It used to be that if you had to leave your pet for a long time, you brought it to the kennel, or paid the neighborhood kid to come over to feed, walk, etc. Nowadays, more and more people are realizing that starting their own dog walking/pet-sitting business is a great way to earn some good money–and a great job for the animal lover.
If youre thinking about starting your own pet business, whether its full-time or on the side, here are a few things to think about to get you started:
Think about your time. When will you be available to care for pets? Once you determine this, youll be able to market your services appropriately. Dont try to take on more than you can handle–you cant blow off your appointments!
Investigate what others in your area charge for similar services.
Contact the kennels to so that you have some comparative pricing ready.
Decide how you want to work and with what kinds of animals. Some people limit themselves to cats and small dogs needing less attention/time. Others will take on all animals and spend time on long walks with dogs. Also, decide how many you can handle at once. If you live in a city, its a common sight to see a dog walker at lunch time with 5 or 6 dogs on leashes in the park. If you can handle them, its a great way to get a lot done at once.
Be ready to bargain/offer more with your services. You might want to also offer plant-watering and mail-collecting if the owners are out of town. Some people will also offer to house-sit and stay with the pets in the home.
Think doggy daycare. If you’ve got the space and are willing to invest in your yard, it’s becoming increasingly popular to have people deliver their pets to you so that you can care for then in your home all day long. Some larger services will offer to pick up dogs in their special vans with doggie seatbelts. Be sure to check with your town before taking on this task if you’re planning to have a number of dogs. You don’t want to have too many, and you might want to pre-screen the animals before they arrive to make sure they’ll get along with the others.
Little things go a long way. Typically, people who take advantage of dog walking services see their pets as their children. Bringing the pet treats (with the owners permission of course) is always a nice gesture. Leaving a daily note with what you did during the day is a real plus–that way, they’ll know you care for the pet and put in the added effort.
You should think about having some t-shirts or hats made up with your company’s name on it so that when you’re out walking the animals, you can advertise at the same time. Flyers in coffee shops, retail stores, and vets offices will help clients find you. Make sure your signs look professional–it will pay off to have them professionally done!
Meet all your clients before agreeing to take them on… AND meet the pets! If its not a good match, save that time slot for one that is!