Has anyone set up/ does anyone use Dog Walking Service?

(22 Posts)
WileywithSageStuffing Thu 20-Dec-12 12:49:23

Just that really . . .
Has anyone done it successfully and turned a profit?

Does anyone really use dog walkers - if so how much do you pay/charge for walks?

I would appreciate any information offered!

My dogs go to a daycare that offers dog walking as a service, which we've used a few times. They charge £12 for an hour's walk. I've seen cheaper but we trust these people and that's worth more to us! Also, they make sure they wipe the dogs down when they bring them back (assuming we're not there) and will do other little things like feed our small pets.

I think the fact that these people do lots of things is what makes the business work, rather than just dog walking.

WileywithSageStuffing Thu 20-Dec-12 17:40:36

That's what i was thinking - say small animal care, a range of walking options etc. On walk training perhaps.

I don't need to make stacks of cash just wondering about earning a little extra.

I am crb checked and have lived in the area for 30+ years so hoping people would feel i am trustworthy.

kitsmummy Thu 20-Dec-12 20:12:56

My dog went to doggy daycare one day a week for 18 months, she absolutely loved it. I paid £20 a day, but the other option would have been a 1 hour walk for £10. Roz who owns/runs it has a really good business going. She's in Bristol so whether a city is a better base for a dog walking business than countryside?

You should check out her website, she's really nailed it tbh. the mutty professor

LadyTurmoil Thu 20-Dec-12 23:54:28

Have you checked if you need liability insurance - I would assume you'd need some sort of insurance to protect yourself if anyone was to happen to a dog in your care or if a dog bit a passing cyclist while in your care etc. One London dog sitting/walking service I googled said this: "We are fully licensed & registered as Dog Walkers/Pet Sitters and for boarding pets and have full public liability insurance including full police CRB checks."

Minstrelsaremarvellous Thu 20-Dec-12 23:59:25

Yes we use a dog walker. Fully insured and CRB etc. our walker has had our dogs since pups and they love her! (And we do too!). Insurance is critical. I have heard of a London based dog walker who had one dog kill another dog in their care - they weren't insured hmm - terrible affair by all accounts.
I'm so grateful for them!

Hi we use doggy daycare. Costs £30 a day in London but worth every penny. Our carer can combine this with lunch time walks for other dogs as she has help from her dh. She. Also does boarding and is turning people away now.

WileywithSageStuffing Fri 21-Dec-12 09:55:54

Excellent thank you everyone! I have got quotes for necessary insurance and am already CRB checked.

Will think about what services will offer etc as obviously needs I be more than just dog walking alone. Thank you all.

ImperialSantaKnickers Fri 21-Dec-12 09:58:53

Good luck Wiley. I've been successful running a dog walking/pet care agency for nearly ten years now, it's brilliant. But you'll never make a fortune grin

WileywithSageStuffing Fri 21-Dec-12 10:14:05

Thanks imperial don't want to make a million but I love dogs, love walking so hoping to just earn a little extra grin .

Well done with yours, fingers crossed I can make it work too!

The big attraction for us is that they keep a key and will help out in an emergency (so if we went out and couldn't get back they'll go and let the dogs out). It's a god-send since we don't have family near-by. I think if you can be flexible where possible it will really help keep customers on side.

Link to the one we use if it helps: www.lilysbarn.co.uk/

WileywithSageStuffing Fri 21-Dec-12 15:54:50

Thanks cupcakes - it's really helpful to look at the websites some people have set up - these also seem to be a necessity!

i work with a guy who has a partitioned off van,goes round to pick up a gang of dogs(up to 6) and then takes them all for walks for a good hour.

He does 3/4 round a day so makes good money but as he says not everyone can do that.

Off lead for those reliable & on long lead for those not. £10 ph.

I'm doing a bit of that to help out also looking at doing doggy daycare for people who work with ovenighters if they go away.

TeenageWildlife Fri 21-Dec-12 21:53:06

Lovely person does mine for £10 - she has a key so am always glad to know she can be there in an emergency. My dog adores her.

