Dog walking is a great gig and wonderful first job. Here are the top 10 tips to help you run your dog walking business.
1. Understand the meet and greet.
If you have more than one dog you’ll be walking at once, introduce them prior to your outing. The Animal Humane Society offers tips on introducing two dogs.
2. Utilize local dog parks.
Neighborhood walks are fine, but when you find yourself with more than one dog, consider heading to one of the many local dog parks. TwinCities.com lists six dog parks that you can visit with your well-behaved brood.
3. Keep your cash flow as simple as possible.
Start by making a detailed spreadsheet of clients, invoices, and payments. You’ll also want to designate a specific credit card for all of your business expenses. There are a lot of options available and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a list by category of six of the best business credit card options available in 2018, including ones for those who travel or have low credit scores.
4. Get to know each pet and their owners.
It’s not enough just to make a new customer — you should get to know each dog and their pet parents. This way, you can report back if something seems off or they aren’t behaving like normal.
5. Always make safety your top priority.
Keeping yourself and the dogs you are walking safe is your most important task. Always wear reflective clothing and, if you are walking at night, put reflective doggy gear on each dog such as a light-up collar clip or reflective leash. All options are easy to use, budget-friendly, and adjustable so that they fit a variety of dog breeds. Keep an extra bottle of water and a portable bowl handy when it’s hot outside as well.
7. Don’t rush it.
Walking at a slower pace allows you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and lower both your and the dog’s stress level. This will make your walks so much better. If you have a client whose dog is stubborn, consider raising your rates slightly and suggesting a longer walk time.
8. Reward good behavior.
Keep dog treats in your bag for when your dogs do something good, such as staying by your side or coming when called.
9. Don’t accept every job.
It’s easy to rush into contracts with everyone who comes calling, but you don’t have to. If someone tries to talk you down on your prices or continually pressures you to do more than originally agreed upon, you have the right to terminate your relationship.
10. Remember why you do what you do.
Dogs are special creatures and walking them gives you so much more than an income. When asked, “What’s the most rewarding aspect of working with dogs?” Tabitha Patterson of Minneapolis’ Rock Star Dog Walking & Pet Sitting says, “Their unconditional love and happiness to see you no matter what. If you’re having a bad day, it quickly goes away as soon as you see the dog’s happy face.”
Creating a dog-walking business takes patience and practice. By following these steps, you will soon have a money-making business doing what you love!
Written by Tamara Gilmore, owner of Pupjobs! and author of “Bow Wow Business: All the Stuff You Need to Know to Become a Successful Dog Walker”.