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Become a Dog Walker to Earn Fun, Flexible Income for Your Family

By Tamara Gilmore of PupJobs.com

Dog walking is a hot commodity, and it’s a perfect work opportunity for busy parents.  As a dog walker you can flex your schedule to meet your own family’s needs while providing a valuable service to pet owners.  Here’s how to get started!

Start-up is simple.

 One of the benefits of dog walking is it costs very little to start your business.  As The Balance Careers points out, some areas require you to register your business, and you should consider paying for insurance coverage for your new venture.  Discuss your personal situation with an attorney, tax preparer and/or accountant to ensure you cover your bases.

Organize time and money.

 In order to effectively run any business, you should develop a method for tracking finances.  Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be complex.  For instance, you can open a designated credit card for all business expenses. There are a lot of options available and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.  Fundera offers a terrific reference list of cards by category to help figure out which is the best for you.  Just like your money, you need to organize your time and sticking with a simple plan can be your best option.

Employing a time management app is an easy and effective way to make sure your days don’t get away from you.  By keeping your schedule on your phone, you can even carry it with you while you’re exercising a client’s pooch and make any changes or additions to your calendar.

When looking for the right side hustle, it's always important to find something you love. Become a Dog Walker to Earn Fun, Flexible Income for Your Family

Learn and grow.

Before you jump in too far, some experts recommend getting some training.  If you never ran a business before, attending courses at a community college could help give you insights into managing your affairs properly, such as customer service, scheduling and bookkeeping. 

Familiarity with dog behaviors is also a boon.  Preparation and learning will help if you need to handle a dog with issues such as fear aggression or social anxiety.  You should study fundamentals of dog training and behaviors so you are equipped to handle situations as they arise. And speaking of growing… you and your dogs will grow healthier with your new active-lifestyle business!

Toot your horn.

Another part of your start-up process is to market your new venture.  Take steps to get the word out with some simple tools, such as business cards and flyers.  There are often bulletin boards in local pet and hardware stores.  USA Today suggests creating a website to promote your new dog walking business as well. 

Another idea is to take an ad out in your local paper, join a dog walking service like Rover, or just post something in Craigslist.  It helps to decide on a target audience and develop your marketing plan around that group.  For example, if your schedule is going to work best with midday walks while your kids are in school, and your community has a substantial 9 to 5 population, that could be your perfect fit.  Create your advertising with that target group in mind.

When looking for the right side hustle, it's always important to find something you love. Become a Dog Walker to Earn Fun, Flexible Income for Your Family

Branch out.

 Many dog walkers decide to add pet sitting to their repertoire of services.  It’s a way to add more income and embrace another segment of the population you might not otherwise reach.  If you do that, you should consider carefully which part of the house will be most practical for dogs coming and going, and whether your yard is set up appropriately.  It’s also another item to discuss with an attorney or accountant, as there are insurance and tax benefits and drawbacks with bringing other people’s dogs into your home.

Hot dog, you’ve Become a Dog Walker!

  Becoming a dog walker can be a great way to enjoy man’s best friend.  Grab some tools to keep things simple, make sure you’re trained in the right areas and market your venture appropriately.  It’s a great opportunity to balance your family life and offer a fun service that can flex around your schedule!

Tamara Gilmore is a dog walker and business consultant. She also created pupjobs.com and is author of the upcoming book, Bow Wow Business: All the Stuff You Need to Know to Become a Successful Dog Walker.

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