ProtegeMoi Fri 21-Dec-12 21:56:33

We used a dog walker when I was heavilly pregnant and couldn't manage myself, I paid £6 an hour and it was great.

It was really really hard to find one though as most refused based on my dog's breed (Rottweiler) they ignored the fact that is a wonderful well behaved and friendly dog and refused him straight away which was really frustrating.

mansbart Tue 25-Dec-12 06:07:21

It's great that this topic has been brought up. I have been looking to start my own dog walking service and I have exactly the same questions.

Also, I've been reading this resource (www.startingdogwalkingservice.com/) and it mentions that it is not enough that I have passion and love for dogs. One of the most important things I need to have is this skill for business or else I would fail.

From here, I'm getting ideas as to rates and your previous experiences. But, what are your thoughts on it? Do you think that's really the case (referring to what I learned from the resource)?

mansbart there must be an element of business skill to it - you will need to send out invoices etc and keep accounts. Think about what you would do if you had to put your prices up but one of your clients said "oh, I can't afford that and if you don't walk Fido nobody will <pitiful look>". Sadly, some people will try it on and you'll need to be a little hard-hearted at times! Even worse if the person is being genuine – then what do you do? And what about people who don’t pay up – you’ll need to be able to tackle them, too.

You're doing all of the research though, and thinking hard about it, so you’ll probably be fine. Good luck!

WileywithSageStuffing Tue 01-Jan-13 13:25:50

LetThereBeCupcakes have you always invoiced at the end of the month? Is this the best way to do it rather than pay per walk? Do you get many reluctant payers?

Also wondering about advertising? I have a good clear website and have promoted this on local Facebook sites which has led to some enquiries. Did you leaflet houses, advertise in local print, or just put some flyers in local shops etc?

Sorry for all the questions, really appreciate the advice!

CuddlyBlanket Tue 01-Jan-13 13:31:38

Sounds like a great idea. I found it hard to get a dog walker when my health made it difficult for me. I am getting a scooter now.

mansbart Tue 01-Jan-13 15:58:57

Thank you LetThereBeCupcakes! That's good to hear. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. At least I am a bit comforted by the thought that I am off to a good start.

ImperialSantaKnickers Wed 02-Jan-13 18:00:07

You do have to keep a business head on. I've never had a complete non payer, I have had a few that took a while to shake down. NARPS has a handy dispute resolution service which I gather has done the job for some of the other members. I try to make it payment in advance for new clients.
I refer apparently skint clients to Social Services or Cinnamon Trust. Since I also dogwalk for Cinnamon sometimes, I occasionally see them again! But they're better set up than me for checking that people really are skint.

Most of my advertising is online these days.

Sorry wiley I've not made myself clear - I don't run a business myself (that's just the pipe-dream!). My DH is a self employed tradesman though, which is where my advice has come from.

From what I understand, the daycare we uses invoices at the end of the month for everybody, regardless of what services they have used. Not sure how it would work if somebody was just stuck temporarily - I think she probably would still just do all of the accounts at the end of the month.

My DH does occasionally get reluctant payers, in our experience they never, ever just say "I'm really sorry - I'm skint - can I pay half now and half next month?" Which would be fine with us. In stead they say "Oh, yeah, I'll transfer the money now..." and then don't. You ring them three days later and they say their Online banking was down, so they'll send a cheque... which bounces. My DH is sadly not very tough, and just seems to believe people. When he does eventually pull them up and threaten small claims court they pay. I would make sure you invoice properly, and put a date for payment on the invoice.

Word of mouth has been the best advertiser for us, and getting in with local businesses connected to what you're doing - so make friends with the local vets, pet shops etc! We set up a free entry on Yell.Com, but so far I don't think he's had any interest from that.

On the other hand, when I ran dog training classes I got a LOT of interest from my yell.com advert and from my own website, which I registered with google, so that when people searched for "Dog Training <My Town>", my website popped up.

Neither of us have ever paid for advertising - DH has never had a day he couldn't work, but your area is more specialised than what he does so it might not be that straightforward. I would start with everything free (or at least very cheap), like shop windows and facebook pages, and then see how it goes. Good luck!

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