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Should I start a dog walking business?

Some of you know I started a dog walking company in 2008, but is it a good idea for you to do the same?

Even in four years I’ve noticed a difference in the economy, a difference in the ways people advertise, a difference in the ways people use social media and even a difference in the ways people view their dogs. Is it still a good idea to start a dog walking business?

I think so.

2012 or 2013 could be the perfect time for you to start a pet sitting business or dog walking business.

I thought I’d list some ideas to help you decide for yourself.

Reasons to start a dog walking business

Potential to make more income

Tucker the black lab mix out for a walk!People are crazy about their pets, and you can plan on charging at least $25 per hour for walking a single dog – more if you walk multiple dogs at once. If you truly offer the best service in your area, you will have so many customers lined up that you will need a waiting list. Depending on how many appointments you take per day, you can plan on making around $1,000 per week.

The start-up costs are low

People ask me about prices for starting a pet sitting business or dog walking business. It costs very little! All you really need to get started is a nice web site and some good walking shoes!

Make a difference for others

The most rewarding part of my business is knowing I make a difference for dogs, cats and their owners. I try to offer the best service possible by keeping in touch with the owners, taking photos of the pets, giving detailed updates, leaving treats and handwritten notes and genuinely caring for each pet as though he were my own. Dog and cat owners tell me how much they trust me and appreciate me, and this inspires me to work even harder.

Increased quality of life

I am a happier, healthier person than I was prior to quitting my job. I am in the best shape of my life and can complete a marathon with no extra training. I have a focused purpose and increased confidence. I live more consciously by prioritizing my time and making mindful decisions. I am more aware of stress because I see it in other people. My mornings are more relaxed because I don’t have to rush off to a job I don’t like. I have more freedom because I can set my own hours and schedule, and I get to spend more time with my own dog!

Less stress

Although owning your own business can be stressful, you have more control over the situation. If you are too busy, you have the ability to cut back on the number of appointments you schedule. If you are short on money, there are opportunities to take on additional clients. Or, you could offer additional services such as dog training, pet sitting or in-home dog daycare.

When you own a dog walking business, you set your own hours. You could start at 10 a.m. so you have time to help your kids get ready for school. Or, you could start at 6 a.m. so you finish some of your walks before it gets too hot. You could take time off in the afternoons. You could take every weekend off. It’s really up to you!

And we all know that dogs are a big stress reliever themselves! While your friends are locked away in their cubicles, you will be out enjoying nature with your many new dog friends!

Job security

When so many companies seem to be cutting back on jobs and pay, I feel fortunate to own a business. I am confident people will always need dog walkers and pet sitters. There will always be opportunities for me in this industry. I am glad I may never need to compete in the job market again – filling out resumes, attending interviews, applying for job after job. No thank you!

A chance for creativity

Most of us have a desire to get creative on some level. Owning a dog walking business will give you that opportunity. You get to mold the business so it is unique. There is nothing standard about a dog walking business. Make it your own.

For example, perhaps you take groups of dogs off-leash hikes in the mountains. Or maybe you make homemade dog treats. Perhaps you are the only dog walker who also specializes in helping dogs overcome aggression. Maybe you could focus on premium cat boarding or cat photography. Maybe you are good at making handmade cards. Maybe you have a background in dog grooming. The possibilities are endless.

My awesome dog walking guide can help you

I put together a dog walking starter kit that describes how to start your own dog walking business. The kit includes my ebook on how to start your business, several dog walking business forms and 60 minutes of consulting with me! Hundreds of people have already purchased my ebook and many have gone on to start their own successful businesses.

Reasons not to start a dog walking business

There are, of course, reasons why starting a dog walking business may not be right for you.

Less income (at least initially)

Two springer spaniels in the fall leavesAlthough you have the potential to increase your income, you will start out with less. So unless you are already unemployed or about to lose your job anyway, you will temporarily take a pay cut. For some people, this is just too much of a risk.

No health benefits from your employer

Unless you are covered under your partner’s health insurance plan, you will need to find and pay for your own coverage when you start your own business. This is even more of a burden if your family members are currently dependent on your insurance plan.

A different kind of stress

Although you won’t have to deal with the stress of working in an office, you will experience a different kind of stress.

Most likely, you will worry if you’ve made the right choice. You will worry about what others think. You will worry about making enough money and finding enough customers. You will worry about failure. You will worry about whether or not your customers are happy. You will worry about whether or not you remembered to lock the door after leaving a customer’s home. You will worry about how you are going to file taxes. There is always something to worry about!

The market is too small

It is possible the town you live in is too small to support a dog walking or pet sitting business. I don’t know. You may need to think about servicing a wider area, including surrounding towns. You could offer a variety of services such as dog running, pet sitting, dog daycare, puppy training, etc. Or you could maintain your business on a part-time level. A smaller market does have its challenges.

You don’t have experience with dogs

It takes more than a dog lover to be a dog walker. You need to have the physical strength, balance and handling skills to control untrained, powerful dogs. You need to understand at least the basics of dog behavior to prevent getting bitten. You need to know how to use all the different dog training collars such as prong collars, choke collars, harnesses, Gentle Leaders, e-collars and so on. You should also have at least some experience with basic obedience training.

You need a reliable vehicle

Unless you live in a densely populated area where you can get around by bike, you will need a reliable vehicle to get you to and from each dog walking appointment. You will most likely drive more miles per week through dog walking than you did commuting to an office each day. I live in a fairly small town, and I can easily put 200 miles per week on my car, sometimes many more just from driving from appointment to appointment. The gas adds up, as does the wear and tear on the vehicle. This is just something to think about when you are deciding whether or not a dog walking business is right for you.

Are you thinking about starting a dog walking business? What are the reasons?

Ebook or book on how to start a dog walking, dog running or pet sitting business

Make sure to check out my post on how to start a dog walking business

Sam Wilkinson

Tuesday 16th of October 2018

Good advice

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 19th of November 2012

Great! Thanks for reading!

Armando Morales

Wednesday 14th of November 2012

Lindsay, I've been reading your blog for some time now and have found it extremely helpful. I also have a Pet Sitting, Dog Walking, Dog Training business in Upstate New York and I have to say that you're right on about all of the pros and cons to the business. Developing some management skills goes a long way towards handling the hectic pace that the business will eventually get on and dealing with the many different personalities you'll run across. You've inspired me to start my own blog. Good job Linsay.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 13th of November 2012

Great! I hope it helps!


Monday 12th of November 2012

What an excellent post! I just sent the link to a friend who's wondering what avenue to explore next. I think this would be a smart move for her. Thank you!