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How to become a dog walker

How to become a dog walker?

Dog walking is not just rewarding, it’s an opportunity to use your love for dogs to build a side hustle which may later lead to a steady income.

As a dog walker, you get to enjoy the outdoors, stay active, and spend time with furry companions - what a way to earn a living.

In this guide, we explore how to become a dog walker and, ultimately, how to start a dog walking business.

Why Become a Dog Walker?

Before delving into the steps to becoming a dog walker, let's discuss why this career choice could be the right one for you:

  • You love dogs: If you're passionate about dogs and enjoy spending time with them, dog walking allows you to turn your passion into a profession.
  • Flexibility: Dog walking offers flexibility in terms of working hours and schedules. While a dog walking business will take some planning and marketing, ultimately you could have a career that fits around your lifestyle rather than the other way around as it tends to be.
  • Outdoor lifestyle: Being a dog walker means spending a significant amount of time outdoors which is proven to be beneficial for your health and guarantees more of digital downtime
  • Relaxed environment: Dogs generally make for a happy company and that has a direct impact on our mental health. People who spend more time around dogs tend to be happier.
  • Growing demand: The arrival of Covid resulted in an increased ownership of dogs in the UK. The trend continuous but with the return to the office, many dog owners seek reliable and trustworthy dog walkers to ensure their pets get the exercise and socialisation they need.

There are the perks of becoming a dog walker, let's dive into the steps to kickstart your career.

How to Become a Dog Walker

Before you embark on your journey as a dog walker, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the role and what it takes to become a successful one.

Understand the Job

Dog walkers are responsible for:

  • Walking dogs and ensuring they get the right exercise they need.
  • Monitoring the dogs for any health or behavioural issues.
  • Adhering to safety protocols to prevent accidents.
  • Building rapport and trust with both the dogs and their owners.
  • Managing logistics, such as scheduling and route planning.

Gain experience and knowledge

While a deep love for dogs is essential, gaining practical experience and knowledge is equally important. If you don’t have a strong experience with dogs, you can take the following approach:

  • Volunteer at local animal shelters or rescue organisations: This is your best chance to work with dogs in many different situations. You’ll also be able to lean on more experienced dog walkers who can share their knowledge when it comes to behavioural issues.
  • Attend dog training classes or workshops: Understanding dog behaviour and handling is essential for dog walkers and demonstrating your qualifications in this regard may help you secure more work.
  • Self-educate: Read books and articles on dog care, training, and behaviour.

Obtain necessary certifications

While there are no formal certifications required to become a dog walker, obtaining relevant certifications can enhance your credibility and trustworthiness. It will play well with dog owners:

  • Pet First Aid and CPR Certification: This training equips you with essential skills to respond to emergencies and provide immediate care to dogs in distress.
  • Dog behaviour certification: Earning a certification in dog behaviour demonstrates your understanding of canine behaviour and your ability to handle dogs effectively.

How to Start a Dog Walking Business

Once you feel you have the right mix of skills and experience, you can move to explore  how to start and run a successful dog walking business. 

If your goal is to start your own dog walking business, a well-thought-out business plan is not something you want to skip. Your business plan should include:

Business name and branding

Choosing a catchy name that’s easy to pronounce and to remember always helps with customers and word of mouth. The same goes for branding and logo. Well chosen colours and font can make or break a business.

Business structure

It’s important to think about how you internd to start and go on. This will help you decide whether you want to start simply as a sole trader or go straight in a more formal setting like a limited company.

Services and pricing

A walk is not just a walk. It could be a group walk, solo walk, play date or sitting in with a dog. The range of services is quite extensive and you’ll need to think about the practicality, cost or time required and price these options accordingly.

Target customers

Not everyone with a dog is necessarily your customer. You need understand your target market and what makes them consider a dog walker. That way you can refine your marketing approach accordingly.

Advertising your dog walking business

Once you know who your customers are likely to be, you can start to formulate a plan how you are going tto reach out to them and the language used. For example busy professionals will seek services and respond to offer differently from the elderly. 

Some effective channels of raising awareness are:

  • Online presence: A professional website showcasing your services, pricing, and contact information.
  • Social media: Utilising social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share photos of your happy canine clients help to engage with your audience. Joining local dog lovers/owners groups is a good access to an engaged audience.
  • Local advertising: The high street is a great way to make yourself visible - coffee shops, post office, convenience stores are brilliant because they usually help local business people by allowing them to display a leaflet for free or very little.

Legal and financial considerations

Running a dog walking business isn’t complicated but it does some with serious responsibilities to your customers and general members of the public. Ensure that when walking dogs, you understand the local authorities requirements. Also don’t forget to arrange insurance for dog walkers insurance.


On the surface dog walking isn’t complicated. You come to pick up the dog and you return an hour or two later. But you should always have a contract with your customers. A simple document outlining outlining the agreed services, the terms including fees, payment schedules, and cancellation policies is a good practice.

Paying taxes

Even if you’re running a dog walking business as a side hustle, technically you’re running a business. It’s therefore a good idea to track all your incomings and outgoings and include those in your self assessment.


Building trust with your clients is essential for long-term success. Happy customers will recommend you to their family, friends and just about anyone in the community with a need for a dog walker. Always give due time to your customer relationships and don’t be afraid to ask.

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