With this huge love of animals across the nation, there's plenty of need for trustworthy, capable and caring people to become dog walkers or pet sitters.

You might not think of dog walking or pet sitting as a formal business, but with enough effort it could become an excellent way for you to make money as an animal lover. It’s not just dog walking or pet sitting either - doggy day cares, grooming studios and kennels are all in demand.

We want to help you get your business off the ground.

Since 2004, we’ve helped over 500,000 people start exciting businesses and bring their ideas to life. We’ll give you the support, guidance and advice you need to create a woman-owned business and make it into a success.

Read on for some insight into creating your own dog walking or pet sitting business and becoming an entrepreneur. In this guide we will cover:

Statistics on why you should start a dog walking, pet sitting or similar business

Choose the right business structure for your dog walking or pet sitting company

Learn if a canine-related business could be right for you

Ideas for the type of dog business that you could form

Proving your dog walking or pet sitting business can work

Business plans for dog walking and related companies

Setting up your canine business, including location, equipment, employees, taxes, finances, licenses and more

Where to find dog walking or pet sitting business groups, forums and support

Helpful software for pet business owners

Why You Should Start a New Dog Walking, Pet Sitting or Similar Business

The fact is that pets (and dogs in particular) are more than just animals - they’re family members. As a result, doggy parents lavish lots of love and money on their faithful companions. Here are some amazing statistics across the pet industry as a whole and on dogs in particular:

20M

Approximate number of dogs in households in the U.S.

$70B

Americans spends on their pets each year, which includes food, medicine, vet care, grooming and boarding

$6B

Americans spends just over a year on grooming and boarding

71%
Of people in the U.S. who own a pet have a dog

A little over 10 percent of that ($130) is spent per pet every year on sitting, walking and kennels

On average, the total cost of a dog is around $1,200 a year

High-income households account for around 60 percent of all spending on animals

This is why dog walking, pet sitting and similar businesses are so exciting - how can you be part of that success? We're here to help you figure that out.

Is a Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Right for You?

Although it can be exciting to form a dog walking or pet sitting business, there will be significant demands on you as a small business owner. Here are some of the things you can expect.

A Day in the Life of a Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Owner

Here are some of the typical tasks you’ll be performing for your dog walking or pet sitting business on a daily basis:

Visiting the homes of pet owners and forming relationships with them and their animals

Understanding any unique needs, likes or dislikes of specific animals

Finding out about medical, dietary or other canine needs

Managing your schedule so you can get to all your clients in time

Going for long walks with the dogs

Keeping dogs entertained and nourished

Skills Needed by a Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Entrepreneur

The following skills will be very useful in your role as a dog walking or pet sitting small business owner.

You will need to have a good understanding of animal behavior and how to deal with furry friends

You must be able to manage multiple dogs in close proximity with each other and deal with any potential issues

You should have excellent interpersonal skills so you can reassure and talk with pet owners

You will need to be prompt and have excellent timekeeping skills

You will need to build flexibility into your schedule — dogs and owners can be unpredictable creatures

You must enjoy being out in all weather, rain or shine

You must be able to handle pet-related emergencies (they’re not common, but they do happen)

You cannot mind dealing with pet toileting and other habits

What Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Customers Are Looking For

Your customers are trusting you with the well-being and happiness of their animal companions. This means demonstrating some expertise in animal handling and behavior, and having a good track record of caring for canines. Pet owners will want to make sure that their dogs are kept safe, that they won’t escape and that you will be able to deal with any special doggy needs or issues.

What Type of Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Should You Start?

There are several different types of dog-related business you can start.

1

Dog Walking Business

This is probably the easiest type of canine-related business to get started with. You will need the skills listed above, some equipment, a car to get where you’re going and not too much else. A love of the great outdoors and awareness of what’s happening around you will be essential, as will dog relationship expertise.

2

Pet Sitting Business

Whether you take care of a dog while the family is away on vacation or you’re just needed on short notice, the life of a dog sitter can be a good one. You can combine this with dog walking, and the type of service you offer could vary from being a stay-at-home dog carer to just visiting pups a couple of times a day for food and toileting.

3

Doggy Daycare, Boarding and Kennels

If you want a step up from dog sitting, opening a specialized dog care facility could be a great option. Whether you look after canine companions for a few hours a day or offer complete room and board, dog parents need a kennel they can trust to look after their furbabies.

4

Dog Grooming Business

There are plenty of dogs with hair that needs regular cutting, grooming and washing to stay healthy and beautiful. Dog groomers are places that a doggy parent can get their dog’s coat washed, nails trimmed, hair cut and other cosmetic changes. You could open a pet grooming location or travel to your customers’ houses.

