If you love exercise and being around dogs, becoming a professional dog walker might just be the career or home business for you.
Generally, the requirements for becoming a dog walker include a love for dogs and other animals, being in good health and physically fit, enjoy walking and being outdoors, and having good people skills in order to attract and keep clients.
There's a growing demand for dog walking and petsitting services, with so many homes where both adults work and manage busy schedules. Often there's nobody at home during the day to walk the family dog, and so a good reliable walker should have no problem finding work.
If you're not sure if this would be a good career choice for you, you might volunteer to walk a neighbor or relatives dog a few days per week, or stop buy your local animal shelter and see if you can offer your time there.
Dogs, like any animal, can behave unpredictably, especially when away from their owner. So you'll have to be able to adapt to the dog or dogs you're walking. For example, keeping them in check when another dog approaches, or when they see a squirrel. And of course dogs also do their business while on walks, so you'll need plastic bags available to clean up the mess. If you'd like to learn more about dog and animal behavior, you can search online or check out a book from your local library.
On the plus side, dog walkers tend to be in very good physical condition. Walking is great exercise, and many people in this career report losing weight and lowering their blood pressure as a result of their daily activities. Another consideration is the health of the dog in your care.
If something happens to the dog or dogs while you're walking them, you'll need to know some basic first aid, plus be trained in animal CPR. Another good idea is to be licensed and bonded to do this type of work, and have insurance coverage in the event of accident or injury. There's nothing worse than having to explain to a dog's owner that something unfortunate happened to their beloved pet, and you have no way to cover the resulting medical expenses.
On the business side of owning your own dog walking business, you'll want to get a registered trade name and business license in the state in which you live. And as in any business venture, it's good to have some marketing, bookkeeping and other basic business skills. One inexpensive way to get the word out is to have some professional-looking fliers printed up and hand them out around your neighborhood or area you’ll like to work.
There's little equipment to buy when starting a dog walking business, and operating expenses are about as low as you can get. You will need to buy a good quality leash, doogie poop bags, and some dog treats are always a good way to bribe a dog into being well behaved for the afternoon.
As mentioned earlier, good people skills are a must in this business. You'll need to communicate and market yourself well in order to get prospective clients, and then you'll need to present yourself in a professional manner in order to get the job. You'll need to work out your fees, and having some references is always a good way to reassure your clients that you've done good work in the past.
You'll also need to decide whether you'll be willing to walk a group of dogs, or just one at a time. And one you gain your client's trust, you may be asked to do other things around their house like bring in the newspaper or feed the animals after walking them.
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