Exercise is an essential element of dog care. It helps keep canines stimulated, maintains their weight and can improve their overall health. But with increasingly busy schedules, pet guardians don’t always have the time for it. In fact, 57% of dog guardians admit to skipping walks each week. Which unsurprisingly has seen a rise in the number of people starting a profitable dog walking business.
Dogs especially need to be exercised, often more than once a day to stay healthy and avoid stress. Many pet owners have faced the consequences of a bored dog with pent up energy. Which isn’t usually a happy ending for their personal belongings or home furnishings.
It’s estimated that of the pet population in the UK, 5 million of these are dogs. And spend on pets is at an all-time high. This means many people are willing to pay for someone else to take this daily task off their hands.
So, if you’re looking for a career that combines contact with animals, the outdoors and the ability to be your own boss, dog walking may just be the answer. The average cost of walks sits at around £20 per dog. With the option to walk multiple dogs at once and few investment costs, you could start a profitable business quite quickly.
Find out more about what it’s like to be a dog walker and the skills you’ll need. Plus, the path you can follow to start a dog walking business below.
Is Dog Walking for me?
While it may be stating the obvious, dog walking involves lots of exercise. You’ll need to have a certain degree of fitness and stamina to do this as a job day-in-day-out. Especially since some dog breeds require lengthy walks to meet their recommended level of exercise.
It’s not seasonal work either since dogs need walking all year round. So you also need to be prepared to work in the cold, wind and rain.
Each of the dogs you’ll work with will have their own unique personalities and behavioural traits. Some may be fearful around other dogs, others may be difficult to control on a lead or scared of people. You’ll need to be comfortable and confident handling them all. So you can avoid incidence and keep them, you and other people or animals you come into contact with safe.
This extends further if you plan on walking multiple dogs at once. Some dog walkers make this look incredibly easy, but it takes a skilled walker to keep each dog calm, relaxed and happy.
You also need to be able to read the mood and the behaviours of the dogs you work with. Knowing when they’re comfortable, nervous, feel threatened or when they’ve had enough exercise and are ready for home.
For those with an adoration and affinity with dogs, it’s a career that keeps both you and your animal clients exercised, stimulated and fulfilled.
The skills you’ll need:
- Compassion – treating your dog clients with care, kindness, and respect
- Patience – giving the dog the time it needs to get used to you and its surroundings
- Customer service and communication skills – building trusting relationships with clients and keeping them satisfied with your service
- Reliability – be someone your clients can depend on, showing up on time for every walk
- Physical strength and stamina – able to handle dog breeds of all sizes, also comfortable walking for long periods at a time
- Calm and confident – be the soothing presence dogs need when they are nervous and able to confidently handle situations of dog conflict should they occur
What Qualifications do I need to be a Dog Walker?
Currently, there are no requirements for dog walkers to be qualified, though this is expected to change. You can get started without relevant training but going it alone can be quite a challenge.
Dog walking courses exist to teach you more than just how to effectively handle dogs on a lead. They walk you through the entire process of being a dog walker. From the responsibilities you’ll have to legislation requirements and the essentials for setting up a regulated small animal business.
The Dog Walking and Pet Sitting for Professionals Level 3 Award (RQF) for example, covers both dog walking and pet sitting. It’s an Ofqual regulated qualification designed to teach you how to run a small animal business in the UK.
It covers important topics like the basic principles of canine behaviour and small business best practice. Plus, the legislation requirements for providing a professional dog service and how to care for small animals within a pet sitting environment.
Not only that, but it also teaches you how to plan the operation of your business. With modules on the fundamental requirements for setting it up, the financial side of things, marketing and other operational necessities.
Aside from building your confidence with dogs and business operations, getting qualified also evidences your capabilities to new clients. Immediately showing your credibility against other dog walkers who have nothing to verify that they know what they’re doing.
Get the necessary Checks and Insurance
As a dog walker, you may be given the keys to let yourself in and out of your client’s property. Which is often the case when dogs need walking while their guardians are at work. As such, you’ll need to get a Criminal Record Check.
This helps prove your trustworthiness to clients and will put them more at ease when letting you into their home. As they are also putting you in charge of their beloved pets, many will want to see that you’re careful and responsible. Getting insurance tailored to your dog walking business will help them see that you’re serious about your work.
Start your Dog Walking Business
If you want the best start when setting up your dog walking business, Stonebridge Associated Colleges can help.
Our online Level 3 Award for Dog Walking and Pet Sitting for Professionals (RQF) will provide you with everything you need. Allowing you to make a confident switch into your new life running a dog walking business.
Our courses are studied online and some include a practical element to provide you with desirable hands-on experience. What’s more, you’ll benefit from tutor support and the option to spread the cost of your education with flexible payments.
Find out more about how you’ll start a dog walking business by clicking the link to our course below.