How to set up a dog walking business

How to set up a dog walking business in the UK all begins with getting the word out that you are offering this type of service. The initial feedback will provide you with a small view of the demand in your area for such a service.

Can anyone open a dog walking business?

Technically yes, but there is a difference in opening a business walking dogs and being a success at it. To be successful at this business venture, people will have to employ you to walk their canine family members. This requires that you have insurance, are trustworthy, be responsible and have experience.

Setting up a dog walking business

What should be my short term goals?

Getting experience is the easiest to obtain and is a requirement for a dog walker who desires to own their own business. The first step has you working for someone else. This will get you the experience that you need, so your short term goal of knowing the business and being part of a successful organization is accomplished. If you decide to go down this path make sure you take out either pet business insurance or if you are going to specialise in dog walking only then you will need to consider dog walking insurance

Some dog walking business owners will require at a minimum a new employee have either training on handling dogs or experience. If you have no professional experience, then enrolling in a class on handling dogs will prove beneficial. By observing how the business operates, you can learn what to do to be successful and what to avoid. This is how your short term goal of knowing how the business should operate can be accomplished.

What are your long term goals?

When your end goal is to operate a dog walking business, you should start small. By registering as self-employed with the HMRC, you can open a business where you are the only employee. The next step will be to have a business plan written out. This will have all the goals laid out with time frames for each.

  • Having the proper credentials including a background criminal check on yourself that clients can view along with any certificates of training you have completed.
  • Insurance for dog walkers that should include public liability to help protect not only you, but also the dogs you care for is required. Find a policy that fits your needs.
  • Join the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers. This will be a valuable resource for assistance and knowledge, along with providing your clients with confidence you are a professional.
  • Have a marketing plan in place that can include the area you will cover, the types of services you offer and a set price for each service. This has to include how you will advertise. It can be a website, on Facebook or other means like word of mouth.

Should I only offer dog walking as my only service?

Dog walking is the main source of revenue for your business, but there are other services your clients might need. The most requested service needed by clients is dog sitting. Because there are restrictions and regulations on animals when they cross into another country along with quarantine times, most dog owners leave their pets behind when they go off on holidays and business trips. Taking care of the dogs dietary needs along with exercising them when clients are away is another source of revenue.

Dog walking is a real business and must be treated as such.

With all business, there are administrative processes that are necessary to have in place. This includes contracts and forms clients must fill out and agree to when hiring you. You must also keep accurate records of all conversations, transaction, meetings with clients and session with the dogs.

You must also be aware of and follow the laws and regulations that pertain to dogs. This includes but not limited to The Dog Act of 1971, The Animal Act of 1971, The Road Traffic Act of 1988, Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 and The Control of Dogs Order of 1992.

For businesses that have annual revenue of £72,000 or below, you will be exempt from charging the 20% VAT the government requires. If you are above that amount, you must be VAT registered and charge the 20% above your normal fees.

Knowing how to set up a dog walking business properly will be the difference in success or failure of your business venture. The proper level of insurance along with impeccable record keeping will aid you in your  long term goal of being a success.

Types of UK Pet Businesses

The most popular with low entry costs is dog walking or dog sitting. To get started as a dog walker, you just need a few basic items. In the clothing front, you will need waterproof gear and a good pair of boots for dog walking. For your clients you should be able to provide waterproof winter dog coats in a range of sizes and the best retractable lead and harness that you can afford. 

Pet Business Guides

We have compiled some guides on the most frequent types of pet business insurance requests. We hope will help in your pet business journey. 

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