How to Start a Dog Walking, Pet Sitting or Other Canine Business

Everyone loves their furry friends, with almost 70 percent of U.S. families (or 85 million households) owning a pet. Dogs are the most popular choice: over 60 million households are home to a canine companion. 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 250,000 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.

Here is our simple guide to starting up a successful dog walking, pet sitting or related canine business. From exploring the types of business you can start, to doing research, to learning about the legalities of setting up your business and the realities of your day to day operations — this guide is here to help.

how to start a dog walking business

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


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


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


Americans spends just over a year on grooming and boarding

dog walking business
  • 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.

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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.

Strong research abilities

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.

Good math skills

Pet Sitting Business/h3>

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.

Excellent forecasting abilities

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.

Great flexibility

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.

  • 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.
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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.

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:

Here’s what you can expect in an average day
  • 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 Appendice

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting 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:

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Amazon Business

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.

Limited Liability


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.

Series LLC

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

S Corporation

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

C Corporation

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses and are typically far more than the average canine entrepreneur will ever 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 or pet sitting 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.

dog walking business

Location of your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting business

Your business location depends entirely on the type of canine business you’re running. If you’re walking dogs, you only need a place to administer your business, like a small home office. If you’re running a doggy daycare or a groomer, you may well need a specialized facility. It’s best to start small so you can prove out your dog business before committing to longer-term, expensive leases, rents or fees.

Equipment for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting business

Like the location, your equipment needs will vary depending on the type of business you run. A dog walking business might only need leashes, collars and treats, whereas a groomer will need all sorts of specialized tools and products.

dog walking business
dog walking business

Marketing Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

Marketing will be a huge part of your dog walking, pet sitting or other business. Naturally, you will need an awesome website, but you'll also need to get branding, digital ads, social media accounts and other channels in place. Most of your advertising will be local, and you may want to get involved with local animal shelters, dog events and similar to get the word out.

Software and Processes

The right software and processes will make running your dog walking or pet sitting business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide.

dog walking business
dog walking business


To start with, you will probably be running your business by yourself. Don’t think about hiring anyone else until you have a good customer base and can afford to expand.

Finances and Taxes

If you’re set up as an LLC or corporation, you will need a separate business bank account for your canine concern. Additionally, you will also need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Incfile we can even help you file your taxes.

dog walking business
Our Start a Business Checklist will get your business going in the best possible way.


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!