To become a dog walker, learn the basics of how to walk a dog as well as basic business acumen. A professional dog walker should be a lover of dogs who understands the various temperaments of different breeds and an entrepreneur capable of running a small home-based business.
The first step is do some research on the business side to see if there is a great demand in the target neighborhood. Look for neighborhoods with high dog populations and few doggy daycare facilities. Next, look at existing businesses and pick three ways it can be different. Highlight those differences. The differences will be the basis of the business' branding.
Next, research different dog breeds and their needs. Some breeds need less walking, such as Greyhounds, while others, such as Siberian Huskies, need long walks. Find out about the most common breeds in the target area and read up on their needs. Plan to walk dogs in manageable groupings.
It is essential for dog walkers to be able to multitask, keep a regular schedule and have a backup walker. It is also necessary to keep extra supplies on hand such as spare leashes, spare leash clips and spare waste bags.
Begin with enough start-up capital to pay for fliers or business cards. Learn basic self-employment bookkeeping before launching the business. Since this may be taxable income, check state and local laws to find out about reporting thresholds. Determine whether the business is required to be officially licensed.
Marketing is important. Use a family dog or borrow a friend's dog, and go to a nearby dog park. Get to know local owners, and pass out flyers or business cards. Set pricing competitively, but aim for a reasonable profit.
Lastly, be courteous and friendly to every customer. Referrals from repeat customers will grow and expand the business, so always leave a good impression.