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Thinking of starting a dog walking business...

Discussion in 'Dog Walking' started by SuperCarly, Jun 17, 2010.


  1. SuperCarly

    SuperCarly PetForums Newbie

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    In 3 months time, I am going to become a student for the second time!! I'm 25 and I own a Miniature Schnauzer named Archie.

    I was thinking that dog walking is a great way to make money doing something I HAVE to do anyway. I.e. I walk my dog and take 1 or 2 others out with me and make a little bit of money too. Archie gets friends to play with so it's win win!

    What do you think? I know walking 2 or 3 dogs could be hard work (if they pull me around) but Archie is very good and LOVES all other dogs.

    How should I approach this, any ideas?
     
  2. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    Well first things first there are a few things that you really need to consider.

    I am in the process of setting up my own dog walking business and market research and advice from people who are already in the business has confirmed the following necessities if you are really interested in professional dog walking:

    • You NEED to have insurance (minimum public liability but also preferably cover for injury, loss, death etc of animals in your care and cover for loss of keys etc) This will cost you from £60- 150 per year (depending on your cover)
    • Do you have transport and a crate fitted/suitably fitted vehicle?
    • A CRB check may also be worth looking into- I for one and most dog owners want to know that they are handing over their pet to a trustworthy person.
    • What time(s) will you be free for walking? Most people tend to want their dogs walked from about 10am-3pm to break up the typical 9am - 5pm working day. Others may also want early morning walks, if they are able to walk their dog due to comuting?
    • Would you offer group walks only or solo walks too? Some dogs may not be suited to group walks as they may not be sociable with other dogs or may be nervous etc. Would you be willing to offer a solo walk service?
    • You will NEED to write contracts which your customers will need to sign before you walk their dog. These contracts tend to ask that customers state their pets details as well as the details of their vets practice, any special medical needs, the dogs likes and dislikes etc. You need to ensure that all dogs that you are walking are vaccinated etc.
    • What would you do in the case of a dog becoming injured in your care? Whether he/she was attacked by another dog or caught/tore their nail for example? The general answer to this problem is to ask clients to sign a veterinary release form of £50 minimum for their pet, to ensure that in the case of the dog being hurt, they can be treated at a vets and kept stable whilst the owners are called. I will not accept clients who are not willing to sign veterinary release forms, as although my insurance covers their pet, IMO the dog is the priority and so whether it is my insurance or their insurance that deals with the vet fees is irrelevant. The dog needs care immediately. I need to have their signed statement that they trust my judgement to care for their pet to avoid further confusion/dispute?
    • Letting dog's offlead- something you may not have considered- you need to ask for written permission for this. However, as a precaution, even if the owners have signed to say that they agree to my letting their dog offlead, I still prefer to only do so after a walk or two in which I will build more of a relationship with the dog and so I know that he/she will recall to me when asked and they have made positive associations with me as a person etc.
    • You may also want to get references from vets, behaviourists (if you know any)

    I could go on for longer. As you can see there are alot of things that you need to consider before setting up this kind of business (the above are just some examples).

    If you do want to start up this business. You need to consider the following basics:

    - Your experience with dogs (would you be willing to walk giant breeds etc, have you experience with various breeds of dog?)
    - Must have insurance
    - Must have contracts for you and client to sign
    - I would advise veterinary release forms
    - Consider references/CRB checks
    - The time of day you are able to accommodate customers
    - Think about your market. You've got three possible types of customer: full time workers, the older generation and the one-off "day outers". Are you able to work weekends too?


    Other things to consider:
    - Would you provide small animal care (home visits for feeding etc?)
    - If you had wanted to board animals in your home you will need to apply for a licence to do so from your local council.

    Hope this helps :)
     
    #2 lemmsy, Jun 18, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
    fitz and Rich Evans like this.
  3. keeleyjane19

    keeleyjane19 Guest

    Pretty much what you said!!

    I ran my own very successful dog walking/day care/boarding services.

