So, you’ve always had a passion for dogs, and now you want the low down on how to start a dog sitting business.
It’s time to get started and make your dog sitting dreams a reality. We’ve listed our ten essential steps to setting up a successful dog sitting business, so you can begin caring for peoples’ pooches in no time.
1. Define Your Business
Before you start a dog sitting business, you need to decide what services you’re going to include for your price. Dog sitters offer a range of services, from dog walking to overnight boarding.
Some clients may also expect cleaning and feeding if it’s an extended stay. Arrangements such as a drop-off service also need to be figured out, so your client knows exactly what you offer.
There’s also the issue of deciding what type of dogs you’re going to take on. You can choose to specialise in one size or be open to caring for all kinds of dogs.
You could also give your business a unique selling point by offering to board aggressive dogs if you feel up to the challenge.
2. Understand the Rules and Regulations
Before you jump into the business and take on ten St Bernards in one sitting, you need to be aware of the laws surrounding dog care.
The regulations and license laws for dog sitters vary by local council, so it’s essential to check what your constituency’s rules are before putting your business into action.
While there aren’t endless restrictions, the ones that exist are important to follow to avoid hefty fines.
A notable law for dog walkers is that there should be no more than four dogs walked at one time, and all of the dogs must be chipped and have personalised collars.
Further regulations also apply to overnight boarders, which include having written consent from owners to board dogs from different households at the same time.
The full document of Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 is available on the government website and is essential reading.
3. Get Legal Protection
There are several precautions you need to take when starting a dog sitting business so that you’re covered if accidents happen.
Finding a suitable insurance plan is vital before taking responsibility for a client’s dog, as this will protect you from any potential medical costs or legal cases.
Business permits are not a legal requirement for dog walkers, but if you’re going to offer a boarding service, you’ll need to obtain a permit from your local council.
It’s essential to draw up a contract for you and your client to sign before taking on their dog as this will protect you from potential conflicts of interest.
You can create a contract or seek legal advice, but either way, you have to make sure the details are thorough. The agreement should cover aspects such as price, length of sitting, services offered and rules.
4. Check Out the Competition
It’s important to be aware of the competition before you start a dog sitting business. If there are a lot of dog sitters in your area, monitor what services and prices they offer to avoid over or underselling yourself.
Private dog sitting services are notoriously pricey, so consider offering lower prices or a discount for loyal customers.
If you can provide a high-quality service at an affordable price, it’ll be easier to encourage people to use your services instead of the competitor’s service.
Depending on your availability, you could offer your services at more unsociable hours than other businesses to attract busy customers.
5. Get Qualified
If you want to stand out from the competition as a professional, gaining a few qualifications is a good idea. It’ll give your clients more peace of mind, knowing that you have the skills to manage difficult situations.
There are many affordable dog walking qualifications available online that’ll boost your confidence when handling multiple dogs. Qualifications can also give you further instruction on how to start a dog sitting business.
Other certifications include animal first aid and a basic CRB check which will enhance the reputation and trustworthiness of your business.
6. Market Yourself
Once you’ve figured out the legal stuff, it’s time to work on your branding. You may opt for a business name or try to establish your personal name in the dog sitting community. Either way, you need to develop a marketing strategy that will get people talking about your business.
You can generate a buzz and stand out from the competition by implementing different marketing efforts, such as advertising and social media.
Raising awareness is an essential part of setting up a dog sitting business because it’s your gateway to gaining actual customers!
The way you market yourself depends on the services you offer – if you want to target the luxury market, then you need to brand yourself as a luxurious and high-quality service.
Advertising on flyers and posters in local pet shops and vets will help generate public awareness within the industry you’re targeting.
Similarly, you can create an online community and conversation around your business by asking clients to leave reviews on your social media pages.
7. Buy the Right Equipment
Dog sitting requires an array of equipment that will help to keep dogs entertained and maintain a clean environment. Treats and toys need to be readily available as an aid for keeping dogs under control, especially if you care for difficult dogs.
Dog waste bags are essential as cleaning up dog waste from the streets is a legal requirement with significant penalties. Bedding and kennels are also a necessity if you’re going to offer boarding services, although the client may be open to providing a bed.
It’s always a good idea to have dog food and dog bowls available even if the client supplies food. There are varying qualities of dog food available on the market, so it’s crucial to choose a high-quality feed that is suitable for all dog types.
Reet Good supply large 12kg bags of grain-free dog food with many health benefits, making us a good option when you have lots of different mouths to feed.
8. Meet Your Clients
Your clients are the key to a successful dog sitting business, so your social skills need to be top notch.
It’s vital that you build a relationship with your client before taking on their dog, as many people view their pooches as family.
A pre-sitting meeting would be an excellent way to strengthen your client rapport and meet the dog, so you both know what to expect from each other. The meeting is a good opportunity to explain your contract and agree upon each other’s requirements.
9. Manage Your Schedule and Earnings
The more your client base builds up, the harder it’s going to be to keep a record of your working hours and finances. As a result, it’s essential to have a solid strategy in place to cope with demand and manage your schedule.
Before taking on any clients, make sure you have a rigorous system in place to manage your finances and admin.
Keep a record of all your working hours, client details and outgoings, so you don’t lose track of your business.
If your client base gets busy, and it becomes too difficult to keep on top of your workflow, then you can always enrol an accountant.
10. Get Started!
Ensure you’re able to refer to your legal documents and qualifications easily should you need them. Keep track of your client base and make an inventory of supplies, so you’re not caught short, and maintain a clean environment.
At this stage, your business should be ready to go and you can start caring for the doggies!
Once you understand the fundamentals of how to start a dog sitting business, you can apply them and start enjoying your new career.
The business-side of setting up a dog business won’t be so much of a headache if you feel safe in the knowledge that you’re covered legally and financially.
The most important aspect of the job is that you have a genuine interest in dogs; the rest will come naturally!