Starting a dog walking business in 2023


Starting a dog walking business in 2023.


Over a quarter of all adults in the UK own a dog, with many people deciding to get a pet dog as a consequence of the pandemic to help to reduce loneliness and boredom during lockdown restrictions. For lots of new dog owners, working from home was the ideal situation for looking after their pet but now many are going back to work, and there is a great need for dog walking services during the working day.

Dog walking businesses are struggling to cope with the increased demand for their services, which presents excellent business opportunities for dog lovers who want to set up their own dog walking business.

If you are considering starting up your own dog walking business, these are some of the factors you will need to take into consideration.


Design a business plan. 


The first step to starting up any type of business is to design a comprehensive business plan that forecasts earnings and costs, as well as covering areas such as how you will market your services. Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.


Equipment and other start-up costs.


To get your dog walking business off the ground, there will be several upfront costs to pay for. If you want to gain a formal qualification to help you to win more business, there will be course fees, while you will also require a vehicle and transport equipment if you are planning on picking dogs up to take them elsewhere for their walks.

You will need items such as spare leads, treats, dog waste bags, portable water bowls and you may also need a device and software to record activities and photos to share with owners, so they can see how their dog is benefitting from your services. Costs such as business registration fees and marketing costs should also be factored into your initial costs. 


Clothing you will need. 


You will need to have good quality walking boots/shoes as they will be getting a lot of use when your business gets going. You will also need comfortable clothing, including waterproofs and hi-vis clothing if you are walking at night. Your walking clothes should include clothing suitable for the warmer summer months, as well as outfits that will keep you well insulated in the coldest times of year, including gloves, hats, and coats.

Insurances required. 

Insuring against risks is essential for any business and very important in case a dog becomes ill or gets injured while in your care, or if a dog hurts a person or another animal. There are a range of insurance policies designed specifically for dog walking businesses, which include public liability cover. 

Public liability insurance covers the cost of claims made by members of the public for incidents that occur in connection with your business activities. Public liability insurance covers the cost of compensation for:

  • personal injuries
  • loss of or damage to property
  • death

Policies vary from insurer to insurer, but most public liability policies cover you for:

  • incidents that occur on your business premises
  • incidents that take place off-site, at events or activities organised by your company.


The best vehicles to buy.


If you are going to have a busy dog walking business, your choice of vehicle will be very important. You need a vehicle that is big enough to fit several comfortable cages/boxes so you can transport multiple dogs at once. Minivans are a popular choice and the top vehicle models include Renault Kangoo, Citroen Berlingo, Ford Transit Connect, VW Caddy and Peugeot Partner.

There are many different options for transporting animals, from off the shelf to fully bespoke solutions. While these options range hugely in budget, it’s important to remember the comfort and safety of the dog is paramount and shouldn’t be skimped on, wherever possible. Making sure whatever solution you choose is secure to the vehicle and not moving around during transit is important. More bespoke solutions offer the best protection as they are purpose built for you vehicle and often secured at several points in the cabin.

Things to consider are also the materials used to make the cages or boxes, if they’re easy to clean at the end of the day, if they’re lightweight enough for you to take out or move if you should need to. Does the cage or box stay at a comfortable temperature in extreme heat or cold and is it well ventilated?

If you’re interested in Dog Walking but not sure you want to start your own business, check out how to volunteer with the RSCPA.



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