    Definitely yes to contract, write out your terms, without a clients signature...don't carry out any service for their dog.

    My contract stated the owner is responsible if their dog was to damage anything, bite someone, become injured ill and it was not my fault.

    You need to cover your back for everything, its a cruel world, and people will be prepared to sue!

    Definitely yes to insurance, it cost me £17 per month with pet business insurance, or there is cliverton.

    It covered if the dog was hurt through my own negligence, third party, loss of key..

    Also be prepared...if their dog should run away do you have the right contacts? Animal search number, dog warden etc..

    Also, to get a boarding license you need to be teamed up with a nearby 24hour vet, have a isolation room/pen set up, fire risk assessments carried out etc

    Remember a doggy first aid kit, you never know when a dog will hurt themselves, they could tread on a nail or anything.....would you have anti-bac wipes...dressings etc? I carried one always in my car and a dressing in my dog walking bag.

    It is your responsibility to be prompt, friendly, reliable and trustworthy.

    Set your times and stick to them...

    What if your car breaks down?

    Do you have a well ventilated...air conditioned car? Water canister and bowl? Prompt breakdown cover to get the dogs home safely and quickly...expecially if its a hot day!!

    There is sooo much to consider!!

    All the best and good luck xxx
     
    fitz likes this.
  4. Magsayr

    Magsayr PetForums Newbie

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    Excellent advice from the others! Don't look on this as a wee extra way to make a few bob - you MUST have insurance no matter how few dogs you walk/look after and as per previous posts - always get a contract signed and if potential clients won't sign, don't take them on. You really need to do it properly from the outset. However, to put this into perspective, its a wonderful way to spend your day, doing something you love, in all sorts of weathers!!! You meet lots of lovely dogs and sometimes even the humans are nice! it might be an idea to get hold of Fiona Mackenzie's book - "How to start and run a Pet Sitting Business". I find that because I have got full insurance and am "police checked" clients are more inclined to use my services. It doesn't hurt that I have good referrals including from my own vet.
    Good Luck! Let us know what you decide.
     
    Rich Evans likes this.
  5. Rachaelp

    Rachaelp PetForums Newbie

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    I've just joined this site and come across this forum. I want to start my own pet care and dog walking business up and am obviously trying to find out as much as possible beforehand. I fully agree that indemnity insurance is essential and a crb (I'm already checked because of my present career). I'd like to know more about what I would need to put in the contract and what other essentials people suggest. I will be extremely grateful for guidance, what prices do people charge for animals staying overnight?etc
     
  6. Pineapple

    Pineapple PetForums Member

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    I was also wondering, in relation to getting a CRB check, would you need a Standard or Basic criminal record check?
     
  7. katie blue

    katie blue PetForums Newbie

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    Hi there, I am also wanting to set up my own dog walking business. Iv always loved animals and growing up we had 3 rescue dogs. I now have my own lovely 2yr old friendly lab rescue who I walk with my mums new dogs. I feel very confident and experienced with dogs and they seem to respond very well to me. I have my own transport and think it would be a great idea, but im getting really bogged down with all the details. Many thanks to the writers of the posts above for all the info so far. Could someone clarify if this list is everything needed, and list the prices are for each one and where to get each one from?
    C.R.B. check (just once?)
    Public liability Insurance?
    Care, custody and control insurance?
    is there anything else? what do I need related to keys?
    I only want to walk upto 4 dogs including mine.

    Also do I have to get the local council to come round and do a check on my house for dog sitting? Or need any insurance, or would it be ok to just go ahead?
    I only want a very small business at this stage and dont have a huge amount of money to set it up, so are they are packages anyones knows of? or just the minimum things I should have.
    Do I need to pay for a disclosure certificate or can I just write one out myself?
    and one last thing (sorry) would you recommend joining NARP or any other associations or is not necessay at this early stage?
    Many, many thanks to anyone who can help :)
     
  8. Hiafa123

    Hiafa123 PetForums Senior

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    If you intend to have dogs at your home you will need to contact the council as you are running a business from your home (it will be the planning dept and prob environmental health dept) There will be a business rate charged to you.