Validating Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Idea

These are all great starting points, but you will need to build on them to make the business your own. You have unique skills and insight that you can use to create a dog walking or pet sitting business that will really stand out.

You should already know the type of dog business that you’re best suited to. A combination of your canine and business skills, experience and expertise will steer you in the right direction.

Whatever dog-related business you choose, it’s likely that you will have several competitors in your area.

To stand out, you will need to build up a good track record and deliver superior canine services.

Not every idea you have will make it through to becoming a dog walking or pet sitting business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific approaches, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a dog-related business you’d be great at.

Identify your dog walking or pet sitting business’ unique selling points (USPs)

Think about what you’re offering and how you make it unique. Perhaps you specialize in certain types of dogs, dogs that are behaviorally-challenged or dogs that really need to lose weight. Whatever area you decide on, work out how this sets you apart with doggy parents.

Look at who your competitors are in the space band

Dog-related businesses are extremely local, so it’s important to know who is offering similar services in the same geographic area. Once you know who your competitors are, see how you can further specialize your services and make them unique.

Understand your market

Clearly identify who your dog-parent customers are likely to be and exactly what they need. You will need to understand the best channels to reach them and the dog-related services that will appeal the most.

Talk to clients

Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your dog business, and validate this by asking if they would commit to spending real money on them.

Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Needs a Plan

You might think that your dog-related business doesn’t need a plan, but you’ll find that a solid business model will help you become a success. A business plan will help you define how you’re going to run your dog walking or pet sitting business, market yourself, get sales, make a profit and grow.

You need to establish your canine business plan and model now, which is how you will generate sales, provide services and make money. It’s best to get your plans in place now so you can start acquiring customers and generating revenue from day one.

Think about and predict financial projections for your dog walking or pet sitting business.

What are your expected sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

1

An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan

2

Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your dog-related business

3

A description of your dog walking, pet sitting or other business, including background information and context

4

A market analysis and likely demand

5

An overview of how your dog business is structured

6

Your business model

7

How you will market and sell your offerings

8

Financial projections, revenue and profitability

9

Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Construction Business

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Brewery Business

There are five main business structures you can have in the U.S., and it’s important to choose the right one. We’ve shared your options below. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

If you don’t choose to form a legal business entity for your dog walking, pet sitting or other business, you will be a sole proprietor by default. This won’t give you the legal protections you need, so we do not recommend this.

Partnership Company or LLC

This is a type of business that is formed when two or more people work together without creating a more formal business entity. Like a sole proprietorship, it may not give you all the protections your dog walking or pet sitting business may need.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The most common type of business entity. An LLC is fast, simple and inexpensive to set up and maintain. It protects your personal finances and assets and is a great way to start your dog-related business.

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations.

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average entrepreneur will need.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your dog walking business.

In most cases, our recommendation for your dog walking or pet sitting business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

Setting up Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business and Business Operations

Once you've legally created your dog walking or pet sitting business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

The Complete Start Your Business Checklist

Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

It’s possible that your dog-related business will need licenses, permits and regulations. You should explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs.

Taxes

Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

Most dog-related businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

Workers Compensation Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

Workers compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining. If you don’t have any employees, you may not need this insurance.

General Liability Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

This insurance protects your dog walking or pet sitting business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance could be essential to your dog-related business as you are dealing with unpredictable animals and in some cases may have members of the public coming to your place of work.

Home and Auto Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

If you are working from home on the administration of your dog walking or pet sitting business or driving a vehicle for work, check whether your existing home and auto policies cover you for work use of your home or car. If not, you should either expand your policy so you’re covered or get dedicated business insurance.

Maintaining Your Dog Walking, Pet Sitting or Similar Business

There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your dog walking or pet sitting business in good standing.

1

File an Annual Report

Depending on the state you’re located in, you will probably have to file a report every year. This report tells the state about any major changes to your business, and we can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

2

Pay estimated taxes

You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year).

3

Renew Business Permits and Licenses

Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

4

Prepare Your Taxes

You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

5

File your taxes

You will need to file your taxes once a year.

6

Pay payroll and sales taxes

If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

Groups and Forums for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

Here are some useful places where you can connect with other dog walking or pet sitting entrepreneurs:

Useful Online Tools for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

Here are some really great online tools for managing your dog walking or pet sitting business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

Conclusion

If you can find a unique approach and open your canine business in the right area, there’s every chance of success. Explore different ideas for a pet sitting, dog walking, grooming, kennel or other business, and you’ll find the right one for you. Good luck!