Starting a Dog-Walking Business

You are a dog-lover and are thinking of starting your own dog-walking business (not to be confused with a pet-sitting business). The idea of spending your days with furry friends and getting paid to do so sounds like a dream come true. Plus, with 89.7 million dogs owned nationwide, there is great potential for clients who need your services walking dogs. 

So, how do you go about starting a successful dog-walking business? We’ll dive into all the details, steps, and specifics you need to know about starting a new dog-walking business. Let’s get started!


1. Research Before Starting a Dog Walking Business

Being a professional dog walker is like any small business. Therefore, before starting your dog-walking company, it is first essential to research the pet industry. You want to research the target market to see if there is enough demand and how much competition is in your area. For example, starting a dog walking business may not be the best route if there isn’t enough demand or too much competition.

To start researching the demand for your new business as a dog walker, you can do the following:

  • First, conduct an internet search for dog walking companies in your area. 
  • Next, use Rover to get an idea of how many people need dog walking services. Find out the number of dog owners in your area.
  • Third, tap into local dog rescue groups and visit a dog park to see the number of dogs brought by pet owners.
  • Finally, talk to your local pet stores and pet grooming services.

To get an idea of the competition, you can check and online classified sites like Craigslist to see how many pet sitters in your area offer dog walking services. 

Once you understand your market and target audience and know that there is enough demand to support your dog-walking business, you can start figuring out the logistics.

2. Figure Out the Logistics

You need to consider some logistical considerations when starting your own business. Read on for more details!


Before starting your dog-walking business, getting some formal training is a good idea to help prepare you for interacting with various dogs. You can also volunteer at a local dog shelter or pet store if you don’t want to pay for formal training. 

You should also attend a pet first aid class and learn the kinds of collars/harnesses/leashes available. Knowing this will help you recommend the right one for an owner’s dog. It will also help you walk the dog more safely and effectively in dog parks.

Ensure that the owner approves of the collar you plan to use and that you are using the collar properly. Part of dog training is knowing the dog treats loved by different dogs, understanding canine behavior, etc. Finally, as a dog-walking business owner, educating and training will help you walk dogs more confidently as you begin this career path and give your business more credibility. 

Business Name and Structure

Once ready to start, you need to choose a business name and decide what type of business structure you want to set up. If you decide to run your business entity under a name different from your legal name, you will need to register that name with your state and appropriate local government agency.

Like various small businesses, your dog-walking business structure can be a sole proprietorship or limited liability company (LLC). You may consider setting up an LLC if you want to separate your personal and business assets and have more flexibility with certain tax benefits enjoyed by small business owners. However, it would be best if you still spoke to a certified tax accountant or legal professional to help you make the best decision.

Pricing and Services

Now that you have researched your competition, you’ll know what other business entities are charging for their services and what they are offering. Determine what you want to charge for your services based on the competition and decide what services you wish to provide.

Consider whether you will offer service packages, dog hikes, and other related services such as obedience training and pet sitting. Also, decide how long you would like to offer your services. For example, dog walkers usually provide their services in 15-minute, 30-minute, and one-hour blocks.


Create a Website

Having a website creates greater legitimacy for your business. You can create a business website yourself using sites like WordPress or Wix or have someone design one for you.

You can find freelancer website designers on Upwork if you don’t know anyone who can do it or can’t find anyone on Google that you like. Ensure the website contains all the services you render.

An excellent software made for dog-walking businesses is Time to Pet. The app lets you keep track of your schedule and client data, automatically generates invoices, and sends them to your clients! 

Keep Records

Although keeping records might not seem as important at first, it will be as you grow your business. Therefore, it’s best to start with the right platform from the get-go. In addition, it will save you time from transferring information in the future. 

It does cost $35 a month for solo dog walkers, but if you speak to a tax accountant, you’ll likely be able to write this off as a business expense on your taxes. If you don’t want to use an app like this, you should still have a spreadsheet that keeps track of the following client information:

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Emergency contact number
  • Dog’s breed, color, date of birth, health history, veterinarian’s name (and contact information). 


