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Starting a dog walking business

Discussion in 'Dog Walking' started by JudyN, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    My son's other half is toying with the idea of setting up a dog walking/sitting business. It's just a possibility, but if she did go for it, she wouldn't know where to start. I thought it might be useful if dog walkers/sitters ran through some of the things they had to do to set up their business. Aspects I'm wondering about:

    Is it a good idea to get some training - dog behaviour and first aid - and a qualification first, and if so, what courses would you recommend?

    Insurance - what's needed? Does this depend on whether you visit dogs in their homes, and/or have them at your house?

    Tax - is it all fairly straightforward, or do you need help, e.g. an accountant?

    What is a sensible number of dogs to walk at a time, and do you need a van?

    What 'market research' did you do, how did you advertise and market your business?

    How do you vet potential new clients?

    Do you ever worry about what could go wrong, e.g. one dog attacking the other, one escaping its harness and disappearing across a busy road?

    How much do you charge? Or, if you don't want to say, what is a standard rate for walking, house visits, dog sitting?

    Unexpected pitfalls? Do you have days you wish you'd chosen an easier, less stressful job, like brain surgery or lion taming?

    Thanks all:)
     
  2. Shalista

    Shalista Active Member Registered

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    i know theres a bunch ofapps you can use like rover andwag if you dont want to deal with to much hassle
     
  3. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    Alot depends on your local council rules ...from what i can gather a new law has come in to say any homeboarder now has to have a license ...This is a home visit that make sure your home is safe clean and any dog being boarded has access to its own space ...I think they decide how many boarders you are allowed ...
    I had insurance with cliverton whilst i was dogwalking and i could walk 4 dogs at one time ...i got written consent from the owners that they allowed me to walk their dog with others as some dogs need a solo walk ...
    There are so many dogwalker /sitters out there now ...
    Local ones here charge £12 per hr for dogwalking and £25 for an overnight home boarder ...
    I gave up as when it was holidays people didnt need you and it took a chunk of my income ...
     
  4. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Insurance I get is through 'Pet Business Insurance' it covers up to a max of 6 dogs per walk, aswell as everything else I need, but I only do one to one walking, unless same family dogs. I have no formal qualifications other than experience, voluntary RSPCA work in my early teens, having dogs from about the age of 13, and being head kennel maid in a boarding kennels, for 5years, where we also had our local staffi rescue use our empty kennels as and when.. Building up my business was through local advertising in pet related businesses, local online sites like friday ad and gumtree and word of mouth. I am not mad on big group walkers, there is one lady in our area who walks 14 dogs! And often I see two walkers walk their groups together, therefore 'walking' a pack of up to 20 dogs..:eek: Personally I think if you are to do a group walk, 4 is ample, why not do 3 walks of 4 instead of one walk of 12? but that is me.. Also you have to take into account the time it takes you to pick up all your dogs, how long is the first dog you pick up in the van? Potentially getting more stressed/excited or anxious as you spend another hour picking the others up? If you are boarding aswell you need to be aware of how long you are out, or can the boarder do your days walks with you? It is a great job, but definitely not as simple as some may think, it is a massive responsibility looking after someone elses dog, I get really fed up of how blase some walkers are when you find one of their group sat in the car park or lost on the hill looking really panicked because they have lost their walker and usually the walker hasn't even noticed:(. I will stop ranting/rambling, but my only advice would be is really think about all the angles, if you are out with a group and one gets lost, gets in a fight, hurts itself etc, what do you do if you have another 5 dogs in your care and you are on your own a mile away from your van?? Also when boarding you may only be getting paid for one day at a time but actually you are responsible for that dog 24/7.. I wouldn't change my job, but it is definitely much harder than 'just looking after dogs'!
    The tax side of things is not too hard, you are a sole trader, so long as you have a business account and keep things simple, ie keep all your receipts and log all income and expenses you get it should be ok. HMRC do loads of online web thingies for selfemployed people to help with every angle of it.;)
     
  5. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    I did a dog first aid course a few years ago and was a human nurse for 20 yrs ;)
    Have been involved in rescue dogs for 25 yrs including fostering. ..experience with dogs really does help ....
    I also always carry a basic first aid kit for my dogs wherever i go ..
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  6. Josie

    Josie Administrator Administrator Registered

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    I started doing dog walking only because I wanted to do something alongside the website.

    It just so happened that a friend of mine knew a lady who wanted someone to help her out if she was really busy or cover for her when on holiday. So I started going out with her regularly to know the dogs and her routine. I then decided that I needed something more regular for myself so I joined two dog walking groups on Facebook - one for all dog owners and then one just for dog walkers. This helped massively as everyone is so friendly and helpful. They have recommended me when they have no space etc.
    I also put flyers everywhere. Now I have people ringing me.

    I have insurance with Cliverton upto 6 dogs but I’d only ever walk 4 max depending on the dogs themselves.

    I recently did a first aid course and found it really interesting and worthwhile.

    I’ve learnt a massive lesson after witnessing and being part of a dog fight. Not all dogs get on! I ask owners to fill out a form about them and I also have a consultation with them- I ask them to be truthful about any flaws their dog might have!!

    I always take the dog out one on one for the first walk. Or with Dennis as hes so chilled. This is really important as you get to know the dog and the dog gets to know you. Then I introduce others gradually.

    I don’t have a van but I want to keep my walks small so that suits me. (Would love one though if I had the opportunity!)

    I have an accountant. Takes the panic out of things for me personally!

    Sorry massive essay!
     
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  7. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Brilliant, thanks everyone :)
     
  8. Jon Roff

    Jon Roff New Member Registered

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  9. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    In between animal care the only other job I have done is in nursing too, which I think does help in the whole caring, observation/non verbal communication side of working with dogs.. Also yes, vet potential clients, I always meet in their own home and take details and go on a walk with them so I can see what is 'normal' for their dog. If you are planning on group walks it takes a bit more planning, matching stamina, personalities, neutered or not etc.. I have a neutered male I walk who is not great with un neutered males, on seeing a group walk approaching I shouted to the walker 'have you any un neutered males in your group?', so I could work accordingingly, and he just replied 'ohh I don't know'...?? so aswell, be prepared for other dog walkers to maybe not be as on the ball as you..If you are going to board have them round your house so they can see where their dog is staying and you can chat for sure.
     

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