To start a dog walking business, you will need many dog walking jobs, because without customers there is no income. This article has the best information and resources you will need to become a prosperous canine walker. It all boils down to 3 main tasks: acquiring the right knowledge, implementing an effective and simple marketing strategy and taking care of a few legal details, like finding dog walking insurance.
If it all sounds overwhelming right now, relax…there are many resources out there to help you embark on your new enterprise sooner than what you think. Lets get started.
Most people think that walking dogs does not require any special skills or knowledge. This is a huge misconceptions, because any person working with animals, including dog walkers, should have at least some basic knowledge of animal behavior and psychology. It will come in handy when you need to manage a pack of dogs or prevent/break a canine fight.
To start a dog walking business, the first thing to so is to learn the best methods to communicate with dogs, what is the most effective, safe and positive way to deal with aggression, some basic training techniques and doggy first aid. You can learn all of these by yourself through websites, books and videos, or you can follow a certification program. Even if it is not required for you to be certified as a dog walker, following a certification program will guide you through the important things you need to know.
The following information can help you decide whether you prefer to learn by yourself, get certified, or both.
There are many free informational websites out there, the first thing you need to do is decide if you trust the writer/blogger. As a general rule avoid any dog websites that use punishment training methods. You do not want to start your dog walking business based on outdated and inhumane training principles. For example, you do not need to harm your dog physically or emotionally to show your pet you are “the alpha”. The use of electronic collars should be discouraged as well as the use of leash jerking or water spray bottles (time-outs or mildly loud noises should be the worst punishments acceptable). Instead, look for articles that suggest you understand the psychology or biology of a behavior problem and then guide you through the implementation of a solution that uses positive methods.
When it comes to paying for your education, you also need to make sure that the reputation of the certification program is good and that they only encourage the use of positive methods.
If you decide to start learning on your own, I highly recommend you
take your own dog (or a friend’s dog) through a dog training class. The
hands-on experience guided by a professional trainer will be invaluable.
I am going to describe here two of the best networking strategies to help you get dog walking jobs. The first one is successful mouth-to-mouth and referral networking and the second is by making your own successful website. As in the previous step you can do both for even better results.
When you start a dog walking business, you should connect with people working in the pet industry in your area and give them something in return for their referrals to you. I suggest you connect with them personally but e-mail or Facebook will work for some too. When you approach them don’t try to sell them your business or ask them plainly to give you referrals. Instead, ask them about THEIR business and then find ways to HELP THEM. Do this in a sincere manner and you will see that they will refer their clients to you willingly, because they know you and trust you. You will also be referring people to them once your business grows and they know this too. Here is the list of professionals to contact:
How can you help them? Here are some ideas.
Start a dog walking business the right way and get an effective website that is found by lots of potential customers. Most people think this is really hard or really expensive. Well, as a website owner myself I can tell you it is not, if you do it the smart way. When I first started my dog training business I made a free website myself, it was beautiful….but nobody found it!
As I was looking around I found a lot of good options. However, they were very expensive and kind of complicated too. After much research, I found SBI! which is my web host, marketing coach, and inspirational friend…well, the company itself is not my friend, but their members are awesome, helpful and friendly.
This system let me build a successful website (you found it, right? and hundreds of people do every day) without having any programming or marketing knowledge. I am very happy with them, so I do recommend that at least you check them out. SBI! will take care of everything you need to know to make your website a valuable tool to your dog walking business.
By having your own website you will become a voice in the dog walking world and many customers will find you and get to know you (through your articles) before they even meet you. The advantage is that you can create a great first impression.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get insurance when you start a dog walking business is to join a pet professional association and take advantage of their members discount insurance packet. Becoming a member will also have added benefits such as being listed in their directory, being able to contact other dog walkers for advice exchange and access to educational materials. The following associations have insurance packets and you can compare what they offer as well as pricing to find the one that fits your dog walking business best.
Most states will not require you to have a dog walking license or permit. However, you will need to register your business and get a tax registration license. At the U.S small business administration website you will find the requirements for your particular City and State.
Finally, you must check if your city has any specific regulations about dog walking such as, maximum number of dogs allowed to be walked, off-leash and on-leash parks, parks that do not allow dogs, etc.
All the best starting your dog walking business! And don’t forget to share with us your tips and advice too, you can do it in the comments box below.
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