.
    I’m sorry I took a chance on your sales puffing and that you do not offer a money back guarantee.
    While I am quite confident that you will delete my comments and not share them with your potential customers, I felt compelled to make them anyway.

  148. Hi I’m only 13 but I need a summer job but love dogs and am home all day I would like to start walking dogs but only in my apartment complex my parents doubt my ability to be stern because I melt in any cute situation and my ability to save money for flyers and treats if you could give me some pointers it would be great thanks.

    Andrew C

  149. Lindsay Stordahl

    Just introduce yourself to each dog owners and say you are offering dog walking/pet sitting. You can print out fliers at home with your name and phone number and hand them out. Shouldn’t cost you anything. If you don’t have a printer, you could go to the library and print pages for about 10 cents per page.

  150. Hi Lindsay,

    I just moved into a new neighborhood, and I really love dogs! This past week I lost my dog to cancer. My mom said she isn’t ready for a new dog. So, she gave me the idea of of starting a dog walking business! I’m 13 and I really don’t know how to start! Is it really technical with the taxes and things like that? Or is it simple? But this helped a lot! Thank you for using your time to write this! If you don’t mind could you help me a little? Thanks!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would not worry about taxes or anything like that for now, not until you’ve made at least $600. But if your parents are concerned about taxes, this would be a simple question for an accountant. I would just print out some fliers and introduce yourself to various dog owners. Hang your fliers in the areas where dog owners visit in your neighborhood. Offer to check on dogs when people are out of town, too.

  151. I really love animals, but my new puppy Buster is a monster and gets on my nerves a lot. I need some tips. He bits and scratches and pees in the house, and he is almost 6 months! We have pee pads for him but he never uses them. Help!

  152. Thanks so much for the information you provided. I got the idea of starting up a dog walking business and later possibly expanding into pet sitting . I do work a full-time job Monday- Friday; I figure that I could walk the dogs after getting off at 4:30 pm and on the weekends to start out. There appears not to be too many of these type of businesses in the Memphis area so hopefully all will go well. Some of the suggestions you made I had already began working on as far as advertisement but it felt good to read your information and know that I am on the right track!

    Question…..did you find much support from local businesses such as pet stores,
    vets, etc. in allowing you to post fliers in their buildings?
    Did you

  153. Hi Lindsay! Ideally I’d like to quit my job and start a doggie daycare, however that will be much more expensive then starting a dog walking service. My question is how did you pay your bills the first few months? Did you live with your boyfriend at the time you quit and he made enough to cover you guys for a few months until you got going? Or did you save up a few months rent and utilities before quitting so while making next to nothing you could still pay?

    -Elizabeth

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I little of both. I lived with my boyfriend at the time. He had quit his job about six months earlier and I had helped him cover his bills. So he helped me when I quit my job, too. However, I did have a few month’s savings in the bank that got me through OK. My cost of living at the time was also pretty low. No car payment. Cheap rent, etc.

  154. ok, I need to do this. I’m not a good runner, but I love biking, and I know from “the Dog Whisperer” that there’s a special attachment that you can buy for your bike that keeps dogs strictly at your side at a safe distance from the wheels. mostly for medium to large dogs of course, but I there’s a park nearby where I live as well and I could easily walk smaller dogs around the running track there for a while too. this would solve all my issues with no one hiring me for a second job. almost a year now I’ve been practically begging people to hire me as a second job, as my first one only gives 12 hours a week, with early morning hours. I’ve got the rest of the day with nothing to do, so this, this is perfect. I can get in shape and have fun with dogs and have a little extra money coming in. I should be buying the book soon!

  155. Hi Lindsay
    I am 14 and I am thinking about starting a dog walking buisness so I can get a bit of pocket money. I love all animals especially dogs and they seem to love me as well. What do you think I should do to get started and how much do you think I should charge?
    I think your blog is great by the way and I think that is a really good idea for dogs and us as their carers to bond.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Print out fliers and hand them out to dog owners in your neighborhood or hang them at local businesses within walking distance from where you live. I would also offer pet sitting for when people head out of town for the weekends.

  156. What certifications, if any, did you obtain when you first started your own dog walking services? I have seen Pet CPR/ 1st AID, National Association of Pet Sitters, and several other things. I know one should want to “brand” oneself to the best of one’s ability. However if one is on a budget, what other necessities do you think is necessary outside of fliers and business cards? I want to have as much good and pertinent information on the fliers as possible but not go overboard.

  157. I have a couple of questions, though “I address this in my book” is a perfectly fine answer. 1. What do you do if it rains unexpectedly on a walk, and now you have to return a wet (possibly muddy) dog to a spotless home? and 2. As you gain more experience and credentials, your service is more valuable than before, but you’d probably lose old clients if you raise the prices. Are your prices set in stone from the beginning?

  158. Lindsay Stordahl

    I address these further in my book 🙂

    I walk in all weather – rain, snow, ice, heat, cold. I cancel if it is lightning at the time of the walk, though.

    I raise my rates every 18 months or so. No big deal.

  159. WoodRUFF Pet Resort & Spa

    This is awesome!! I own a small pet boarding facility and I feel the same way about my job! I basically live and breath dogs and cats! I think the website idea is great because it’s important to become the “authority” on dogs, then people will trust you completely with their four-legged loved ones.

  160. This puts a HUGE smile on my face. Not having kids and really missing all of my beloved pets after they passed (I began traveling with my husband a lot so never been able to get more) I realized I needed my furry fix! I’ve been thinking about this for so long and always brushed it aside. Until I just started volunteering at the kitty shelter and realized I want to spend time with dogs too. Not to mention get extra exercise, esp. since I just started a Bollywood Fitness class. Why not a Fitness class for pets too, because they need exercise and I’ve been hearing so much about dog walkers and felt, “man, I can do that and would LOVE IT!” This is it! Thank you for the jump start!

