Starting a business running with dogs – best job ever!



Many of you know I started a successful dog running business called Run That Mutt back in 2008.

This was one of the best decisions of my life, and since then, many people have reached out, looking for advice on starting their own similar businesses. For this reason, I wrote an ebook about the process, which is available here. It applies to dog walkers, too.

I also offer consulting sessions for people who would like additional ideas. This is a great way to get feedback and encouragement from someone who’s been there. If you’d like more info on this, shoot me an email (Lindsay@ThatMutt.com).

This post features three others who’ve established their own successful dog running businesses. Whether you’re interested in dog running/walking as a career or are considering leaving your current job for any reason, I think you’ll find their stories inspiring.

Sarah Ladwig, owner of Paws & Go

Sarah Ladwig officially launched Paws & Go in 2012, although she said she spent a good six months making sure everything was in place ahead of time as far as insurance, building her web site, etc.

Sarah owns the dog running business Paws & Go

She said she offers running and off-leash hiking, and currently covers about 35 miles per week running with dogs and another 20 or so hiking. These hikes also make for great action photography. Seriously, check out her photos below!

Here’s what Sarah had to say about Paws & Go:

That Mutt: What is one of the best parts about your job?

Sarah: I absolutely love setting my own schedule. Yes, of course, I adore the dogs I work with, but if we’re talking perks, being my own boss trumps everything.

If I need to take an afternoon off to get to a doctor’s appointment or pick a friend up from the airport, I can coordinate with my clients in advance and never have to explain it to a superior.

When my husband and I plan a summer vacation trip, I let my clients know a couple months ahead of time, and they plan accordingly. The freedom, which obviously comes with responsibility and thoughtfulness, is something I do not take for granted.

Out for a run with dog running business Paws & Go

TM: What advice would you give someone else who is thinking about starting a similar business?

S: Get as much lined up ahead of time as possible. While you’re still working or not quite ready to make the leap into the business, get all your ducks in a row.

Being licensed and insured is pretty much a no-brainer around here; are there permits or certifications you need in order to become a licensed dog walker in your area? Find out. Don’t skimp on your logo either. One of the single best investments I ever made was to hire a professional graphic designer — my business logo has impressed a lot of people, and it’s a great conversation starter, too.

TM: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?

Happy dogs running and hiking with Paws & GoS: Before my husband surprised me with Lindsay’s ebook, I really had no idea that dog running/walking/hiking could possibly be an acceptable or profitable line of work.

I come from a family of lawyers, doctors, college professors, and always felt like dog walking would be unacceptable in their eyes. Two years later, my business is thriving and growing week-to-week, and my family is always asking questions about the newest dogs and what sort of adventures and stories I have to share.

I still have moments where I can’t believe this is my life. I make a living running and hiking with dogs, and people value and support my business, and me. If your heart tells you that this is something that could bring you joy and fulfillment, go for it.

Don’t listen to anyone who discourages you. Soak up the support from those who believe in you, because when you’re living your dream, you’ll be glad you did.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my darling husband, Adam, who told me to go for it when we’d only been dating for six months. Without his love, vision, and excellent cheerleading skills, life would be very different, and undoubtedly less fulfilling. I love you, Adam!

Jennifer Stack, owner of Run Those Dogs

Jen started Run Those Dogs in 2013. She said dog running is her niche, but she also offers dog walking and pet sitting. On a typical Monday through Friday, she covers 35 to 45 miles with dogs, depending on the week.

She is pictured with her dog Lilo.

Jennifer and her dog Lilo

Here’s what Jen had to say about Run Those Dogs:

That Mutt: What is one of the best parts about your job?

Jen: Being with animals daily, especially dogs, while getting in some good exercise.

TM: What advice would you give someone else who is thinking about starting a similar business?

“This is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”J: Make sure this business is something you’re really passionate about! Volunteer to run or walk friends’ dogs for awhile before you start a business if you’re not completely sure, just so you know what you’re getting into.

It’s really hard work and definitely not for everyone. Have your procedures in place and stick to them once you launch your business.

TM: What advice do you have for finding the first couple clients? 

J: Introducing yourself to other businesses in your service area. Some businesses are so busy they need someone to refer to. Email them and ask if you can meet for coffee, ask them how you can help them. It’s a great way to put yourself out there and make friends in the process. This really worked for me! I’ve made some wonderful friends in the business.

TM: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?

J: This is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The fact that it’s my own business makes it even more so! If you love animals, exercise, hard work and don’t mind being outside in all kinds of weather, this could be the business for you!

Sharon Wollenberg, owner of 4 Legs and a Leash

Sharon started 4 Legs and a Leash in 2011. In addition to running sessions, she said her business offers dog walking, pet sitting, overnights, daycare and cage-free boarding in her home.

Sharon said she was covering at least 30 miles per week with dogs and has now hired pet lovers to work for her.

4 Legs and a Leash 2 (1)

Here’s what Sharon had to say about 4 Legs and a Leash: 

That Mutt: What is one of the best parts about your job?

Sharon: Working with animals, bringing peace of mind to my customers, enjoying the outdoors.

TM: Could you give an example of something special you have done for a client that they may not have gotten elsewhere?

Mila just lounging around with 4 Legs and a LeashS: We send a text after each and every visit to let them know that their pup has been walked and usually a pic too. We give them an update, and we make sure they always have fresh water. We bring in packages delivered at the front door if left outside.

For boarding, we will send them a text to let them know they are settled in and doing well. We will also post their pics on social media too.

TM: What advice would you give someone else who is thinking about starting a similar business?

S: If you have a love for animals, go for it! Put your best foot forward. It is very rewarding!

TM: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?

S: Best thing I ever did. I just love what I do. I think that is one of the reasons I am so successful. Give the clients what they want; love their animals like they do.

“Give the clients what they want; love their animals like they do.”

Thank you Sharon, Jen and Sarah for sharing your experience!



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  1. Emma on August 20, 2014

    I think it is an awesome idea, but with walking and running my sisters and I and now our nose work and tracking classes, Mom doesn’t have a lot of time left to do more with other dogs. She loves watching dogs for family and friends. The entire idea is so healthy and fun for the human and the dogs!

  2. slimdoggy on August 20, 2014

    Love this story – of course. So happy to see so many folks dedicating their careers to this – and the running aspect is great. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Mark at DBDT on August 20, 2014

    These are some great stories! It is wonderful to hear about people who succeed following their passions.

  4. Rebekah on August 20, 2014

    These folks (and you) are inspiring!

  5. Barbara Rivers on August 28, 2014

    Love these interviews with the pet care professionals! I got into this niche just shy of 3 years ago, and wouldn’t want to trade it for anything in the world :-) I don’t own my own business yet, but am thinking about it!

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