How to be a dog walker!

How to be a dog walker!

“Hi, how do I become a dog walker?”

My name is Jamie Shanks and I’ve been a pro dog walker since May 2010.  I often get calls and emails from people either asking for a job or for information so they can start their own dog walking business.  If you’re thinking about becoming a dog walker then I hope this article can help you become one of the successful ones because sadly I’ve seen many try but fail.  If you’ve definitely decided you want to walk dogs for a living then it might make more sense to start your own business rather than work for another dog walker as you will have the unlimited potential that being a business owner provides rather than being trapped working for minimum wage, part time hours, without any future prospects and making some other sucker rich!

Starting any small business is hard especially when living with such a fragile economy as we do now, dog walking especially so as it appeals to so many people, because a) the start up costs are very low, b) requires little knowledge and training and c) enables people to be their own boss and say goodbye to all those bosses that they’ve worked under before!  More and more dog walkers are popping everywhere and all share the dream of finally earning a fair and honest wage while doing something they love.  Since the recession more and more people have turned to dog walking but the work is still there for you as the general public is becoming more aware that hiring a dog walker is an option should they consider getting a dog.  So you can get work and be successful even with little resources but you must be 100% committed and determined to make your new business work!

If you start and especially if you are short on cash then you have to be an optimist and realist cause you have tough times ahead!  You’ll be broke and times (many times) feel that you made the wrong choice, especially when you are at home all day earning nothing or spending the day walking a handful of dogs and coming home with just a few pound notes or because your first dog is a nightmare both off and on lead!   I looked at the first couple of years as if I was back at college or uni.  I put up with being broke-ass-broke because I knew it wouldn’t last and I would come out of it educated and knowing eventually I could make a decent if not very nice living out of it in the long term!

Preparation

Research everything you can about dog walking and especially the already established dog walkers in your area, the services they offer and the dog walking rates they charge etc.  I offer dog walking, dog boarding, pet sitting and puppy care services for parts of Renfrewshire, Scotland.  You can leave comments at the bottom of this page if you want to ask me anything, find out how I started and read my blog to see for yourself what dog walking is actually like!  Make sure you read the hundreds of comments after this post as they are as valuable as the post itself.  A good way to find out where dog walkers are is to locate them using Google maps, many will have websites detailing their services, prices and general info – this is all useful stuff.  Find the going rate and make sure you don’t go over it nor beneath it too much as you have to make a living and the first few months (even the first year or two) will be a real test financially.

Deciding your prices

The prices of dog walking can range between £5-£12+ but generally it’s about £7-£10 per hour walked with discounts offered for secondary dogs in the home.  There are two types of dog walking, group and solo.  Solo walks tend to cost more and demand for it is less compared to group walking which is ideally what you want to do cause that’s where the money is.  I remember when I first started (I had no car just a bike) the plan was to do solo walks throughout the day, one after the other from 9am-5pm.  I assumed people would prefer their dogs being given a solo walk over a group walk and not have their dog put into a vehicle with other dogs and with that reasoning I thought I could charge £10 per walk (in an area where other’s charge around £8) with needing just 5 dogs a day to make a living.  It didn’t work out!

A solo dog walk with Dylan!

Dylan enjoying an early morning solo walk!

Most people want their dogs walked at lunchtime while they’re at work and many owners of socialised dogs would prefer their dogs to be out with other dogs especially if those dogs are young and enjoy socialising.  Sure, they’re dogs out there that can only be walked on their own but most can be walked in groups.  Also I found out people didn’t want their dogs walked at 9am when they’ve only just left for work an hour before and neither 5pm when they are on there way home and can walk their dog themselves, so the lunchtime walk will be your peak working hours and you may only get three walks in that time and in that time you will earn most of your money for that day, so if you are doing solo walks in that time you are limiting what your income can be.  I’m not saying solo walks aren’t important and that you wont do them.  You will get asked to do solo walks from people like the elderly and disabled folk who don’t mind what time their dogs get walked during the day as long as they do get walked!

You’d be surprised how much time is spent travelling, picking up and dropping off dogs, even in a small area.  I remember when I started I took on the dogs of another dog walker while they went on holiday as well as my own dogs, so at lunchtime I had two group walks to do,  I picked up my first lot about 11am took them to park for 1 hours play and then left.  By the time I dropped them home, picked up another four dogs and arrived back at the park it was exactly one hour later and none of the dogs I walked that day lived more than 2 miles away!  You don’t get paid for travelling so keep you area of work as small as you possibly can.  Petrol costs will take a lot of your income if you have a car so if you plan on using the car make sure it’s economical.  I’m serious, when I started I had 3 dogs all within 6 miles of me, just picking them up and taking them to the park and back home racked up well over 100 miles a week and I was driving around in a v6 Volvo estate!

I’m allowed to walk 6 dogs at a time by my insurance but am more comfortable with around 4-5 at a time.  I know there are people out there who walk 10 dogs at a time but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Off-lead very few dogs are trained and while some will come when called some of the time, you are responsible for their well being.  I guess it all depends on what kind of dogs you’re walking, whether they will be walked on-lead or off-lead and how many you feel comfortable with.  Every dog walker will have a different opinion on this subject and you will have to find out for yourself what you can manage and that will depend on what dogs you are walking at the time.  It only takes one dog to turn it into a nightmare.

Dog walking dogs off lead

Dog walking 4 dogs off lead!

Regarding the dogs the most important thing is that they are friendly!  Most dog owners will tell you their dog is friendly, whether they are or not is another matter.  If their dog doesn’t want anything to do with other dogs and refrains from ripping them to bits then you’ll be told it’s friendly!  Dog walking can be quite funny that way cause unless it’s a puppy then you will have to find out for yourself what the dog is like.  You could have a great wee team filled with lovely sociable dogs all having a great time together then bring in a new dog that ruins the whole walk for everyone.  For me, dogs that cause problems in the pack is the worst part of dog walking and if I come across a dog that doesn’t fit in enough, cause it’s not good enough off lead, isn’t socialised enough or shows some form of aggression eg, defence aggression regarding toys and other resources then I will let owner know that its’ not working and end that dog’s time with us.

Deciding what services to offer

Decide what services you are going to offer and your dog walking rates before you start, you don’t want leaflets here and there displaying different prices and services because you’ve learned that your prices were too high to begin with or the services you offered were unrealistic.  Services dog walkers/pet sitters offer can include, pet sitting in the owner’s home (including cat’s and other animals), dog (and other pet) boarding, puppy visits, pet visits (including cat’s and other animals) and pet taxi.  Some are even groomers.  A license may be required to dog board so contact your local council or visit their website for more info!

Feeding cats

Giving Gabby a treat!

Outside dog walking, pet visits and pet boarding will be the most popular services, especially in the summer.  You’ll see many dog walkers/pet sitters advertising hard to get pets to care for while their owners go for a week or weekend away.  Cat visits are quite common as they are people who would prefer their cat remain at home while they are away rather than a cattery.  Dog boarding is quite common too.  The prices for these services are about £3-£6 per home visit and between £12-£20 per night dog boarding and about £5 per day boarding caged animals.  Pet taxi, which is a very uncommon service but so many pet services advertise it regardless of the fact that they’re rarely available during the working day.  I’d also like to note that you consider your pet sitting prices reasonably.   And on that note…

Common mistakes

I’ve seen on a website someone just starting their dog walking business and advertising pet sitting at £50 a day, which is madness!  Think about it, it would cost someone £350 on pet care a week plus the cost of their holiday if they were going away.  That pet service failed to put themselves in the owners position but I understand their thinking.  They were thinking “Hey, £50 is reasonable!  After all, it’s only around £2 per hour for 24 hours worth of care!  We’ll be living the dream in no time!”  But of course they weren’t living the dream but in a dream and soon their business disappeared never to be seen again!  A kennel will board a dog for about £8+ a day!  I offer dog boarding but only for my dog walking clients, I only charge £10 per night which is low for my area.  I also will stay at a clients home to look after their dog on occasion.   I charge £10 per night for that service too.

Not long ago I met up a guy who wanted to walk with me because he wanted to learn how to be a dog walker and was ready to start!  He was talking about how the people are very well off in the area that he lives in and he could take their dog on a 3-4 hour walk and charge £30-£40 a time!  I could see the pound signs appearing in his eyes and tried to let him know it doesn’t work like that.  £30 for a dog walk!  Think about it!  Even if that was just once a week for a month then you are asking someone to pay you £120 to take their dog out four times.  Just remember what your clients are going to have to keep aside from their monthly pay checks to pay just you and that hopefully will keep you grounded and from making expensive mistakes.  Like I said earlier, I wanted to charge £10 for solo walks and ended up reducing my prices to £8.  Sadly I had delivered leaflets to half the village with the old price and the other half with the new price.

The responsibility

Being a professional dog walker is huge responsibility!  I often get told I’ve got a dream job and that it’s easy and at times it can be, but I’m responsible for the life and safety of another persons pet and I’m always aware of that! When walking one dog on a lead then it’s a care free walk but when I’m walking six dogs off lead then I am 100% focused and alert and on the lookout for problems and potential problems at all times – my brain is on overdrive, because just one lapse in concentration and I’m left having to explain to owner why their dog is hurt…or worse!

I’ve been dog walking for several years and know a lot of dog owners.  I hear about dogs being attacked or injuring themselves regularly.  I’m a dog walker who works at Erskine beach mainly and I see broken glass or planks of wood with nails sticking out of them alongside other potential dangers and they keep me focused and alert.

I’ve been lucky that no dog I walk has suffered serious injury – apart from a cut pad that didn’t bleed and a broken toenail I haven’t had to deal with an injured pet under my care!  But I’m aware that it will happen eventually no matter how vigilant and careful I am!  The dogs I walk tend to be young and very energetic, occasionally getting knocks and limps but then walking them off.  But what would I do if a dog I was caring for injured itself?

erskine dog walking

Dog walking at the beach in Erskine!

Walking lurchers and other fast dogs I’ve seen how fast they run and have worried about them breaking a leg.  I’ve always thought that I’d try or at least want to try to splint their leg and assumed this would be the right thing to do but after the excellent canine first aid course I recently attended I learnt that if a dog can walk on three legs then there’s no need for a splint.  In fact a splint can add extra weight onto their broken leg and you can end up hurting them further.

On my first day back dog walking after doing a first aid course I felt more in control and relaxed than I have ever done and it’s because I know now that if a dog needs CPR, the Heimlich manoeuvre, treatment of a cut or wound or collapses with a seizure I can deal with it and help with the situation until we get that animal to a vet.

If you want to be a dog walker or pet care service or even if you own a pet then I highly recommend doing a first aid course.  Dog walking isn’t all the ‘Sunshine and rainbows’ that some think it is and at times can be quite stressful but learning the skills you need so you can deal with the situations you may encounter will make your life a lot easier as well as taking a lot of the anxiety away and could potentially be the difference of life and death for the pet you are caring for!!

Get to know a dog behaviourist!  They can be quite easy to find on doggy forums or in your local area but learning and understanding dog behaviour is essential for a dog walker.  If a dog is doing something wrong then it is easy to reinforce that behaviour and make it worse!  Even just understanding why a dog is doing what it does can be important and help you learn about the dog you are walking.  How would you deal with it if a new dog joined the group but one of the other dogs didn’t like it or there were pack issues?  The dog behaviourist I work with also writes for my website and she has given me an insight into dog behaviour that I just could of never of found out on my own.  Essential if you are walking dogs in groups!

Starting

You should really get dog walking insurance, they’re a few dedicated pet insurance businesses around.  Pet Businesses Insurance is one, Cliverton is another.  It should cost about £15-£20 a month.  Pet insurance covers things like liability, should the animal your walking cause an accident for example then you are liable and can be sued.  Cover also includes keys and locks of owners homes in case you lose their keys or they are stolen and also cover vet costs should the animal you are looking after be harmed through your own negligence.

Since generally you are going to be given a key to the owners home while they’re away, it’s best to have a certificate showing you have been police checked.  Letting strangers into their home alone is a big deal for most people and why dog walkers rely so heavily on recommendations, because if their friend or someone they know trusts you then they are far, far more likely to choose you than someone they know nothing about.

Getting known is the hardest thing.  Get nice business cards made and if you want get nice leaflets too.  While waiting for work you can distribute your leaflets in the area you want to work in, try and make them stand out and not just black text on white paper and keep the information brief and straight to the point.  But just know that leaflets are the equivalent of spam email and most will be binned without ever being looked at.  If you are really determined and have the nerve to make a real impact then get a outdoor banner made and place it somewhere like a busy junction in your town letting everyone know about your brand new business.  Banners can be made for less than £100 and after a few weeks you can change their location – so good value for money!

Don’t expect to get flooded with phone calls that night, but don’t be disheartened either as many will hold on to the leaflets and keep you in mind if they need a dog walker/pet sitter in the future.  Such people are those waiting to get a puppy, or those who know their circumstances may change or those planning a holiday etc.  Always keep business cards on you wherever you are, a conversion with a stranger while out walking a dog can lead to a potential new customer.  Pet shops, groomers, newsagents are ideal places to display leaflets and business cards, post offices, other small business premises should all be looked into.  These methods help but leaflets through the letterbox and in shops can also be easily ignored.

Regarding advertising  friends and family are great assets.  Get them to spread the word, they can be invaluable as they can give a personal testimonial for you.  A good website can also be helpful as those who don’t know of a dog walker will generally search for one online.  People most likely to search online for dog walkers are those that have just moved to the area, the younger generation and new puppy owners.  On your website make sure you tell potential customers a bit about yourself and what services you offer, also make sure you are listed on Google places and Google + business page as they help you rank better for local searches!  But just remember it’s not about being no.1 on Google it’s about building an effective website that turns visitors to clients.  There are loads of dog walking websites that rank high in local searches but their websites are hopeless and will never convert visitors to clients so make sure that if you have a website then you give the visitor what they want straight away.  Too many websites focus on themselves and not the clients, paragraph after paragraph of why they are so good, remember people don’t read they scan!  That means on the homepage you list what services you offer, how much they cost and how to get in contact with you.  Testimonials help greatly as well as pics of happy pets!  Don’t forget to add a ‘Call to action’ on every page.  Something like, “If you’d like to arrange a dog walking service the please call ***********”.

Once you’re website is built and you have your Google place and Google+ business page setup then it will be time to start making efforts to making sure you website ranks on local search results.  When people search online they tend to use phrases so it can be handy to have those phrases on your website.  If you live in London and want a dog walker you may  Google “London dog walkers”, so having that phrase in your homepage, homepage title and description is going to make sense.  Next you’re going to need links from other websites pointing to your website.  There are many factors in ranking on Google but it’s a bit like a popularity contest so the more links you get the higher you will list.  Generally the easier the link is to get the less it is worth and one great link from a powerful website can be worth hundreds of links from poor websites.

In my opinion stay away from clip-art and the high quality dog pictures taken from the net to make your website, many dog walkers do this and it looks naff, too generic, impersonal and gives potential customers very little information about YOU!  Once your businesses begins to take off you can then add a gallery,video and even a blog.

Getting stickers for my car!

Stickers being put on my car!

An excellent method of advertising is to get stickers put on your vehicle if you have one, that way hundreds of people see you every day and it doesn’t cost much.  I remember when I got stickers for my estate.  I was driving along and was slowing down to make a turn and someone was looking at my car and I’m thinking “why you staring at my car?” and then I realized it’s because I’ve got brand new stickers on it.  Now when people look at the logos on my car I’m used to it, but I always get a wee thrill from being noticed!  I also have hoodies and t-shirts that have my embroidered logo on them.  I remember taking a puppy to puppy class while their owners were at work and there was this training exercise going on.  We were all lined up and I noticed this woman staring from the corner of her eye at the logo on my hoodie.  I pretended I couldn’t see her looking, but I knew she was and she therefore was aware of my business without me saying a word!!!

While walking dogs you will tend to go to dog friendly areas where other people walking their dogs will be – all potential customers, so don’t be shy to say ‘Hi’ and start making as many dog owning friends as you can.

Getting your first job

When you get that first phone call or email find out what services they are after, what area they live in.  If you can give them the service they want and they live in your area that you’re prepared to go to and they are happy with the price then you can arrange to meet them and get to know their pet before you start working for them.  Personally I wouldn’t like to enter into someone’s home without meeting their dog beforehand.  Also understand that most dog owners are very forgiving of their pets sins, so even if their dog is unfriendly with other dogs many will tell you that their dog is fine.  Take caution especially if you are doing group walks that this new dog is going to be ok.  Also while you are meeting the new dog you can get to know each other, answer any queries they have and show them any documents you want to.  Some dog walkers have ‘Welcome packs’ that they give to new owners.  Make sure you take down their phone numbers including work, find out if there pet is insured and to what veterinary clinic they are with in case of emergency.

Do exactly as owner requires – no more & no less – do not improvise unless necessary.

Things you’ll need

You’ll need a few things when out dog walking.  Always carry a spare lead, I’ve had a new lead snap on me with a dog that was to be walked on-lead only and I got one hell of a fright, thankfully I got the dog back without any problems and put it on another lead.  Carry a slip lead!  You are responsible only for the dogs you walk but sadly you will confront dogs that are not friendly and owners lacking in response, so a slip lead means you can whip it over anyone else’s dogs that may be troublesome and be in control of that dog before anything bad happens.  Poo bags are essential but instead of buying them buy baby nappy(diaper) bags as they cost a fraction of the price.

On hot days you might need to take water with you.  And let’s not forget how important treats are.  To begin with you wont have the same authority over the dog the owner has and it may take one day, several days or even weeks for the dog to bond with you and recognise you as a pack manager, treats make things a lot easier and I can’t think of a better treat than dried liver, every dog I’ve ever walked would walk on hot coals for a liver tit-bit, forget buying treats they are expensive and wont have the same appeal.

If the dogs can be let off-lead then you might want to take some toys, like a tennis ball, squeaky tennis balls are best I find.  Now that I walk many dogs in groups I don’t bother using toys, instead I let them play with each other as it’s easier to manage them that way and toys can also be a quick way to get a scrap going as some dogs can be quite possessive.

Be Patient!

It will take time for your businesses to pick up, but it will.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you chuck out a few leaflets that in a week you’ll be inundated with dog walking jobs.  Everyone who needs a dog walker already has one that they trust and they ain’t going to chuck ‘em cause some Joe put a leaflet through their door saying they’ll do it a £1 less!  It’s the people that will need a dog walker/pet sitter in the future cause their circumstances change or because they are getting a puppy or because they have just moved into the area – they will be your potential customers, but just remember you are fighting alongside the other more established dog walkers in your area to get those clients!  And on that note why not offer puppy services such as puppy visits, a service to take puppies to puppy classes (or even host puppy classes yourself ) and socialisation walks?

Once you are established

Dog walking is where most of your income will come from (even though cat visits will bring in some nice pocket money).  Your most valuable dogs are going to be the dogs you walk Monday – Friday, with shift dogs making up the rest of your dog walking clients.  Shift dogs are the dogs you only get a few times a week depending on the work shift patterns of client.  The days you will be needed will be either the same days week in, week out or different days each week.  The problem with those dogs is that on some days you will get close to being fully booked because on those days you have many shift dogs all needing walked alongside your Monday-Friday dogs and other days you will only have your Monday – Friday dogs leaving you half empty!  The problem with shift dogs is that you’re limited to the possibility of being full rather than actually being full.  When you reach this point you will have to make a choice if you want to go forward in your career.  You can either employ someone to help walk the dogs or you can start to let shift dogs go when a new Monday – Friday dog comes along.

Good luck and please remember I am here to help!  Any questions, unsure about anything?  Ask me on the comment form below!

Copyright © 2011 – 2013  Jamie Shanks

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411 Comments

  1. Hi there. Thank you so much for all the info in your blog. It’s not often people want to pass on their hints and tips, and there is plenty here to consider. :-)

    Reply
    • Thanks Kaz. I’m not sure if your are a dog walker or not but I’m happy to give any help I can to anyone who wants it. So if you are a dog walker and have any questions or are unsure about things, please just ask and I’ll try to help you and any others that ask for it. We’re all just trying to make a living after all!

      Reply
      • Hi i’ a big dog lover and i had them all my life and i’m trying to get a job as a dog walker or dog sitter but i don’t know how to get it, is there any particular website for it?
        Thanks
        peter
        pietrorandazzo184@yahoo.co.uk

        Reply
        • Hi peter. Are you wanting to walk for a dog walker and help them out rather than work for yourself?

          If so best start contacting local dog walkers in your area. Doesn’t pay well though!

    • Hi
      I’m thinking of starting a dog walking/sitting bussiness. I’m currently doing a dog pysicolog and behaviour course and I also have the use of 10 acres of well fenced land and I own a van , I have three rescue dogs of my own that all came with their own issues which have been overcome and I also have experience with horses so hoping to offer horse sitting etc as well ,the one thing that I feel is stopping me going ahead at the minute is that I have a full time job which financially I cannot leave as I am on my own, do you think that I could start by offering evening and weekend walking/sitting before deciding to go the full hog

      Reply
      • Hi Amanda!

        Quite a few people ask about this as they can’t afford to go without an income. Weekend work is hard to get, evening work not so easy either. I’d say about %95 of work is from Monday – Friday during the working day. Occasionally I get requests for evening work if a client has made arrangements but its really not often. The options you have are limited unless you maybe are willing to hire someone but then your biz and your name is in their hands, other than that then things like cat sitting which can be done before work and then again later when you finish (as cat visits are usually twice a day), but for me cats are pocket money and I don’t think you can be dependent on trying to make a living on it. Really, I only recommend dog walking to those without work, stuck in a dead-end or low paid job as there’s a lot to sacrifice and you may not even like it once you start.

        If you really want to go ahead but can’t afford to quit your job then I’d try to offer your services to those like the elderly and disabled (at reduced rates) who may want their dogs given a nice big walk and flexible about the time their walkd. If you can find where they may congregate, like local activities where they meet up and then promote yourself there then you might get some work, but imo it’ll be hard but you never know, oldies do gossip and word of mouth travels far.

        Jamie

        Reply
      • Thank you for your reply Jamie
        Trying the oldies sounds like a good idea and I shall give it a try, perhaps I should continue with the studies and go down the behaviourist route, it may be more suited to the hours I can offer

        Reply
      • I have just read your comment, and i am in the same possion as you.and would also like to know.Any i dears out there.

        Reply
      • Hi Jamie, i’m really interested in setting up a dog walking business and, being located in a busy area in North London, wondered whether i could start out using my bike, rather than a van? Is this feasible? Would quite like to avoid driving and saving on petrol! Any advice gratefully received.

        Many thanks,
        Laura

        Reply
        • Hi Laura!

          Yeah, you can start on a bike, I did. You can walk a few dogs a day doing that but you can walk a whole lot more with a van. Also riding around in a bike is tiring and time consuming and dog walking is all about being time efficient. Cycling is nice when weather is good but it’s not fun in the rain.

