Operating a business in the pet industry is tough no matter what you’re doing. One especially tough business to run, however, is a dog walking business. Partly because it just sounds so fun! I mean think about it, walking dogs for a living? Sign me up!
I’m here to tell you that it’s not all puppy kisses and rainbows – sorry! Today let’s discuss the many problems there are with owning a dog walking business, so you’re prepared should you choose to open one. P.S. – Running a pet sitting business (yes there IS a difference) is NO walk in the park either, but that’s another blog for another time.
The Problems With Owning A Dog Walking Business
In a dog walking business, you’re going to be doing the same thing at the same time on the same days, consistently. Dog walks are usually Monday through Friday in the middle of the day. Most of the time your clients are at work, so they won’t need you on the weekends.
You might be thinking “Guaranteed income every single week? Sounds good to me!” And that definitely IS a good thing! But as a dog walking business you’re going to be missing out on what’s considered the cash cow of pet sitting businesses – holidays. Unless your clients choose to take a vacation, they will be home on the major holidays and won’t need your services. So ultimately you’ll be missing out on those holiday upcharges, which can be a really big boost for small businesses.
Hiring Is Hard
Hiring for a dog walking business is different than hiring for any other type of company. You’re looking for a very specific person to work very specific hours. People that work a 9 – 5 or even students in class all day won’t cut it. You’ve got to find people that are available in the middle of the day, Monday through Friday. This is tough because not a lot of people have this type of schedule. Set your focus on the retirees, stay at home moms, or people that work from home. That pool will likely be your niche.
In addition to availability, you’ll need to hire people that are tough physically and mentally. Hiring a sweet little old lady may not work, because your four-legged clients may overpower her. People that are in physically strong condition are a must. Another factor that comes into play is the weather. Dog walkers have to be tough and endure all types of weather including rain, intense heat, extreme cold, storms, snow, etc. Trust me when I say it’s a challenge to find someone that is willing to brave all of those elements.
Losing One Client Can Be Devastating
In a dog walking company, every client is your bread and butter. For pet sitting companies this isn’t so much the case, unless it’s someone that books consistently all the time (which isn’t the norm). But for dog walkers, almost all of your clients are dailies. So when you lose a client, or a dog gets injured, or even a reduced schedule can be a big hit on the business. This is why it’s so important to always be working towards bringing new clients on board!
Not All Companies Stand Out
And not for the reason you think. Even still today there are so many business owners that do not know the difference between a pet sitting company and a dog walking company. This is why you’ll see dog walking companies that moonlight as pet sitting companies and don’t call themselves what they really are. Don’t be this person 🙂
Overall, running a dog walking company can be super rewarding. It definitely can be fun work, but there are stressors that come along with it just like any job. Once you have your model figured out along with your systems and processes, there are lots of opportunity for time off and “hands-off” managing. The problems talked about here are just a few downsides to starting your own business, but like I said, everything has pros and cons!
If you’re interested in starting your own dog walking company, be sure to check out this guide I created specifically for you here.