    Public Liability Ins - can be got from internet

    Disclosure - as long as you print it on all documents you can write your own.

    CRB - give this number a call 0870 9090 811.The CRB has now gone to vetting and barring scheme.They will give you all the info.A enhanced check costs £44.

    Hope it helps
     
  9. katie blue

    katie blue PetForums Newbie

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    Thankyou for the info. Will get a CRB check from there.
    Iv just had a quote of £142 from one company covering=
    Public Liability
    Care Custody and Control (Liability to animals)
    Non-Negligent Cover (Accidental injury to animals)
    Loss of Key Cover

    Do you think this a reasonable deal? Or as I am just starting out do you think I would be ok with just public liablity insurance? Think its about £60-70 a year?

    Also Iv tried finding info on how to write a disclosure or a copy of one so as I can find out what needs to be in it but Im having no luck. Do the insurance companies help with this? (surely its a condition of insurance policy?)
    Or can anyone help with this?

    Many thanks
     
  10. Hiafa123

    Hiafa123 PetForums Senior

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    Hi again - With the disclosure it all depends what you wish to exclude yourself from ie will not be held responsible for any damage whilst taking dog from its own premises etc etc. Base the disclosure on what is suitable for yourslf.You can say that dogs must have their own food brought with them so owners cannot land you with a vets bill if something happens.

    With the public liablity is better to be over covered than under - I dont think your quote is too bad - I used to get PLI for an annula event that cost us nearly £600 for 1 day but we had £1 million cover.

    Have you contact you local job centre / borough council. They would be able to help you start the business off with grants etc. Im not 100% sure if the princes trust is still going but they give out grants for young people to set up businesses. Its only the price of a phone call.
     
  11. WarFlyball

    WarFlyball PetForums Member

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    I don't think you can get your own CRB check ie apply for yourself if you will be self employed, at least that's what they told me when I looked into it. There are ways to get one though - if you join NarpsUK you can get one through them, or if you have a part time job such as care work that requires one you can have one through that etc. I know a lot of dog walkers and other self employed people who hold keys such as gardeners who did it that way (I have one through doing care work)

    In terms of insurance I found Cliverton to provide excellent cover - it was also slightly cheaper than the quote you mentioned below (although I don't know if the particulars were different) and I would definitely go for the more comprehensive cover such as loss of keys etc. I haven't had cause to use the claims process (touch wood) but know of someone who unfortunately is and she does report that they are being very good so it seems that not only is the policy is good on paper the back up and support is good too...
     
  12. waller540

    waller540 PetForums Junior

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    There's a lot of good information here. I'd love to know how you're getting on? My advice to anyone starting up a Dog walking/sitting business would be to focus on getting the word out, advertising and promotion. It's a great job because when you get 3 - 6 regular clients you can easily make a full time income from it, without too much hard work.
     
    Rich Evans likes this.
  13. katie blue

    katie blue PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks guys for all your help :)
    Im waiting for a quote from Cliverton at the moment :) I've looked at NARPs but its £150 for the first year to join :/ and I will need all the money I can save as im changing my car (in general, and for the business) as Iv currently got a fiat punto.
    Ive had a look around and originally wanted to go for a Birlingo, but looking at the mpg a Citroen xsara picasso 2.0D does a lot more miles to the gallon (averages 55+) and the insurance wouldnt be too much more. As I cant afford the insurance for a van I think the xsara is a good option.
    Whats everyones opinion on this for a good dog walking car? The rear seats fold flat (to put cages in, when needed) and the boot space looks very roomy, the only downside is I dont think it looks the part.
    All opinions welcome! and any other suggestions for any other cars this size with good mpg.
    Kate
     
  14. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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  15. waller540

    waller540 PetForums Junior

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    Hi Katie,

    I think a van looks more professional (especially if you have a logo on the side) but Xsaras are great. Very roomy and I think a lot more 'friendly' looking than a van. I think it's a great choice!
     