  2. Hi Jamie
    Yes, I am a dog walker and pet sitter, just starting out. I got my first phone call from my first potential customer, who I am going to talk to about her requirements next week. I was going to ask her about her pet’s likes and dislikes, and any special requirements, and if she wanted to go ahead, things like what time of day she would like me to visit, and ask for vet details, emergency numbers, and of course, ask about a key. Is there any thing else I should be asking?
    Also, is there somewhere online that has the relevant forms I need? Like contracts? Or if I can do them myself, how do I word it? This is an exciting step! Really want this to work. Thanks in advance for any help you can throw my way.
    Best wishes,
    Kaz.

    Reply
    • Well make sure you know whether you can let the dog off lead or not cause if you can let if off lead you will need to get it in writing first…for insurance purposes! Definitely ask how the dog is with other dogs, try to get as much detail as you can including if that dog went to puppy classes or not, ask if there are any kind of dogs they dont like, just remember owners are sympathetic to their dogs sins so although you might get permission to let dog off lead….you will have to make your own mind up if you feel safe to do so or not.

      I suppose you could also find out if the dog is vaccinated or not and make sure you find out if the dog has been neutered or dressed as you could get sued if a bitch gets preggers under your watch!

      Just write you own contracts…you could ‘buy’ them online but I’ll try and upload some in the next day or two for you or anyone else to use.

      Now one thing you have to understand is payments…sometimes peeps forget to pay..it happens often…in fact very often…not just with dog walkers…but all peeps who give a service first then get paid afterwards. Don’t worry about it, but defo remind them (that on the day you agree to get paid) that you didn’t find it and that its ok..cause you’ll get it next time or something like that, cause I’ve had peeps text me and say, “hey i left your money” went there to find no money at all and hoped they remember next day, only for them not too and then the week after give me just that weeks money rather than two weeks and I was too embarrassed to say anything.

      Make sure you remind them to leave a towel out incase the dog is wet or dirty when you bring back. And dont forget treats. Here’s the best treat you can get… http://bdws.co.uk/2011/05/08/homemade-liver-treat-recipe/

      Reply
    • hi my name is rochelle cordeiro and i am looking for a dog walking job and if there any dog walking job please contact me at 610-416-3802 ok i really need a job

      Reply
    • Thanks very much. How many dogs do you think you can walk using a bike at the beginning? How many did you walk and when did you get a van? Also, any recommendations on what kind of van to get? Thanks so much; i’ve found your blog really helpful!

      Reply
      • well maybe around 3-4+. Depends really. Most will want lunchtime and if you work in a small area then you can collect one dog, then walk to other dogs house then do another later lunch walk after that. There dogs that can be walked anytime cause owners are old or working at home, so it depends on what type of dogs you get and how far apart they are. I had about 5-6 before I got a van, and glad I was too. I think I was cycling around 20 miles a day then walking dogs in between. Great way though to get fit, in one week I lost 3/4 of a stone. Anway, that was in summer and once the weather turned in Autumn I was glad to have a car. Berlingo’s are quite nice and can be picked up quite cheap.

        Jamie

        Reply
        • Thanks very much Jamie!

  3. Funny you should say that, Jamie…had a look online, and found this site…http://www.free-legal-document.com/free-contract-templates.html (hope that works), and have now got some contract forms. Had to alter them slightly, as they are a little bit Americanised.
    I looked at your liver treats. Thanks for that. They look a great. and cheap way to make a new dog your best friend! :-)
    Have heard about late payers, so am hoping I don’t have to face that one. If it’s a regular customer, it might be as well to set up a Direst Debit or standing order maybe.
    The towel idea is good, too. Will carry one with me in the car as well, just in case they forget to put one out. :-)
    Will let you know how I get on next week. It’s only occasional, when she goes away, but its a start! :-)

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie,
      Got the job! It’s only an occasional job, but my first one all the same. I will look after the pets when the owners go away for the odd weekend, holidays, etc. It looks like that will be once a month…writing out a contract for each time seems a bit much. Any ideas on how I can just write out one that covers “whenever I am needed”? I wonder how others get on with that?

      Reply
      • Congrats on getting the job! Exciting stuff!

        Hmm! Can you send me what you have written as a contract so I can have a look. Shouldn’t be too difficult to sort something out. My email is admin@bdws.co.uk

        Reply
        • btw, what kind of animals are you looking after?

        • Hi Jamie. Have emailed you. Many thanks. :-)

  4. Hi Kaz! The dog walking doc seemed fine! For the pet sitting contract I’d just change “This Pet Sitting Contract shall come into effect on the ____ day of ____________________20____ and shall terminate on the…”

    to

    This Pet Sitting Contract shall come into effect on the ____ day of
    .
    ____________________20___.

    Dont really see the need to have a closing date. You might want to put that you have the right to change the contract at will and thus have a new contract signed and agreed by the other party. Try and make it as simple for the customer as possible regarding paper work and contracts.

    Reply
    • There’s no reason why a contact cant be a ongoing thing unless you change your prices or policies!

      Reply
  5. That sounds a great idea, Jamie. Will do that! Thank you! Yes, to the making it easier on the Clients. I don’t want to be bothering them every five minutes with paperwork! :-) Simple when you think of it. :-)

    Will keep you posted on my progress!

    Thanks again, Jamie. :-)

    Reply
  6. Thank you so much for your advice, I have been thinking of doing this for some time. I adore dogs, would love to work with them, getting older, it will help me keep fit for my own dogs and ponies as well as earning. This has given me a new lift, thank you again.

    Reply
  7. Thanks so much for those tips, they are, by far, the best and most helpful i have come across. I sooo want to do this… but in my spare time like evenings and weekends. I’m not too sure if that is something that people would be interested in though. With me not able to have pets of my own (due to my landlords no pet rule) i may aswell enjoy other peoples. Who know’s maybe i can ditch my job and become a full time dog walker. One can only hope.

    Reply
    • Hi Kat!

      Hope it works out for you! You might find weekends get much more work than evenings. Don’t forget other pet services like cat care in their own home with people going away for the weekend/week and leaving their cat at home.

      Reply
  8. This is amazing, I have been considering doing this for sometime, my job finishes at the end of the month and this seems like a brilliant next move….- I feel tonnes more confident with your blog support, Thanks for sharing it all

    Emma!

    Reply
    • Thanks Emma! Good luck with your new adventure!

      Reply
  9. What a fantastic website! Really informative I love it. In the very early stages of thinking of starting this as a business. Don’t think I have the confidence to go for it but reading this is very inspiring. Thank You.
    Andrea

    Reply
  10. Thanks Andrea! If you decide to go for it I’ll wish you all the best!!

    Reply
  11. Looking to dtart s dog walking businrss can you help

    Reply
  12. Hi what a great web site with loads of information. I am looking to start up my own dog walking business and am just looking to find out the best way to take the first steps.

    Thanks jayne

    Reply
    • Thanks Jayne! Good luck with starting up!

      Reply
  13. Hi Jamie,
    Great tips and ideas I’ve already started and have built up a small group of lovely dogs and owners up to two walks a day now and a puppy visit!
    Just one problem and one you haven’t covered. one of my clients wants a mon-fri prime time slot 11-1. I already give them a good deal as she comes on two walks instead of one as its a long day on her own but every time they have a shift change or unexpected day off they cancel often with just a couple of hours notice. I can’t really afford to keep losing money on this slot should I bring in a cancellation fee or retainer. I don’t mind the odd day but they’re really starting to take the pee now, sometimes they cancel three times in a week! I have asked if they’d like to reduce their days but they say they can’t because of their shift changes. Please advise me I feel sorry for the dog!

    Reply
    • Hi Joanna! This is the tough part of dog walking. I also get the “We don’t need you today” routine but thankfully they are nice peeps and pay for the missed walk, so I’m quite relaxed in that situation.

      But for you things are different and you are going to have to set rules. After all you are trying to make a living like the rest of us!

      If they want 5 days a week and 2 walks in a row then they will have to pay that whether they need you or not or give you plenty of notice because as an insured dog walker who is limited to 6 dogs maximum you are gonna have no choice but to assume that she will be one of those 6 in both walks for those 5 days and plan those walks accordingly.

      So I’d tell them they can cancel and change their minds but unless they give you a certain amount of notice then you must be paid as you have placed aside a slot for her for the week that other dogs may miss out on! Hardly unreasonable.

      What ya think?

      Reply
  14. Thank you Jamie for a super informative website. It’s so greatly appreciated as I hope one day to be able to take the plunge and become a dog walker. :-)

    Reply
    • Thanks Christine! Its tough to get going but worth it in the end!

      Reply
  15. I too have had enough of the rat race & thought the dog race would be better for me. I know you have briefly mentioned this, but my main concern is walking in the lovely English countryside with our very English weather. I would be concerned that sometimes I would be returning the dog to their owner potentially in a condition that they would need to be put straight in a bath. Possibly 3-4 hours before they got back from work. Do your clients accept a rub down with a towel as a norm if its been raining or would they expect more than that. Many Thanks Andrew

    Reply
    • Hi Andrew!

      Being wet is ok it’s when they get really dirty that something may have to get done especially when its that thick dry mud that just sticks to the coat cause its hasn’t rained for a while. Thankfully I walk dogs at the river clyde so I can let them go in the river before I take them home, that way they just need a rub down.

      Of course the tide isn’t always in and so I don’t have that option and there are days when dogs decide to rub in poop which does need to be dealt with.

      In the back of my car I have a hozelock pressurised sprayer. I can wash muddy paws and feet and wash off poop that they may have rolled in. I also carry dog shampoo as showering with water alone will not get rid off poo stink! The sprayer is not that poweful but it works and gives me an option to the problem of dirty dogs.

      Also I know what owners have a garden hose, so really dirty/poo covered dogs can get bathed if they are really bad!

      Hope this helps and good luck if you decide to go ahead!

      Reply
  16. Hi Jamie, I am setting up in the dog grooming business and I am looking to do dog walking to raise a little more cash towards my dream. I currently don’t have a car so I am worrying about travel and that with the dogs. How did u manage this before you got your estate? Did you limit the amount of dogs you walked at one time? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Hi Kirstie!

      When I started I had to use a bike to get anywhere. My cousin in Aberdeen who is also a dog walker can’t drive and has used a bike for 4 years. I know another who also can’t drive and she uses the buses. Cheap means of transport but terrible in bad weather!

      Regarding walking dogs, as long as they are walking distance from each other then you can walk several at one time but if not then it’ll be before or after that dog. Tbh I found starting up and getting dogs quite difficult so never had to worry about trying to fit them all in. If you can do dog boarding then that pays well and doesn’t require a car.

      Reply
  17. Hi. I’m thinking about starting up a dog business ,just wanted to say thank you for your website ,finding it very helpful :) k

    Reply
    • Thanks Kirsty!

      Reply
      • Hi there :)
        Thank you for all the information, never thought to find a dog walker willing to give up there secrets. I can’t quite take the plunge and give up my day job but I am off on Friday’s and thought I would give it a wee bash and see if I cvan start a client base on that day fingers crossed it all goes well. I live in glasgow and was wondering how you would go about getting a police check? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

        Reply
        • Hi Rebekah!

          Hope it all goes well for you! You can find out more about getting a police check (disclosure scotland certificate) here: http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/

  18. Hi Jamie,

    I am looking into setting up on my own, and have found your site so helpful, i have a question though… What do you do about Holidays? I mean when YOU have time off for a well deserved break, what do you do about your clients? does someone else take over for you etc?

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Lee!

      That’s a good question! If you want a holiday give all your clients plenty of notice, as much as you can and at least a month before hand. Most can make their own arrangements but for some you may have to find another dog walker to fill in. This is what I do when I take a holiday and when that dog walker takes a holiday I take her dogs.

      Another thing to think about is working weekends. You will find some clients work over weekends probably cause their two days off is during the working week. Decide if you will work weekends or not because you will be working 7 days a week before you know it and burn out pretty quick. We all need something to look forward to whether it’s a holiday or just the weekend slouching in front of the tv.

      Reply
  19. Hi Jamie,

    Thank you so much for setting up this very informative page. Fantastic. Am currently setting up my dog walking business, is taking slightly longer than i thought it would but am getting there. (i wanna make sure i do it all properly).

    I want to ask about the finance side and how you work it? Do you have a seperate bank account? A ledger to record credit/debit? Do you give reciepts? Is it easy enough to figure out tax??

    Thank you in advance X

    Reply
  20. Hi Amy!

    I have a business account with Satander that I use just for business and for the clients who prefer to pay by internet banking, but it’s no big deal I’d say as I haven’t had to show any bank records to anyone. I write down all payments I receive as well as the date I get them and also note down any business expenses like pet insurance etc. Personally I don’t do receipts but this is where a visit to see an accountant might be handy as they can tell you exactly what you need to know for the exact position you are in.

    If you do your tax returns online (like I do at HMRC around January time) you are told what you owe in taxes after you enter all your info so you don’t have to work it out. I’m sure you can earn up to £8000 a year before you have to start paying tax. more info here! But if in doubt ask an accountant.

    Don’t forget you are entitled to working tax credits which could amount to over £50 a week. The amount you get is determined by the amount you earn so it is essential when you are starting out and earning very little. I got mine sorted through the job centre.

    Reply
  21. Hi, I have started doing holiday relief walks for my own dog walker who has given me lots of support and information. I don’t want to set up my own business and am happy to help out. I have my own dog and am also starting to board occasionally. It’s great to find your website and realise that I am working for a really good person. One of my colleagues, who does it full time, has done the canine first aid course locally and said it was excellent.
    Could you recommend a good site or book to find out more about dog behaviour?

    Reply
    • Hi Carol! I have a canine behaviourist I use if I need info. But here is a book you might find useful.

      Helen philips – clicker training gundogs

      Reply
  22. Excellent article – thanks. Although you promote the idea of considering group walking dogs, would you still suggest that it’s a good idea to do solo the first few times? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Do you mean doing solo walks for the first few walks of your career while you are building up clients? Or solo walks for a new dog so you can spend some time getting used to it?

      Reply
  23. Hi, this is really useful and inspiring! I am 14 years old and I really love animals, especially dogs! Do you think people would let me/trust me when walking there dogs? Do you think I would get any business? I would probably charge £3 for a half hour walk, is this ok? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Kat! Are you wanting to start now or when you leave school? It’ll be tough whatever you choose. A lot of people will want their dogs walked at lunchtime during the week – are you available then? I’m sure you could get some work but I need to know more details about what you are able to do and when.

      Reply
      • I am wanting to start dog walking now. I’m afraid I am not available for work during the day on weekdays but I am available in mornings and evenings. I am available for more work on weekends.

        Reply
        • Charge whatever you feel comfortable with. Just remember to take into consideration that while a walk may be 30 mins, travelling there and back home or to another dog will add time and cost if you need a bus.

          If you are not available during the days then you will not be able to walk those dogs whose owners are out at work during the working day as they will want a lunchtime walk. Most dog walks are lunctime. But there will be those who wont mind when their dogs get walked like the elderly or disabled, so you should target your advertising to them and drop off leaflets anywhere the old or disabled may group, like libraries, bowling clubs etc.

          Another service you could offer is cat visits, where you feed and clean the litter tray of cats while their owners are on holiday. Many people like to keep their cat at home rather than a cattery. This can be done in mornings and evenings.

        • Thank you very much, this helps a lot! Thanks:)

  24. Wow! What a fantastic and insightful website. My husband and I recently moved to the UK from South Africa and have been feeling desperately lonely without all my pets that I had to leave behind. Sadly we did not have the funds or the resources or even space to bring them with us and I spent several months very tearful and pining for them every time I saw any animal in the street or on telly . the many friends I have made here are all due to me “accosting” them on the street because of their dogs and they all suggested I take up dog walking/sitting. So when I found your website, I became so excited as I can indeed do what I love best. Thank you Jamie, you have made me confident enough to get started on this immediately. You are now a mentor and a hero to me.

    Reply
    • Hi Belinda!

      Thanks for the lovely compliments! You sounds like a real animal lover and I’m sure you’ll make a great dog walker too. All the best with your new adventure and I really hope it works for you. I’m always here if you wanna chat.

      Reply
  25. Thank you so much for this article. It’s a massive help.

    I was just wondering about the police checks. I have never had one before and need to get one before I start my business. I saw you gave someone a link to Disclosure Scotland. I live in London so am I able to use this company too? Do you know of any others at all as I’m finding it difficult. Many are saying I can’t obtain a certificate for myself. Finding it all very confusing.

    Also, do I need to register as self-employed? I’m making a list of everything I need to do so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Jean

    Reply
    • Try this website for a police check: https://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q87.htm

      If I find anymore info about police checks in England I’ll get back to you!

      Yes, you need to register as self employed/sole trader at HMRC. I went to the local job centre and they helped me out, they even sorted out my working tax credits which began at £50 a week, so make sure you get that sorted too!

      Reply
        • Thank you so much for the response, Jamie. All very helpful indeed.

          Kind regards,

          Jean

  26. Hi, it’s me again! I was just wondering, what is a good price to charge for home visits for, dogs/puppies, cats and small animals? Thanks again:)

    Reply
    • Hi Kat! Well, it depends on how long you are gonna be there. When I do cat visits I charge £5 a visit but then I may only be there for 10 mins. I change water, feed them and clean litter tray. Maybe I’ll play with them but cats can be quite timid so quite often I leave after I’ve fed them. Pretty much same deal for caged animals.

      Puppies are much more sociable than cats so I charge £8 for two 30 minute visits a day. Thats very, very cheap though, but I know pups grow fast and soon they’ll be getting walked just once with the other dogs, so I see it as an investment.

      Reply
  27. Thank you, this helps me work out the prices:) thanks!

    Reply
  28. Hi Jamie

    Was delighted to find this information on your page today. I’ve been unhappy in my job for some time and always wanted to work with animals, financially its not been viable but due to a change, I’m hopeful its something I can consider in the near future. Did you do any formal training? I originally googled for training for working with animals, alot of the courses are distance learning and £100′s per course, are they relevant/needed to become a walker/sitter?

    Reply
    • Hi Lyn!

      Thanks for you comments! I didn’t do any formal training but am friends with a dog behaviourist who has helped me lots. Dogs are pretty complex animals and it helps if you can understand a bit about their behaviours. So anything that can help with this is worthwhile. One way you can do this is by joining a dog forum where other behaviourists are.

      Reply
  29. hi Jamie, great site. What age do you start doing puppy visits? thanks, Helen

    Reply
    • Hi Helen! The pups are usually not long home when I start my puppy visits. Usually the new owner will have taken a week or two off work to spend time with them and when I start they are around 10/11 weeks old but still going through or just finishing their inoculation period. I started puppy visits this week for 11 week old springers: http://bdws.co.uk/2013/01/09/meet-bruno-and-baxter/

      Reply
  30. Really fab article. I recently left my previous stressful job in banking (urgh) and have been racking my brains for what to do. Luckily i have some savings and live at home, so my costs are low. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but working with dogs is just my perfect role which i never considered. I have babysat family dogs for years and have a natural affinity with them, but just never thought i could make a living, albeit modest, from it. I have been doing research and found this article absolutely brilliant. I have one question; I am setting up and have got my leaflets, got my social media, my business email, all set up. I have an idea on pricing and what my local competition is (i think their is a gap in the market in my direct neighborhood) what i am struggling with is the fact that my past experience is only with family dogs, albeit various breeds/temperaments, and i have no formal training. My background is customer service and media :/ Will this dissuade clients do you think???

    Reply
    • I don’t see that as a problem, very few dog walkers have a doggy background anyway. If you can find an expert like a dog behaviourist you will learn lots from them, should find them from places like an internet forum etc.

      Make sure you get a nice website, if you got a car then get stickers…business cards are a must…but maybe most importantly get out there where people walk their dogs and start making loads of dog owning friends!

      And finally if you have the nerve then get a large outdoor banner printed and hang it somewhere that gets lots of traffic, like a busy junction etc.

      Reply
  31. Hi Jamie, me again.

    Someone asked me a good question yesterday, what happens if the dog you are walking bites you, or somebody else, or another dog? Who is liable and how can such a situation be resolved?

    Also if a dog off-lead chose to run out into a road or have a very tragic freak accident, what happens in such a situation? I know these are probably not scenario’s you have come across hopefully, but i thought you might have an idea. I assume the insurance i will have somewhat covers certain things like this? Or does the liability have to be stated in the dog-walking contract?
    Thanks Again

    Reply
    • Hi Hannah!

      Someone asked me a good question yesterday, what happens if the dog you are walking bites you, or somebody else, or another dog?

      I always visit a dog in its own home beforehand and when a new dog starts I am very focused on it’s behaviour with people and other dogs. You’re liable for the dog you are walking, so should it bite someone else, another dog or cause an accident then it falls on your shoulders. Dog walking insurance will cover liability costs and vet bills including vet bills of dogs your walking if it’s harmed through your own negligence.

      Since your starting I’d emphasize your attention on puppy walkies/visits. Pups are blank canvases and free from behavioural problems. Most dogs you will get will be young and trouble free but you will always get some dodgy ones that the owner tells you are ok, a few dogs I got last year were like that, I didnt even spot the potential aggression of one until my dog behaviourist pointed it out on some photos I was taking for my blog. I gave them up pretty fast.

      Pet insurance covers:

      Dog walking
      Max 6 dogs walked at any one time
      Can be exercised off lead if owners written consent given
      Pet minding
      Home boarding
      House sitting
      Farm animals and horses in a non-commercial environment
      Collection and delivery/pet taxi
      Family members extension
      Public liability = £3,000,000
      Liability to animals in our care, custody or control = £10,000 any one event
      Loss of keys & replacement locks = £10,000 any one event
      Employer’s Liability = £10,000,000

      Reply
  32. Hi Jamie, a very informative and interesting blog! I have recently started up dog walking and have had quite a bit of interest, I have three quick questions:
    1) How do you plan your daily schedule for pick up, group walk, then drop off times?
    2) What would you do if you had a dog which pulled on the lead and made it hard to walk any other dog at the same time?
    3) What size radius is your catchment area for customers?

    Look forward to hearing from you,
    Helen.

    Reply
    • Hi Helen!

      I have 3 main group walks starting at 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm. Before and after I can do solo walks and puppy visits. Most days I leave around 10:15 to start collecting dogs to get them to beach area for 11. I pick up and drop off dogs by being as time efficient as I can and sometimes while dropping off dogs I’ll pick up dogs for the next walk (if they are close by).

      Most of my dogs pull and some pull very badly, but thankfully most can be let off lead, but I still have to put them on lead to take them back to the car. Just last week I got sick fed up being dragged everywhere so I bought 2 dogmatic head collars on amazon. One for a spaniel that I don’t let off lead when I do a group walk and another for another spaniel who is just crazy bad when on the lead but great off it! Highly recommend the dogmatic head collar, it makes it just so easy!

      When I started my area was quite large as I was after any dogs I could get and had plenty of time. But as I got busier I had to quit areas as travelling takes so much time. I now work in 2 villages and a small town but eventually one of those villages will be cut to make my business more efficient.

