Get some experience:
If you want to start your own dog walking business but don't have any experience, a best place to start is to tell your dog-owning friends and family about it and ask if they would consider using your dog walking services for free to allow you to gain experience, or ask your local boarding kennels if you can help with the dog walking for free, they are usually pleased to have extra hands to help out.
Criminal Record Check: If you are holding your client's keys for dog walking, you will need to get a basic disclosure Criminal Record Check carried out, you can apply for this online yourself from Disclosures Scotland for ?25.00. Once you have this you can reassure your clients that you have no unspent criminal records against you.
If you plan on running your own dog walking business, pet sitting insurance is required. If a dog gets lost, bites someone, or is attacked by another dog, the owner's first thought will be to file a claim against you.
NarpsUK offers its members discounted insurance that covers all aspects of pet sitting, dog walking and house sitting including horses and farm animals.
Dog Walking Business Course:There is a lot more to running your own dog walking business than just putting a lead on and walking the dog so consider taking a Dog Walking Business Course taking an accredited course and holding a certificate or qualification will not only inform you of everything you need to know about running your dog walking business but also install confidence in your future clients.
In the meantime buy some books about dog walking to give yourself a good insight into what exactly is involved, you can buy used ones very cheaply on Amazon.
You may be a true dog lover and believe that this is all that matters; yet, without some fundamental organisational and business skills, your new dog-walking business will fail. You will need to consider a business name, a business bank account, a website, and financial records.
Organisations such as Business Gateway (in Scotland / Business Link in England) provide help & support with all these things for free, both online & via local seminars & workshops.
Trustworthiness: Dog owners are looking for someone they can trust when they seek out a dog walker; they want openness, transparency, reliability and commitment. You will need fairly good communication skills because although you know that you have all of the skills & qualities required and have a great love of dogs, a new client will not know this and will be sceptical until you can put their minds at rest by showing them that you have a good reputation with great customer feedback.
Make a folder that will contain your insurance certificate, your home boarding licence if you offer home boarding as a service, your criminal record check certificate, any training course certificates you hold, your membership certificate to a Trade Associaton - NarpsUK and of course some customer feedback as well as some photos of the dogs you have serviced.
Forms & Contracts: You will need to have the right paperwork in place for your clients, a service contract is a must if you don't want to incur stressful problems in the future and there are many other forms that you will need to get filled in and signed by the client for example Veterinary Release Forms, Booking Form, Report Card, Key Release Form and many more - NarpsUK supplies all the forms and contracts you will need for your dog walker business and these have been drawn up by a contract solicitor.
Joining a National Association will bring credibility to your business and peace of mind to your clients. We offer an online Lantra Accredited Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Training Course that is discounted by 100% to our members, You will also receive all of your service contracts and forms along with affordable business insurance. - Join Now
The law on dogs
You should be aware of the law & legislation and your responsibilities.
- The Dogs Act 1971
- The Control of Dogs Order 1992
- Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)
- Animals Act 1971
- Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
- The Road Traffic Act 1988
- The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010.
For a breakdown of the relevant sections in all these acts, and for more information visit the Kennel Club website.
For information specific to Scotland visit The Scottish Government website.
As well as this legislation, you should check with your local authority for any by-laws and dog-restricted areas local to you, some local authorities require dog walkers to be licenced.
There are many additional factors to consider before starting your business, such as pricing, dog-walking insurance, documentation, pet-sitting software, and so on. NarpsUK can assist you with all of these issues and more, we are here to assist and support you as you start and build your business.