Professional dog walker with small dog on lead

If you love dogs and enjoy being outside, starting a professional dog walking business can be a satisfying career.

However, it is important to ensure your business is set up correctly. This post aims to help by examining what you need to know when starting out as a professional dog walker.

Do your research

It is always important to do some basic research into your locality. This should include:

  • whether other dog walkers operate in your area
  • what demand there is for dog walking
  • what facilities are available (public parks and green spaces, parking, etc.)
  • how much to charge for dog walking
  • how much it will cost to set up and operate
Person handing business card to client advertising dog walking business

What qualifications will you need to be a dog walker?

You don’t need formal training or qualifications to become a dog walker. However, it is important to have experience of handling dogs – not only for your safety and peace of mind, but also for your potential clients and their dogs.

Remember that dogs vary in size and temperament. You will need to understand canine behaviour and management, especially if you are walking more than one dog at a time.

If you haven’t already, get some experience. There are courses in dog walking you can do. You may also want to spend time at local kennels or with another dog walker.

What equipment will you need?

While you won’t need a lot of equipment, you will probably need a van suitable for transporting multiple dogs in. You may also want a dog walking business website and some business branding, such as van livery with your business name and contact details.

You should also think about how you are going to take bookings and payments. There is software available that can do this, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You may also want flyers or marketing materials to help spread the word about your business.

Some good walking shoes, spare leads and collars, dog treats, plenty of poo bags and proper outdoor wear (suitable for all weathers) are also requirements.

In addition, consider whether you’ll need to have water and bowls in your van (if you have one) and old towels for drying off wet dogs.

Two dogs being walked in a public park

What are the legal requirements of a dog walking business?

Check with your local council what the regulations are in your area.

Some local authorities will have restrictions on how many dogs can be walked together at one time. There may also be rules about where dogs can be walked, where they can be left off the lead, and where leads must be kept on.

You should also register with HMRC. You’ll need to let them know the name of your business and how it is set up, i.e. whether you choose to operate as a sole trader or as a limited company.

You should also get yourself DBS checked. This is a criminal records check, which you can apply for online. This is important for potential clients, who don’t know you and with whom you will need to build trust.

What insurance do I need for my dog walking business?

It’s important to get appropriate dog walking insurance for your business. As an absolute minimum, your dog walking insurance should include:

  • public liability insurance
  • animal accidents and injury insurance
  • loss of animal cover

Public liability insurance protects you if something your business does causes harm to someone or damages their property.

Accidents and injury insurance will cover dogs in your care for any accidents or injuries that may occur.

Loss of animal insurance will help cover costs in the event a dog in your care is lost or stolen.

There may be other things you should consider insuring against depending on how you operate, such as loss of keys (belonging to a client), or theft of your business equipment.

If you employ someone (even if they help you out for free) you will need employers’ liability insurance.

If you are not sure what kinds of insurance you need, speak with a reputable pet business insurer.

Person meeting with a dog walker to learn about their business

What else do you need to do?

Think carefully about how you are going to operate. For example:

  • How many dogs do you feel comfortable and confident walking together?
  • How much are you going to charge?
  • What are your expectations of your clients?

It is worth drawing up terms and conditions, and a contract template for your clients that sets out everything clearly.

Also, take time to work out where you can operate in a way that is safe. Is a busy park surrounded by roads the best option or will it be worth driving out of town to find a safer space? What about your personal safety?

You should always carry a first aid kit and a mobile phone as a minimum safety requirement.

Reliable dog walking insurance providers

Finding an insurer you can trust, and who understands your business, is an important element when deciding on dog walking insurance.

As specialists in the provision of insurance to pet businesses for almost 20 years, you can be certain the service you receive from Pet Business Insurance is tried and tested, and that we understand your dog walking business needs.

To discuss your insurance requirements, get in touch with Pet Business Insurance today. Call 01284 736 874, or complete our online enquiry form.

Update cookies preferences