  16. katie blue

    katie blue PetForums Newbie

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    Hi guys, yeah I like the Xsara picasso, although not sure if I will always leave the seats down with cages in or just when I need to. Also do you think it would be ok on the days I just have one dog to put it in the boot (with a dog guard in and possibly a tailgate guard) I do this with my dog and its fine.
    JUst got my quote back from Cliverton, yes quite a lot cheaper at £110! for all the same things, so thanks to whoever recommeded them :) will be using them.
    Also I read on another forum that vistaprint do magnetic car door signs so i will be ordering some of them for the Xsara, make it look a bit more porfessional im hoping, and hopefully people will see it and call me.
     
  17. WarFlyball

    WarFlyball PetForums Member

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    BTW if you are interested in NarpsUK you can get membership cheaper than the £150 you found - if you pm me I can get you details of a special offer that I think makes it about £120. I have found it to be really worthwhile, they have lots of forms you can use that save a lot of time and make sure that you cover all of the areas you need to when setting up contracts etc and there is lots of support from other members on the members forum as well as other benefits etc :) I would definitely recommend joining if you are wanting to do dog walking/pet sitting full time...
     
    Rich Evans likes this.
  18. Magsayr

    Magsayr PetForums Newbie

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    Highly recommend joining NarpsUK - very good value for money, the members have access to all the forms you need - contracts etc and they have a very good forum. Everyone who posts on it is very helpful.
    If you're think of adding dog home boarding/day care to the jobs you do, you must get in touch with your local council for their requirements as every council is different it appears! At the moment, dog walking isn't under the remit of the local authorities although imo it should be.
    I'm insured through Cliverton - very good value for money and cover everything you will need. I haven't personally had to claim but I know someone who has and they were great - very supportive and got it all sorted.
    In this day and age, better to be over than under insured.
    ALWAYS ALWAYS, ALWAYS get clients to sign your contract, you also sign it and give them a copy and you keep the original. Make sure there is a space on it for updates - eg vaccination boosters, medication administered. cover your backside for everything!
    Re transport, I have a Transit van with loose cages (although they are secured when in use) that I can remove if I need the van for something else.
    Make sure you have business insurance for your vehicle - not just for personal use.- social domestic and pleasure. I got magnetic signs from VistaPrint for the van to advertise while I'm driving about.
    IMO this isn't a job you can do just to make a few extra £s - you have to do everything properly. to safeguard you and the dogs in your care. There's a lot to think about!
    Mags
     
    #18 Magsayr, Oct 2, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  19. katie blue

    katie blue PetForums Newbie

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    Hey guys just to update you on how everythings going :) ...
    I am now insured with Cliverton and have a basic CRB check, my website is nearly finished and business cards ordered. I have also bought a fiat doblo mpv with windows and fitted a dog guard and waterproof, padded bedding and have non slip water bowls. I am insured and have ordered car magnets from vistaprint. I have also written my reg form with all details of vaccinations/diet/behavour/vets details and a disclaimer saying that i will pay initally for vets fees if the dog is injured but the client will pay me back (hope this is ok?)
    and I understand that any person/animal/property damaged by the dog on this form is the responsibility of the client and not me. also signed to walk off the lead and give their responsibility for me to care for the dog whilst in thier absence. I think this is it? Anything iv missed?
    So im ready to go! bought the domain name n just need to get the website online now.
    As for advertising...
    will be putting cards in shop windowns n local paper, has anyone got any suggestions for free advertising? I am in the Manchester area.
    Also is there anything else anyone can think of I am yet to do?
    I understand it is a serious job and cant wait to get started!Thanks to everybody who has helped on this forum :)
     
  20. redroses2106

    redroses2106 PetForums VIP

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    you could start a fb page, get alll your friends and family to like it and they could get it passed round all thiers etc.
    also gumtree is a good place for free advertising too.
     
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