      Reply
  33. Thanks, that’s great advice Jamie.
    I wondered how many of your customers are regular ie. mon-fri walks? I am finding
    a lot of people are once a week or once every two weeks.
    This makes it hard to plan the walks not knowing how many il have and when.
    Do you find you have a lot of regular customers or is it the nature of the job that you need to take on scattered walks here and there in the hope you eventually fill a working week?

    Many thanks,
    Helen.

    Reply
    • At the beginning it’s always a bit scattered with people wanting the odd walk here and there but you eventually build up a regular clientele. This is my schedule routine…

      Dogs that get walked…

      Once a week = 2
      Twice a week = 6
      Three times a week = 1
      Five times a week = 7
      Occasional walk = 1
      Rarely = 5

      For my 11 am walk its people who are home earlier cause they finish work early or kids home from school. 12:30 walk for those who finish after 5pm and 2pm walk for those who come home at 8pm or dont mind when their dog gets walked.

      Reply
  34. Another quick question! How do you have your vehicle set up? Do you use doggy crates or just have the dogs secured in the boot of the car, using dog guards to prevent them coming forward in a collision?

    Thanks again,
    Helen.

    Reply
    • I’ve got an estate, I have dog guard in boot and I have a hammock in back seat plus dog guard behind front head rests to contain dogs. I also have seat belt harnesses that are excellent at keeping dogs in back seat firmly secured!

      My business will be 3 years old in May! When I started I only had a bike, but I hope this year to get a van and install cages as that’s the best and most professional approach to taxing dogs in transit!

      Reply
  35. Hi Jamie,
    I just wanted to say thank you for writing such an informative blog. I would love to set up my own pet sitting and dog walking business, and have been doing my research. My only problem is that i can’t drive, do you think that it could still be a viable idea? taking buses or cycling?

    Thanks

    Clare

    Reply
    • Hi Clare! My couson doesnt drive and uses bikes and buses and a local dog walker here also does the same. So yes, you can get buy especially to begin with when you are still looking to get more clients. But I’d suggest that you get lessons eventually as you will need a vehicle to take you to the next level.

      Reply
      • Thanks Jamie,

        It’s reassuring to know that it can be done without a car, I thought I was going to have to give up before I’d even started!

        Clare

        Reply
  36. Hi Jamie

    Some great information here – thanks! It’s very unusual, but great, for someone to share. I’ve found it very difficult to get help and information so it’s very much appreciated. I’d like to work with dogs, just not sure in what capacity and feeling quite overwhelmed with the options available. I’m finding it very hard to gain practical experience as many dog walking companies will not take on volunteers, which is disappointing.

    Thanks again :)

    Reply
    • If there are puppy classes try asking if you can attend and learn from them, otherwise visit areas where dog walkers gather and make friends. The thing about doggy people is that everyone is an expert! (lol) so you’ll get plenty of advice.

      Reply
  37. Hi Jamie

    I have been looking into starting up my own dog walking business. I still doing my market research and my business plan.
    Everything is going well until the other day someone asked me.
    What will you do when you move out of home? (I am 21 and still live at home with my mum)
    That question has got me thinking a lot now. What would I do? I would like too move out in the next couple of years and I could possibly end up moving to a different area. I guess that would mean starting up again right? What do u think? I plan to hopefully start my walking in the summer. But what if Iv built up a good client base wouldn’t moving be stupid. But I can’t live with my mum forever :-/
    If you could give me some advice that would be great.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Sophie!

      It depends how far away you move. If it’s just a couple of miles then that’s ok but otherwise it looks like you’d have to start again. But it wouldn’t be as hard the second time, but the question might be would you want to live away and be skint all over again like you were when you built up your dog walking business the first time.

      Getting established takes time, but in a couple of years you may likely have a vehicle with stickers on it, a nice established website that already ranks well on Google and plenty of experience that you can use to build your business up in your new area faster and better the second time around.

      But I think that if you can afford it then try to stay close to your Mother and area of work.

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie

        Thanks very much for your advice it really has helped me. I know when I do decide to move ( which won’t be for at least a couple of years) I would prefer to stay around this area as I do like it. However nobody knows where life will take them I could end I’m moving out of the area. But thankfully I feel a bit more relaxed about what I would need to do if I one day decided to do so. I guess I could also start advertising in my new area before I move there or if I can afford it and I’m busy enough I could employ someone to take over my area while I work on the new one.
        But for now I’m just going to focus on getting it set up here.

        Thanks again for your help. I’m sure I will have more questions to ask over the next few weeks lol
        So ill keep you posted on my progress. :-)

        Reply
  38. Oh and by the way. What I have read so far on here is very helpful. I have been writing notes down to help me with some stuff I haven’t come across yet. So thanks for your great advice

    Reply
  39. Hi Jamie. I would also just like to write to say a big thank you for your article on becoming a dog walker. At a time when many people are cagey about their businesses and unwilling to offer advice, it is really great of you to share your experiences and has really helped me to start my own dog walking business.

    I do have one question that you might be able to help with. I can’t quite get my head around the doggy day care aspect and having a dog stay with me but also being able to do daily dog walks and pet visits. If I have someone who wants their puppy checked in on every afternoon but then a customer wants a dog with me throughout the day, how do I manage doing both?

    Thanks again. Anna

    Reply
    • Hi Anna!

      Ok, I don’t think anyone can or should even try doggy day care and dog walking at the same time unless they have a partner to share the work with and split the roles.

      I don’t offer daycare but do offer dog boarding but only for clients. Just so readers know doggy day care isn’t overnight stay. Not many dog walkers do boarding unless they have a partner who can look after the dogs at home while the other walks the dogs. My brother stays at home, but I do very little boarding really, it’s a bit of a juggling act if you want to do both and have no help and I wouldnt recommend it.

      When I have other clients dogs live with me I walk them in the morning then take them out again on their usual walk with their usual pack mates then take them out again in the evening.

      On some walks I have some really great dogs and will let them tag along for additional walks because they are great off lead, socialble and responsive. Therefore if I was to offer day care I could only really offer it to dogs like that who I could take on all the walks. If you are working on your own then I think boarding/day care should be forgotten about and you should just concentrate on dog walking and pet visits, unless that is you decide you’d rather do boarding/day care over dog walking.

      Reply
  40. Hi,

    I am so very much impressed and humbled by the informative information that has been given on this site.
    I launched my Pet Care Service in my local village yesterday after taking the plunge and quiting my job as a nurse! I set up a website and within 24hrs it was all live.
    It was a brave thing but my house in aka ‘the zoo’ as i love animals (more than people most of the time!) so my boyfriend kept hastling me … and i took the plunge!
    Waiting for the phone to ring now….!!
    Few queries i need to get my head round,
    1) Payment = Cash? SO? DD? Bank Transfer? Weekly? Monthly? Invoices?
    2) Timetabling – any secret?!

    Thank you for this wonderful insight, you were inspirational and enabled me to take the leap!

    Reply
    • Hi Trudy!

      Congrats on taking the plunge – exciting stuff! Since you have your website up, take advantage of Google places if you haven’t already – it’s the main directory that people use to find local trades and will get you work! http://www.google.com/placesforbusiness/. Also get a free listing for Yell.com and get a google + page and facebook page setup.

      Regarding payments my customers pay generally in cash but bank transfers are becoming more popular. I’d also have accepted cheques too but usually it’s cash or bank transfer. I ask to get paid weekly on the day of the last walk for that week.

      Timetabling. If you asking how I setup my walks then I have 3 main group walks (solo walks before and after group walks). First group walk is 11am then next is around 12:30 then another around 2-ish. Some dogs are everyday, some are 2-3 times a week. Depending on the day the walks become quite regular with the same faces and aslong as I am not walking over 6 then there is usually a space should I suddenly get asked for a last moment walk.

      Anyway, just ask when a question arises.

      PS, what ways are you advertising outside of your website?

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie,

        Thank you for your reply, i have set up a free advert on yell.com, texted, Facebooked & emailed everyone i knew and i am in the process of printing out leaflets and business cards (as they were free with leaflets!)

        Your explaination of payments is a good balance and idea, i have all my agreements and paperwork in place, just ready for a call…..

        I am creating a Facebook page and have a discount on an advert (pay per click). Some friends have offered to take leaflets into local places of work and i am prepared to dish them out at parks, post offices, pet stores etc!!

        I just need that first call….

        Thanks x

        Reply
  41. Hi, your website has given me some really good advise. I’m moving away from my area and seeing it as a good chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m wanting to do a dog grooming course to eventually lead to setting up my own business after the yrs course. But in the meantime I was thinking of dog walking/sitting to help me bring in some money and also get experience on different dog breeds and temperaments. Do you think this is a good idea for me to do ? Getting basic dog first aid course is a good idea for me too.. where abouts normally do these courses? Thank you for reading .

    Reply
    • Hi Gema!

      If I was you I’d probably consider dog boarding to tide me over until I became a groomer. There is a dog groomer/dog boarder in my village and it works very well for her. I think you’ll get work easier that way. Otherwise dog owners will know if they choose you over someone else to walk their dogs they will have to find another dog walker in a year or just a matter of months when you become a groomer.

      When I did my first aid course I contacted a local vet that had just started out and we agreed they’d offer me and other dog walkers a first aid course in exchange for a logo on our website saying that we have been trained by them.

      Try here: http://www.animalaiders.co.uk/dogfirstaidcourses.html

      Now if I was you, I’d get my website made already, right now! google likes websites that have age and gives them a certain level of authority that helps them rank better. So build your grooming website with all the pages and on the homepage say “coming soon”.

      Reply
  42. Jamie
    Thanks for your reply. The problem I have is that I’ll be living with my boyfriends family for a few months until we get a place to rent. I’ll have to talk to them and see what they suggest. Do you know how many you can board at one time and do some people like to have the dogs in the house rather than outside? I’ll have to do some research and find out the answers to all my questions.
    I’ll have a look at the first aid course site thank you.
    The course I was looking at was a years course so that will give my website when I set it up plenty of time to get established .. as a yr goes pretty quick .
    Thank you for your help
    Gema

    Reply
    • Hi Gemma!

      Here’s a handy page for first aid: http://www.dogclub.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,6291.0.html

      Pet owners are pretty loyal people so if you can get their pet while their still a puppy then you have a good chance having them for life, this is why new pet businesses should heavily promote their puppy services.

      Anyway, if you do dog boarding, dog walking, puppy visits etc then many of these dogs will probably end up clients of your eventual grooming business too. I’d also offer reduced cuts to clients pets while you are training to become a groomer the way many people get low cost haircuts from trainee hair dressers. And once you have started grooming pro offer low cost (possibly free) cuts for puppies to help get people through the door.

      I read you comment when out walking and have been thinking about it a bit more. Maybe boarding isn’t so right after all but if you wanted to do it then I’d just board a few dogs max at any one time, maybe even just one at a time – you never know what dog your getting and part of the reason why I only board clients dogs. In my area it’s around £15+ per night but check out you local area for prices.

      For the time being maybe it would be wise to try offering a few services from dog walking to boarding, cat visits and especially promoting puppy services etc and see what takes off.

      Reply
  43. Jamie
    Forgot to ask if you know how much the lady charges for each dog that she boards .
    Thank u

    Reply
  44. Thank you that really helped. I have two German sheps of my own and I think more of them than I do humans sometimes. And I have a real understanding of how ppl feel about there animals. I’ll take into consideration your advise .
    Thank you very much for replying and helping me
    Gema

    Reply
  45. Hi Jamie,
    Really informative blog, thank you! I am thinking very hard about a general dog walking/ home help business. However I have a 2 year old daughter who attends nursery but only part time. I will be doing a day a week at uni from next month too. So I really only want to/ can be available a couple of days a week. Do you think this is of any use to dog owners? I was thinking mon and thus. Or do people wnt their dogs walking every day?
    Thank you in advance!
    Matilda x

    Reply
    • Hello Jamie,

      Many thanks for your helpful comments. I have run a successful homeboarding business for three years. I have decided to wind this up mainly because my teenage children are fed of over excited dogs in their home. As I enjoy the dogs I have decided to embark on a dog walking/pet visit service. One main problem – we live in a rural community and to bring in business I’m going to have to travel on average between 3-5 miles between each village. Would you charge a flat rate plus milege? I take on board your comments about time and travelling and am doubting if its going to be worth while. On average how far would you be prepared to travel before adding a milege charge? Many thanks, Jules

      Reply
      • Hi Jules

        The furthest I travel is 2-3 miles and I hope to soon cut that down to a maximum of 2 miles in the future. When I started the furthest away dog was over 6 miles away but then I only had a few dogs a day so wasn’t constrained by time. After a year I had to give up that town as I got more local dogs.

        I’m not aware of any dog walker who charges mileage except those advertising trips to vets/groomers etc.

        Just remember most want that lunchtime slot so travelling from town to town means you may only get one to two walks. You could either set a slighly higer rate for all dogs or charge different towns/villages slightly different prices.

        But since you are experienced in dog boarding and known for it why not slightly change your service from boarding to doggy day care – the kids might not be that keen on dogs in house but at least they all are home for 6pm everynight. It might prove to be financially a lot more profitable as customers all come to you and dog sitting prices (drop offs open from 7am and last collections 6pm) you can charge somewhere between £12 – £20 per dog in my area!

        Quite a lot of dogs hate being on their own so you could offer this as an alternative to dog walking and also a great way to promote it would be to offer very cheap rates for puppy owners to help get clients through the door.

        Reply
    • Hi Matilda!

      Yes, I think you can be of use to dog owners. You won’t be able to help the typical working owner who needs a dog walker 5 days a week, but many of the dogs I walk aren’t those people, they are retired people who like to have their dog to get a big walk 2-3 times a week or others who work at home and stay at home mums who want their dog to get a couple of walks a week running alongside their doggy friends.

      When I walk dogs just twice a week they are nearly always Tuesdays and Thursdays, the three day a week dogs are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

      So I’d promote yourself to people like the elderly. Get leaflets made and place them wherever old people congregate, eg outdoor bowling clubs, libraries, post offices, churches etc offering a lower rate. If you can get a few elderly clients through the door you’d probably find that word of mouth would get you known pretty quick amongst the retired!

      Jamie

      Reply
  46. Hi Jamie,
    Thank you so much for the reply. Thats interesting, I will get down to that bingo hall! Its so hard trying to fit anything round childcare and studying.
    Thanks again
    Matilda

    Reply
  47. Hi jamie
    Just starting up my dog walking business and your hints were really helpful!! you should consider a business in consulting aswell!! thanks very much and your on the favourites bar now for sure!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Ruth and good luck with your business!

      Reply
  48. Hi Jamie, What a fantastic blog! I am setting up my own dog walking business in Dunfermline and this is the best advice I have found. I guess there is no better way to find out the realities than from the horse’s mouth. I am off to contact my local dog trainer, Disclosure Scotland, get some insurance set up and find out about Doggy First Aid in my area. You are doing a great job and I wish there were more like you, prepared to share their experiences. I volunteer at Second Chance Kennels Fife, so have experience of caring for dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes. Thanks again and keep up the good work. PS – I will try out your liver doggy treat recipe on my dog, Snuggy the Wonder Dog:-)

    Reply
    • Hi Carol! Thanks for your kind comments, i hope you can make some use of my experiences! Anyway, I’m sure working in the kennels will have given you some excellent experience with dogs and contacting you local trainer will help loads. Good luck with your business.

      Ps, I like your website!

      Reply
      • Glad you like my web-site. I worked in IT for 20 plus years so picked up some tips. I have decided to change the business name to Wagtime Pet Care. I was going to call it Itchy Paws but my Dad thought it sounded like Itchy B*ws hehehe, didn’t want to make anyone scratch their nether regions. Hope it is not snowing on your side of the country, the weather is atrocious here but I still took Snuggy to Aberdour beach – it was deserted! I’ll let you know how I am getting on and will be sure to update you on what Snuggy thinks of your liver treats. Thanks again, Carol

        Reply
        • Haha! Wagtime sounds great! It’s been dry here today but freezing winds keeping everyone indoors!

          I look forward to hearing how things go!

  49. Very informative site, big thank you on sharing your tips and ideas and essential information. I live in a rural part of scotland and looking to start up a dog walking service and the info and advise you give is an excellent start and a huge help in me making a to do list to make my service workable, affordable (for me and the dog owner) and most of all fun for the pooches!!!! :) :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Shona and good luck!

      Reply
  50. Hi, Jamie ,

    I have been reading about you and your business and think that you have courage to start with nothing. I was made redundant and have been on JSA for 9 months I have always wanted to start a dog business and have experience of handling and looking after pets. What I would like to know is how long did it take to have a wage to live on because some people on differet pet sitting sites say it takes years to earn money from this. It seems slow to start any comments would be helpful and great website well done!!

    Reply
    • Hi Tina!

      Depends a quite a few things really. How much in demand dog walkers are in your area, how well and how much you advertise, what services you offer and if you’re likeable and friendly people will more likely recommended you more that those that aren’t!

      I’d say if I was to start again and making a livable wage in 2 years I’d be happy!

      This time of year people are thinking about or planning their summer holidays and since I recently added dog boarding to my list of services I’ve been getting quite a bit extra work and income from that even though I restrict my boarding to clients only. If you are prepared to do boarding then this is a great time of year advertise.

      Reply
      • Thanks Jamie , I live in a village in Devon was your work slow in the beginning and how long did it take you to have work to keep you going ? . Thanks for great advice and site .

        Reply
        • Well, probably over a year for me. But I can’t say how exactly it will be for you. Last year I went a four month spell without getting any new dogs, that’s with having stickers on car, leaflets, website and being known. If I happened to have started and went 4 months without getting any dogs I’d surely of packed it in. But saying that in November I think I got 5 new dogs in that month so you just don’t know how it’s gonna be.

          If you are going to do it then get really aggressive when it comes to marketing and commit to the business, get known en mass to the village straight away and get to know as many doggy owners as you can by visiting all the dog walking hot spots.

          Get a part time job doing something like driving for your local takeaway which still leaves the daytime free for dog walking.

        • Thanks Jamie for your reply and have taken on board what you have said and thanks for your honesty :-)

  51. Hi there.
    I am a dog walker and also do sitting. When I sit I do 3 visits a day with walkies and feed when required. Do you ever have times when owners are away and they expect you to leave the dog alone overnight in their house? It is something I do not believe in, however, we do not have a licence to board at our house yet.

    Reply
    • Contact you local council about getting a license. It should be quite easy to find out online, some councils don’t even require one ..for now! I have a couple of dogs from same home who get left alone during the night, but they very rarely need walked by me – maybe a couple of times a year. Usually if owners are out overnight, I usually stay there or dogs stay with me.

      Reply
  52. Hi Jamie

    May I first say, your kind advise that you offer to everyone is incredibly generous and so helpful.

    I made your dried liver today, and wow, for the first time ever one of dogs is more interested in treats than the environment around him.

    My partner runs her own dog walking and pet sitting business. I was interested in whether you set up your own website because I would love to do her webpage for her, and I really like how well you have laid yours out and made it so easy to use.

    Regards

    Hama

    Reply
    • Hi Hama!

      Thanks for your nice comments! I did make my own website. It’s defo worth doing it yourself rather than getting a friend to do it as you have more control over it.

      Reply
  53. Hi Jamie

    Thank you for your quick response. I’ll give it a go, and once again thank you so much for all the help you give on your site.

    Reply
  54. hi jamie,just about to be made redundnt,been thinking of being a dogwalker/trainer for sometime,maybe this is that time,just found your site while researching,fantastic site so much info and honesty,lots to digest,many many thanks,good luck for the future.

    Reply
    • Thanks Brian and sorry to hear about your redundancy. It’s all too common nowadays and one of the great things about being self employed is that you can’t lose your job, you can only lose a customer.

      If you go for it then I wish you all the best and I have a few peeps who read this post and recently took the plunge and they stay in contact so if you have any queries then please feel free to ask…

      Reply
  55. Hi Jamie,

    First off thank you so much for this article, it really is fantastic and I’ve taken plenty of notes and saved this website in my favourites :)

    I’ve recently been made redundant, Saturday 6th April in fact, and I’m having no luck with finding another job, full time or part time and have been thinking about starting to do dog walking. I live in a small town in Solihull in the Midlands and theres not many dog walkers that are actively advertised so thought I might give it a go.
    I have a dog of my own so have experience at dog handling.
    The town is generally full of older people that might struggle walking their dogs daily and young families that might be too busy with children than walking their dogs.

    My partner is also unemployed and we want to venture into this together while still actively seeking employment, this means we can handle more dogs and one can do a group walk while one does individual walks.

    We are thinking of setting up a joint bank account for us to add equal funds, take correct wages out of and for anyone that wishes to direct debit into it rather than using one of our own personal accounts, would this be a good idea?

    Weekend jobs are easier to get so I was thinking of getting a weekend job and dog walking during the week, but do you get more customers wanting their dog walked during the weekend or weekday? I would imagine most people have weekends off work so wouldn’t need their dogs walked?

    Also what contract is needed for customers? Is one strictly needed? If it is then would there be any possibility of you sending me a draft?

    Thanks for any help! Really appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer! Example contracts are available to download at the bottom of the post (but above the comments).

      I have a seperate business bank account. Quite handy for me, can’t say if its a real importance though. I use Santander but watch out for their charges they are nasty for it!

      Pretty much all your work will be weekday and lunchtime. You say you and your partner could walk dogs, one doing group walks and the other solo, but I’d say it would probably be more profitable if one did the walking and one did daycare/dog boarding at home as that is a lucrative market in itself – about £15 -£20 + per night per dog for boarding and about £10-£15+ for daycare!

      From a business point of view a partnership has real potential to make £1000+ a week if done well!

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Oh yes I’ve just seen that! I’ll just have a look at that now.

        Would we have to use a business account or could we use a normal joint account as we are planning on storing any extra money in there for our future (place to live, children, etc.).

        We don’t live together yet so dog boarding wouldn’t be possible, or do you mean dog sitting while customers are at work and going to their house to check up on their loved ones?

        Reply
        • Hi Jen!

          I meant dog boarding but if you not living together then I’d still consider one person doing dog walking while other does something else. For example what about puppy visits, they soon grow and around 6-8 months old are ready for big walks. Other things like cat visits for those going away etc. But upto you. It’s just that at first you are both gonna be walking one dog between you or maybe two and therefore one of you may as well be attracting other forms of pet care. A cat visit can only be 10 mins but can pay £5+ and most want their cat visited twice a day. Small animal boarding for hamsters etc…

  56. Thanks for the reply Jamie, what is involved in puppy visits?

    I understand what you mean, we both should be doing all we can to promote ourselves and get more income.

    Reply
    • Puppy visits are a great service and ideal for the new pet care business. Young pups are too young to be walked for the hour or be given group walks so I offer two visits a day for puppy owners. When I started it was two 30 min visits around 10am and 2pm so they were never alone too long. Before I knew it pups grew up and were on big walks with the other dogs. All the pups I’ve got are by far my best dogs as from when they were young they learnt what being walked in groups is all about. Experienced and busy dog walkers can’t afford the time to offer puppy visits so thats where you already have an edge over the competition.

      Reply
      • Oh is it the same as normal dog walking but for puppies and only for half an hour? Or do you just spend half an hour with a puppy and play with it?

        It sounds like a good plan, sorry for all the questions!

        Reply
        • Many puppy owners don’t like the thought of leaving their puppy at home all day on their own so a couple of visits a day brings peace of mind to owner as well as breaking up day for puppy. For pups still going through their innoculations then it will be home and garden visits only, but as they get a bit older you can take them on short walks and even with a group dogs to help them get socialised and learn the ropes of being walked in a group at a young age.

          All your best dogs will most likely be the ones you had as pups so consider giving reduced rates to begin with while you building client base.

  57. Hi jamie.

    Out of intrest what times during the day do you choose to walk your dogs. I know most people like their dogs to be walked around the middle of the day. I was thinking any dog walking could be done between the hours of 11-3.30 do you think that would be enough time lets say if i had 3 groups of 4 dogs to walk, so would mean picking them up walking them for an hour and dropping them home too. Sometimes the groups could be bigger or smaller and could be that i have all dogs literally on the same road as eahcother which would mean picking them up and droppiung them off would be easier. Or do you think its something i will have to look into once i have acutally got dogs to walk?

    Sophia

    Reply
    • Hi Sophia! My groups walks start at around 11am,12:30pm and 2pm. These are rough times. Deciding what walk each dog goes on depends on when the owners get home. Those that get home early or kids get home from school will go on 11am walk. 12:30 walk for folks who come home around 5-6pm and 2pm walk for those who get home late. Of course the walks are also contain dogs whose owners may be in or don’t mind when their dogs get walked and then I will decide how they get walked by where I am, what their dog is like etc.

      If you dont work in too large an area then you should get 3 walks in your 11am to 3:30pm slot no problem but just remember pretty much half your day is in the car.

      Just take into consideration that you just don’t know where you will get your dogs and they could be quite a distance. It’s all about being as efficiant as possible.

      But I wouldn’t worry about that just yet, things will all fall into place, just worry about how you are gonna get those dogs in first place!

      Reply
  58. Hi Jamie, this was a great read! Everything you mentioned I had already planned on doing, so it makes me feel happy that I was planning along the right route!
    I’m not sure if I’ve possibly skimmed this but the one thing I can’t seem to find out about is the best way to take payment. Should I ask for payment when I am visiting the owner and their dog/s, or ask them to leave it somewhere to collect when I pick up their dog? Would you recommend setting up something like a standing order with the permanent clients?
    Many thanks,
    Pearl Ward

    Reply
    • Hi Pearl and thanks for your comments!

      It’s upto you how you want to be paid. For me I ask that I am paid on the last walk of the week, so usually that’s Friday. Usually money is left for me as they at work but I have quite a few who clients who transfer the money into my bank account which I prefer.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply Jamie. Just another quick question. You mentioned you have an estate, this is the sort of car I was planning to get also, how do you safely get all of the dogs you are walking into the car? Do you use crates/partitions?

        Reply
        • I have dog guards behind the front headrests and in the boot. Also for some I have seatbelt harness to secure some dogs. My estate is getting replaced this week by (hopefully) a citroen berlingo.

  59. Thanks jamie

    Sophia

    Reply
  60. Hi there,

    Just wanted to reiterate what everyone else had said really and say thanks as this page has some interesting hints and tips on it! I have just about got my website done (feel free to have a look!) and hope to have an official start date of 13/5/13!

    My business is not just dog walking but pet care too, including horses, reptiles, fish, cats and small animals. I lost my job in February and thought it the ideal time to do what I had always wanted to which was work with animals.

    I was just wondering, I know the law dictates the dog should have an identity tag on the collar. As I know many owners do not have this I was going to get some of my own with my details on and attach them so that at least they had some contact details should thy get away. How do you cover this legality? DO you ensure all dogs have tags of their own before walking?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Emma! Thanks for your comments! Love your website, very nice and much better than the majority out there! But I’d make sure you add you location of work so visitors know and Google knows where to list you on search results. If you go to my homepage you see the Title the very top of the browser that it shows my business name + “Pet care for Renfrewshire”, by adding location alongside my pet services Google knows what services I offer and where so then knows when and where to put me on local search results. Check out your competition and you’ll see most have done similar. U listed on Google maps?

      Regarding dog tags, I just let them know the law requires it, I’ve never had a problem with owners supplying tags for their own dogs.

      Reply
  61. Jamie brilliant website..I am looking to become a dog walker and your info has really helped..thank you so much. I am about to look into insurance etc just wondering where to start …

    Reply
  62. Hi Jamie, some time ago I commented on your blog. I have been following your advice and hopefully will be launching my business at the end of the month. I see from your facebook page you have got a new set of wheels . Can I ask why you went for a people carrier rather than van version of the Berlingo. have you kitted it out with cages? Please like my Facebook page Wagtime Pet Care – Fife if you get a moment. I was also wondering what approximately is your monthly spend on fuel? This is one of the known unknowns for my business plan. Thanks again for a great blog, Carol

    Reply
    • Hi Carol! The estate I had before was a bit of a lemon. I bought it for £1400 and in a year spent around £3500 on repairs. So a few weeks ago when suddenly it wouldnt start, then would start but not stop and the computer in engine bay began smoking I scrapped car and got another car as quick as possible which was the berlingo! I’m quite happy with it not being a van as the back seat helps partition the dogs from the boot – I also use the back seats as a secondary boot with another dog guard behind the front seat head rests. A couple of dogs I have are potentially very unfriendly while in car but ok outside so I need a partition otherwise I’d need cages. I have ordered a tailgate gaurd from Barjo, google that to find out more…

      My fuel costs are around £240 a month!

      Reply
      • Thanks for the info Jamie. Hope you have better luck with this one! Will do more investigation this week into transport. Currently have a mini which would be ok if I only walk chihuahuas and yorkies! Think might go for Berlingo van but need to find out if used or new leased one best. FYI…If you lease you can offset full amount against tax. Re. fuel – gulp…I thought estimating £50 a week was excessive! I will look into fuel efficiency whilst I am at it;-)

        Reply
        • I’ll be interested to know how you get on!

  63. Hi thanks for all your great advice. I am wanting to start my own dog walking business but I am unsure about giving up my secure full time job. I was thinking about testing the waters by offering weekend dog walking service to get my name out there. Do you think this would work or do you think it would give client the impression I am not taking the job seriously? I really appreciate your help.

    Reply
    • I think ‘testing the waters’ is a very good idea in your case you have a full time job at risk. Dog walking, especially in groups isn’t that easy and with one unresponsive dog in the pack it can be not much fun, so try getting work at weekends and see if you like it or not. There’s plus’s and minus’s to dog walking as well as being self employed/employed by another.

      If and when you go pro then the ‘mon-fri and 9-5′ peeps are gonna be your main clients as they need a dog walker, but as of yet just working weekends means you can get work from them. For that reason, for you, I’d target the elderly. Offer cheap walks to get clients through the door of this trial period. The reason I’d target the elderly is that many have dogs, not fit enough to give them exercise and are flexible.

      So the question is where do the old folk hang out in your area and how you gonna get them?

      Reply
      • Hi again Jamie,

        I had the same question -i.e. i’m keen to find out whether i can make dog walking work for me and targeting elderly clients on weekends sounds like a good idea. Would i be able to just print business cards for distributing locally without a website for the time being, or would you recommend i set up a website even if it’s just for weekend work initially? Many thanks.

        Reply
        • I think face to face contact is best. Word of mouth is gonna get you more work that a website or cards especially for the older generation, although all marketing avenues should always be looked into. Visit somewhere where oldies hangout eg, bingo, dances etc and tell them how you can help.

  64. Hi there,

    I have been reading your comments with interest and I would like to ask, do you think potential clients are more inclined to contact a dog walking service who are registered ie: National Association of Registered Pet Sitters or the Association of Professional Dog Walkers? I am setting up a dog walking service and can’t decide if the registration fee will add any value to the business.

    Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Hazel! I think beginner dog walkers are more tempted to sign up for these associations hoping it would help them look professional but I don’t know any dog walker on it. Being a member doesn’t make you a good dog walker, neither does it or should it offer clients reassurance, only dog walkers are aware of this organisation.

      As far as I’m concerned it’s just a money making exercise by those that own NARPS.

      Reply
      • Jamie,

        Many thanks for your reply. I’ve noted from your previous entries that you started with an estate car before moving to your current van. You’ve said that in the estate you had dog cages for transportation. Were these double or single cages and did you use them for all or just some dogs? I am debating if dog cages (as an added start up expense),will be needed straight away or will be something than can follow as the business grows. Also, does your van have built in cages? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

        Reply
        • Hi Hazel! I had no cages in the estate car. Instead I had a dog guard in boot and another dog guard behind the front head rests making the back seat a secondary boot place. You can also use seat belt harnesses too. Clix car safe make great harnesses which are quite cheap.

          Anyway, a van is the ideal vehicle and cages the best solution to containing dogs, this is what we all should strive for but in the meantime estates can be more than good enough. I just ordered a barjo tailgate guard (www.barjo.co.uk). Its like a dog guard that attaches to the car just behind the boot with a door in the middle. This means that when I open boot the dogs can’t jump out. Dog walking is all about being in control. So with vehicles we must consider how we can travel with dogs safely and also get them in and out safely too.

  65. Hi again Jamie,
    I’ve recently opened (with my sister) up my services for business and have done everything you suggested on this blog. We have created a professional looking website; have facebook and twitter pages and have advertised on pet groups for our area; have advertised on several advertising sites (gumtree, freeindex, yell, petslocally etc); have ordered business cards (which have basic details and pricing) and began distributing them to the areas we want to cover (will also print leaflets but already had the cards ordered); have car magnets (just need the car now which should be by the end of the week); will be posting a few a5 size posters to put up in pet shops and vets; have just got insured also. I think that’s everything!
    We have 1000 business cards (which have everything I would put on a leaflet) and have distributed about 300+, will be posting the rest throughout the week although we’re actually going to need more so will post some leaflets as I can have these done free by someone. My question is, how many leaflets/business cards do you think we should post? We definitely feel we need more than 1000. Also, would you say we’ve done everything right in terms of advertising? And, finally, how long did it take you to get your first client and how do the majority of your clients find you?

    There’s annoyingly already a few established dog services in my town so we’re just hoping there’s still actually some business out there! Possinly thinking of getting a part time job for the meantime also.

    Many thanks
    Pearl

    Reply
    • Also, to add, we’ve requested to be listed on Google places but have yet to recieve the post card to verify.

      Reply
      • Hi. Ok, sounds good what you’ve done so far. For me leaflets didn’t really do anything. I did the village I live in with 2000 homes twice (about a year apart) and got one job out of it which was a once a week solo walk, but I can’t say whether or not it was a failure as I’m sure it helped get my name out there and helped increase brand awareness. My website has probably got me most of the work especially when I was unknown and therefore couldn’t get recommendations. For value for money the stickers on my van (which cost just £80) was far better value than leaflets as when I park the van at the beach or park or supermarket dozens if not hundreds of people see the stickers everyday.

        I had to wait 4 weeks for my first job (though website) which was 6 miles away, doesn’t sound far but I had no car and had to cycle there, but still it’s what got me started.

        There’s gonna be dog walkers wherever you are but the work is there or more precisely will be there. If anyone needs a dog walker they have one already and those thinking about one will pretty much have one in mind so you gonna have to be patient cause you are not known nor can get recommendations by clients and at this moment in time probably the least likely choice in your area for people wanting a dog walker and may be like that for a while. Where I am they were already 3 dog walkers in a small area, they were all well known, they all had vehicles with stickers and had established a network of clients and doggy owning friends who could recommend them – I didn’t and I didn’t even have car or any money, so I learned to build a nice website, a website far better than my competitors who had lousy websites. A lot of people will google local services and so by just having a better website I could get work ahead of the others, for the first 2 years my website pretty much got me all my jobs.

        Regarding your website, you have to remember that while its important to rank high on Google there’s no point if a website can’t convert visitors to clients. Visitors don’t read, they scan a page so no point having lots of text. Here’s a great website for anyone wanting to make their their website more effective. http://aerin.co.uk/

        PS you probably gonna start getting phone calls from companies like Yell.com and others promising you top of Google, reject them all. Yell is finished and never worth the money and the only directory that matters is google.

        If you want to make an impact get a couple of large banners (5feet wide) made and hang them up. A dog groomer did that and just recently a new vet in the area did that too and you know it gets people’s attention and gets them talking, I remember people asking me about the new dog groomer and just recently clients and friends are asking my opinion about the new vets they’ve seen have opened up. But it’s up to you, many dog walkers contact me, I mention large banner and they aint interested. But then they only just starting or about to start and havent had have to live through the 2 years of poverty I had to live through…yet!

        Reply
        • PS, since you a new business I’d recommend focusing on puppy care eg puppy visits and puppy walks etc.

        • Thanks, that’s helped a lot! I’ve luckily already got a few “clients” who can help spread the word of my business as I’ve been voluntarily walking their dogs for almost 6 years (and still do, I wouldn’t want to charge them as they are good friends and live on my road so it’s no inconvenience for me as I have to walk my own dog anyway). One of the owners could talk for England, so I’m sure she’ll be a great help promoting, ha ha!

          We’ve already had a couple scamming companies call us and apparently if you say ‘yes’ to anything on a business phone that counts as a binding contract. Luckily one of my mums friends informed me of this as I always assumed you had to sign for anything to be binding, but apparently not!

          My website is creeping it’s way up, currently when I search for dog walkers in my town it’s on the 5th page. I’m hoping Google will give me the verification pin soon so I can be listed on Google places, when you sent for one how long did it take them to send you the post card?
          Do you know of any other tips which can help get my website nearer the top for people searching for dog walkers in my area?

          Many thanks,
          Pearl

      • Hi Pearl!

        That’s great you already have friends who are clients – time to get a testimonial page setup! When you search for your own business online make sure you clear your history and cache of your web browser or Google will serve you personalised results which may list your website higher than it already is because you visit it often.

        To increase your Google rankings you need links from other websites, its a bit like a popularity contest, Google wants to know who to list at the top and it has many variables it does to choose which include such things as how many links to your website come from other websites. Find some dog walking directories and look into local websites (community websites) and see if they will link to your website. While its very important to have a Google place page don’t forget to setup a Google plus business page. Use your social media, Facebook etc and get talking to your page likers, post pics of happy pets, get them liking pics and stuff. With that you just need a little patience.

        Reply
        • Thanks again :), been very helpful! I will ask them for a little testimonial I can add to my website and FB page.

          Pearl

  66. Hey, I hope you don’t mind me asking one more question. I’m not sure if you’ll know the answer or not but it’s worth a shot. I finally got my verification pin from Google to verify my business on google maps, I currently come up near the top of the second page on google maps for dog walking businesses in my area, which isn;t too bad but I’m trying to find ways of getting it on the first.

    One thing I noticed though, which I found quite odd, is that my business only comes up on places under dog walker in my town, not under dog walking, and it only does this for google places. I can’t for the life of my figure out why as I have also been doing SEO stuff for dog walking as well as dog walker.

    Thanks
    Pearl

    Reply
    • Ask as often as you like, Pearl! When I searched for you on Google maps you were close to top of page 3 have you cleared you browser history so you not getting personalised results?

      Google hasn’t even seen your Google+ business page yet so I wouldn’t worry about that, it really shouldn’t be too hard to get high on page 1 on Google’s search results and Google maps which is where you wanna be cause page 2 is worthless.

      Focus on getting good links pointing to your website and maybe start a blog.

      Reply
      • Oh really? That’s relieving, I haven’t cleared my browsing history so that could be why.
        Do you have any tips for creating more backlinks to my site? I have listed it in quite a lot of directories, on facebook, my personal twitter, my youtube (and the description of my vids as I already had a fairly decent audience size on youtube, and some pet forums.

        I like the idea of a blog, I’ve been meaning to start one up for a while. I think I may do one to warn others of the vast number of on the phone scammers who have just been non stop, I was lucky to have a friend of my mothers help me with what to tell them (as saying yes on a business phone can result in a contract apparently!) but others might not be as aware.

        Thanks again, you’ve been a massive help!

        Reply
        • I meant to write that Google has yet to see your G+ page so you will climb a bit higher when it does. New sites take time to establish, google gives quite a bit of authority to age so part of it is being patient. For getting some links try asking local groomers, boarders etc, offer that you’ll love to take some business cards of them to hand around as you work.

        • try a competition and see if that helps. you could get a few thousand entries just by advertising your competition on competition websites. As blogging goes you could blog using blogger.com if u find it tricky to do on your own site.

  67. Hi Jamie, this website has been an absolute god send for me! I was just wondering how you laid out your flyers and what info you included on it to begin with? Myself and my partner have been looking at this business idea for a while now and have finally decided to take the plunge. Thanks for all your advice!!

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Emma! Thanks for your nice comments! Just keep it simple cause people aren’t gonna read leaflet, they will just scan so you need your name of business, services you offer and how to get in contact with you.

      Reply
  68. Hi Jamie……… it’s me again!

    I have another quick question for you. Have you registered for VAT and if so, what have you claimed for through the business? I don’t expect to reach the current VAT threshold for compulsory registration, but I can’t decide in voluntary registration will be worth the effort eg: claiming for purchase/running costs on vehicles. Many thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Hazel, no I’m not VAT registered. Expenses are pretty low for dog walkers, your biggest expense if fuel. Do you want to add a 20% VAT onto your prices?

      Reply
      • Right now, I think the negatives out weigh the benefits. Looking ahead I was thinking more about when the company stabilises and starts to turn a profit, more customers will mean a I’ll need a larger vehicle. Being able to claim back on such larger purchases might make a difference, but for now, no VAT I think is the way to go.

        Any way, thanks for your help. How are things are your end? Going well?

        Reply
        • Hi Hazel! Before you make your mind up maybe best to talk to someone like an accountant – even visit moneysavingexpert.com and post on the forums, these forums have hundreds of people who can advise better than I.

          Anyway I’m fine! I hard quite a busy and difficult day and am seriously thinking about giving up a dog but will wait a few days when I’m rested to make my decision. Dog walking in groups can be quite hard cause it’s all about being in control and you’ll always end up getting dogs that will just do whatever they want to do!

        • Was speaking to an accountant the other day and he thinks there’s no point registering for vat, said pretty much was I said before. Anyway good luck.. exciting stuff!

  69. Hi Jamie,
    I am thinking of becoming a dog walker/sitter and I just read your blog with great interest.
    I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing all the valuable information with others and I am very grateful. Best wishes,
    Sharon

    Reply
    • Thanks Sharon. I love it but you have to be committed to making it work! I just found out yesterday a dog walker nearby gave up just after a few months of trying – very sad, but you need to work at it and be prepared that it’s something that takes time to build! Although saying that building a business is a lot of fun too!

      Reply
  70. Hi Jamie
    I’m in the process of setting up a dog walking service and your blog has been very helpful. I’ve struggled to open any of the resources, I’m on my iPad, I don’t know if that is the issue, can you advise please. Thanks, Alison

    Reply
    • Hi Alison!

      Ok, I’ve changed the contracts to pdf, so click on them like you did and hopefully that should be it sorted!

      Reply
      • Thank you Jamie, yes that works, much appreciated. I have learnt so much much from your blog to the questions and answers. Thank you again, Alison

        Reply
  71. Hi Jamie,

    How’s things? Could I ask you and all your followers to take a quick look at my website? A large dose of constructive criticism would be good. Its: http://www.cspc-herts.com.

    Many thanks,

    Hazel.

    Reply
    • Hi Hazel. Ok, I’d get rid of that first page and make it so the main page is the homepage. I’m not a web expert but I have asked one to comment on your website and hope he does. In my non expert opinion, I was trying to find the info I wanted but theres quite a lot of text hiding the stuff I want to know. I want to know what services you offer, how much and what areas you work in. IMO I would put these things first then anything else beneath that.

      Reply
    • Hi Hazel,

      Agree that the splash page needs to go. It’s acting as a bouncer prevent people from getting to your site.

      Next major problem is your anonymity. Where do you live? What’s you phone number? What areas to you cover? This sort of info needs to be on every page of the site.

      You also need pictures of the dogs having fun and testimonials from your clients (woof woof).

      Add a call to action to every page. Tailor the CTA(Call to Action) to the page: ‘If you want to arrange a pet sitting call me on 01234 56789′.

      Loads more to consider on the site but that will do for starters.

      Reply
      • Jamie,

        Thanks for the feedback. It’s always useful to get a second opinion…….. after you’ve spent so long staring at the screen you lose a little focus of what your trying to say. The tips around the essential content that should be on each page was really helpful. I’ve gone back and made quite a few amendments to start with. If you get a chance would you have another look and let me know if you like the changes.

        Many thanks,

        Hazel

        Reply
        • Hi Hazel! I’ve had several of my older sites reviewed and it hurt like hell when I didnt get the praise I thought I would have got cause I put so much effort into it and liked the site but a website has to be effective at selling your services or there’s just no point. Have a look at Grahams website http://aerin.co.uk/. There is some great info in there. He is the real deal!

        • Hi, I’m glad the splash page is gone. There’s still some things there that I think are distracting you from what you are selling. Now unlike Graham I’m not an expert but the menu is too cluttered. If I’m looking for a dog walker then I want to see things on the menu that will help me find what I want, having advice on hot weather is just distracting and imo anyone looking for pet care advice for hot weather will google it, they’re on your website cause they want a dog walker, its your job to make a website that convinces them to use you. Whats a pet welfare visit? Do you mean pet sitting? The dog walking, pet welfare vists and overnight pet care looks like a menu but it isn’t. I was clicking on pet welfare to find out what it was but it just reloaded home screen. your homepage title is ‘slip end harpenden redbourn – home’. I’m pretty sure google uses title to help determin what your site is about yet all you have listed I presume is places, nothing about the services like dog walking. For the homepage, I’d like to see clearly what services you offer straight away. But if you want me best advice, contact Graham for more info.

  72. Many thanks,

    This isn’t an easy thing to get right!! I’m on it though.

    Reply
    • Hazel i have tried to look at your webpage and its not going onto it, its just displaying vista print link. is there another link you have so i can have a nose!
      Jamie ‘wow’ thank you so much for this site, its so encouraging and informative. i have one question for you, im currently in the process of making a website and im going to use a large banner to advertise this, is it legal to put it anywhere i like? and where would you recommend i put it please?

      Reply
      • Ah cool that’s a great idea! Think where people will see it. In my village right now there is a few up, by a new local vet and a new child day care facility. The child day care has one on the side of a petrol station facing drivers entering the village so it can be seen by anyone driving into village. The vet has banners on the railings on a large co-op supermarket (which I think they must of asked to do) and hanging up in a horses field on a busy main road. A dog groomer used the railings that faced a busy t-junction that got loads of attention. Just think where it can be seen by lots of people, I’m sure even if its on commercial property they’d let you put it up for a small fee.

        You don’t want to be in the situation that so many dog walkers up here are in, where they are still looking for dogs to walk and trying to earn a reasonable living years after they started!

        Reply
    • I can only give you my opinion, if you want an expert opinion contact Graham on his website http://aerin.co.uk/.

      Btw, contact menu should always be bottom, thats where people expect to find it. Blank pages like your Testimonial page look terrible and should be removed until you have stuff to add to it, yet in the comments for your blog two people have added comments which are also testimonials!

      I’m not a big fan of the “working long hours?” comment. People either need a dog walker or they don’t. If they are on your website you dont need to convince them they need a dog walker, they already know that, it’s your job to now convince them to choose you!

      The “WANT A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO KENNELS?” makes it sound like you are offering dog boarding but in your prices page you only do dog walking and pet visits.

      The “NEED SOMEONE TO TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VETS?” – I dont know anyone..ever who gets work being a pet taxi. I’ve once been asked to take a clients dog to vets, but its very uncommon. Focus on dog walking or dog walking and pet visits, thats where the money is.

      It looks to me like the important stuff is down at the bottom while the stuff that should be down at the bottom is at the top.

      List clearly what services you offer. You want to give the visitor what they want when they look. Think what they’d ask you if they were to phone you and put the answers at the top of your website. So, I wanna see “Dog walking services for ‘your town’”. I wanna see a clear list of what services you offer and how much and along with that a ‘call to action’ to encourage them to make contact, eg ” if you’d like to arrange a dog walker call us on 07******”

      The pics dont look right. A dog walking site should have pics of dogs being walked, looking happy and having fun.

      I see you made website with vistaprint – I’d change theme, I dont really like it.

      Your home page title is “MAD 4 DOGS – Home” Yet if you want to appear on Google search you are gonna have to help Google a bit. So use title to also let google and visitors know in a brief sentence what you do and where. eg “Mad 4 dogs – WELLINGBOROUGH dog walkers”

      Your homepage description is “MAD 4 DOGS. DOG WALKING/PET HOME VISITS” which google also uses. The dewcription appears on search results under name. So something like “AT Mad 4 dogs we offer dog walking and pet care for WEllingborough. If you require a service call 07******”

      Reply
  73. lol very harsh!! but thankyou very much, obviously i need a lot of work doing to it, im getting a lot of visitors but now i know why no work is coming my way!!

    Reply
    • Hi T! Have you setup your Google place listing (formerly Google Maps) and Google + business page along with a Facebook page? If not get it done pronto!

      Reply
  74. yeah ive done a business page, just waiting for the pin, currently setting up a facebook page, thanks for you help

    Reply
  75. i have taken all your advice thankyou,my site has been redone could you please take a look and tell me what you think, again criticism welcome

    Reply
    • Its better than last. Although I notice you still havent sorted out page titles and descriptions.

      Can you afford £40?

      Reply
      • Forget that, I was gonna say you could get your website reviewed for £40. I have asked Graham if he can make a dog walking website that dog walkers can use and replace example text with their own text to make it easy.

        Reply
  76. Hi Jamie

    I am just staring up as a dog walker and just want to say thank you for your advise and tips.

    I have just come out of full time employment partly because I want to become a dog walker.

    Alot of my questions have been answered reading through your website, but I am at that stage where I am researching and i am also doing a first aid course for pets. But before taking the plunge I want to make sure I have all the necessary info to do my best as being a dog walker.

    I have noticed on wuite afew dog walkers blogs that contracts is a must and have noticed this has been mentioned on your comments, would you recommend any to use?

    One of the main areas I a struggling with is scheduling. Do you have a structure for this, do you have set time slots during the day? you have mentioned 1 to 1 walks do you tend to walk these dogs at quieter times during the day?

    Your leaflets, you mentione keeping them short and sweet, would you include pricing?

    Also I have a volkswagon polo with a dog guard already fitted in the bag for my Labrador Hendrix, but if I am hoping to transport up to 4 dogs at a time I have heard walkers talk about dog harnesses, could this an alternative to cages as I am not sure I would fit them in my car. Or can you recommend something else. Eventually if things pick up I would like to get a van, but for now my olo will have to do.

    Thanks for you time

    Leanne

    Reply
    • Hi Leanne!

      There are example contracts which you can download at the bottom of this post (just before the comments).

      I have 3 group walks, 11am, 12:30 and 2pm (rough times). Some afternoons I havea solo walk around the 3:30 to 4pm mark and on a wednesday I have a 9am solo walk. There is no way I can fit solo walks in after 9am or before 3:30pm.

      You can include prices if you like or you can just tell em your cheapest price which would be a cat visit and state “Prices starting from just £5!”. But its up to you.

      You can get a hardness with seatbelt attacthment called Clix Carsafe, they quite cheap too!

      You might find that the polo is quite small if you get a large dog or two but I’ve seen some dog walkers put down their back seats and put dog guard behind front headrests making the back one very large boot area.

      Good luck and have fun! Building the business is one of the best parts!

      Jamie

      Reply
  77. Hello! This page has been FANTASTIC! I’ve been really unhappy in my job for ages and decided to bite the bullet and quit, I live in the motherwell area and I was wondering if you could answer a few questions because im goign tot ry dog walking. Wont know if it’s a success until i try right?!

    First of all a worry of mine is what to do with keys when i’m out walking – i suppose that people trust you with their keys but how do you assure they are safe when you’re out and about?

    Also how do you deal with dogs that just don’t want to walk on the lead like a well mannered pup?! I’ve been doing dog obedience for a number of years and i’m worried im going to get pulled off my feet – any secrets?!

    Reply
    • Hi Charlotte,

      I keep all my keys on a large carabiner clip. They are all safe together but if I lose it I lose them all, but so far so good!

      I have a lot of dogs that are rubbish on the lead. Thankfully all but two can be walked off lead but of course I have to put them all back on lead to walk them back to the car. The dogs that pull the worst I will use a dogmatic head collar on them which makes it very easy.

      Reply
      • That sounds like a good idea! Would save the poor wrists from chafing.

        Im hoping to plunge into business in September, would you have alook at my website and tell me if you can suggest any changes? It still needs work :)

        Also, do you think people would be interested if i could combine some basic obedience with my dog walking?

        Reply
        • Hi C!

          Website looks alright but the leaf and stone textured background looks a bit out of place, but it looks alright. I’d change your heading since that is the first thing peeps see and you need to tell them the most important thing you want in that heading. You already have your name at the top so you’re just repeating it. “Dog walkers for Motherwell” would be much more beneficial for you. When people look on a website they want to know 3 things, the area you work in, your price and your contact number. I’d add your phone number on your homepage in bold so it can be easily seen. You also need a call to action on every page, something like “to arrange a dog walking service please call Charlotte on 07000 00000″ and make that easily read too! On top of that, a contact form on every page is a good idea too!

          I think you also need a testimonial page if you can get references then get a page up asap, but dont have a testimonial page that is blank, that looks nasty.

          Your services page.

          Half hour walks are pointless. If you start getting busy you will have no choice but to take those dogs along with the 60 minute dogs for a group walk (assuming they friendly). And for the group walks I’d scrap the 1hr30 min walks for the same reason. I have 3 group walks a day, each walk available for 6 dogs. If someone asked me for a 1hr 30 min walk I’d be unable to do it, but I do offer 2 walks (one after the other) for a reduced cost, so maybe consider offering that instead!

        • Brill advice thanks :)

        • Thats me worked on it a bit more :) Thanks for all your help!

        • Website looks much better, C! But there is one thing that I’d modify, but its just my opinion. On the contact page you have the contact info on the right hand side – I like that and think you should have that on every page, even if that means putting pics underneath. Its nice, easy to read and informative. But there’s not much now you can do except make sure you are on google maps, google + and start getting links pointing to your site to help your website rank better.

          And just remember that a website is just one part of our marketing.

          But website looks great, much better and much better than most out there.

        • So you mean paste the whole bit from the right on the contact screen into every bit? The blue writing and all? I added a “contact charlotte to arrange dog walking” bit but you think I should use the contact info instead?

          Thanks :) I’ve quit my job cos it was making me miserable so I’m really taking a gamble but I have a warm fuzzy feeling =D Im going to make a facebook page, probs tomorrow and will try and work google+.

          Thank you for all your input I agree it’s looking loads better =D

        • Hi C. Change homepage heading that says “Servicing Motherwell, Wishaw and surrounding areas” and replace with “Dog walker for Motherwell and Wishaw”.

          Also your page title for the homepage is just “Paws at Walk” change that to “Paws at Walk – Dog walking for Motherwell and Wishaw”

          On your contact page do you know how to put a wee google map on the sidebar?

          Also for your logo, I’d just have a paw on its own, no need for the text above or below, at least not for the website.

          I’ve got a business bank account with santander but they also come with stinking £30 fines should you miss a direct debit.

          Just keep track of all your income and expenses, you can then do it yourself or get an accountant to do it. When you do it online in every January they don’t ask for accounts, they just want to know you total income and total expenditure and that’s it.

        • “So you mean paste the whole bit from the right on the contact screen into every bit? The blue writing and all? I added a “contact charlotte to arrange dog walking” bit but you think I should use the contact info instead?”

          Yes, I’d add the Call to action on the main part of the page.

          Yeah, get a Fb page made, but dont forget your google place (map) listing or you will struggle to rank for local searches.

          If you want to get into contact with newly establsihed dog walkers (started this year) then let me know and I can give you their FB contact info’s, they are a great help too!

        • Been working on the website, facebook page and google+ page (waiting for the pin thing to come thorugh to verify my business) but still struggling to get my website to appear on google. Any tips?

          Also I was thinking about Money, when you recieve payment from a customer doyou just put it into your personal bank account? I’m going to get a reciept book and make sure I have everythign in order, but I’m worried about sorting out my taxes come april!

          Any tips? (You are superb =D )

  78. Hi Jamie

    I started my dog walking business in February of this year (2013) and I recall reading your page and thought what great advice. I am constantly researching and came across your page again – I have to smile to myself as all the advise you have given I have done or currently doing. Thank you and keep up the good advice :)

    Reply
  79. Firstly can I say what a great read and thank you for sharing with me and with everyone else. Like most people I have always wanted to work for myself and have been giving this some thought for a while as we currently have 2 dogs of our own and love the walks. I know this venture wouldn’t make me tons of money that is not why I want to do it but i would require if doing it full time to make a living, I’m not sure if the money is there to dog walk soley and make a living maybe you could advise if that is not the case. Sorry if my questions below are to much but as you yourself are aware this could be a life changing decision.

    Would it be beinifiical to start part time i-e times when I am not at work? I don’t currently work a Monday or Friday so could start some walking then? That way i could see if there is a market in my surrounding area?

    Wen presence, how much should i pay for a decent website? and web presence especcialy now with social media like facebook for advertising etc.

    Supplementry income -
    I need to think of other ways to make a living other than walking alone? so was thinkink Puppy Socialisation? I have 2 very well socialised dogs that are up to date with jags etc, as a new puppy can’t or shouldn’t be out for the first few weeks until all jags are given then i can invite puppys into my home or garden and let them socialise with both my dogs in a safe enviroment?

    Poop Scoop peoples gardens for a small fee usefull for the elderly or infirm

    Collection of pet supplies from the local pet shop, not sure if this would even be cost effective?

    Home boarding, as we currently have 2 dogs and they are crated at bed time and at times during the day when no-one is at home i could consider boarding 1 more dog but could only take a well behaved crated dog.

    Pet visits/Home Visits – Letting a dog out for a short while spending time with a dog in another persons home.

    Cage Cleaning – Hamster/Rabbits/Guinee Pigs/Chickens etc -Letting chickens out and in at evening as well as cleaning them out etc? I would only do small animals as per the above not horses etc.

    Does the above sound like good buisness sense? profitable? or non workable?

    Is there any other supplimentary services that could be easily offered?

    Again sorry for the questions and once again thanks for a great read and great site :)

    Reply
    • Hi Alan!

      A lot of people don’t think it, but dog walking can pay quite well! Fully booked a dog walker can make 4-500 quid a week while working a lot less hours than you would if you worked for someone else – 10am till 4-5pm for me!

      You could try part time dog walking if you want, but I don’t know how clients would feel about hiring someone only available part time. The Monday to Friday dogs will be off limits so that pretty much writes off everyone who needs a dog walker cause they are working, this might make things difficult but not impossible.

      If your prices are good (maybe a temporary reduction to begin with) then you could target older/retired dog owners who would like their dogs to receive extra exercise throughout the week while being very flexible when.

      A good website that ranks well (which isn’t too hard) can definitely bring in work. Established dog walkers will say (and take pride in saying) that they get all their clients through word of mouth but their is a point in which their are no clients to give references and we all have to start somewhere and a good website is a great start. A better website than your rivals will convert visitors especially those who are new to the area. Regarding the cost of a website the standard price I think is about £100 per page, but around £300 should get you are decent professionally made website. Whether that website is any good I can’t really say and if you want to pay for one then I recommend you look at their previous work. Most dog walkers make their own websites – they suck! I learnt to make mine out of necessity. I had no car, no money, nothing, but I learnt I could get my foot in the door on the internet and it worked for me. Social media is great too and if your are good on Facebook then you can get clients that way.

      This time of year dog boarding and cat visits are in demand and pay quite well. Around £15-£20+ per night for dog boarding and £5+ per cat visit. I’m not sure how puppy socialisation would do as I think most puppy owners would be instinctively inclined to look for puppy classes for that. Poop scooping I doubt would work and I doubt there would be little if any demand.

      Pet visits/Home Visits for dogs would be ok but only owners of sick dogs or puppys would want them and then you are only available Fridays till Mondays which again makes things difficult.

      The thing is people will generally only pay for a service when they need it, if they don’t need it they wont pay for it. Dog walking is a needed service for those who work, this is where the money is and particularly group walks. Just three group walks a day is enough to get by. 3 walks x 6 dogs in each walk at £8 per dog = £144 a day! All other pet services are pocket money with the possible exception of dog boarding if you have the time to dedicate yourself (or partner) to it!

      Anymore Questions, just ask.

      Jamie

      Reply
  80. Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for putting so much information together. I’ve been trawling the internet, going round in circles, heads in bits then I drop on to your website and a lot of what I need to know is all here – you’ve been a God-send!

    I’m currently in full time employment, but like a lot of people that have been in touch I’m fed up of the rat race and my passion is with dogs. Although it’s a massive step giving up a full time job in this current financial climate I’m really considering dog walking as a career but I need to find out if it’s really a viable option. I can’t say I have a ‘business head’ on my shoulders as it’s something I have never had to think about before. How would you go about finding out if there is a market in my area? I’ve Googled ‘dog walkers in Warrington’, which is where I live and it has come up with about 18. This seems like a lot of competition and is making me think twice.

    However, the lady who looked after my dog whilst we were on holiday set up her dog walking business 18 months ago. She’s now fully booked all the time, having to turn people away and her husband has given up his job to help and it all seems such a success. She lives 12 miles from where I do. She wishes she had done it years ago and it’s what has made me think I could do it.

    Any advice would be welcome.
    Once again thank-you for your time.
    Glen

    Reply
    • Hi Glen!

      You’re right it is a massive step giving up a full time job to start a new business and a lot of it depends on your personal life and if you can afford to lose your wage for a period of time. It may be a couple of years or more before you get back to earning what you are now, but dog walking can bring in a nice living and you can’t be sacked or made redundant you can only lose clients.

      Looking at Warrington, it looks like a pretty big place so I’d be ok with another 12 but the others wont stop you getting work or being successful, you have to take responsibility for that yourself.

      Just get properly prepared and market yourself well, leaflets, website, stickers on vehicle. A nice large banner or two would probably market your business better than all the above combined, but its up to you how you market yourself. Dog owners tend to be quite sociable people and easy to approach and talk to compared to those just out for a walk on their own, making dog owning friends is quite easy and if they like you then they will use you should they need a dog walker.

      It will take time, from experience some dog walking businesses just kick off and others have to just be patient and grind it out, but if you’re committed then of course you will succeed.

      Reply
  81. Hi Jamie

    I contacted you a couple of weeks ago (6th August) sorry I have not had chance to reply as I have been away. Just wanted to say thank you for your advice, it is truely appreciated.

    I ordered my flyers they should be with me hopefully within the next couple of days. In the meantime im just getting things sorted, website, insurance etc even down to some of your recipes (my dog hendrix loves the dried liver treats, thank you)

    Think i’ll have to stick with my polo for now but the harnesses should come in usefull for now.

    Just wanted to ask a question about my website, its up and running but I cannot search for it through google. I though i’d followed the necessary steps on the website building site but it doesnt seem to of worked, can you suggest anything?

    Thanks again

    Leanne

    Reply
    • Hi Leanne. I’d need to know your website address to know more but the chances are Google has yet to ‘crawl’ your site and find that you exist. If that’s the case, they will come soon enough.

      Reply
  82. Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for replying to my query so quickly and being so positive about it.

    I’ve just started doing my homework in the hope of setting up a business next year and obviously this has thrown up a few more questions.

    Although I love being with dogs I don’t have a lot of hands on experience with them. I’ve had my dog for two years, attended puppy training and the Kennel Club Good Citizen bronze award course. Other than that and going on walks with friends dogs, which are all well behaved (the dogs, although my friends are okay too), that’s it (Maybe I could include some of the secondary school pupils I’ve taught for the past 14 years ;). Do you think potential clients may be put off by this lack of experience? I’ve also been looking at some on-line courses in dog behaviour/pet sitting and was wondering if you have any experience of these and if you think they are worthwhile? Some are pretty expensive.

    Do you think there’s specifically a good/bad time in the year to start a dog walking business?

    I’ve seen what I think are exaggerated claims to what you can earn as a dog walker. The service you offer is what ideally I’d like to do and once the business is in full swing what kind of money could I roughly be earning per year here in Warrington?

    Your web page looks great. How easy was it to do yourself and where did you start with it?

    I’m sorry for all the questions but I am really grateful for your selfless attitude. It really is appreciated!
    Thanks for your support Jamie.

    Kindest regards

    Glen

    Reply
  83. Hi Glen!

    I think if you prepare properly and present your business well clients shouldn’t be too concerned how much experience you have. You’re not suddenly gonna be fully booked with lots of people phoning when you start. To begin with just getting known will be hard, your website wont rank as high as the others, dog owners will be far more aware of the others than they are off you and clients will take time to get. Its this period when walks are few and group walks have only a couple of dogs that you learn in a way that’s manageable. If you can befriend a dog behaviourist then that would help, but if unsure about a dog don’t take risks, owners will sometimes refrain from telling you if their dog isn’t as friendly as they present them to be.

    Start anytime, the sooner the better as it takes time. But start saving if you can so you have money to help you start.

    Dog walking prices look like they are £10+ for Warrington, so I’d say once you get busy, you’d be earning £400 a week with around £500+ once you get fully booked. Take off around £50 a week for petrol.

    I like being creative so I found making a website fun. But it was also a necessity as when I started I was broke ass broke and my transport was a borrowed bike. You can make a website too if you want, but there is nothing like necessity to make you learn. You can also get them made for around £300-£400 but from what I’ve seen they’re not much better than most dog walker’s attempts.

    I use wordpress(http://wordpress.org/). Look that up! It’s software you upload to your website. Its quite hard to get your head around it at first but its brilliant and completely free!

    Reply
    • Hi Jamie,

      thanks for getting back to me. I’ll let you know how I get on.

      Geronimo!!!

      Glen

      Reply
  84. Hi Jamie

    I’m in the process of reaseaching all the info I need on dog walking. The only bit I am struggling with at the moment is if you for instance have three dogs on a 1/2 or 1 hours walk and they live about ten/fifteen minutes away from each other. How do you work the timing from when you collect your first dog to collecting the last dog. Do you then start your 1/2 hour or 1 hours walk once you are at your walking destination?. I know you said in your article to keep clients as close as possible but what if they lived 20 mins plus away from another dog. Then there is the travelling to where your walking destination is, it seems that you (I) will be loosing time?? I really hope this makes since. I know what I’m trying to say but without waffling on I’m struggling to get it into words :)

    Thank you Beckie

    Reply
    • Hi Beckie!

      I don’t do half hour walks and wouldn’t recommend those starting to do them. They’re ok if early in day or in afternoon but it complicates things to much if done during the day. This because the 30 minute dogs will have to get walked with the 60 min dogs and thus get 1 hrs walk for half price.

      I work within a 4 mile area but hope to reduce that soon. No dog is more than 10 mins. I they were 20 mins+ away then I wouldn’t do them. I used to work in a larger area like most dog walkers who have just started but then I had very few dogs so could afford the time. Once you start you can throw your net over a large area just to catch some dogs but as you get more you have to start cutting the outer areas off so you work in a smaller and smaller area. If a dog was 20 mins a way then its just not worth it. Where do you live?

      Reply
  85. Hello Jamie it’s me again =D

    Well exciting day today as I got a call from my first client wanting two walks a week. Havent actually properly advertised yet so I’m over the moon.

    Quick questions – how do you pay yourself? Do you have to put all your dog walking fees into a business bank account? I havent thought about setting up a business account (i have bad credit due to an idiot family member) and would like to avoid it at the moment if possible.

    Also how do you register as self employed and when should i do this?

    Reply
    • Hi C!

      That’s great news! How did they hear of you? I have a business bank account which is easy and free to setup. I also have bad credit from before I became a dog walker – don’t worry about it.

      Register straight away. You can do this here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/register-selfemp.htm

      Reply
      • Must have been the yellow pages :) yell.com have been really great they phoned me within a couple of days of my listing going online to offer to alter it and help it get better for free. I might pay for some advertising with them later next month, what do you think?

        I’ll register self employed when I quit my job which is next friday, not taking any clients until after then anyway. (8 shifts and then I’m free!!!)

        Reply
        • Yell.com are a dead fish. By all means get/keep a free listing with them but in my opinion its just not worth the £20+ a month for the paid listing. By far and away most people will ‘Google’ for a local business so I’d be more concerned about making sure you are seen there.

  86. Hello Jamie!
    Thank you for posting up this page! I am in the middle of setting up my own dog walking business with my partner and have found your site extremely helpful. We’re very excited to get started.
    One question for you: We are in the process of looking for a vehicle to transport the dogs around. We have been looking at car/vans such as the Renault Kangoo which we think would be ideal, but what do you think about having windows or not? We were thinking it would be nicer to have windows so that the dogs aren’t shut up in the back of a dark van (which may make them distressed?), but then we wondered if the dogs were in cages in the back of the van, would the owners get distressed at seeing their dog in a cage through the window?

    That’s another point, do the dogs have to be in separate cages or is one big one ok? As long as the dogs get along of course.

    What are your thoughts on the matter?

    Thank you again for the great site :)

    Many thanks!

    Louise

    Reply
    • Hi Louise,

      Go for a van. It’s bigger inside and ideal for cages. A car like the berlingo I drive is decent enough but you have to know that the dogs are sociable and well behaved enough to be traveling with other dogs in very close proximity uncaged. If you go for a car then its best to tint the windows so noone can see, just out of professionalism. But going back to the van, for me I think even a slightly bigger van than a Kangoo is better so you can put 6 reasonably large cages in the back, something like a VW Transporter or Peugeot Expert.

      For me I’d put one dog per cage, but when you know your dogs you’ll know if you can pair them up or keep them apart. You also have to consider getting them in and out. Once you get to the park the dogs are going to be very excited and it’s easier taking one dog out at a time that trying to take two or more out as they try to push their way past.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  87. Hi Jamie.
    I’m in the process of setting up as a dogwalker. I’ve just been accepted onto The New Enterprise Allowance Scheme. So shouldn’t be too long before I’m up and running. I’ve drafted contracts etc. Just wondered what, if any, documents you leave with the client once they’ve signed them? I guess you keep copies too?
    Many Thanks for any advice you can give.
    Wendy

    Reply
    • Hi Wendy!

      Yeah, I’d say it’s best to leave copies for your client so they can look back on them should they feel the need to. Good luck with your start-up!

      Reply
  88. Dear Jamie

    I was delighted to find your site and read all the questions posed and answers you generously give out to others. It really is so kind of you. I wonder then if you can give us some advice. My husband is really keen to start up a dog walking service in Edinburgh and he has had a lot of advice already from established dog walkers here who have been very helpful. Our big problem is that neither of us are particularly computer literate so we don’t know how to go about setting up a website. Your own is fabulous and although we are unlikely to achieve anything as professional as your site, I was wondering if you could direct me to someone or a site which would help us get something up and running. I don’t understand terms like ‘domain site’, ‘domain name’ etc,etc so we would need this all done for us. We would, of course, be happy to pay for the service but we don’t know who to approach or how much this would be likely to cost. Any information you could give us would be gratefully received. With thanks, Lexi

    Reply
    • A typical website made for you would cost £300-£400!

      Reply
  89. Thank you for sharing your experience! This is invaluable information for new dog walkers. I’ve shared your blog on my website as my favourite blog by dog walkers :) Best of luck with your future endeavours!

    Reply
  90. Hi Jamie,

    Cracking blog,Really impressed with the information,Theres not many stones uncovered on here,I work from home and have a dog myself and usually take him out on a hour + walk,Just thought I could combine the two,Want to start off slowly then build up and add thinngs as I go along ie Flyers,Website etc,Im just in the process off doing the business cards,I know it seems obvious but just wondered what you would put on them,Just didn’t want to put unnecessary information on and with your experience just wondered how you would do yours.Im really excited by this project just want to get going now.

    Thanks Lee

    Reply
    • Hi Lee! I’d keep your business cards simple. At the very least your name business name and contact info should be there and preferably email and website address. You can also put the services you offer. I wouldn’t worry to much.

      Reply
  91. Yeah thought that,Just going to take it slowly and build things up gradually as money is not a problem,Rather just do it gradually and learn the ropes with the dogs,How to handle them etc and if the work comes in ill be a lot more organised and confident with what I am doing,Going to add the flyers/Website as I go along as I don’t want to rush them and put a load off rubbish out,rather wait and get it done properly but still being active at the same time with the business cards/advertising,Been making enquiries and asking fellow dog walkers what they thought off my idea and they were all very positive,As its starting from scratch do you think its worthwhile offering the 30 min walk or just go for the standard 1 hour,In your opinion would you just offer the solo walk and the group walk for 1 hour? Im also considering doing the cat and puppy visiting aswell as the cat visiting seems a less time consuming thing to do and keep your earnings ticking over.Sorry for all the questions,Just want to make sure I get it right.

    Reply
    • Dont bother with 30 minute walks unless they puppy walks. Puppies grow up to be best group dogs, just remember that and try to target them while you have the time to care for them. For me, I’m gonna have to take puppy care of my website soon as I just don’t have the time.

      Cats are great cause they are done before and after the dog walking so it doesn’t interfere and is nice pocket money!

      Don’t be too patient, I think after 1 year of dog walking I only had between 3-5 dogs a day.

      All walks should be 1hr whether they are solo or group. Many charge a bit extra for solo, I don’t, but I can only do it very early morning or late afternoon cause group walking takes up the day and of course that is what brings in the money.

      Be wise with your advertising as you can spend a lot of money and get little in return. Leaflets are fine if you do it yourself but don’t pay for it, its just not worth it. A good website is very much worthwhile and where most of my work came from when I started. Stickers on car pays too and should cost £100 or less.

      Reply
  92. Hi Jamie,

    As luck would have it a women on my road has just had 6 puppies (Her dog,Not the women ;) ),I know it would be only would be 8 weeks work as she is intending on selling them,But she has enquired about if I could do the 2 day 30 min,I know you said £5.00,Is that about right as there is 6 off them,Just wanted to make sure before I told her the price?

    Thanks Lee

    Reply
    • Hi Lee!

      It’s upto you how much you wanna charge. For me I charge £8 for two puppy visits. My price is already low but I make it like that because I know they will soon be on the group walks when they get a bit older. Your pups haven’t been weaned or found new homes so you’re in a different situation. I think you could charge more than I but its up to you, at least £5 per visit.

      Reply
  93. hello!i am 19 years old girl and i am going to stay in london.i want to find a job there.maybe i will work as a waiter…but the truth is that i would prefer to work as a dogwalker.it will make me more happy work with animals…i think that i have all the qualifications which are needed!also in my expirience i have great communication with animals because i am trying to understand them..sometimes i respect them more than humans…but the first ploblem is that i dont know very good english…for this,there is a solution because in london i will speak all the time english..the second problem is my age,i think…i dont know…so could you please help me to manage to work as a dog walker?its the best job for me!

    Reply
    • HI Iliana. Before you consider self employment you have to consider whether you can live on a very low income in the meantime. Because it will take time, even years before you are earning a decent living. I wouldn’t worry about your age, whats more important is that you are a professional dedicated dog walker looking to walk pets in a careful and responsible manner. If you haven’t already then read this post even if you have to use a Google translator. If dog walking is something you really want to do and you’re lucky enough to live in an area with plenty of people that also speak your native language then this could be something you could target and promote while you are learning English!

      Good luck!

      Reply
      • Thank you very much!

        Reply
  94. Hi Jamie,

    I am thinking of starting my own business in dog walking/pet sitting. Do you think I will get enough customers to make a career out of it?

    I am thinking of also doing cleaning services (hoovering, cleaning cars, ironing, washing up, watering plants etc) with it as well is it a good idea?

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Dave

    Reply
  95. Dave, there is enough dogs out there to potentially make £400+ (more if you live somewhere like London)a week on your own if you work hard enough and have the patience required to build your business.

    Domestic cleaning is also big business these days too. Both businesses are quite similar in that the recession has meant that many couples now have to work rather than just one so someone needs to walk the dog and it makes life easier to have someone clean the home. Where I live in Renfrewshire, dog walking costs around £8 per dog per hour and house cleaning costs around £15 per hour. You could do either and make a living or do both to start with to try to get some kind of money in. But whatever you do, you will have to work hard to market your business and get known and be patient. It took me nearly 3 years of graft till I finally felt that I had established myself as a dog walker and began to make a living – that’s what starting your own business can be like.

    So to answer your question “Do you think I will get enough customers to make a career out of it?” the answer to that is can you stick it out long enough to get enough customers to make a career out if it? If you can then go for it!

    J

    Reply
  96. Ok thanks when it comes to it I will email you if thats ok and maybe you can send me more info.

    Reply
    • Yeah, no worries! It’s all marketing whether its leaflets, website, stickers on car etc and all avenues have to be explored. It’s gonna be hard stuff getting an income but if we put the effort in to market ourselves in a way that encourages people to call us then we make things a bit easier on ourselves.

      Reply
  97. Hi,

    Do you have to register your business with HMRC,If so I have a job,Do I do it as a sole trader?Do I need to do it straight away or is there some leeway in the system?

    Reply
  98. Hi,

    Just had a couple of enquiries about dog sitting for a day,Not night,Just someone wanted to drop off at 9 pick up at 6,Been looking at other peoples prices,Just thought about dog day sitting with a one minimum walk with owner to provide food,Just what you thought would be a reasonable price as they vary quite a lot.

    Reply
    • Yes, I have to register like businesses. You can do that here http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/businesses/iwtregister-a-new-business.shtml

      Register your business when you start it, you will be a sole trader even if you decide to take on staff. You don’t have to pay tax unless you earning over 9-10,000 a year.

      IMO, £15-£20 for day care is reasonable. If you doing day care then don’t forget dog boarding where clients leave dog with you for days at a time. Boarding is about same price but there is much more demand for it. Nice money can be made from those two without having to walk any other dogs.

      Reply
  99. Would you say people use you more for pet sitting or dog walking?
    People mention cat sitting but im happy to sit all pets.

    Reply
  100. You will pet sit cats and other animals and they will boost your income but by far most of your money is gonna come from dog walking and in particular dog walking in groups.

    Reply
  101. Hi, I am ready to create my website! I have sent you an email. thanks

    Reply
  102. Hia Jamie , what a great little site you have, I was woundering if you could help me.
    I’m wanting to set up a dog walking business but I have few questions I was hoping you can help me with.
    # I notice you take your dogs to the beach a lot and was woundering how you go about returning them to there owners when they are wet , as it’s takes me a good 30-45 min to dry off my cockerspaniel.
    # It’s hard to get people to give a random person a key to there house so how to you convince them to do so?

    # how long is a dog out with you for , from pic up to drop off?

    Hope to hear back from you soon, and thanks for this brill info!
    Keep up the good work :-)
    Many thanks
    Steven.

    Reply
    • Hi Steven!

      1. I let them swim and get wet at the beginning of the walk and then take them on the path and grass to play there after 15-20 mins to help dry them off a bit. Once home the ones that need it will get a rub down with a towel. Usually they’re not that wet unless it’s been raining then it will take a little more time. Rain is the worst, cause you get soaked and so does your van/car. Wait till you get into your car the next day and it stinks of wet dog and damp!

      2. Some people do feel uncertain about giving someone a key but having a disclosure Scotland certificate helps, also if you have quite a few customers too then that helps, recommendations help and anything that shows that others trust you. This can be a bit of a problem when you start your business but there are always peeps out there who are trusting and willing to give you a chance!

      3. All walks are 1 hour long so it depends on how many dogs are on that walk and how far away they live. But sometimes it can be close to 2 hours but usually they are with me for 1hr 30 mins.

      Reply
  103. Hi Jamie, How could you give evidence to the owner that you have walked there dog? because some people may accuse you of not walking them and refuse to pay you. Also how would you walk a really strong dog that pulls or even four strong dogs??

    Reply
    • Hi Steph!

      Are you already dog walking? Have you been asked to show evidence? I’ve never been accused ever. I think an owner would know if their dog has not been out, there might even be a mess in the house. But many dog walking businesses are on fb and take pics of their walks, I suppose you could do that and if anyone was to accuse you, you could show them pics of their dog at the park.

      Regarding pulling, most dogs pull and some pull like crazy. Thankfully they are really only on lead as we leave car or going back to car but if they pull too much then I carry dogmatic head collars which will tame any dog!

      Reply
      • Thanks alot, good advice. No im not a dog walker just yet but im looking into it :)

        Reply
  104. Hi Jamie,

    May seem like a stupid question but what age do the puppy walks not become puppy walks if you get my drift,Some people consider a puppy at 2 year old,What is your limit?

    Reply
    • I suppose you’re looking at 9-10 months. Puppy walks are ideal for the new business with plenty of time on their hands but difficult to give one pup sole attention when other dogs are needing walked.

      Reply
  105. Hi Jamie
    I am on the verge of starting my dog walking business officially. I need to be insured by next Monday, can you advise me, which company do you use and what cover did you start with? And how much do you pay? Also, before you got your transport, while you were doing a group walk, what did you do with your first dog whilst collecting your second dog?

    Reply
    • Hi Sadie!

      Cool, glad you took the plunge and I wish you all the best! Both Cliverton and Pet Business Insurance offer dog walking insurance – it’s about £120 a year.

      When I started I had a bike and of course had very few dogs to walk so I’d walk one then walk another after. If for some reason I had an additional dog or two I’d had to borrow my Uncles car to do a group walk. Unless they live very close then it’s very hard to walk more than one at a time without transport. Have you got transport?

      Reply
  106. is that the best insurance to get? does it cover everything? and unfortunately I don’t have a car so I will be on foot until I can get one, so I was just worried about what I would do if I got more clients and still didn’t have transport.

    Reply
    • also just another quick question, has there ever been an occasion when youve been too ill to walk the dogs and what did you do?

      Reply
      • Either insurance is more than good enough and both offer insurance specifically for dog walkers. I have only been ill once where I couldn’t work, but my brother and uncle helped out for that week. Most peeps I know have friends or know other start-up dog walkers who can help out.

        Reply
  107. hey jamie, I know you’re probably sick of hearing it by now but your site is awesome and a really useful insight into the pro dog walking world. I started a dog walking business a couple of years back but sadly my jeep blew up and my clients were quite spread out and I hadn’t the money to buy another worthy vehicle. anyways, im just about to relaunch the business having saved up enough to buy a brand new berlingo van and get it fully crated out (my god custom crates are pricey… I paid nearly 1500 pounds for 4 compartments) I’ve a couple of question’s. 1 being what do you do with client keys when you’re out walking. I was thinking of maybe fixing a key safe inside the van as I’d hate to lose them while out walking. also do you think starting the business in jan would be a mistake? would be great to hear back from you. keep up the good work buddy.

    Reply
    • Hi Rich! Sorry to hear about the Jeep, I’ve been in that position a few times without a car, last time was just a month ago when timing belt went in my berlingo and ruined the engine.

      If I had the money I’d do the same thing as you and get the custom cages built rather than just installed dog crates.

      I keep all my keys on one large karabiner. The only time I’ve lost a key was because I never added it to my karabiner and thought it would be ok just in the car.

      I don’t know if there is a good or bad time to start really, if people need a dog walker, they need a dog walker, I’ve never found that work quietens at anytime of the year, but saying that I have had quite a few pups join me early in the year about Feb, so maybe it’s an ideal time to start if you can market yourself well.

      Reply
  108. Hi Jamie,

    This info is so valuable, thank you :-)
    I’ve wanted to take the plunge for years but didn’t due to confidence and finances but now for reasons out of my hands i have the opportunity to do what i’ve always wanted and start a dog walking business. I have made a website and ordered some business cards, asked friends and family to speak to dog owners they know and have my first client meet on Saturday, I’m so excited and glad i’ve decided to give it the determination it deserves :-)
    Thanks for posting all this info, it’s so helpful, I’m sure i’ll be back for more :-)

    Reply
    • Wow, well done! It’s great that you meeting a new client so soon!

      Reply
  109. Great article. I’ve been looking for something like this to share with others that are looking to become Dog Walkers. The Dog Walking business is growing in Brazil. São Paulo and Rio De Janeiro are the leaders, but there there are other smaller cities like Florianopolis in the race. Thanks again the fine article!

    Reply
  110. Hey Jamie!

    Thank you so much for all your advise, I have never seen such a complex guidance:) I’ve decided to follow your tips and start a small dog walking business in Holmfirth which is a town in West Yorkshire.
    There are couple of competitors, however, I believe that with my professional attitude I can find a place in this market:)
    You gave many tips&tricks about websites before (yeah I read all posts on this page!), could you take a quick look at my own one? It’s located at: http://shaggydogcenter.co.uk
    Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you for your website one more time, you’ve done a great job!

    Reply
    • Hi Martyna!

      That’s a nice looking website. I used to have a slider on my homepage but every time I put my website on forums to get reviewed it kept on getting slated and I really liked it but eventually got rid of it. Apparently they not that great for biz unless done right which can be hard. But overall your website is better than most. Good luck!

      Reply
  111. Great site,

    Please can you tell me how you go about having keys to the customers homes or do you walk dog when the owners are at home?

    How would you go about having keys to homes.
    Regards barry

    Reply
    • Hi Barry. It all depends on what the client wants. If they just want their dog exercised then they might be in but they might want a lunchtime dog walk cause they are at work all day. Few clients will be in and most will be at out, so they will have to give you a key.

      Reply
  112. Hey Jamie,

    I currently run an small dog daycare in Canada, mostly based on outdoor activities (hikes ect.) I’m wondering if you can suggest ideas for building business. I have a lot of my clients i’ve started up with and have been with me for a year but am having trouble adding new ones. Advertising ideas?

    Reply
    • Hi Tricia!

      I like the website, it’s nice! I’d say if you can get a contact form that may help convert visitors! Maybe a call to action on every page would help prompt people to make that call too, but defo one of the best websites I’ve seen – very nice!

      Regarding advertising methods there is loads to choose from. Leaflets suck, car/van stickers are good, a nice big banner is also very good and you can place it somewhere very busy. I’m currently assisting a local dog walker and he gets his banner (hopefully) this Friday. Quite exciting really, I think it will create a buzz and grab peoples attention and get some folk talking – which is really what marketing is all about!

      Reply
  113. Hiya Jamie! This blog has been brilliant and the links all so helpful, I’m just a little concerned about how to cope financially while i’m starting out? I’ve worked in rescue kennels for 5 years intially as a kennel worker then as a kennel behavioural assistant, also have assisted for a bull breed behaviourist for 2 years, and worked a year in boarding kennels.. plus have my own nervous aggressive rescue dog and I’m studying for a degree in canine behaviour.. so know a little bit about dogs lol! I’ve just finished in rescue as I moved to a new area, and was awaiting a position as a veterinary assistant which has now been delayed.. it got me thinking about going into dog walking instead, but with rent/bills/loans/insurance/dog food/life to pay for i’m unsure of how long it will take for me to be on my feet financially.. i’ve always been on a low wage so not looking for thousands, but would like to be earning more than I was in the long run until I graduate.. any advice?

    Reply
    • I’ll be honest! It’s hard work building the business and takes time. I’ve recently been helping a local dog walker who’s been dog walking for two years cause he only has a handful of dogs. It really can take years to be earning any decent money. If you do things right from the start that helps but it’s all about getting known, getting people talking about you – that’s marketing.

      So that means grabbing people’s attention, it means large printed banners hanging in railings at very busy points in your area, it means nice wee website that ranks well, it means bright clear stickers on car that can be read from a distance, it means meeting lots of people where they congregate to walk their dogs and befriending them…then patience cause even when you get it right it takes time. The way I look at it, if I was to start again and knowing what I know now, if my income (starting from zero) was to increase about £100-£150 a week per year then I’d have to be happy about that, that means at the end of the first year I’d be earning £100+ a week, at the end of the second £200+ per week etc.

      Would that suit you?

      Reply
      • I much prefer honesty to sugar coating :) Totally understand that it will be a lot of hard work, my dad is self employed and took a long time to build up his business! But I am a very hard worker :) I’m sure this will be a dream compared to 10 hour days in stray kennels 6 days a week..

        But in all honesty, I couldn’t live on £100 a week, my outgoings for rent+bills are double that, let alone food and general living. I am actually qualified as a trainer, so that may top things up a little alongside the dog walking, but will need to research it more before taking the plunge. The problem is, there’s no way really of building up clients if you’re in a full time job doing something else, right?

        Reply
      • Unless, you can an evening job like takeaway driver etc to give you the day free then it is very hard.

        Reply
        • Hiya Jamie!

          Me again lol! SO, the vet job got delayed until summer.. so I went for the dog walking. If it doesn’t work out, I can always take the vets job though i’d prefer not to. I’ve created a website (www.offthebeatentrackdogwalking.com) would you mind taking a look? And I’ve advertised on yell, gumtree, local newspaper, and viva street. Site isn’t appearing on google though?! I’ve also put flyers in all pet shops, local supermarket, vets and newsagents. I’ve contacted all local behaviourists and trainers, as well as rescue centres, to ask them if they would mind recommending me to clients requiring dog walkers.

          Now it’s just waiting.. which is a little frustrating. Do you have any tips on what to do in the mean time?

          Thanks so much for all of the advice!

        • Hi Rachel,

          For me it’s not a case of whether it will work out or not – it will work.. given time. We just can’t say how long it will take or if you like it once you get going.

          I like the site, it’s really nicely done. Is that you in the middle? All looks good, except the meta title and description could be a little better to help you rank better on Google.

          “I’ve advertised on yell, gumtree, local newspaper, and viva street” I hope you not paying though. Newspapers and yell.com are not worth paying for. Better buying stickers on car or getting a large banner printed. To get work, best thing to do when starting is get people talking about you, best way to do that is make yourself noticeable – a great big banner hanging somewhere can do that very well – should also cost less that £100 so great value.

          Regarding Google, have you setup your Google+ business page yet? You wont rank locally without it. It will take weeks to get it up cause you have to wait for Google to post you a pin so if not done, best do it asap.

        • Hello again :)

          So pleased to say I’ve got 2 clients now! Both regulars for a walk once a week :) Had another offer but as i’m using public transport couldn’t take it as it’s 2 buses away!

          Thank you for the compliments on the site, yep that’s me and my little Biscuit in the middle! Oh okay, do you think I need to add more “dog walker plymouth” references in there lol?!

          Eeek.. not paying for any other than yell.. the sales guy was very convincing and I was starting to panic about lack of clients but i’ve had a few problems with it already so looking to see if I can opt out! Banner is a great idea too! Thanks!

          I requested my pin over a fortnight ago and still waiting for it to come.. applied again a few days ago just in case it had somehow not worked so just waiting now really! Did you have to wait for over a fortnight?

          Thanks again for all of your help!!

        • That’s great you have clients so soon. You’re gonna end up with people contacting you whether its yell.com, others promoting you on Google, local newspapers etc, forget them all.

          Don’t worry about your Google pin, it usually takes about 4-6 weeks, not the 1-2 weeks they claim.

  114. Hi Jamie, thank you for the wonderful advise you have given on this site – I am still ploughing through it all.

    Just thinking about pricing and note that you only offer 1 hour walks – what do you think about 45 minute walks only? Also you don’t mention the cost of additional dogs from the same household nor an additional cost for weekend, evening or Bank Holiday walks. Most walkers charge more for solo walks as compared to individual walks. Pricing at the correct level is proving to be a really difficult one – I don’t want to undersell myself but also don’t want to price myself out of the market. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi!

      I think 45 min walks are more than acceptable and you more than likely can keep the price the same as the others who offer 1 hour. For me, dogs from the same home are charged half price. I charge the same for solo walks, but its acceptable to charge more if you want. – group walks is really what it’s all about though.

      Just check out all the local competition see what they are charging and you’ll get a good idea for your area.

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Thanks Jamie, it’s great to have a 2nd opinion of someone who is obviously successful.

        Do

        Reply
  115. Hi Jamie, just had another look at your website and I see you have changed your format a little. Is that for any particular reason, eg, increasing SEO. Thanks. Do

    Reply
    • Hi Do! Its easy to judge other people’s websites but hard to judge your own so objectively – at least for me. I’m trying to write the homepage more for the visitor and it’s very easy to make it all “me, me, me!” which many dog walking sites have done.

      Also I’ve learnt (learning) my website wasn’t as personal as it could be, it was quite formal, “we” intead of “I”. I’m gonna be changing my website over the next few weeks and try to get my own pic up on homepage – that personal touch inspires a lot of confidence I think.

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie, thanks for that. I am trying to pull together a home page and I’m finding it very difficult to get the balance. At the moment I know I just have too many words and I know I need to get it down which I’m finding difficult as I like the words I’ve used. I’ll keep on trying though and try and get something somewhere near as good as yours. How long did it take you to write your home page. Thank you. Do

        Reply
        • Well, I guess you could say it’s taken nearly 4 years to write mine. As I’ve learnt more I change my website accordingly, I’m currenlty on my 5th site or so and will keep tweaking it when I know I can make it better.

          Let’s have a look at yours!

  116. Phew – that makes me feel better. Website is still in the very early stages of design so nothing really yet to see. Will keep you posted though. I notice you have modified your dog walking slots – any particular reason? Thank you.

    Reply
  117. Hi Jamie, I’ve been a dog walker for about four years and can agree with almost everything you have said. Couple of queries: I had wondered about putting a poster on railings/lamp posts etc and when I looked into it it seems that it could be considered flyposting and illegal and some councils would prosecute so I’ve never done it. Have you ever had any problems with that? About CRB check I looked into that and it seems that you can’t do one for yourself, it is for potential employees to apply for it, I seem to remember that on the CRB website it stated you can’t apply for yourself. I’ve only ever had one client ask about it and they were happy with references which they checked. I tried your liver recipe this afternoon. I bought pig liver which was only 75p in Asda (enough for 3 small bags full). However the smell when I took it out of the oven even with the window wide open made me heave. I hope the dogs love it although I’m not sure I could stomach the smell again. Maybe beef liver smells less awful. It’s a fantastic job that we do isn’t it, I absolutely love it! Best Wishes, Simon

    Reply
    • To be honest, I’ve never done it, but it would be one of the first things I’d do if I was starting out again cause of the results others have had. I have a dog walking friend in a local area who is currently looking for a place to hang his up. There’s quite a few banners up here, most are on private/commercial properties, like shop railings, an empty farm field over looking busy road, local petrol station etc. There’s lots of good places. Also where I am, it’s pretty relaxed, as in there are flyers on lamposts.

      You can get a Basic disclosure Scotland certificate even if you don’t live in Scotland. http://www.disclosurescotland.co.uk/about/regions/

      All liver smells the same to me, I don’t mind the smell, it’s not bad compared to some of the things I smell while out with the dogs! lol

      Reply
  118. Hi Jamie
    Just wanted to wish you a ‘pawtastic’ Merry Christmas
    Regards
    Kirstie’s Dog Walking Service

    Reply
    • Hi Kirstie!

      Thanks, I remember your website from the last time you commented! It’s a nice personal site. I hope the dog walking is paying off for you and you are having a great Christmas. I’ve taken a little time off over the holidays and loving the chance to put my feet up!

      Jamie

      Reply
  119. Hi Jamie,

    Been doing my website over the Christmas holidays,It’s only in the early stages,Just wondered what you and others thought off it,If I could change anything,Add anything etc.
    http://www.dogwalkingsheffield.co.uk
    Thanks Lee

    Reply
    • That’s looking really nice and much better than most. Well done! Is the biz name “Dogwalkingsheffield.co.uk” or “Lee’s dog walking and pet services”?

      If I could make some suggestions: The homepage title above the text copy homepage doesnt need to be “Lee’s dog walking and pet services”, I’d replace that to tell visitors what you do and where – that’s what they want to know. Visitors are only interested in what you can do for them, theyre not interested in you. You also need a call to action to encourage/instruct visitors to contact you. In your footer, I’d get rid of tag cloud, it offers nothing to visitors. I’d replace it with your name, contact details and full address. Google will also like that and adding your address adds trust to your site. But the site is looking good. Also I put all the testimonials on display rather than using a slider to show each one separetly. I thought at first you only had one testimonial. But yeah, its looking good.

      Also, I’ve been learning over last month that adding your own pic to homepage helps a lot as it makes it much more personal.

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie,

        Yes it’s called Lee’s Dog Walking,Yes im going to add a section about myself as you say you can see and know a bit about the person who’s going to be responsible,Yes going to change the testimonials and the fonts,Just wanted it basically presentable before I put it “Live” then I can delete and add things as I go along,Funny thing is ive hardly got any photos with my dog as im the one usually walking it ha ha.

        Reply
  120. well, you’ve done a great job. I see you are using wordpress and on your footer you have the Free Consulation widget. I’d add a contact form there. There is a great one you can download called “quick contact form. It would like perfect in there.

    Reply
  121. Thanks Jamie,All comments are welcome,Done a bit more today,Just tryig to set up the google business page,Twitter page etc,Thanks

    Reply
  122. Hi Jamie. I will graduate from Uni in May and I am seriously considering becoming a dog walker. I walk a border collie at the moment (don’t have license), have walked dogs at a local animal shelter and foster for an a dog charity that I also do home checks and fundraise for. I also help run a pet rehoming site.

    I am thinking that 3 dogs per time would probably be best for me. I am wondering if this is a possibility and if it will allow me to make an earning that is reasonable? I only have a small car and couldn’t really fit more than 3 dogs in it anyway.

    I see too many dogs that are not in control and allow their dogs to wander right up to other dogs with no recall. Would it therefore be best to go somewhere remote where there are no other dogs?

    Thank you for all the info! I am still a bit unsure about it all but I really would love to make it work!!

    Karis

    Reply
  123. Hi again Jamie, I was just wondering how much you charge if you was to stay at someone’s house and looked after their dogs? and does the price include walking them as well?
    also, I have just got my own dog for Christmas and was wondering if there is anyway to maybe add her to my business insurance or is it just best to get her own?

    Reply
    • Hi Sadie. I’ve only done the dog sitting in another house for 1 client – it’s not really that common. Anyway, it’s a lot of work and living in someone else’s house is a lot of responsibility. Price wise it’s best to give a set figure per night which includes walking. I think at least £20 but £30 is reasonable.

      Business insurance wont cover your dog so best get your own dog insurance. Sadly its several times what business insurance is!

      Reply
  124. Thanks for the reply! I’ve been asked to do it for a week so I was thinking like 200 for the week including two one hour walks a day which makes it about £28 a day. does that seem fair?

    Reply
    • That seems very fair. They should have no complaints.

      Reply
  125. Hi,
    I am in the process of preparing to start a dog walking business and have read all your comments very useful info btw only afew questions:
    Do all your clients have to have pet insurance for their dog? As u mentioned this is something you ask at consultation visit.
    Even if owners r happy for their dogs to be off lead am I within my rights to insists walks will be on lead afew times to feel comfortable?
    I know you have never had any serious accidents with any dogs but if this occurs on a group walk how would u handle the situation of getting dog to vets? as I have not transport at present and not sure process as would have other dogs with me.
    Puppy walks you offer do u do this as solo walks?
    I am same as yourself thinking of only doing solo walks but as u say wont be fully booked straight away and this can be difficult as groups r preferred but how did u work this when on foot going from door to door picking/dropping off dogs? thinking this would be awkward as letting other dogs into ppls homes.
    Lastly as u r responsible for ppls keys how do u ensure u are trustworthy apart from police check as family have said “elderly could accuse u of theft from their home if they r suffering from dementia etc”? was stumped at how u would deal with a client doing this.
    That’s all for now any advice is appreciated
    thanks

    Reply
    • Clients don’t have to have pet insurance, I just want to know in case I’m unfortunate enough that I have to take their pet to the vet and want to know as much info as possible.

      Take as long as you feel until you want to let any dog off lead. I usually will keep the first walk on lead, or at least I’ll start the walk on lead and play it by ear.

      Only you can really answer what you would do if a dog hurt itself under your care. It will take time for you to get enough dogs to start group walks – possibly a year or more, hopefully this will give you time to get a vehicle if you can drive.

      I’ve never been accused of stealing. I’m not sure there are many clients out there with dementia that are living on their own. Being accused of theft is not a concern for me, maybe it’s a concern for those about to start but your concerns are gonna be focused on well being of dog, making sure you give dog a good walk, cleaning up dog after and then getting to next dog in time.

      Good luck

      Reply
      • Thanks for the feedback.

        So roughly how long does it take you between from walk to walk from picking them up, walk and drop off?

        Did you need a permit to walk dogs in the council parks? as other ppl r telling me this may be required.

        do you know where in Scotland offers first aid or dog behaviour courses? as so far only found in England.

        thanks

        Reply
        • Well rough times are this. First group walk 10:20, second group walk 12pm, third group walk 2pm then fourth walk 4pm. I dont need a permit but that may come in in the future, councils are looking to regulate dog walkers either cause a) they think we need regulated b) they found an opportunity to make more money.

          Ask Margaret from “The pet assistant falkirk” about first aid courses in Scotland as she recently did one. Find her on her website or on facebook.

  126. Hi Jamie,

    Been doing a few more improvements over last couple off weeks not the finished article,Had a lot off enquiries and dogs since Christmas,Bought a van and got me stickers for it,It’s all go go go,Very encouraged by the response,It seems to be all about advertising. http://www.dogwalkingsheffield.co.uk,Please feel free to comment on the site and suggest any improvement,All hits to the site are welcome :)This blog has helped me so much,Thanks Jamie.

    Thanks Lee

    Reply
  127. Hey Jamie, I really appreciate all this information you have given its been a really big help.

    I’ve already designed my flyers, business cards, appointment cards, offer cards, information form about them and there dog etc, vet release form and off leash form. also I have all my supplies like first aid etc.

    I’m just a bit confused about scheduling, but maybe I’m over thinking, and I know you already wrote about it.

    What about houses that are alarmed? How can i keep an alarm number so that it is safe and wont be lost? but then how will I know who it belongs to with no details on it?

    also, I wanted to know a little about setting up the group for walking when I have a steady group of dogs. There obviously a dominate dog and a lower ranking, then the ones in the middle. The dogs will figure that out themselves but is there any tips on ordering and setting places for the dogs. If you understand what I’m asking.

    And you mentioned offering your own puppy classes. Do you have to be qualified? What do you involve in a class? and do you do it alone or with the owners? I studied an animal coarse at college and do cover a bit on animal training.

    I think that’s all I needed to know :)

    Reply
    • I walked 20 dogs today and not one home had an alarm, and if any did they were switched off. The only time I have to switch off the alarm is when the owner has accidentally left the alarm on. This is something I’d never worry about, if you find yourself walking a dog from a home that is alarmed then just write the code down discreetly somewhere safe and in a way that is unconnected to the home.

      Regarding dog heirachy you’ll want to reinforce the order, top dog gets treat first, out car first etc, otherwise if you were to give another ‘lower’ dog priority it could cause trouble with the alpha trying to assert it’s authority on the other dog.

      You don’t have to be qualified to host pup classes, knowing a little about dog behavior could help though. Some experience of pup classes would be a good idea before hosting any.

      I’ve been to pup classes but never hosted any. Usually its a little training and puppy play. The thing to remember is, that its for pups upto 20 weeks. A 20 week pup is twice the size of a 10 week pup and will flatten that pup so that’s something to think about. You could also consider a less formal puppy party where pups just play for a bit then go home.

      Reply
      • All that was bothering me about times was dropping the dogs of and getting them on time because ill be on foot.

        I’m defiantly going to do like a puppy play class with some basic training as I do know a bit about it.
        With the puppy classes is it better to have like one adult trusted dog there in the group or just keep it to puppies only?

        Once my flyers and things are all printed this week I’m ready to go :)

        Reply
        • Getting dogs on time is a big concern for all dog walkers, the more dogs you get the more disciplined and efficient you have to be so your not late for your next walk or the walk after that. The smaller area you can work in the better.

          It’s up to you if you want to bring an adult dog into play. Depends on the dog, may keep the larger pups occupied.

          I’d start promoting your puppy classes well in advance of your start date as it will take time for word of mouth to get round.

  128. Oh just fort of one last thing, what do you take on the walks with u, ive listed some supplies and already brought some, but what do you take or suggest u should take?

    And by meaning advertising puppy classes in advance do u mean like a separate flyer to your normally dog walking ones?

    Reply
    • I take a bag filled with dog leads all the same length. I don’t like using clients leads as they come in different lengths and I can lose them. I also take lots off poo bags and treats, phone and a drink.

      For puppy classes try find local area groups on Facebook and post. Any way that gets peoples attention and get them talking will help.

      Reply
      • Ok will have a look into it.

        I already have two leads in case of emergency, first aid kit, two extra long training leads for dogs that cant go off the lead and two towels.

        I never realized that it would be an issue having owners leads but i see your point and will defiantly invest in some leads.

        I really didnt want to take to much stuff with me as i dont want a really heavy bag walking around all day.

        Reply
        • Once you start doing groups you’ll realise just how important leads of the same length are. I use a light canvas bag to carry leads and pockets for everything else.

  129. lol i guess so :) thanks for all your help

    Reply
  130. Hi Jamie

    I just wanted to say thanks for all the advice and tips that you have shared its been a great inspiration to get me started!

    Reply
    • Thanks Derren!

      If you are going to start then good luck!

      Reply
  131. hi Jamie it’s me again :) still looking for pet insurance, thought I had decided but I’m being asked if I take my dog to work and it looks like you can’t actually be insured if you do, but me being a dog walker it is likely that I will take her to work with me. did you ever come across this problem and what insurance company do you use for your own dog?

    Reply
    • Hi Sadie. Most companies won’t cover you if you take your dog to work. But if you join the Dogs Trust as a member, the third party insurance will cover your dog when it’s with you at work.

      Hope that helps

      Reply
  132. Hi Jamie, i just wanted to drop a message thanking you for all you have done with your site in the pursuit of helping others. I am currently in the process of starting a business and the frank advice you give has kept me on track.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Brian!

      Thanks. Good luck with your new business!

      Reply
  133. Hi Jamie,
    thank you for giving us all your advice : )

    I have been dog walking through a friend for 2 years now (but only getting £5 a dog per hour)
    So I am about to branch out on my own…
    I have advertised in the local parish news and am going to get some magnetic signs for my car..

    was wondering what type of paperwork do you get your customers to fill out? is there a standard form you work from?

    Ive got a million questions but I will start with this one lol

    I will also be doing cat visits etc and horse care …
    just hope im making the right decision !!

    but I couldn’t go back to a full time job working for a company !!

    Thank you :)

    Reply
    • Hi Rhona!

      I’ve helped a few people who worked for others start their own biz. It’s tough work for very little money otherwise!

      Basically you need owners to fill out some details about dog, what services you both agree upon and the price for those services and then you need written permission to let them off lead if owner consents. There are some example contracts at bottom of this post (above the comments).

      Cat visits can be quite popular, not sure about horse visits.

      PS Dont go for the magnet stickers, they are rubbish, dont last, are too small to be read. I got stickers for my car made and fitted for just £80.

      Get a website made, that is good for getting work. But it has to work on converting visitors or it’s pointless.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  134. Hi Jamie very good and useful site,thank you .
    I have a qurestion regarding house and petsitting ..if you had a customer who had say 2 dogs and wanted you to stay at their home ,feed,walk and generally care for the dogs as well as light household duties like watering plants,hoovering on a regular but ad hoc basis ie: could phone you up at a weeks a notice ..how much per day would you charge and would charge a retainer and if so how much. Going on the chances are you will be required for at least 2 weeks at a time ? I hope that makes sense :)
    jan

    Reply
    • Well, its not really that common. It’s better if dogs come stay with you. I’ve done the house sitting/pet sitting thing and its not much fun living in someone elses home.

      When it comes to pet sitting my prices are pretty low. Dog boarding I charge just £15 per night but with house sitting I think I’d have to charge at least £20 and I think even £30 would be reasonable. BUT! £30 for 14 days is £420 that your asking someone to pay on top of their holiday and while it might be worth it it’s a lot of money. If it was me I’d ask if dogs could stay and every few days I ‘d visit the house to water plants for a small fee.

      But best do what you feel comfortable, sometimes you have to let jobs go cause clients want it too cheap. I lost a cat client last year cause he wants willing to pay £50 a week for 14 cat visits which was a massive discount on my part.

      Reply
  135. Hi Jamie, i’ve been walking a working cocker for nearly 18 months now and occasional stay overs at mine for him, i was also walking a cairn terrier but she got attacked pretty badly by a border terrier requiring 18 stitches it was horrendous, i’ve just moved to a small village and thought i would try and branch out a little, i’ve just had some flyers printed and distributed them around the village, also in post office and parish hall etc, i’m also offering a pet sitting service as well as dog walking, no prices were put on the flyer, i did this about 5 days ago. any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Susan.

    Reply
  136. Hi Jamie, brilliant blog thank you! Just one quick question – what do you do if you need to take days off or want to have a holiday?
    Cheers

    Reply
    • HI Jo

      Well you can either get a fellow dog walker to take them on or give plenty of notice to clients (eg 2 months or more) for clients to make arrangements which they can do pretty easy.

      Reply
  137. Hi Jamie

    Its really good of you to offer all this advice, I have been wanting to set up my own dog walking business for quite a while, and I have learnt a lot from what has been said by you and others. What do you think is the best way to get business, as I put a few cards in shops and vets, but I hav`nt had any luck, also are there any pitfalls I should be aware of? I really want to do this but it feels a bit like that first time you jump into a swimming pool, a bit scary but exciting! any advise would be very welcome.thanks Debbie

    Reply
    • Hi Debbie!

      You’re right it is exciting! I loved building up the business even though they were dark times when I thought it wasn’t going to work. Advertising is all about being seen, getting noticed, getting people aware of you and talking about you. Biz cards leaflets aren’t that great. Car stickers can work, a large banner is cheap and very effective, getting out and talking to people is good, local facebook pages are good too. Be bold, dont be a mouse when it comes to letting people know you exist.

      Dog walking is great. Being your own boss is great. Hard dogs can really get you down, good dogs make it all worthwhile. Sometimes dog walking can be lonely.

      Reply
      • Thanks Jamie, you`re right I need to make myself known, ( and stop being a mouse! which is quite fitting as I am not a terribly confident person ) but what you have said has given me the confidence to `go’ for it, thanks again, Debbie :)

        Reply
  138. Hi Jamie,

    Im hopng you can help make me feel better or maybe give me some harsh truths!
    Ive started up my dog walking business in Newcastle Upon Tyne after 16 months of research and prep (whilst working full time) as i wanted to be sure it could work (or as sure as i could be!). Newcastle is a big city but it also has quite a lot of dog walkers already!
    I decided to eventually take the plunge because I saw a gap in the market for my particular area of North Tyneside and the coastal areas.
    I had business cards and flyers printed and stickers put up on my car. My banner is up (after reading this site), flyers have been delivered and cards/flyers are up in vets, pet shops, dog walking location visitor centres, and local shop windows. I have an advert on gumtree (as we dont have community centres or parish halls here) and a website, facebook page and twitter account. Ive requested my google pin and am trying everything i can to get my name out there but nothing seems to be working.

    I suppose the problem now is, the gap that was there has been filled whilst ive been promoting myself and getting things ready, there are now a couple of dog walkers in North Tyneside, could that be the issue? Maybe im marketing myself wrong but im a novice at this stuff and don’t know one way or the other. I keep thinking maybe I should carve out a niche for myself within dog walking, so for example specialise in small strong-willed dogs (i have loads of experience in this area!)
    Or do you think its just a case of being patient and waiting it out?
    I am still working full time but I finish (my choice) on the 1st March as i thought by then id have at least a few calls but thats not looking completley likely and im starting to panic.
    How long after you started to promote your dog walking services did you get your first call? My website/stuff has been out there for about 4 weeks now….

    Id appreciate any help or advice you can give!
    Many Thanks,

    Jenny

    Reply
    • Hi Jenny!

      How long have you been a dog walker? There can be periods where no one will phone. I think I had a 4 month spell last year without anyone making contact. If that had happened when I began I dont know if I’d be a dog walker today. The best thing you can do is make sure everything you do is better than everyone else or at least the very best you can do.

      Your website needs a bit of work. Thing is there is a real lack of info on homepage. You dont say what areas you work in. The exclusive offer is irrelevant. When people phone they usually want to know how it works, how much it costs etc. They want to know what you can do for them. They not interested in your biz, or even you, its themselves they are interested in so tell them what they want to know. You need a call to action on everypage along with phone number and contact form as internet users are used to being told what to do next, eg, “Arrange a dog walking service today, call me on 07*******”.

      Theres too many things going on, its not pleasant on the eye, to many colours. I dont know what I’m meant to be looking at, everything is fighting for my attention.

      The “why you need us” page is irrelevant. People already know why they need you, thats why they’re on your site – they WANT a dog walker, your job is to tell them what they want to know and sell them your services or else they hit the back button and find someone else.

      Testimonials work great. It’s called social proof. Think about it, what cafe would you want to go into? A cafe that was empty or a cafe that had a queue leading round the block? Would you want to see the movie that had no one in the theater or people fighting to get inside? What dog walker would you want to use, they one in the park several times a day with loads of dogs or the other with no dogs? So testimonials work well, being seen with dogs helps as that tells others that others approve of you.

      Instead of cartoon, why not a pic of you with some dogs? That works the same way.

      You probably wont be ranking on google but when you do and website is made to work for you, then it will get you dogs.

      I’ve learnt personal is good, a nice personal service works better than a non personal business type. People are choosing the dog walker over the dog walking biz.

      Anywayz…

      It doesnt matter how many dog walkers there are. If you cant sell your biz right, then no one is gonna phone, you sell it well then people will phone you first, so it really dont matter if a dozen startups begin this year. Just look after your own biz. And dont be afraid to invest if you need to. No dog walker (it seems) is willing to get pro help with things like websites, marketing help etc, but it really is investing, you will get it all back and more.

      If you want to get some pro help then I recommend Graham from http://aerin.co.uk/. Great website, read it even if you dont want to buy his help as its full of great info.

      Do things right you can get a lot of dogs this year, dont do it right then its gonna take a couple of years or more to get going.

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, i appreciate it.

        I set everything up in December and i have a very understanding boss who agreed that when i started getting calls i could leave work straight away but stay in the meantime so that i have a wage coming in. So far ive had no calls.
        I walk my own dogs and familys dogs everyday, twice a day but getting customers is difficult.

        I paid to have the cartoon designed as I thought it would help me stand out, all of the other walkers in the area have generic paw prints etc as their logos and designs and other bits from vistaprint. But im ok to admit when somethings not working and somethings definately not working. I feel I have put the time in to the marketing and spent money as much as i could with banners, logo design, leaflets, cards and paying for adverts on gumtree and continuously updating Facebook. But i agree with you on the website.
        I did it myself as you can probably tell. I know nothing about web design and am reluctant to spend so much money on web design because if it doesnt work then its wasted….
        Its not like paying £100 for a banner, professionally designed sites cost a lot as you know plus i just dont have that kind of money to spend now ive spent as much as i have on other bits.
        I will definately change the site though as you recommended, sort out the colours, get rid of the “why you need us” and “about us” page i think your completley right aout that and the homepage needs attention. Thank you so much for your suggestions and reassurance that i should just concentrate on my business and not worry about what others are doing. I need to focus on doing things the best way i can for my business and not worry about the others. I will change one of the pages i will get rid of to testimonials too, that was another great suggestion.
        I absolutely will pay someone to sort my site out when i get the money as i 100% think its worth it.
        In the meantime i guess its just making the changes and waiting it out but by the time i leave my job in March that would be 4 monhs without any calls….

        Just 2 more quick questions if thats ok Jamie, would you say that 349 visits in 3 months to my website is a good number or not really? And when i make the changes on my site im thinking of changing all of the “We”s to “I”s? Do you think thats a good idea? It is just me in my business so going along the “personal” route do you think it will help? I did think about doing that originally but for so,e reason went down the businessy route! Should have gone with my gut!

        Thanks again,

        Jenny

        Reply
  139. Hi! im about to start my own dog walking business! I was just curious of how you kept track of all the keys you have to houses so you know whos who? whats the best way to sort that out?

    Reply
    • Well nothing happens fast so its easy to remember who’s key is who. But you can get name tags to get on keys to make it easier.

      Reply
  140. I’m getting a lot off requests for Half and hour walks,At the moment it is fine but all in the same area,Just worried when I do my hour walks whether it will interfere,It’s not a problem at the moment was just thinking about the future.Just bought a new van and got a design on the side,I would recommend that advertising to anyone,Like a mobile advert.

    Reply
    • Half hour walks are gonna be a prob, I offered them when I started, most new dog walkers do to begin with. They pay low so some clients are just happy with toilet break but you will end up having to put them on the 1 hour walk yet get paid for the 30 mins. Tbh, knowing what I know now, if someone wanted a half hour walk for a fully grown dog I’d say no, 1 hr or not at all.

      Vans with stickers are great. Very cost effective advertising!

      Jamie

      Reply
  141. Hi Jamie! I emailed you a few weeks ago. Thankyou for being so helpful. Just came across this page and wanted to ask a few more things too. 1) What do you think of Narps Uk? Personally I feel its a bit of a moneymaking thing but would appreciante your view? 2) Hour dog walking on hot summer days? Do you tend to take them to covered woods at this time of year? Especially when the peak times are lunchtimes? Thanks, Sandra

    Reply
    • Hi Sandra!

      Well, Narps means something to dog walkers but absolutely nothing to those wanting their dogs walked.

      I walk most dogs at the beach so we are always near water. But on hot days if you are not near water then take water with you and take things a bit easier on the dogs.

      Jamie

      Reply
  142. Hi Jamie,
    I have a few questions.
    1) I have no money up front, so can I get insured once I get some clients? Or do I have to be insured before hand?
    2) What do you think about advertising on jumpers, cars etc? Can it be a green light to thieves? ie, knowing the house you are parked up at is empty once you leave with the dog/ knowing you have possible pedigrees left in car whilst you’re in a client’s house.
    3) What are the best walking shoes you’ve bought? I got some hi-tech boots once and wore them everyday but the soles wore thin after a month!
    Thanks, Tina :)

    Reply
    • Hi Tina!

      1)Get insurance before you start! You can get it for just around £12 per month so it’s affordable and a must have.
      2)Cars great! Jumpers ok. You’re gonna get dog owners who are home. I have quite a few who are in when I walk their dog. I wouldn’t worry.
      3)My best dog walking shoes are wellies. It’s all I wear. Cheap ones last a week, better last a month. I have a pair of dunlop I bought for £45 that I’ve had for about 3-4 months – they cost £45 and the longest wellies I’ve had!

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Thankyou for that, just one more if that’s ok.
        Regarding the Inland Revenue, should you tell them you’re self-employed as soon as you post your first leaflet? Or can you wait until you know you have your first client?

        Reply
  143. Hi Jamie,

    Firstly many thanks for providing such a valuable website and a wealth of knowledge and information. I had came online tonight simply looking to see what people charged per week for dog walking, never even thought about the business idea, which Is something I am now seriously thinking about starting.

    I have been self employed a few times as come from a sales back ground so I know how difficult earning can sometimes be at the start. My main question really is how much realistically can I earn a week on average roughly once ive built up business to a full time level?

    Also with the working tax credits will they go off how much you expect to earn from your new business to begin with or go off what you earned in the previous tax year as the 2 would be vastly different.

    And lastly for the leaflets did you put your prices on etc and post the leaflet through their door just as the leaflet or inside an envelope?

    Many Thanks once again for your great website and feedback as I can see from reading a lot of the comments above with your replies. If only there was more people in the world as helpful as yourself!!

    Speak Soon

    Neil.

    Reply
  144. How much you earn will slightly vary depending where you live. But if you are charging around £8 per walk then you could be looking at earning £400 a week. More is possible but you it would be a very hard week and I wouldn’t recommend it. There comes a point where you say, “that’s enough”. £500+ is possible though.

    Dog boarding and daycare may possibly pay better. Your looking at £20+ per night per dog and £15+ per dog for day care. It’s easier work but unlike dog walking where you can finish and come home, dog boarding and daycare means taking your work home and it feels a bit like a 24 hour job. Possible earnings for boarding/daycare £5-£600. But it’s hard work.

    Working tax credits is based on actual income. You have to be working 30+ hours a week to get it, but that doesnt mean 30+ paid hours. Handing out leaflets is working, working on website is work etc.

    Leaflets don’t work that great, so don’t expect anything, its just something to do while you are waiting for dogs and costs very little. Get a website, get a Facebook biz page, join community groups and let them know you started, stickers on cars etc.

    Leaflets don’t go in envelopes just print out and post.

    If you can afford the time it takes then go for it.

    Reply
  145. Hi Jamie,

    Many Thanks that was very helpful thankyou.

    Reply
  146. Hi Jamie, im almost 19 years old and trying to set up my own little business, ive made a facebook page of my business and shared it with my local areas facebook page and a local selling page and my family has ‘liked’ my page, ive posted ads on free websites and planning on printing out some flyers but im not sure what else i can do, ive come up with some prices but not too sure if they are too deer or not,

    Prices:
    Dog Walking £8-10
    Dog Sitting per hour £8.. per night £15-20
    Pet Feeding £3-5

    Are these prices reasonable or too deer and how long was it untill you got some customers?

    Thankyou :)

    Reply
    • Hi Ellis!

      Prices seem fine. But just to clarify when you say “Dog Walking £8-10″ is that £8 for group walk and £10 for solo? I wouldn’t go less than £5 for pet feeding.

      Anyway, how long you been going? It’s hard to tell how long till you get your first dog. Some get dogs fast while others have to grind it out. Have you got a website? A car? Stickers on car?

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Hi Jamie, im only just starting out so thought of doing solo walks first just so i get the hang of it. A guy on facebook inboxed me asking me how for dog walk so i replied saying ‘£5 for half an hour and £10 for an hour’ and he replied saying ‘okay cheers’ and that was four days ago and havent heard anything back since so thought i may have my prices too deer?

        My business is around a week old lol, i have a facebook page and have been posting on free ad websites but havent heard nothing yet, and i havent got a car but my dad has so will ask him if i can create a leaflet and put it in the back of his car window.

        Also im pretty sure theres pet owners next door to me both sides so was thinking of making a leaflet and putting it on the back of my garden gate and see if it gets their attention? thanks.

        Reply
        • Your prices are fine. Don’t go making them less, it just doesn’t work, you wont get work any faster and when you do you will earn a lot less.

          It all takes time. You will start doing solo walks whether you want to or not as it will take time to get each new dog. Stop advertising 30 min walks, they are too impractical – only noobs offer them.

          It’s not just about selling yourself and getting known, but selling yourself well and right. Get a website made. Get some nice pics of you with dogs, be patient, I had to wait 4 weeks before my first dog and on my 3rd year I had a 4 month spell when no one contacted me.

          Jamie

  147. okay thanks. havent got much savings at the moment so wont be able to do a website just yet, cant take a picture with a dog as i havent got any family or friends with one so will have to wait untill i get my first customer, i can be patient but just dont want to go like a month without any customer(s).

    Reply
    • okay. when I started I had no money either. But webspace only costs around £10-£20 a year. Go to one.com and get yourself a website. I can then make a you a basic but nice website using some pics I have taken of dogs, that is if you dont have someone who can make a website for you.

      Ellis, I’m afraid you may have to be more patient than you want. Sadly, everything you get you will have to earn… everything will be earned and that includes spending time promoting your biz and time waiting or it to work and get you jobs! That’s just the way it is. If you are earning £100 a week in a years time, you ok with that? You may earn more but maybe not. If this puts you off, maybe best to try to find another job before you spend a lot of time and energy on dog walking.

      Jamie

      Reply
  148. Hi Jamie, oh thats pretty cheap! no thats okay i know somebody else who could do that but thanks for the offer anyway and thank you for your help and advice on this page.

    Reply
  149. Hi Jamie, I have found your site really useful, thank you. I am currently setting up my own Pet Service and would appreciate some help with the contracts. I am unable to access your sample contract and veterinary release form etc. Could you possibly e-mail me a copy? I’d be really grateful.

    Reply
    • yeah, I’ll get the contracts back up tomorrow sometime. I changed my host the other week and have yet to transfer contracts.

      Reply
  150. Just want to add my thanks to the rest of them on your blog! Your blog has given me the confidence to set up in bus when I was wavering cos there are a few other walkers in the area. And so many useful tips. I’m just setting up my website and marketing.

    Other ppl in my area charge £10 per hour which does seem quite standard, but I think it’s a lot, £50 a week for getting your dog walked. Did you find lowering your price helped?

    Thank you
    Heather

    Reply
  151. Dog walking is hard work. If the prices in your area are £10 then keep yours the same. Many people starting have ridiculously cheap prices eg £5 and under for 1 hour, I have never seen one make it. I think they think that if they offer very cheap prices they will somehow make a living over night and when they dont they give up. If people need a dog walker and trust you, you will get work, regardless of how cheap you are. You will get the odd person who thinks it’s too expensive, but don’t bother with them. Dog walking is a lot of money, but like I said it’s a lot of work and you will have to earn every penny you get.

    Jamie

    Reply
    • Thanks for that Jamie.I have another question. If a dog does injure itself on a walk, and needs vet care, would I claim through my insurance or the dog owners? Do you know?

      I’m also starting to worry about accidents. I saw a dog run into a fallen tree today and its paw went totally limp. I didn’t know whether to recommend that the dog was carried or walk. I’ll definitely do a first aid course!

      Reply
      • Hi Heather!

        If you are not negligible then it’s owners responsibility to pay and you have to make this clear before you start. Dogs have accidents but usually its a dead leg or a small cut. If it’s your fault then you are liable and that’s why we have insurance.

        First aid course is highly recommended. I have had 4 dog injuries this year alone!

        When a dog of mine hurts it’s leg then I will put dog on lead. Most of the time the dog will walk off the injury and then can be let of lead again but many dogs will carry on running about if it can so best they on lead. It’s all about being in control after all.

        Jamie

        Reply
        • Thanks that’s good to know :)

  152. Hello, I started up my own dog walking business a month ago. I have had 80 likes on Facebook but no look with actual clients!!?? im abit confused really. I have posted 1000 leaflets in my area those also being in bets and shops. I am insured too. Im not sure what else to do. Do you have any ideas? thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Steph.

      Yeah, be patient. There are periods where you get no calls and then weeks where you’ll get a few. Have you got a website? Have you got a car with stickers on it? Leaflets don’t tend to do very well, is your leaflet selling your services well enough.

      Starting is the hardest part, no one wants the noob, cause they don’t know if you good or if you’ll be around next month. Do you have local community facebook page in your area? Advertise there too.

      Jamie

      Reply
  153. Hi Jamie, what a great post! I have been walking an elderly woman’s dog since 2007 voluntarily – I found out about her wanting someone to walk her dog when she rang the vets my mum works in. I really enjoy this as I’ve built a relationship with a woman and her dog.

    I’m currently doing a marketing management degree at university and I’m soon finishing for the summer (a nice 5 unplanned months off). I feel along with my love of animals and my degree, starting this business over the summer would be really beneficial – my only problem is how would I sustain this business (if it were to be successful) when I return to my final year at university??

    I have been on a year-long placement in a digital marketing agency so know the ins and outs of social/digital media. As I say I don’t have much planned this year with my summer so would be a good start to show I’m determined I’m just scared if after a lot of research and planning it doesn’t kick off! What are your thoughts? Thanks. PS – I live by the beach!

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie.

      Ok, you ask how would you sustain business when you go back to uni. Are you wanting to be a dog walker rather than work in marketing? 5 months isnt that long and you’ll still be at the starting stages of trying to get clients when you have to go back to uni. In that time if you walk around 3 dogs a day you’d be doing good. If you are after some short term work for the 5 months you are not at uni then offer something like dog boarding but thats means advertising right now as people are getting their holidays sorted now.

      Thing is you wont be able to walk dogs if you at uni. Most want the lunchtime walk and if you’re unable then you gonna have to hire someone, hiring has it’s problems of trying to keep staff, ensure they walk the actual one hour and tbh, clients dont like having their dogs fobbed off to some helper, its a very personal business. A local dog walking biz here that hires goes through staff like nobody’s business and I’ve been contacted by clients of theirs who would prefer the same dog walker and a more personal service.

      Anyways, to help more I really have to know what you want to be. What is your future. Marketing or dog walking.

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Thank you for getting back to be. To be honest I want the best of both worlds, obviously I want to finish my marketing degree as it’s my final year and I enjoy it; I also love dogs and feel in these 5 months I could have it kicked off the ground (after speaking to a few dog walkers down the beach). Obviously going back to uni at the end of September will be a problem but could it not be worked around? If I change availability (it’s all dependant on my timetable) – could I not walk the loyal clients’ dogs?

        Thanks, Steph

        Reply
        • If owners dont mind when their dogs get walked then thats fine, but most want/need a lunchtime walk. Think you can offer that 5 days a week? Otherwise consider targeting those who dont work 9-5 but want the dog to get extra walks. Pensioners are a good idea and they also great for spreading the word.

  154. Hi Jamie, me again,just a quick question, how did you apply for self employment?

    Reply
  155. Hey Jamie,
    Just wanted to say your advice is awesome and invaluable and it is so kind and selfless of you to be so generous with your time. I have been made redundant (London) and figure this is a positive as my (office) job was getting too ‘ground hog day’..so I too am taking the leap to establish my own dog walking business. You may be hearing from me soon.
    Thanks, you rock!
    Jo

    Reply
    • Thanks Jo and good luck! It just takes a bit of effort and patience!

      Reply
  156. Im getting to a stage were I might have to let one off the dogs I walk go as it’s becoming inconvenient and the distance is now a problem and effecting pick-ups,It was one off my first dogs I got, ?I really feel a bond with it and the owner but I know I cant carryon and run efficiently doing it,The question is how do I tell them,Feel terrible about it.

    Reply
    • I completely understand Lee. I had to give up my very first dog because he lived too far away. I now have him back as owners moved to area I work. It’s very normal to feel bad and it’s never nice giving up dogs but you have a very valid reason too. You are after all trying to make a living. So just tell them the truth and before you speak talk to some dog walkers and find one willing to take that dog on so at least the owner is not burdened with having to find another dog walker.

      We all have to give up dogs, once you have your boundaries set then you will still find that you have to let some dogs go cause it doesn’t work out one way or another.

      Jamie

      Reply
  157. Also got a design on me van,What do you think,On my Gmail/Facebook page on website,Just trying to sort a gallery out now,So pictures automatically come off my facebook page.Anybody with any other comments then your very welcome. http://www.dogwalkingsheffield.co.uk

    Reply
    • Van looks great! If you are after a professional opinion on website (only cause I’ve noticed you’ve asked for comments) then drop Graeme an email – he’s the real deal. http://www.aerin.co.uk

      Reply
  158. Will do,thanks for the advice.

    Reply
  159. Hey Jamie,
    #

    Do you still have the links to the contracts and such ? They seem to have disappeared, my old computer went CABOOM and although the hard drive was mostly recovered, the pdfs for the contracts have disappeared.

    Hope you can help!

    Reply
    • Hi Charlotte

      I recently moved to a new host and left contracts on old host which is now deleted so I’ll have to re-upload. Will do this soon.

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Thanks – panic over though I managed to get them working, now they are in my drop box so I never lose them! Phew!

        Reply
  160. Hi Jamie, Your blog is brilliant with loads of good advice. I am trying to set up a dog walking / pet sitting business whilst I work full time as I need some money to live on. I have 6 weeks of the summer booked out but I am not getting the regular dog walking which is what I need to jack in my full time work. I have posters around the area nd a FB page, listed myself og Google+ and Freeindex and done some leaflet dropping.. Anything else I can do ? I talk to people with dogs whilst i am out and give my details but juts need to know what else i can do as I am desperate to get it up and running. I am trying to sell my car and put the money in the bank to help us live on and then will get a cheaper estate for the dogs (hopefully). My mum knows a local dog walker and has left a message for her to call us so that she can pass any business she cant take ont us, but she has not called. Do you find other dog walkers friendly in your area as I think they must be scared that I will take their business , which of course I wont! I want to get a good relationship with them so that we can help eachother out,how did you get to know the other walkers in your area?
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Nicky x

    Reply
    • Hi Nicky. Was that the correct website address you sent? There’s a lot on non pet stuff on it.

      Find your FB community page and let rip. Stickers on car. Cracking looking website with great pics of dogs having fun. A large banner hung up somewhere will people will see it is an excellent way of getting attention and costs around £50 so worthwhile. Biz cards in all pet shops and anywhere they’ll take them.

      Don’t expect too much help from local dog walkers. You are a competitor now to them.

      I get on better with dog walkers slightly outside of my area of work, so for you I’d contact dog walkers from areas you dont work in as they will no doubt be more helpful and willing to pass those that contact them from your area onto you. Sweeten them up by asking to take some biz cards of them.

      Be patient. It takes time.

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Hi jamie, Sorry website address was incorrect it should be Muckypawsmk.co.uk. Let me know what you think. I dont understand the linking parts to websites. I got someone to do this page for me but it is still not showing on google after 3 weeks, is that normal?
        Thanks

        Reply
        • Website seems nice. But you need contact form on every page. A call to action is also needed on every page, eg “To arrange a service call 0700 000 000″. Some testimonials would help convert visitors into clients too.

  161. hello jamie
    im also enquiring about the links to contracts as i am starting my dog walking business at the mo and i found these contracts extremly useful

    thanks michele

    Reply
    • Contracts up by the weekend Michele!

      Jamie

      Reply
  162. Hello Jamie,

    Iwas wondering about the vehicle side of things again and wondered whether a vw 2 camper van could be used?

    Thanks Ian.

    ps . The above info is very useful too, nice one.

    Reply
    • A VW camper van should only be used if you want to be the coolest dog walker in the world. Seriously though, yeah that’s fine, get some cages in there or better yet, get some cash and let Barjo.co.uk make a custom cage outfit that would make you the dog walking king!

      Jamie

      Reply
      • Thanks mate, all the best.

        Ian and Stan the soppiest Staffy on the planet.

        Reply
  163. Hi Jamie,

    Thank you so much for sharing all this information and your experience with us on here. I am in the early stages of my business and have taken many things you have said on board and actually keep returning to your page for help and inspiration.I have just started distributing leaflets,creating a FB page and spreading the word through family and friends. I am meeting with my first clients next week. They have a small group of rabbits and guinea pigs and want to book 2 separate occasions. Do you use / have a specific pet sitting contract or service agreement for the small animal clients? I couldn’t see one on your old page, and do you do a form for each booking they make. Apologies if a stupid question.
    Sue

    Reply
  164. Hi Jamie,
    Firstly, thank you for this article, I found it incredibly insightful and a complete eye opener to the world of dog walking.
    I am an animal lover like the majority of people on here and I too am looking to start my own business in pet care and walking. I am just about to put an advertisement in my local post office, but wanted to know if prices had changed before I do this? Forgive me if you’ve already answered it but I’m a slow reader and still making my way through two years worth of comments!
    Also as I’m doing it to work around my current job. Do you recommend 3 x 45 minute walks or 2 x 1 hour walks? I’m looking at a 7-2:30pm window every day as I mostly work evening shifts and weekends. I’m hoping that once my business is established enough I can move onto my local town (relocate) and drop my current job.
    Any advice with regards to this would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks is advance.

    Tom

    Reply
  165. Hi Tom.

    It’s good your job is in the evenings as that will give you time to establish your dog walking biz without having to worry about paying the bills. You’re not gonna get many if any wanting their dog walked at 7am.

    I was talking to a dog walker about sorting out times yesterday. She gonna have 1 hour walks at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. Now that’s a nice few walks but only leaves one walk for lunchtime (which is the walk nearly all clients want). But 11:30 and 1pm could be a more desirable time table as then you have two lunchtime walks: an early and late. If you get enough dogs you could then have another walk before. Quite a few owners wont mind when their dogs are walked and some will even be home.

    Jamie

    Reply
  166. Hello Jamie,
    I have learnt so much from reading your blog and will be a legal dog walker from the april 6th so exciting!! but i missed the contracts you had attached previously as i never saved them, is it possible to write your own contracts? is both signatures enough to making it legally binding? i would appreciate any help and advice you can offer
    thank you michele xx

    Reply
  167. Hello
    I am looking for a dog walking business plan example can you help please
    I have to write one.

    Their are a lot of dog walkers out their in to days,days
    Should this put me off, is their enough of a market out their to make a business

    Reply
    • I dont have any business plans. But see this website for help on making one: https://www.gov.uk/write-business-plan

      Yes, they are a lot of dog walkers and more appearing all the time. Tbh, it doesnt really mattter how many there are, if you can market yourself better, work harder then you will get more dogs than they. But also its important to understand that it does take a couple of years to get established.

      Reply
  168. hi Jamie, I am thinking about dog walking but only at the early stages of my research. Im from Johnstone and would love to meet up with you and learn anything I can from you.

    Reply
  169. Hi Jamie
    I’ve done a lot of research on dog walking and made the decision to start up a business due to the fact I keep getting knocked back by potential employers. I’ve got the business cards and left some with the local vets in the area now I would like to build a web site which one would you recommend.

    Reply
    • Hi Jake!

      Don’t waste your time with the free websites. Go someplace like one.com and get your self a domain name with some webspace – only costs around £20 a year. Then you upload your website on CMS (content management system) like wordpress or something. Hope this helps

      Reply
  170. Thanks for such a brilliant account of dog walking. I have visited your page and website a number of times (loved the videos) after taking redundancy and early retirement 3 years ago. I have been considering dog walking “professionally” for over a year now and talked to other dog walkers to get their opinion. I have been asked to walk 2 black labs and occasionally their owner has macular degeneration. She does not want to give up her dogs, nor the enjoyment of walking them. They would be my first customers and before I have set up any business as such. It will give me a chance to know what it will involve so I have agreed to start after Easter. I already know the dogs and the owner from meeting them when I walk my brother’s dog. Should I be thinking about insurance/contracts at this stage or just see how it goes and expand from there. I am lucky in that I have a pension which whilst tight, meets my needs so income is not my first consideration.

    Reply

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