What is the Best Way to Start a Dog Walking Business?

Looking for other income opportunities and considering dog walking? Just how much does a dog walker make? What is the best way to start a dog walking business? We’ll cover all these questions and more.

1 – Focus on Client Referrals First

When starting your own dog walking business, this is the first and most important step. Walk dogs for friends and family. Ask them for referrals.

Don’t worry about any of the other steps below until you have clients coming in. Then those clients should refer you and lead to other clients.

All the other stuff – setting up an LLC, getting insurance, etc. are important. They can and should be done later though after you have a little momentum.

2 – Sign Up for a Payment Processor

Next, you need a way to get paid. At first cash should be fine. After awhile you should look into other simple options like Paypal, Venmo, Stripe and others.

You want to make it easy for your clients to pay you in a way they trust.

Plus Paypal let’s you setup recurring payments for repeat customers. You simply have your clients pay you weekly or monthly and you in turn walk their dogs throughout the week.

Simple for you, simple for your customers.

Plus these online services will make it easier later to track your income and expenses for bookkeeping and tax purposes.

3 – Brainstorm a Great Dog Business Name

Once you have clients and income coming in it’s time to build the business bigger than just you.

You want to build a brand. Something easy to remember so when people think of you they can quickly google your name and find you.

There are a bunch of methods and we go into greater depth on this in this article on dog training businesses.

Just skip to the section on naming.

It’s important to check for existing trademarks and if the web URL is available. The article above covers all that in depth.

4 – Get the URL and social media accounts

If you followed our advice in Step 3 you’ve got a great name that isn’t trademarked and has a URL available.

Now you want to use a service like namecheap.com to buy the website URL. You don’t have to build a website. Just buy and reserve the URL.

You can build out the website later when you have funds to pay someone else.

Also, setup at least the Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for your business name. Again, you’re doing this to reserve your spot so someone else can’t take it.

Go ahead and create a gmail account based off your business name as well (e.g. [email protected]). You can use that as your first email till you setup your website.

Plus you can use the Drive account to store all the business docs you’ll be pulling together. The free 15 GB of space is more than enough to store all your basic documents.

5 – Get Your EIN

You’ll need a Federal Employer Identification Number for other things later down the line. It only takes 5 minutes to go here to set it up.

Download the PDF, save it and you’re done.

6 – Form Your LLC and Register Your Business with Your State

Now, check with your State and setup an LLC. For Colorado, where I am, this is a simple online application for $50. It takes less than 30 minutes.

This step is where you’ll also register your business with your State.

At this point your business is very real!

You’ll also need some other docs which we go into in depth in that dog training business article mentioned above. There’s no reason to repeat it here since it’s all there.

This step will be intimidating but just follow the steps, use the free templates, save everything to your Google Drive, and you’ll be good.

An LLC is important. It separates your business from your personal finances. That way if someone tries to sue you based on something that happened while you were working you are more likely to be protected.

In addition you’ll want business insurance but we’ll cover that in a bit.

7 – Setup a Business Bank Account

Next you’ll use your Federal EIN and your LLC paperwork to open a business bank account.

Before doing this call several local banks and talk to a business account manager.

Do you like that person? Are they easy to talk to? Do they answer your questions?

This is important! I can’t recommend a bank as the people at my bank are great for me but you might hate them.

You can look at online options like Capital One’s Spark Business Account or Axos.com. I have both and like both.

Your mileage may vary. You might prefer working with your city’s credit union.

Fund your accounts and enter the amount you funded in your LLC operating agreements. Keep your personal and business finances separate. This is a major step in doing that.

8 – Get a Line of Credit

After your account is setup it’s time to get a line of credit. The easiest way to do that is open a business credit card with your bank.

You can also ask for a line of credit that’s backed by the cash you deposited in your new account.

Use this line of credit for all business related expenses.

Don’t use your personal cash or credit cards. This is another line of evidence that your personal accounts are separate from your business accounts.

All of this is to establish the legitimacy of your business and make bookkeeping easier.

With that said it’s on to…

9 – Use Spreadsheets or Services for Bookkeeping

Use a google sheet or a service like xero.com or GoDaddy bookkeeping to do your bookkeeping.

With a google sheet you have to enter everything manually.

With Xero or GoDaddy bookkeeping you link your business line of credit and your business bank account to it. It then tracks everything automatically. You might quickly become addicted to that. Not everyone loves spreadsheets and accounting as much as I do!

10 – Insurance for Business – Why and How to Get It

Why would you get insurance? Protection from lawsuits! They happen and without insurance you could wreck your business.

There are a ton of outfits out there for this. It’s beyond the scope of this article to cover them all.

Here’s 3 to checkout to get your research started. Like with the bank, call them and talk to them. See if you like their customer service and current prices.

11 – Do You Need Licensing? Time to Check Your State, County, and City

You probably do not need licensing. Dog walking business are typically unlicensed. Your general business license from the step above should cover you.

Check your State, County, and City regulations to confirm. Three quick phone calls can save you lots of government fines later.

12 – Create an Easy Client Contract

When you on board a new client you’ll want to use an easy client contract. It’s nice to have something in writing to make things official.

If you’re using Rover or Barkly or Way the contract is handled through the use of the app.

If you’re on your own it’ll be up to you.

Simply download a dog walking contract template. Then redo it to make it your own. Save it to your google drive. Then use it with all new clients.

There are a ton of free templates online. Use one that is 1 page max. Create it as a Google Doc. Use a program like hellosign.com so that clients can read and sign the contract from their phone.

13 – Start Marketing Your New Business

Lastly you want to market your business. You already started this in step 1 above with referrals.

If you want to grow faster you’ll want to look at other options:

  • Building your website and doing content marketing
  • Running paid Facebook, Pinterest, and Google ads
  • Using Pinterest and Instragram social media marketing

These topics deserve to be covered in full blog posts of their own which are coming soon.