Setting up a dog sitting business takes more than a love of dogs. Although working with dogs may sound like a dream, you need to consider the legal issues and responsibilities before turning your hobby into a business.

We’ve compiled a list of the top ten things you need to consider before setting up a dog sitting business.

1. You’re turning a passion into a business

Do you get puppy-eyed just thinking about dogs? One of the main benefits of setting up your own dog sitting business is that you get to be around canine creatures 24/7. This only applies if you love dogs of all varieties because your clients will own a range of breeds, from your Toy Dachshund to your Great Dane.

You’ll need to understand the requirements and behaviours of all varieties, no matter how big or small, to give them the best experience and care.

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2. Low startup costs.

The costs of setting up a dog sitting business are minimal, mainly because you don’t need a shop to get started and can work from home.

On the other hand, you need to consider what you’re willing to supply for your price, such as dog food, which comes in varying prices and qualities. Reet Good Dog Food is a trusted brand who provide a wide range of high-quality dog food for all breeds.

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Other extras you may need to supply include dog beds or kennels if you offer an overnight boarding service. Treats and toys will also come at a cost but will be vital for keeping difficult dogs entertained and under control. Dog sitters can charge anywhere from £10-20 per hour and even more for overnight stays, so once the clients start rolling in it will become a lucrative business.

3. You need to understand the legal issues.

The risks and responsibilities of caring for another owner’s dog are high, so you need to take out a suitable insurance plan that will protect you should an accident occur.

The National Association of Pet Sitters (NARPs) offers everything from insurance to CRB checks to help kickstart your business. A basic CRB check will increase the trustworthiness of your business, an important aspect of any client relationship.

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Other standard legal requirements to adhere to are making sure all dogs are microchipped and wearing collars detailing their owner’s name and address.

4. Get up and active.

Dog walking is a great way to improve your all-round fitness, especially as your client base builds up and you find your hours are getting longer. The average person can burn over 200 calories in just an hour’s walk, making it a great opportunity to stay active while making a profit.

If long walks with multiple dogs don’t sound like your idea of fun, setting up a dog sitting business may not be the route for you. You also need to consider that the job doesn’t stop with the seasons and no matter if it’s rain or snow your clients will expect your services.

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5. Work when and with who you want.

Setting up your own dog sitting business requires finding a balance between being your own boss and satisfying clients. You may have the ability to reject clients and working hours, but if done too often this can harm your reputation.

Consider the fact that your clients will probably want your services during peak holiday times and how this will impact your social life. Your flexibility at the weekend will also become restricted as the dog sitting business isn’t a 9-5 job, and you won’t have the freedom of making last minute plans when you have five dogs to look after!

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6. You don’t need qualifications.

While qualifications aren’t a legal requirement, gaining a certification in areas like animal first aid will boost your reputation. There are a number of reputable businesses offering affordable, single day courses online which will instantly boost your credibility.

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General dog walking courses are available which will enhance your trustworthiness and protect your personal safety in the case of an emergency, such as an attack or injury.

7. It’s a dirty business.

Dogs may be cute, but they’re also dirty. You need to consider the clean-up costs during bad weather, and if you also need to take out contents insurance.

If clients expect their dogs to be returned in the same condition as when they dropped them off, then you need to agree beforehand whether you supply grooming services.

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Grooming services can be complicated due to the practicalities of working with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Depending on the size of your bathroom, grooming a full-sized Husky may prove difficult! Even though this would be an additional upsell, you would need to work out the costs for your business and whether you would be able to provide a grooming service to a professional standard.

8. You’ll need a contractual agreement.

Before taking care of a client’s dog, you will need to agree to a contract which will protect you from any legal action.

The contract should include details such as the costs, the services you provide, business rules and the dog’s history of medical or behavioural problems. Legally, you can draw up a contract, but you need to be thorough and make sure you include anything that could implicate you.

There are free templates available online which you can use as a basis for creating a watertight contract.

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9. You have to be flexible.

It’s most likely that people will require your services because they’re unable to fit their dogs into their busy schedules. As a result, you may be expected to walk and care for the dogs at unsociable hours, so you need to consider your own flexibility.

You also need to be able to handle multiple clients simultaneously and take advantage of completing numerous jobs in one walk or sitting. Flexibility is also an advantage in the sense that you can set your own work hours as long as you understand the customer’s needs.

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10. You need to understand the business practice.

Last but by no means least, you need to be business savvy. Keeping a record of your business activities and transactions are vital for making even a small dog sitting business successful.

If you want to make your business stand out, you may also consider a marketing strategy which targets a specific customer. For example, do you offer a premium or affordable service?

Try to be creative in your approach; you could even generate your own logo or business name and use social media to promote your services to local pages.

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Caring about dogs is at the core of a successful dog sitting business, but you also need to have a clear business strategy. Before you get started, be sure that you’re not going to be implicated by any legalities and that you can handle working and managing your finances independently. If you’ve decided that starting a dog sitting business is the route for you, but you’re unsure about the requirements of different breeds, then head over to our other blog: What Are The Different Types of Dog Food and Which One Should I Feed My Dog?