Dog walking has fully embraced tech as a useful tool, with a range of dog walking apps now available for both walkers and customers to choose from.

Whether you love your iPhone or prefer the google play store, there’s a wide range to choose from, with features and benefits galore.

It can be as simple as downloading the app, saving your details, and setting up shop, as long as you keep a couple of things in mind.

Choosing the right app

With so much choice, picking the right dog walking app can be tricky. As a dog walker, you need to access customers, and it’s not always easy to pick the apps with the biggest customer base.

For this reason, a lot of dog walkers will have accounts across different apps, to broaden their customer base. Because dog walking by its nature is a location-based profession, it makes sense to have a minimum of three or four accounts.

If you pick an app where the majority of customers are London-based, while you live and operate in Derby, you’re unlikely to get a lot of queries. On the other hand, eliminating that app might remove potential clients in your area that are desperate for a good dog walker. It pays to diversify.

Free or paid app?

A lot of apps are free for full or basic services, with additional options charging a fee or subscription. You also have the paid app option.

If this is the first time you’re using dog walking apps, try the free ones first before you pay out and get the full service subscription versions.

Stay organised

With multiple accounts, it’s vital you stay organised and on top of your schedule. Most apps will give you the option to set alerts for queries and reviews, and it’s a good idea to allow these.

You need to eliminate the chances of over-booking, under-booking, or even worse – completely missing a booking or a query from a client.

Set up a personal diary, note the app any bookings are from, and stick to your schedule.

Personal details

You’ll need to fill in personal details including a valid email address, and expect a background check.

Most apps require dog walkers to be over 18, and some offer additional certification to add to your profile.

Getting paid

Customers on a dog walking app tend to pay dog walkers using online systems. PayPal and Stripe are the two most commonly used, although some apps will have additional options, like Amazon Pay or World Pay. These online systems are easy to set up. You’ll need a valid email address and a working phone number, and while it’s not mandatory, downloading the banking app for instant access to check your payments makes it even easier to use this system.

PayPal, for instance, gives you the fingerprint login option on their app, making it incredibly fast to jump in and check any payments.

Privacy and tracking

A big feature for customers is the ability to track their dog while on their walk, and every popular app has this now. It is important to doggy owners to be able to see where their pet is, how long their walk has been, and what route they’ve taken.

As a marketing tool and dispute resolution it’s pretty important to dog walkers as well – proving that you’re providing the length of walk promised and keeping your customers happy. You’re aiming for five star reviews, and the tracking feature is going to be a big part of that.

Of course, you should never forget that tracking the dog means that the customer is also, by definition, tracking you. Make sure you keep to any agreed route and length of walks to avoid conflict and poor reviews down the line.

Reviews are important

You want to aim for five star reviews from every customer. Your business lives or dies through reviews on these apps, and a couple of poor reviews will see your bookings plummet. Unscrupulous customers are well aware of this and can use it in disputes, one of the reasons that the tracking feature can be so useful to you.

If you disagree with a customer review and you approach the app service team, they’ll be viewing things like this in order to make their decision.

Before you take on a customer, check the reviews against them if possible. Some apps give the dog walkers the ability to score a customer as well. It’s a good idea to check these for potential problem customers.

Taking short videos and photo’s on your walk and sending them to the client will boost your reviews and reassure the client that their pup is in the best possible hands. A lot of apps have this function built in, and dog owners love getting these.

Fill out your profile wisely

Your profile is what is going to attract customers to you. When you’re completing it, try to think like a customer looking for the best dog walker in their area.

You’ll need to include things like different walk times, availability, the number of dogs you take – some councils in the UK restrict the number of dogs you can walk at a time, so make sure you check this – and your rates.

Rates will vary depending on your location, and the number of dogs you have on a walk. In the UK, average rates start at £10 and can go all the way up to £25 per hour.

Things like liability insurance and training certifications will help position you as an expert who takes the dogs in their care seriously. Qualifications aren’t a requirement to be a dogwalker in the UK, but insurance is a must-have from a business perspective. If a dog gets loose, bites someone or another dog, or runs into traffic, you are considered legally liable as the dog is in your care.

If you’re happy to give dogs medication and food, note this on your profile.

If the app allows, add a profile picture of you with some dogs. Some apps will let you load short video clips, and it’s an ideal marketing tool to load a couple showing you at work.

Tools of the trade

You’re almost all set to go. You just need a couple of items.

  • Spare leads and collars in case of damage in the field. Some customers will have their own spares they’d prefer you use, but keep a couple just in case of fraying.
  • Portable water bowls and a refillable water bottle that will fit into a small back pack or shoulder bag.
  • A poop scoop and disposable bags. You are responsible for cleaning up any doggy business while you walk the dogs, and failing to do so can result in a hefty fine.
  • A towel for the dogs. Definitely needed if the dogs have access to a pond or pool, and in the UK, frequent puddles.
  • A small backpack or shoulder bag that’s lightweight and can fit all of this, plus doggy treats.

Some dog walkers fetch their charges by car and drive out to their walking area. If you are driving your furry customers out of the area, make sure you clear this with the client ahead of time. Keep in mind that the cost of fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle can make this a very expensive way of doing business, and will not be sustainable as the only way to work. This doesn’t mean you need a license and a car, but it’s an option if you already have them.

If not, walking and staying local works brilliantly. A lot of dog owners will stop and chat to you when they see you out and about, and it’s a good way to let them know about your business. Potential customers who have seen you in the area, and are already comfortable with you are a lot more likely to book you down the road.

Used smartly, dog walking apps are an absolute dream for your dog walking business. They allow you to reach people who wouldn’t have paid attention to flyers or posters, they let you plan your day, develop long-lasting client relationships and give you control over your business.

They’re ideal for building up a small business with almost no initial outlay, and whether you dog walk as a part-time gig or a full-time business, these apps are rapidly becoming indispensable for the smart business owner. Not bad for a tap on the screen and a few minutes filling in your details.

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Pictures references:

Pic 1: Walking Dogs
ID number: aI3EBLvcyu4
Artist: @mnelson

Pic 2: Reviews
ID number: 0ZUoBtLw3y4
Artist: @Towfiqu barbhuiya

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