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To ask if there are any professional dog walkers on here??

(54 Posts)
MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 15:54:30

...And if so, could you answer a few questions for me? I'm seriously considering doing this.

I have thought about the following:

Insurance
Doggy first aid course
DBS check
Producing my own leaflets/ business cards etc
Sign writing and adding a crate or 2 to my car

Are any of you DBS checked and if so how? I enquired today and it seems that because I'm an individual and not an organisation I won't have cause to request a DBS check? Is this correct?

Any particularly good insurance companies out there for this? I got a quote that seemed pretty reasonable- about £22 a month.

Doggy first aid course- There is one locally that I can attend.

Business cards and flyers I think I have sorted.

Can I ask whether dog walking is your sole income or do you supplement it with a part time job or with other services? And (if not too cheeky) could I ask roughly how much you charge per hour, or per dog walked? And lastly, how long did it take you to be earning an income that you could manage on?

TIA! I'm just trying to work out whether this could be feasible for me!

BarbaraofSeville Mon 25-Jul-16 16:02:09

Have a look at the websites of other local dog walkers for rates. The group of women I pay to feed my cats when away also do dog walking and all their prices are on their website.

I found my cat feeders by asking in the vets I used, so I suggest advertising in there - they may allow you to leave cards/flyers for free. I've also seen flyers posted on trees in the local woods. I'm not sure I would respond to an advert like that, but maybe that's just me. My thinking in the vets being 'safe' was that they knew the dog walkers - they had needed to take cats in there when they became sick while the owners were away and they also took their own pets there.

BarbaraofSeville Mon 25-Jul-16 16:03:06

Oh, so you might want to think about feeding cats in their own homes while the owners are away as an additional service.

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 16:41:35

Are you planning just to walk the dogs or look after them when their owners are away on holiday as well?

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 17:14:47

Just walk at the moment. I am also offering freelance equine groom services as I am horsey and also a cleaning service as I quite enjoy cleaning. Thought I could kill 3 birds with one stone! And maximise my income potential just in case the dog walking isn't enough to live on.

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 17:43:31

OK, well I think you have got everything covered except for the fact that you will need to have Class 3 business use on your car insurance. I would say that this is totally essential as in the event of an accident it would be impossible to hide the fact that you are a S/E dog walker.

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 18:56:15

I already have that as used to have to use my own car for travel in my old job smile

God I'm really hoping this works :cries:

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 18:56:36

P.s- does anyone have a dog walker? If so, how much do you pay them?

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 19:56:28

Where I live on the south coast the going rate is £7 for a 1/2 hour walk and £12 for an hour walk when the dog is taken out alone with the dog walker.

If the dog is able to be walked with other dogs they usually charge £10 for the hour.

In both cases solo walks and group walks the dog walker collects and returns the dog.

I hope that this is helpful to you.

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 19:58:22

I already have that as used to have to use my own car for travel in my old job
That's good because that is usually one of the unexpected sometimes large costs of setting up a dog walking service.

Tartsamazeballs Mon 25-Jul-16 20:20:55

I used to be a dog walker for 5 years, got an office job a few months ago and really regret it! Should have stayed a dog walker!!

Insurance- absolute must.

Doggy first aid- absolute must IMO, plus first aid kit. I used to use an army hip pouch to carry mine in.

DBS- never bothered, never got asked to show it. Always took ID, dressed nicely, copies of ins/paperwork. DBS doesn't prove much in a self employed role- it's more when someone is employing you to work on their behalf they can prove they did all they could to vet you.

Leaflets- wouldn't bother.

Sign written van- absolute must, where I got
70% of my business. Other 30% was website driven.

Consider:

- how many dogs you'll walk at once. 4 was my favoured amount, 6 was my absolute limit.

- your area: small area = less customers, big area = more time spent driving.

I used to work 11am-4pm and earned £600pm after bills. My day used to look like this:

11-11.30: pick up
11.30-12:20 walk 1
12.20-1: drop off/pick up
1-1.50: walk 2
1.50-2.30: drop off/pick up
2.30-3.30: walk 3
3.30-4: drop off/home

Used to charge £10-12/hour. Didn't walk solo walks, weren't profitable enough.

Tartsamazeballs Mon 25-Jul-16 20:24:04

Oh, one thing that really worked for me was having a Facebook page and uploading pics so people could see what their dogs were up to.

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 20:42:19

having a Facebook page and uploading pics so people could see what their dogs were up to
That sounds absolutely brilliant I can just imagine it now, "here are Senna and Skyler playing in the woods having a great time".

PersianCatLady Mon 25-Jul-16 20:44:15

Regarding the DBS check I just found this out from the government website - "Only employers and licensing bodies can request a DBS check."

So by the sounds of it you can't request one for yourself even if you wanted to.

Northernpowerhouse Mon 25-Jul-16 20:46:50

I pay £14 for a 55 min walk for 2 dogs.

WiddlinDiddlin Mon 25-Jul-16 20:49:23

Yep, my OH does this as a sideline to my dog training/behaviour business.

What is your dog experience?

Consider offering a niche service, walking dogs invidually and if not that, consider how you will ensure groups of dogs get along ok without causing one another stress or actual fighting. How will you assess new client dogs?

Look at where you intend on walking dogs - are you going to go to each dogs home and walk the dog their normal route near home, or will you collect several dogs and go somewhere with them all?

