Did you know that dog walkers in the UK, on average, walk just under nine hours a week? That’s a staggering amount of time when you consider how busy most people’s lifestyles are today. It’s no wonder that the dog walking industry is booming.

Think you have what it takes to offer expert canine care? Read on to explore the following:

  • How to become a dog walker
  • How to find clients
  • How Countingup can help dog walkers manage their finances

How to become a dog walker

Like any other company, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get your dog walking business up and running:

1) Make sure it’s right for you

You don’t need any qualifications or training to become a professional dog walker. However, dogs can be excitable. This is important to bear in mind because there’s a good chance that you’ll be walking several at the same time. 

Before advertising your services, you must be confident in handling different dogs’ needs. If not, consider volunteering for a while at a local shelter to get some experience.

You may also need to think about the following:

  • Communication skills: This is essential, not only for talking to the dogs’ owners but also for growing your network and getting new customers
  • The weather: Are you prepared to be outside come rain or shine? 

2) Get all the necessary checks

Are you going to be using a dog owner’s keys to enter their home? If so, you’ll need a Criminal Record Check. This is processed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and you can find out more by visiting this page on the gov.uk website.

3) Research the rules and regulations

While you don’t need a licence to become a dog walker, there are some rules and regulations that must be followed. These include:

  • Meeting dog owners before the first booking
  • Keeping a record of all activities
  • Protecting client information
  • Walking strictly a maximum of four dogs at a time
  • Cleaning up after the dogs in public spaces

It’s not compulsory to join a trade association, but it can be helpful. They will be able to provide further support and advice to ensure that you’re operating compliantly.

4) Work out your rates

A study conducted by Job Prices revealed that the average UK dog walker charges £12.50 per dog for a 45-60 minute walk. However, your earnings may differ from this as they depend on location, hours of work and the number of dogs you’re walking. 

If you’re unsure about what to charge, check out the rates of your local competitors. 

5) Get insurance

Dog owners cherish their pets and will want you to take the best care of their furry friends. That’s why it’s a good idea to take out a dog walking insurance policy. Not only will it show your clients that you’re serious about what you do, but it will give you peace of mind that you’re covered against a range of potential issues. 

6) Register your business

As with all other businesses, you’ll need to register yours with HMRC. In becoming self-employed, you assume responsibility for completing a Self Assessment tax return each year. Income tax and National Insurance are added to any annual profits you make over £11,500, so it’s also vital that you keep a record of your business’ finances.

How to find clients

Once you’ve completed the groundwork of setting up your business, you need to think about how you’ll attract clients. Here are just some of the ways you could do this:

1) Post flyers

Take a trip around your local area and drop off a flyer at any pet-related businesses: vets, dog groomers, animal shelters, dog training facilities, etc. If there aren’t many businesses like this in your town, start by posting them in supermarkets, libraries or local offices where you know lots of people are likely to see them. 

2) Attend local dog events

If there are dog-related events happening near you, it’s a good idea to go along and check them out. This will give you a great opportunity to network with dog owners and let them know about your services.

You may also want to consider setting up a table at these events, where you give away coupons (e.g. buy one get one free) and marketing materials.

3) Invest in a website

Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a business online before purchasing a product or service from them. By making a website, you can share the following information with potential clients:

  • Your rates and services
  • The area you operate in
  • Your insurance details
  • Your contact details
  • Reviews and testimonials

All of these are likely to reassure dog owners that they’re leaving their pet in good hands. 

4) Word of mouth

One of the easiest and most effective ways to get new clients is by word of mouth. Tell all your friends and family about your new business and encourage them to share this information with everyone they know. This works even better if you can provide them with some business cards to hand out.

Chances are, they will know someone looking for a reliable dog walker and be able to refer them to you. So, while you may not have any reviews when you first get started, that won’t matter as much because you’ll have your friends and family to vouch for you.

How Countingup can help dog walkers manage their finances

Bookkeeping and tax admin can be stressful, especially if you’re new to it. That’s where Countingup comes in. 

Countingup is the business current account that automates the time-consuming aspects of your financial admin, so that you can focus on getting your dog walking business up and running. And the best part? It can all be done in the palm of your hand with a simple app.

Find out more here and sign up free today.