  161. great post. I love nothing more than being around dogs and the older i get the more i love being around dogs more than humans lol.. I recently lost my 10yr old dog which i have taken very very hard.I have been doing tons of soul searching and though i have never worked at a shelter nor walked many other dogs, i have known for years this is something i rather be doing than be an IT Director. I rather be doing something I LOVE all day. maybe it’s time to jump and stop being scared.

  162. Lindsay-

    I am 65 years old and recently laid off of my job of 10 years. I thought this would be a good time to start a dog walking business in my neighborhood. However, I was concerned about a few things associated with this business. Here are my questions.

    1. I loved dogs all my life and unfortunately I am allergic to them. I had a bichon frise for 14 years and did not suffer with him. Therefore, I thought if I just walk dogs I could still get the joy of loving these dogs without my allergies acting up.
    Here’s my thought–if I just walk dogs and not have to dog sit them in the house while the homeowners are away would that kill my dog walking business?

    2. Would I need to be bonded eventhough I am only walking the dogs? I ask this because I would need to go into the homes to greet and maybe give the dogs food and water.

    3. I would be the only person walking the dogs.Because of this I have reservations about the business. How would I go on vacation or away on long weekends with my wife or when I am sick how would my clients feel about this? would I lose clients?

    4. If you walk dogs more than once per day how do you charge your clients?

    Thanks
    Ernie

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Ernie.

      I’m not sure about the allergies. That could be a problem, but I agree sticking with the walking without pet sitting might be an option.

      A lot of people ask the same questions, which is why I put together the ebook. If you are serious about starting a dog walking business, you’ll find it very helpful. Thank you for visiting my blog, and best of luck to you if you decide to give it a go.

      http://www.thatmutt.com/ebooks/dog-walking-business/#ebook

      You may also find this post helpful, related to both pet sitting and dog walking:

      http://www.thatmutt.com/2012/11/19/how-do-pet-sitters-take-time-off/

  163. Since I will be picking up the dogs from the owners’ homes, is it tacky to have a business policy that all dogs must be on flea/tick prevention (and no flea collars) since the dogs would be riding in my car possibly exposing me, my family and my dogs to these parasites & do I ask for proof? Owners could tell you anything.
    Thanks!

  164. This is a bit off topic, but:
    I’m wondering, what kind of clothing do you wear in -28C? I’ve gotten into running with my dog but for this week I haven’t been because it’s so cold (-28C with an extreme wind chill). I’m really at loss at what type of stuff to buy. Thanks 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s worth it to spend the extra money on warm, lightweight gear if you are dedicated to running regularly in the cold. Otherwise I’d just buy cheaper stuff and wear it in layers.

      I wear Saucony running tights. Totally worth it. Also I wear a SportHill running jacket. It’s lightweight but keeps me warm in any weather as long as I’m running. I wear an under armor thermal shirt underneath it.

  165. I’m thinking about starting a dog walking business in the summer. I would walk my friend’s dogs and maybe my mom’s coworker’s dogs. Do you recommend the use of couplers if the dogs are from the same household?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Whatever makes you more comfortable. I usually prefer a leash on each dog in most cases. I just have better control that way personally, for example, if one pulls more than the other.

  166. Hi! I have been dog walking for a company for 6 months now & I want to start my own business. However, I know NOTHING about dog training so I lack some confidence that I can handle any situation or market myself as such. Where can I start with building this knowledge?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Jackie. Do you have a dog of your own? Have you ever attended a basic obedience class with your dog? How about volunteering to take a shelter dog to some training classes?

  167. Hi Lindsay.

    I purchased your ebook (How to Start a Dog Walking Business) the evening of July 8. I received it immediately in my email, however, I failed to save it to my computer.

    When I went back to read it a few days later, I could not find it anywhere in my email. I thought I might have accidently deleted it, but I looked in “trash” and it is not there either.

    Is there any way I can have another copy emailed to me since I have already paid for it?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Adele Mitchell
    530-708-2411

  168. I have started my dog sitting business and I am doing it for my mom because her husband is gone right now so and she’s trying to do it by herself and I’m only 12 years old and really need it on charging 6 dollars a hour. Also when u bring the dog I already have a leash and water and collars

  169. Great article and tips on starting a dog walking business. One suggestion, I would like to make is to make sure to invest in SEO (search engine optimization) for your website online. SEO will help you out last your competition and separate your business as an authority dog walking company. Social Media is huge as well. I get a lot of my clients from referrals, but social media is starting to play a huge role in getting in front of your targeted audience on the social channel.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hey Crystal, you got my email but let me know if you have any additional questions. Best of luck with your business!

  170. Hi,
    Tired of my terrible job, wanting to start a dog Walking/Hiking/ Jogging business. I can also offer several other things like pet sitting and basic grooming. I am a pet portrait artist as well so there is also that and I have a therapy dog(we are a team) that I can use upon request. Unsure of where to begin!! I live in Rural Ohio so drumming up business will be a task but I think it can be done!! Just concerned about Insurance and bond info. Maybe you have suggestions??
    Its a big step starting off on your own, nerve-racking!!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Angela! That is exciting you are interested in starting a dog walking business! For insurance, I recommend Pet Care Insurance. They start at $129/year and covers what you should need as a dog walker and pet sitter. (They are a sponsor of my blog). Here is a link for more info: http://www.thatmutt.com/petcareins

    1. Ace went along a lot more when he was younger and could handle the miles. He’s well behaved. Now he can only go with slow, senior dogs. Remy is just too wild! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *