How to be a Dog Walker (Updated for 2024)

by | Apr 29, 2022 | Free Dog Walking Resources | 1,033 comments

If you’ve been contemplating entering the world of dog walking, there’s no better time to start than now. The surge in puppy sales since 2019 has led to an unprecedented demand for dog walkers. Opportunities are abundant, and those who have recently embarked on this journey are already finding themselves at full capacity. With a shortage of dog walkers and a surplus of work (for now), the window of opportunity is wide open. Don’t delay – seize the moment and start your dog walking venture as soon as you can!

How to start a dog walking business

The chances are high that you own a dog. In that case, you’ve no doubt been out walking at your go-to place and seen the local dog walkers arriving in their vans, taking their group out for a walk, and wished you could do the same. Spending time outdoors with dogs, and dog walkers do get paid a good living for it, it seems almost too good to be true. Especially if you’re not happy in your current job – I wonder if it’s your job that brought you here?

Dog walkers are popping up everywhere, and all share the dream of finally earning a fair wage, in proper working conditions, and doing something they love.

Do you need qualifications or training?

You can start with little to no funds to invest, nor do you need any qualifications or training to become a dog walker, and at this moment in time, there aren’t even licenses required to walk dogs either (but please check your local council to be sure).  You just need to be 100% committed to make your new business work!

To make sure your business doesn’t fail in the first few months, plan how you will pay your bills while you build a client base.  If you have a partner or family that can support you, that’s great. But if not, consider looking for evening and weekend work to bring in extra income while leaving the daytime available for dog walking.  An evening job like a takeaway driver is ideal.

The first thing you should do is research your local dog walkers. So get on Google and Facebook and find all your local dog walkers in your area.  Find out what their prices are like and what services they offer.

Areas vary slightly, so London prices are different from the rest of the UK, and even one town can have different prices from the town next to it.  Find the average price the locals are charging and set that price as yours. For example, walking a dog for an hour where I live, dog walkers get paid around £10-£15 per dog and walk dogs in groups of around 6.

There are two types of dog walks – group and solo.  Most people are happy to get their dog walked in a group, so they get to socialise and play.  You can charge more money for a solo walk, but you get paid way more money walking six dogs in a group than one dog on its own.  A couple of group walks a day can be enough for a dog walker to make a living. Some do just that – it makes for an ideal job for those who have kids and want to work during school hours.

So what is the main reason someone hires a dog walker? Answer: They’re usually at work or working from home.  I didn’t know this when I started, and I just hoped someone would pay me to walk their dog. I didn’t even consider the motivation of those who hire a dog walker.  Who wants to give their money away, after all?  Dog walking for most dog owners is enjoyable. So for most clients, it’s a necessity, as in there’s no one else at home to do it. And because the most common need for a dog walker is that the owner is at work, nearly everyone wants their dog walked in the middle of the working day. Not 9 am just after they’ve left home and not 5 pm when they’re on their way back or can do it themselves.  So the lunchtime period is peak working hours for a dog walker. You may only manage two walks at that time (an early lunch walk and a late lunch walk. Eg. 11 am & 1 pm). You will earn most of your money for the day during lunch, so you can’t do solo walks or offer any other service during this time – that time is for group walks only.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do solo walks. You may get asked to do walks by people like the elderly and the disabled who don’t mind what time their dogs get walked during the day; as long as they get walked – you can fit them around your schedule. But solo walks tend to be done more by those just starting with time on their hands, while the established dog walkers tend to stick to group walks only. For example, I walk three group walks a day, and then I’m done.

You’ll be surprised how much time it takes to pick up and drop off dogs. Taking three groups of dogs out for a 1-hour walk takes me around 6 hours – half my working day is collecting or dropping dogs off – in a small area.  Dog walkers are always racing against the clock, so working in a small area is always advisable.

Potiphar and Chilli getting picked up for a walk

Decide what pet services to offer

The most popular services are doggy daycare, dog boarding, and cat visits outside of dog walking. Doggy daycare is taking off nowadays. Dogs come to stay with you for the day (or half-day) while their owners are at work, with usually the option of a pick-up and drop-off service available. I don’t offer daycare, but it’s a significant rival/addition to dog walking and growing by the day. You can charge quite a bit more for daycare, but someone will have to be at home to look after the pups if you are out dog walking. Some dog walkers offer this service, and some folks provide daycare exclusively.  There are dedicated premises for larger daycare centres that also hire staff.

When looking for a dog walker, clients will sometimes look for those that can board their dogs, too – this is quite important to some, but it’s not a deal-breaker. People like to go on holiday or the odd weekend away, so having a dog walker that can look after their dog is a big bonus, plus boarding pays well (£20-£30+ per night, per dog). In the summer months and school holidays, a dog walker’s wage can almost double with the addition of the boarders, but it can be hard work.  Expect to wake up to ‘accidents’. Several dogs living with you can bring a lot of dirt and fur into the house and along the walls – your once beautiful lawn is now scorched with urine.

Apart from group dog walking, dog boarding, and doggy daycare, all other services are just pocket money. If you don’t fancy them, it’s OK to forget about them, including pet sitting cats and other furries. But what is Pet Sitting? Do you know? I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I sometimes wonder. Is it cat visits? Is it dog sitting in the owner’s home or dog boarding in yours? Is it something to do with caged pets? Well, it’s all those things actually and more. Technically, Pet Sitting is an umbrella term.  Any pet that is cared for in either their own home or your home is Pet Sitting. It’s a vague term, and I wouldn’t say I like it, as it can mean anything to anyone.

So if you do promote Pet Sitting as a service, then describe what it is you’re offering to potential clients. Think about how your potential clients will feel if you list it as a service alongside cat visits and dog sitting, as I often see. I prefer only to list actual pet sitting services I offer, e.g., cat visits and dog boarding. But whatever services you offer, describe clearly what each service is in layman’s terms, and don’t just assume clients will know. Most are hoping you will explain what you do, how you do it, and what it will cost them.

Quote: “You’ve got your hands full!” and “You must be fit!” are the two most common phrases you’ll hear from the public, day after day.

Elsa and Jack are staying at my house

Learn basic canine first aid

Caring for someone’s cherished pet is an enormous responsibility.  Walking a single dog on a lead is usually a carefree walk, but walking six dogs off lead in a public place with distractions is another matter. Therefore, we must remain 100% focused and on the lookout for problems and potential problems.

You will learn that you have to see problems before they arise, and for most, this will come naturally and with experience. For example, if one of your dogs is prone to running over to greet other people’s dogs,  it’s up to you to see that dog before your dog does and respond accordingly. Likewise, if you have a male who doesn’t like other males or likes to hump other males, you have to see that other male first and move away, put your dog on a lead, or distract him.

When approaching other people and their dogs, I always look for the owner’s body language first. Do they look nervous seeing me and the dogs approach?  Are they relaxed and happy?  Is their dog on lead or off?  Being alert and seeing problems before they arise is the first rule of canine first aid – preventing injury.

I’ve been lucky that no dog I walk has ever suffered from severe injury – sure, I’ve seen the odd cut pad, broken toenail, but I haven’t had to deal with much! But I’m always cautious as something can happen in a split second that results in injury, resulting in substantial vet bills.

A first aid course will teach you how to treat injured dogs in an emergency. From bleeding to choking, dealing with broken bones, and even CPR and heart massage – this will give you peace of mind and a good selling point to clients. With experience, I’ve learned that it’s usually the same dogs that will injure themselves repeatedly rather than random members of the group. It’s always those same dogs that run the most that get the sprains, cut pads, or worse – hypoglycemia! I explained this to the editor of Country Walking magazine in 2016 when I helped him write an article about hiking with your dog.

Hypoglycaemia is when the dog’s sugar levels drop after they push themselves too hard – I’ve seen it happen within 30 minutes of a walk. If a dog is not used to much activity, it’s more common than a regularly exercised dog. They become lethargic and dizzy, it can be pretty dangerous, so I always have some honey in my first aid kit just in case, but it’s scarce. It’s happened to me twice, and it’s always those same dogs that want to run after every ball, chase after everything, and do it all as fast as possible. You have to be their brakes because they won’t stop, and usually, the working breeds are guilty of this.

An excellent simple precaution is not to push the dog harder than it gets at home. Sure, let the dogs play, have fun, and tire themselves out, but in moderation. Clients’ dogs may only get one long walk a day or long walks only on weekends, so I give them timeouts throughout the walk if it’s a highly charged one. The last dog that went hypo on a walk did so, trying to keep up with my super fit Springer Spaniel, but I carried a 30-kilo dog back to the van. But like I said, it’s infrequent, and you will probably never experience it.

Dog walking isn’t all the ‘Sunshine and rainbows’ that some think it is and, at times, can be pretty stressful. But learning some basic first aid will make your life a lot easier and take a lot of the anxiety away. It could be the difference between life and death for the pet in your care! Get to know a dog behaviourist! They can be pretty easy to find on Google in your local area. Learning and understanding some dog behaviour basics is beneficial for a dog walker. Even if you are an experienced dog owner, it will make a big difference. It’s pretty easy to reinforce lousy behaviour; simply giving the behaviour attention can be enough to make it worse! Understanding why a dog is doing what it does can be essential 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 group issues?

Tip: In an emergency, you can take the dog to any vet (meaning the closest at hand), not just their registered vet. All that vet needs to know is what clinic the dog’s registered with so they can get their info. Vets will also treat injured wild animals should you come across any.

I have the attention of the dogs and they are having fun

Get Pet Business Insurance

Dog walkers need to get insured to start a business. You need to protect yourself from any liabilities.  There are quite a few around and easy to find online. Two big companies are ‘Pet Businesses Insurance‘ and ‘Cliverton‘ with many others online. It should cost about £15-£20 a month. Insurance covers replacing locks of clients’ homes should their keys be lost or stolen. And covers vet bills should the animal you are looking after come to harm through your negligence. Also, insurance will generally (or optionally) cover other pet services like dog boarding, daycare, pet taxi, etc. When taking on new clients, dog walkers need three primary forms which you can find at the bottom of this post: A ‘Dog Walking Contract,’ A ‘Pet and Owner’s Info Sheet,’ and a ‘Vet Release Form.’ Find these forms free at the bottom of the post or buy the form book which contains all the forms you need for dog walking in one handy book! The Dog Walking Contract is the agreement between the dog walker and the client. The Pet and Owner’s Info Sheet contains owner contact details and pet info. Finally, the Vet Release Form may be the most important as it gives you the power to take the dog to the vet and agree to their treatment. A vet can’t do much for an injured dog without consent. They are liable should something happen without it, so they can only offer the most basic treatment.

Tip: I’ve often had emails from dog walkers unable to get their vehicles insured for dog walking. Not many insurance companies want to take us on. So if you are having trouble, try Hastings.

You have to register your dog walking business with HMRC to pay taxes on your income. You can earn around £10,000 a year before starting paying tax. By law, you have to keep your financial records up to date, so everything that’s coming in and going out. Hence, an accountant is worthwhile and relatively cheap. But it’s pretty easy to do yourself. Taxes are done online every January on the HMRC website, and you are paying tax for the previous year.

Using either spreadsheet software or a notepad, write down every time a client pays you, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, for each month – this is your incomings. For outgoings, you are looking at fuel bills, van insurance, dog walking insurance, dog leads, cages, and treats. So it’s not complicated. Online, HRMC will only ask you for your incoming and outgoing total for the year and then work out what you owe in tax.

Some people will be entitled to working tax credits to help top up their earnings (I was) so check into that as the income can help when you start.

You might want to get a business bank account too. They are similar to your personal bank account but used just for business. It makes it easier to keep track of your incomings and outgoings and doesn’t cost anything.

Since you will generally get a key to the owner’s home while they’re out, it’s best to have a certificate showing you have been Police checked (DRB/CRB check).

Letting strangers in their homes alone is a big deal for most people. That is why dog walkers rely so heavily on recommendations. If their friend or someone they know trusts you, they are far more likely to choose you than someone unknown. Disclosure Scotland is a government-run organisation and can offer disclosure certificates to anyone in the UK. But you can Google to find others that provide the same service.

dog walker with dogs

The dogs are all back on lead and ready to go home. 2017

Choosing a business name

There’s more to think about in a business name than you might think. If you plan to work alone, a more personal business name may suit you better as pet care is very personal. I’m known locally as Jamie, the dog walker, and people recommend using that term, so if I needed to start all over again, that could be a suitable business name.

There has also been quite a benefit of using your location in your business name. It made it much easier to rank in Google search. Around 2011-2012 if you Googled for a dog walker using my location, my website, and all the directories it listed on took up the whole first page. But now, I only appear once, like most others do, with maybe my Facebook page listing. Google has changed a lot since those days. Google keeps tweaking its algorithms to improve user experience, so there is a chance that adding your location to your business name may become redundant.