If you do the latter be aware some local authorities restrict professional dog walkers from using certain parks/land, and some restrict the number of dogs that may be walked somewhere by anyone at all.

Finally how will you transport dogs ifyou are walking them somewhere other than directly from their own home - its not likely to be financially viable to do it with a small car (and not safe to transport unknown dogs just wearing seatbelts on teh back seats) - Most professionals will have crated out vans if they are doing group walks - group walks is how you really make a living at it.

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 21:10:01

I could really only transport one dog at a time (maybe 2, haven't tested crate size yet) in my car. I will get my car signwrited though if nothing else. I have or will target a very big new build estate about a mile down the road from me, I have quite a few friends that live there and none of them have reported seeing any dog walkers yet and they all work from home or are SAHM's so do walk their dogs most lunchtimes etc. I plan to target there and 3 neighbouring villages, all within a 3 mile radius.

I'm not sure how much the dog walking will take off, I'm hoping there is potential there for business but in the meantime j would hope to supplement it with horsey/ cleaning jobs too. I plan to also try and get an evening job stacking shelves in our local supermarket, just to guarantee a bit of an income!

I have owned dogs my whole life, have successfully trained my own gundog who has won trials etc so I'm hoping that could be a bit of a USP?

AliceInHinterland Mon 25-Jul-16 21:16:44

I think it's a good selling point of your cleaning business that you are okay with dogs - that's one thing that makes me nervous about getting a cleaner.
If you make it clear in your cleaning menu that you will let out dogs and change their water etc that might be a nice little USP too, as long as you are careful not to appear to be a Jack of all trades.
I would also like the idea of having just one person holding keys to our house rather than several.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 25-Jul-16 21:26:23

I have a dog walker I use occasionally when I can't walk mine. I pay £15 for two dogs, just under an hour I think. She picks them up and takes them in her car.

I know she does other jobs such as shop work but think she would rather do dog walking fulltime but hasn't built it up yet.

She is very confident with the dogs, - one of mine is dog aggressive and this doesn't worry her - which as a dog owner is the most important thing to me.

She is reliable, has always turned up on time, and only couldnt walk them once when I asked her at short notice. Reliability even at short notice is invaluable from a clients point of view.

She also house sits. Could you offer that?

Bluetrews25 Mon 25-Jul-16 21:40:49

You can get your own DBS - my son did this when he went to work for a dogwalking agency. Click on the 'get a basic disclosure via disclosure scotland' on the gov dbs page. It's about £25. I would recommend you get one - mention it on your website to inspire confidence in your clients. It's as crucial as insurance, these days, I would think?

Bluetrews25 Mon 25-Jul-16 21:48:32

Oh, and you can get really good car magnets from vistaprint as opposed to signwriting. You can get business cards to match., plus logoed polo shirts....(spot the vistaprint fan here!)

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 21:54:03

Thanks Blue, I rang Ucheck earlier today to ask re DBS, they said I couldn't get a full one but could get a basic one which is all id need for going into people's homes etc.

So I bought that smile

Thanks for the tip for the car mangets too, will definitely look into that!!

Bluetrews25 Mon 25-Jul-16 22:10:36

You can do your own website really cheaply with a source like yola, and can update it whenever you like. Basic one would be about £25 a year, but you have to do all the writing yourself.
Can also recommend the (yellow) best little accounts book ( I think!) week to a page accounts book - from amazon for around £12, really helps you do your accounts and fill in your own tax return .
And Santander seem to have the best value business account at £7.50 a month (but you might get the first 2 years free)
Good luck with your new venture!

WiddlinDiddlin Mon 25-Jul-16 22:21:19

Oh yes you can get a basic disclosure - its necessary and yet at the same time.. pointless lol!

Its one of those things everyone has and clients think is really useful but it just tells them you haven't been caught doing anything naughty recently - quite pointless but without it you'll stick out as the one that HASNT got it out of all the dog walkers that state they have it..

I think you should market yourself strongly as a cleaner who does dog walking, pet feeding, puppy sitting (going in playing with pup, toilet break, clean up any accidents), also care visits for elderly dogs too, thats a good seller..

On the dog walking side of things, make it super clear you are only taking THAT clients dog out, not loading up loads of dogs into a van, and most clients are going to have one or two dogs or if they have more you can do two walks or walk directly from their house.

That is a big selling point, lots of people have dogs that would not cope nor benefit from group walks in a big gang and sadly lots of unscrupulous dog walkers do gather up big gangs of dogs and go somewhere remote and let them run wild and then load them all up again and go home - in some cases dogs can spend more time in the van on collectiona nd drop off than the do being 'walked' and the walk itself is an out of control free for all which just creates a stressed and anxious pet!

Another potential 'niche' is to offer to do basic training with clients dogs if you have those skills - I mean teaching sit at kerbs, walk nicely on the lead, ignore other dogs going by sort of stuff - but if you don't have the knowledge for htat already that might be osmething to look to in the future (it can be tricky if hte method you would prefer is not the method the client wants or uses. In my business, we do offer on walk training but only using positive methods and we don't take on clients who want us to use aversive methods or devices like prong collars or shock collars).

I think a 'clean n walk' service would be bloody brilliant though i bet theres a fair number of folk willing to bite your arm off to have someone do a few hours cleaning and trundle the dog out whilst htey are out!

MoneybagsIamnot Mon 25-Jul-16 22:21:21

Thanks Blue flowers

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