Why Start a Dog Walking / Sitting Business?

By J.D. Antell
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

I am going to assume you are interested in starting
a dog walking business because:

  1. You love dogs.

  2. You are looking for an abundant source of income.

  3. You are working now but want to get out on your own and put your hard work to use for yourself and your family instead of someone else.

  4. You are desiring a fun, stress-free job that is truly flexible and can provide you with amazing income for much less time than most other regular or part-time jobs.

  5. You want to grow a low overhead, low maintenance, highly profitable business.

  6. Any other variation of the above statements.

To answer some of those statements I created this website. This page describes some of the reasons why you might want to start a dog walking business. The Book and DVD pages will provide you with details about each of those. Please take a few minutes now and learn about the dog walking business and how my Kit can help you start your own lucrative dog walking and/or dog sitting business!

Some Key Benefits of Owning A Dog Walking Business

Dog walking is fun, rewarding, and profitable!You call the shots. For very relatively little in up-front costs, you can start your own dog walking business. I started mine for under $1,000 dollars! We all work hard, but it's a question of who is profiting from all the hard work? If you're tired of putting in endless hours of your life-energy for another's profit while they curb your advancement and keep your salary stagnant, then starting a business is probably in your future. Nobody wants to continue in a job or career where they are under appreciated and over-worked. If you love dogs, fresh air, and the satisfaction that you are making a real difference then dog sitting / walking is something you should consider.

It's low stress. The business I started out in was very stressful and it began to take a toll on my health (I worked in the film / television / advertising industries). Starting a dog walking business, was for me, a change in not just a job, but a lifestyle. My health, my outlook, and my happiness all improved dramatically within my first year of business. I literally felt set free. No more two hour commute, long days, weekends, and office politics for me, thank you.

Burn more calories and get healthier. What could be better than getting some exercise and being paid for it? If you're sedentary most of the day right now you're probably carrying some extra weight around. You'll burn far more calories walking dogs than in most other professions. If you like to run, you might even consider offering "dog running" a few times a week. It's great for the pooch and for reducing yours!

Looking for part-time hours? Dog walking and dog sitting offer a very real solution for those who need a more flexible schedule. A dog walker’s / sitter's job, focus, and service work very well for stay-at-home parents, students, and retired persons. Daily dog sitting clients may not wish to have their dogs walked, but merely let out for some yard-play, food, and/or companionship.

It's scalable. Your business can become large, employing literally 100s of employees or keep it a small one-person operation. The best part of it is that it can grow as you go. You don't need to sink a lot of time and money into worrying about how to create a big business structure and paying employees before the income is there to support them. As your business grows you can decide how/if to accommodate new clients, at your own pace.

What are some of the drawbacks? It's your ship, and it's up to you whether it sails or sinks. For some people, that's a lot of pressure that comes with too much risk. The buck stops with you; if there is a problem, it's going to be your problem. Are you a people person or a dog person? You need to be both! You may be walking dogs 95% of the time but you have to make a great first impression with their owners or you aren't getting the job. Every new client is a new interview.

Some say all the driving is a big draw-back, I disagree. I suppose it depends where you live. If you live in a dense urban area I can see where driving and parking could become a drag. For me it was a rest between walks, and in the winter it was a great time to warm up with the car's heater! Lastly, you don't get a benefits package—you'll need to provide that to yourself. I'll say this though, the benefits you gain from having your life back, far outweigh, in my opinion, any two week vacation / 10 sick day package out there.

Economy may have limited effect on dog walkers / sitters

traffic jam and dog has to peeDog walking is pretty much recession proof. American households with dogs have increased exponentially. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) pet-related spending in 2008 will likely exceed $10.5 billion. We aren’t going to get rid of our pets, and we aren’t going to stop working and commuting. Therefore dog walkers will still be needed, even in a down economy.

There is competition but the field is still new and there is a lot of room for new-comers. Those who offer the best services and top-notch customer service will be the leaders. Those who don’t put much effort or time into the business will likely fail; making it even easier for dog walkers with a plan to succeed. Which brings me to the 5 main points that make or break a dog walking business.

The five most important aspects of a successful dog walking / sitting business

  • Trust: This is the most important one of all. People are very particular about who takes care of their pets. Animals, as of yet, have not learned to communicate in our language, so it’s up to the owners to screen their care-givers very carefully. Believe me they do! You need to “earn” trust and that is accomplished through your past work, memberships and associations, community involvement, past references and advertising. These methods will help you build credibility and trust. Once you have it, you’ll get hired. Then the challenge will be keeping it!

  • Reliability: This is so crucial I cannot say enough about it but I will try to be succinct. You absolutely must be consistent, both for the dogs sake and your own. Your clients have asked their friends and neighbors to keep an eye out for you, and trust me, they are. If you show up late for walks or short change them to try and catch up on your schedule it’s going to catch up with you! You’re clients will hear about it and it will erode their confidence in you. Once that kind of word-of-mouth gets going it’s very hard to stop. You want the word-of-mouth to be good! Being consistent is key, but there are a few other things that can generate good word-of-mouth which brings me to the next key element.

  • Professionalism: How you do appear to others when you are out walking dogs? This can be simple things like your clothing and car. You need to make sure you look professional, clean, and reliable. Old Sweats and an old jalopy aren’t very good indicators of your business success. If you can’t afford a better car consider getting yours painted and repaired. The other key issue in the Professionalism category is how you handle the dog. Are your handling techniques selling your services or selling you out? I go into this in detail in my book and it’s crucial you understand how your actions when out on a walk say more about your business than any advertising copy ever will!

  • Contact: You may be working with dogs 90% of the time but you must be able to connect with people. You may be a dog whisperer but if you don’t connect with the dog's owner you’re unlikely to ever be given the chance to whisper in ol’ Fido's ear. Let’s assume you are pretty good with people. You get hired and you begin taking care of their dog. What then? Do you know that I have met most of my clients only once? In one year of walking a particular clients dog I had only seen its owner once, at the client interview! This can create quite a distance between you and the people you serve. That’s why it’s imperative you maintain contact at least on a weekly basis. When I started out blogging wasn’t even on the radar screen, now it’s everywhere but many dog walkers / sitters aren’t even using this fantastic medium for keeping in contact. Make sure you create a weblog for your business! I discuss all the angles for making a weblog for your business in my book and even ways of generating secondary income with it through PPC advertising!

  • Services: You might be wondering why I have put this last. It’s really quite simple. Dog walking / sitting is pretty straightforward in it’s services. You can add things to your services such as transportation to the vet or groomers and other ala-carte services but the bread and butter of dog walking is well—walking dogs. There are variations on that theme and I have included the most common and profitable ones in The Dog Walker’s Startup Guide.

 


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