If I planned to start a pet business and hire helpers as it grew, calling my business “Jamie’s dog walking” doesn’t make much sense. Nor does it to offer other pet services, like cat visits and small animal boarding. So for those with ambitions and plans of hiring staff, a less personal, more inclusive name is better. For example, if I started again and wanted a team and offered a spectrum of pet services, a business name like “Bishopton Pet Nannies” would make more sense. It includes the location and the term “pet” rather than just “dog” but also has the plural “Nannies,” letting people know there is more than just me working there.

Since pet care can be so personal, some people won’t use businesses that hire staff. They want to choose their pet person and have them walk their dog or care for their pet. Also, those who hire staff can struggle to keep them for long. It pays poorly, hours are low, and it isn’t as fun as it sounds. Yet, because of the appeal of working with pets, businesses never have trouble getting new staff. Still, their clients have to get used to a new dog walker becoming common every so often.

After four years, I hired someone as I found myself overbooked and told some clients their dogs would get walked by my new helper, and most were ok. But some didn’t like the idea of someone they didn’t know or trust walking their dog or coming into their home. So what I learned is that if you hire help and then pass some clients onto your team, it can make some clients feel disgruntled: the agreement of terms has now changed.

So my advice is, if you get a helper, then give them the new dogs to walk, not current dogs. New clients will be happy to have your helper walk their dog from the start.

Get a dog walking logo

A logo can help build your business identity. There are a few ways to get one:
Pay a graphic artist to make you one – expensive:

  • Choose one from the 40 free dog walking logos I made
  • Create one yourself
  • Steal one from the internet (not advisable)
  • Buy a premade logo from a stock website
  • Visit – cheapish

Marketing Your Business

If you want an online presence, a Facebook business page may be all you need. But a website can also help. Those who don’t know of any dog walkers will likely Google for one and find local businesses (and their websites) listed. Register on ‘Google Business.’ Doing this will list your business (and website) on local search results and Google maps – a must-do action, and it’s free! But remember, it’s not about being number one on Google; it’s about building an effective website that turns visitors into clients – this is marketing.  I host my website with and have done since I’ve started.  They are very cheap and reliable.

Half of my work comes from Facebook and the other half from my website, and primarily at the beginning, when I had no word of mouth, all of it came from my website. But 2010 was a different time with no Facebook.

There are loads of dog walking websites that rank high on Google, but their sites are hopeless. They will never convert visitors to clients, so make sure that you give the visitor what they want straight away if you have a website. Too many sites focus on talking about themselves when they should be letting visitors know what they can do for them – all people care about is what you can do for them!

On the website, state clearly what services you offer, what areas you work in, your prices, and how to contact you. Lay down the simple facts, and explain how it all works. People are lazy online; bullet points make for easy reading. It’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for the client!

I advertise my dog walking services in Erskine and Bishopton, and I state that on the first line of my website – that tells visitors what I do and where.  I then list how it works in bullet points, and underneath that, I have a ‘call to action’ (CTA). A CTA is a directive used in marketing campaigns. It tells the visitor what we want them to do next. People expect to be led by the hand online. Some CTA examples:

  • Sign up to start your free trial.
  • Buy one pizza, get one free! Order now!
  • Get your dog walked! Call Today!

Since we want them to contact us, we’ll add our CTA telling them to do so on every website page.

Tip: When you walk a new dog for the first time, it’s important to post photos to Facebook that same day (if possible). You can bet your bottom dollar that your new client will be visiting your Facebook page aplenty that first day because the new client wants reassurance. Most are anxious when a stranger takes their dog out for the first time. Photos let clients see for themselves that all is good. Posting photos to Facebook is ideal for reassuring and giving an excellent impression to new clients. Not to do so is to keep your client’s insecurities lingering – this can cause resentment and potentially for the client to find another, more reassuring dog walker.

Advertise your business on your vehicle

An excellent advertising method is to get stickers on your vehicle if you have one. Then, hundreds of people will see you every day, and it doesn’t cost much. Anywhere you park, outside your house, outside a client’s home, or in the supermarket is advertising for your business.

Being a Responsible Dog Walker

Control is what dog walking is all about and the most important thing to remember. Being in control is the number one rule. It’s more important than giving the dogs a good run and play. More important than letting them pee and poo. If you’re in control, dogs are safe. If you’re not, then they’re not.

You have to be able to control the dogs you walk and what that means is that dogs off the lead should stay close to you, come when called, and be focused on you. The easiest way to control dogs is to be the centre of attention and even give the dogs a job to do. That might mean using a ball to keep the focus for some, retrieving things from the water for others or just having playmates. However you do it, the dog must know that being with you is better than being away from you. Else they are likely to entertain themselves. What’s happening over there may look a lot more fun. That means they are running away to greet other dogs, that means they are following a scent they’ve found, that means you are not in control.

Being the centre of attention is the number one mega secret of being a good dog walker. Unfortunately, not many dog walkers understand this, so I’ll repeat it, you are the centre of attention. It’s more fun for dogs to be with you than away from you – play with them – entertain them – talk to them, don’t ignore them – give them a job to do – remember that, and you will be doing well!

If all else fails, they go on the lead. As I said, I’ve said this to many dog walkers who can’t stop their dogs from running off. Still, they don’t seem to get it for some reason, and eventually, most of their dogs end up permanently on lead.

Introducing new dogs to the group

Try to know as much about the new dog before you walk it. Are they dog-friendly? If not neutered, does it get on well with other males? If it’s a female, is it spayed? Are there any breeds they don’t like or anything you need to be made aware of? If you want, you can organise for the owner and dog to join you for a walk with your group so they can meet first.

Sometimes owners won’t tell you what you really should know because they count on you to walk their dog, but there can be signs that can give you insight if you look closely.  For example, if they have a bungee lead, they might not be goon on lead. This can also be true if they use a harness or head collar.  If they have an extendable lead, the dog probably doesn’t get off lead much, find out why.

Outside where dogs can run free and have plenty of room, they can ignore the other dogs if they’re not happy in their company. But in the vehicle, dogs won’t ignore each other. So any problems will surface in the vehicle. New dogs always need to be placed in a separate area from the rest – this is why you need a minimum of two spaces in your vehicle.

Usually, dogs are fine, young puppies are always good, but the most likely scenario you’ll find is from the males and non socialised dogs. Unneutered males don’t always like other males, especially complete males, but this isn’t always the case. Some males do need neutering but haven’t been, and they can cause problems with other males, harass and get too personal towards the girls and cause trouble. Some dog walkers (not many) only walk female dogs because of this.

If you have a complete female, you’ll have to let the owner know that you can’t take them on group walks when they are in season. However, you might be able to offer a solo walk which would have to be on the lead.

Suppose a dog hasn’t been socialised enough at a young age. It really might not like being in proximity to other dogs in the vehicle, but a separate area can remedy that. Your dogs must be dog and people 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 but doesn’t go for them, you may expect to hear that it’s friendly! Dog walking can be pretty funny that way, and some owners are, let’s say, very loyal towards their dogs. So unless it’s a puppy, you will have to find out what the dog is like.

You could have a fantastic team filled with lovely sociable dogs having a great time together, all under your control. Then you bring in a new dog that profoundly changes the dynamic of that walk for the worse. For me, dogs that cause problems in the group are the worst part of dog walking. Suppose I come across a dog that doesn’t fit in enough because it’s too hard to control or not friendly. I will let the owner know that its’ not working out and end that dog’s time with us – for the good of the group walk. Regarding new dogs, it should only take a couple of walks for you to get a good idea of how that dog is and how it gets on with the pack. Even after one walk, you should have a reasonable idea.

How to walk multiple dogs at one time

You learn when you can let a dog off the lead with experience, but I can offer some great tips and advice on when to let the dog off the lead for the first time.

Some dogs will happily walk with you off the lead on their first walk and come to you when you call them but not all! Puppies are generally the easiest. Second to pups are the dogs familiar with getting walked by different people or have had a dog walker in the past. But the older the dog gets, the more time it can take to adjust to new things. So older dogs that have never had a dog walker usually need the most time – but that is not always the case.

You might be on a group walk with the new dog on the lead, and it shows signs of wanting to play with the group – this is a good sign but not enough. They might be keen on their pack mates, but they must also be keen on you. If they’re not, they won’t come back to you, respond well to your commands, or let you come close enough to them to put them back on the lead.

So you are looking for signs that they are comfortable with the other dogs and, more importantly, happy with you. Warnings that tell you they must stay on a lead are:

  • They are not pleased to see you when you arrive
  • They are not happy with you in their home
  • They won’t take a treat from you (at home or on a walk)
  • Or they do take a treat but spit it back out
  • They respond poorly to your commands/ignore you
  • They are nervous around their new group mates
  • They are not keen on you touching them while they are on lead

The last sign is vital. If dogs don’t like you touching them while on a lead, you will not get anywhere near them if you let them off, so you must keep them on. Thankfully trust builds quickly, and dogs learn that it’s a walk, and they get to go back home afterwards, so it might be scary at first, but they soon get used to it. If they have a good time, it can take just a couple of walks, but if you’re unsure, keep them on the lead until they get to know you better. Again, the older dogs are more prone to this than the younger ones (not always, though).

If you get a nervous dog, it generally just takes a few walks with the same pack for them to relax soon. However, if you have an unsure dog, it’s crucial that you become Mr/Miss Chilled. No drama, loud voices, nothing that makes them think being walked by you or being in the group is wrong – make it a great thing!

Tip: When out and about and meeting people walking their dogs, chat with them as human and not as a potential client. Don’t try to be a salesperson trying to get work, forcing your business cards down their throat. By just being friendly and chatty and without any agenda you build trust amongst people and should they need a dog walker they will choose you. Why? Cause you are someone they’ve gotten to know, a nice person to chat too and someone they trust.

Don’t let the dogs be a nuisance

When walking dogs in public while they are off the lead, dogs need to behave in a particular manner and not bother or upset other people and their dogs. You can get a bad reputation that can spread quickly on social media. With social media, we get something called ‘call-out’ culture. An opportunity for someone to gain prestige and status by shaming others publicly. If you’re a regular on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see it now and again. Since you can get prestige from a ‘call-out’, there is much motivation from certain types to do this if given a chance.

A good few years back, I was ‘called out’ when a stranger decided to kick a full-size football into the river for one of my dogs. Since the football was too big to get into the dog’s mouth, the dog just pushed it further and further into the river, ignoring my commands to return and soon was far out. It was a terrifying experience, but she returned, oblivious to the drama. After that, all was fine until I saw later that a witness decided to post about it on the local community group on Facebook.

A close call was when I was walking with a client, and her dog suddenly lunged at a passerby’s dog. Outraged, the owner demanded to know if this was a dog from my pack.  I replied, “No,” and backed off. When the owner realised it was just a person out walking their dog rather than a pro dog walker, she quickly calmed down, and they were both chatting and laughing moments later. She changed that quick.

The response would have been very different if that dog was under my control. Maybe a bad review, perhaps a Facebook rant, but whatever the reaction would have been, it would not be nearly as forgiving since I’m a professional. Since we get paid, are professionals, own a business, offer a service, people have the right to complain. They are entitled to shame us, wag their finger at us, and even shout. This is why so many dog walkers look for quiet areas to walk the dogs away from the public. Ok, so here are some rules for how dogs should behave in public:

  • Dogs need to stay close to you, not running about all over the place. They can run after a ball as long as they come straight back. If your dogs are all close, this is reassuring to people that they are under control, which puts their minds at rest. As soon as any dog wanders, I call it back, it’s second nature for me, and now my dogs stick to me like glue unless I throw a ball for them. But if I’m on a path and a bike comes, I can walk off the path taking all the dogs with me to let the cyclist pass.
  • Don’t let dogs run as a group toward other people’s dogs. Very intimidating.
  • Don’t let your males hump or try to dominate other people’s dogs.
  • Don’t let your dogs surround another dog that you pass.
  • Don’t let your dogs steal other dogs’ toys or chase after them.
  • Dogs should be seen and not heard. Some dogs are very loud, particularly when excited. Not acceptable for a public place if it’s continuous. I’ve let dogs go because of how loud they were.
  • Dogs should focus on you, reassuring the public that they are under control.

Pack Culture

Packs have their own culture, every walk may have a slightly different culture from the next, but the gap is more prominent between dog walkers. For example, it might mean throwing one ball for all six dogs on one walk, one ball for each dog on another, or letting them all play amongst themselves or it could be lead walks for all the dogs. By culture, I mean the learned group social behaviour of dogs on that particular walk.

So my packs are inward-facing, which means they focus on me and their fellow packmates, which is what I want. When new dogs join the group, they adopt this culture, and it’s easier for them to do this when they are young. So the pack is like a bubble, and what is happening outside of the bubble is irrelevant and ignored.

Some other dog walkers have outward-facing packs. That means what is happening over there is a lot more interesting. So when new dogs join that group, they adopt that culture and become focused on what’s happening outside the pack.

I’ve seen this before with another dog walker whose own dog felt threatened by other people and always ran over to other people’s dogs. It was always on the lookout for something. What was that noise? Who’s that in the distance? What’s that smell? Is this a threat? The whole pack soon adopted that behaviour.

I ended up with some of their dogs, and it took weeks of work to bring them back into ‘the bubble’ and lose focus on what was happening over there.


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Dog Walking Planner & Organiser

Dog Walking Planner & Organiser

Keep Organised all 2024 Keep all your client appointments, dog walking and pet visit schedules safe and together in this handy 2024 daily organiser/planner. Never forget an appointment again! Each page for every day of 2024, plenty of space for notes, tasks and...

Essential Items for Dog Walkers

Essential Items for Dog Walkers

Since 2010 I've spent thousands buying gear I thought would help me one way or another.  Most things failed or became redundant but some things worked.  So I thought I'd post some handy gear advice to help out new dog walkers.  Some of the items I'm sure will really...

New! Dog Walking Form Book

New! Dog Walking Form Book

ALL YOUR FORMS IN ONE HANDY BOOK! Dog walkers need 3 forms when taking on new clients: The Dog Walking Contract The Vet Release Form Pet and Owner's Info Sheet This book contains all three in order of sequence x 50 Together these forms are required to make sure a dog...

Free Dog Boarding Form

Free Dog Boarding Form

TEMPLATE Download the PDF, or the DOCX file if you want to edit on MS Office or Google Docs etc. Or copy and paste the embedded template below.[dipi_button_grid flex_direction="row" _builder_version="4.17.3" _module_preset="default" locked="off"...

Free Pet Sitting Contract

Free Pet Sitting Contract

Example Template Download the PDF, or the DOCX file if you want to edit on MS Office or Google Docs etc. Or copy and paste the embedded template below.  Please check your own insurance docs to ensure these forms match your policy.[dipi_button_grid flex_direction="row"...

Free Vet Release Form

Free Vet Release Form

Example Template Download the PDF, or the DOCX file if you want to edit on MS Office or Google Docs etc. Or copy and paste the embedded template below.  Please check your own insurance docs to ensure these forms match your policy.[dipi_button_grid flex_direction="row"...

Free Dog Walking Contract

Free Dog Walking Contract

Free Dog Walking Form Download the PDF file and print or use a PDF editer to modify, or download the DOCX file if you want to edit on MS Office or Google Docs etc. Or copy and paste from the embedded template below.  Please check your own insurance docs to ensure...

Free First Aid Guide For Dogs

Free First Aid Guide For Dogs

Learn dog first aid By Bev Cobley for BDWS Accidents happen and illness can occur anytime, usually in the most inappropriate place or when the cause is no longer apparent.  I have lost count of the number of times over the years I have had to perform first aid on a...

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jamie the dog walker

By Jamie Shanks

BDWS is owned and run by me, Jamie Shanks. I’ve been a professional dog walker since 2010. When I’m not walking dogs, I’m usually at home (like everyone else) entertaining my two dogs and attending to six hens.


  1. Thank you. I am just starting out. This has been an so so helpful. Especially the forms!!

  2. Hey, your blog is SO helpful thankyou! I have one question which might be silly but you mentioned about having keys for your clients home, what do you mean by this? so when you go to collect a dog is it typical that the owner is not home? If so, do you get a key cut for their house? this is always something i have wondered when doing my research, thanks

    • Quite often they are not home. Way more so before Lockdown. They get a key cut for you, if needed.

    • Thankyou so much!

  3. This is a really inspiring read! I’m currently burned out in my job but apprehensive about taking the leap and braving the risk, but I believe it’ll be worth it – I’m sure my dog will agree ????

    • Hi Emily, if you are gonna go for it, do it now, all the dog walkers are full, there is loads of work. I’m not sure how things will be in the future.

  4. Thanks so much for your amazing blog. It is so interesting to read the life of a dog walker. I have thought of doing this for a while now. I adopted a rescue dog from Romania in July 2020. He is a wee star and loves his walks. I did foster another dog from Romania in August 2021 for a month until she had a new home. My own dog didn’t enjoy it as he is older and very quiet, this dog was very young and energetic and wanted to play with my dog. This is what is holding me back from starting dog walking as I don’t think my own dog would enjoy the company…I suppose it wold depend on the other dogs. Or I could walk my dog first then go to clients dogs later in the morning….any advice on this please? Thanks again so much…so helpful. Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      Sorry only just noticed your comment. Well, if the other dogs had other dogs to play with they usually leave the quiet ones alone. Also your dog, while old, would adjust somewhat to the new life. If he loves being walked and doesn’t mind the company he will probably be over the moon at getting so many walks. If he really didn’t like the group walks or tolerate them, then maybe best to walk him alone or with older, quieter dogs.

    • Hi thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it. I will have to see how my dog goes I guess. I have been looking at investing in a new vehicle, but just realised you mentioned that a car would do in the meantime. I am looking into the links you added with hammocks and seat covers etc. I am so glad I found your webpage, I really appreciate the time you took to create it and thank you for your reply.

  5. Hi Jamie, thank you so much for this insightful ans thorough blog. You mention an Owners information sheet, I cant seem to find it though, am I missing something?

  6. Hi Jamie and thank you for your excellent advice about starting a dog walking business. There’s just one topic not covered – payment. So I would appreciate your advice on when and how to take payment.


    • Hi Derek, I added a new section called “getting paid” on the post. Hope that answers any questions you may have, if not, let me know.

  7. Hi, thanks for a brilliant article. Please can I ask how you manage during a heatwave when it’s not safe to walk dogs on pavements or have then in the sun for too long?
    Thank you

    • I walk at the beach or where there is water

  8. I just wanted to say thank you SO much for writing this blog, it has been beyond helpful and completely insightful. No detail was missed out and it gave a realistic description on the life of a dog walker and how to set up a business. Your templates have been really helpful too. It’s been so refreshing to click on an article or Google search and for something like this blog to come up and it be written so recently – makes it more relevant and easier to depend on.
    Thank you SO much again !!

  9. Hello Jamie

    I am absolutely endetted to you and your page. This is beyond helpful its life changing. I started dog training 3 months ago and have decided to follow my heart, and so, I will be finishing my current job at the end of July. On the 1st August I will be full time dogs, dog training and dog walking and I will be applying for a dog boarding certification too. I have read through this several times and listed all the equipment you recommend. I want to thank you for your kindness and openness, sharing your experiences and helping other is truly a special thing to do.

    Thank you so Much

    • Thanks Claire. I hope it has helped. I genuinely have made it to help with all my tips. Good luck, shame lockdown has changed things but still lots of work. Just go out and make a big splash.

  10. Hi Jamie,

    Many thanks for sharing your knowledge – I refer back to your site regularly as I prepare to launch my business.

    I plan to buy an MPV Citroen Berlingo and aim to transport four dogs per walk. Please could you tell me how many crates fit into a Berlingo? I’m not sure whether to buy two crates for the boot and then restrain two dogs in the back seat, using crash tested harnesses; or if it would better to lay the seats flat and just use crates?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Warmest regards,


    • Hi, I use two 42 inch crates and they fit perfect in the berlingo. The back seats unclip very easy and come out meaning I have two large crates behind front seats.

    • Hi Jamie,

      Many thanks for your reply.

      Ah, so you just use two crates. But how do you carry more than two dogs?

      Apologies if I have mis-understood!

      Kind regards,

    • They are large crates so more than one dog can go in a crate unless it’s one of the very large breeds. But I can usually get at least two biggish dogs in one crate easily.

  11. This is a fantastic article thank you. So I’ve set a business up and been growing my client base and expanding to group walks as opposed to solo. My question is, how do you pick up a dog when you have others with you? I’m presuming you don’t take other dogs into a customer’s house but maybe I’m wrong. I hope you can advise me. Thanks again.

    • You collect a dog and put in your car/van, then collect another and put that one in the car/van too until you have collected your group.

    • thinking on starting up a dog walking service,wots the cost off insurance
      Thanks scott

    • Around £100 a year, maybe a little more.

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