Significantly costly liability insurance claims come from dog bites, specifically from dog bites that occur when a dog walker allows a third party to get too close to one of the dogs. As a dog walker, you are responsible for the dogs and any damage done to any of the dogs during the walk.

To protect yourself, you should strongly consider getting business insurance. There are general liability insurance policies designated explicitly for covering dog walkers. Research what policy best fits your needs. 

Petcare Insurance and Pet Sitters Associates LLC are two popular companies offering dog-walking liability protection coverage. For a more in-depth guide to help you decide on dog walking insurance, click here.

3. Figure Out the Legalities of Your Dog Walking Business

Now that you have figured out the logistics, you must also consider the legalities of running a dog-walking business.

Know the Law

You must be aware of local laws affecting you or your business. Regulations you need to be mindful of include sanitation regulations (i.e., do you need to clean up after the dogs?) and leashing laws.

Check with local authorities to get information on other laws that could affect your business. Many dog walkers tell their clients they will not be walking dogs off-leash. However, if you want to accommodate client requests, you can have them sign a liability waiver.


You need to ensure there aren’t local licensing requirements regarding dog walking. You also need to check the general licensing requirements for business owners in your city/county/state. You may need a general business license, so you must research your specific location’s requirements.


When working with clients, you want to have a dog walking contract in place, laying out the terms and policies of your business. You need an agreement to protect yourself and the client and ensure everything is clear from the beginning.

What you should consider laying out in your contract includes the following:

  • Business hours
  • Dog-walking hours
  • Services areas
  • How will you handle client keys? (create a key handling form)
  • Cancellation policy
  • Inclement weather policy
  • Dog behavioral issues policy
  • If the dog will be walked alone or in a group
  • Services provided 
  • Payment methods
  • Protocol for emergency health situations

You should also consider including a vet release form. This way, you can seek veterinary help in the case of an emergency if the owner doesn’t answer when you try to contact them. The release must also clarify that the dog owner will pay the veterinary bills.

Speak to a lawyer about setting up your contract.

4. Promote Your Dog Walking Business to Get Clients

Now that you have all the logistics and legalities, you can work on getting clients. Obtaining clients comes from having a strong marketing strategy, but a lot of it will also come from word-of-mouth marketing and having a customer referral program. 

Here are some ways that you can advertise your dog-walking business:

  • Place flyers or business cards in vet clinics, pet groomers, pet stores, church bulletin boards, your local library, and coffee shops. 
  • Advertise on Craigslist and in local papers announcing the opening of your business.
  • Place a magnetic car sign that has your company name and logo on the back of your car.
  • Use social media to attract clients. An excellent way to do this is to post photos on Instagram of your client’s dogs on walks.

You can find a step-by-step guide on social media marketing here.

5. Start Dog Walking and Get Paid

You finally have clients and are ready to start walking and getting paid! When it comes to getting paid, remember to invoice your clients. Some dog walkers choose to ask for payment upfront. The best way to accept payment is via cash, PayPal, or Venmo.

You should also set up a business bank account. That way, you can separate your business finances from your personal assets, making filing taxes easier when it comes time. Also, money for business expenses won’t have to come from your personal account.

Wrapping Up: Starting a Dog-Walking Business

Now you know what starting a dog-walking business takes. It might be a bit difficult to get your first few clients, but don’t get discouraged. If you stay consistent and hustle hard, you can make it happen and be your own boss.

Once you have a few clients, it will be easier to get more because they will spread the word for you. Now, all you have to do is start walking!

Kevin Martin

Kevin is an ambitious entrepreneur that is obsessed with all things related to finance. From a young age, Kevin has always been involved with side hustles ranging from online selling to freelance work. Over the years, Kevin graduated from side hustles and started launching multiple online and offline businesses. Kevin is a serial entrepreneur who loves starting new businesses and exploring all things related to business and finance. He is constantly looking for new ways to save money, invest money, and create income streams.

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