How To Start A Dog Walking Business? A Step-By-Step Guide

Olivia Carter

Updated on:

how to start a dog walking business

Dog walking is a big business in the USA. In fact, anyone can open this business from home and earn a lot of money. Understandably, the amount of money you earn will depend on your location, the number of dogs you walk daily, and the number of persons on your team if you decide to hire others.

Between 38 per cent and 45 per cent of households in the United States had pet dogs by early 2020. It is estimated that there are over 89 million pet dogs in the US, with some households owning more than one canine.

According to recent surveys or reports from reliable sources such as the American Pet Products Association (APPA) or the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the figure could have risen during the Covid-19 pandemic and later since owning dogs and other pets are considered as excellent stress busters and help fight loneliness.

This means a dog walking business can succeed fairly well in the US and earn you a decent profit.

Therefore, if you want to open a superb yet easy home-based business, consider dog walking. In this article, I will describe in detail how to open a dog walking business.

No Qualifications Necessary

You don’t need any special educational qualifications to open a dog walking business. This means anyone with even basic education or a school degree can open a business. And it’s a low-cost business, too, meaning you can open it with very little or even no investments.

In the USA, there are no specific educational qualifications required to start a dog walking business. Unlike some professions in the pet care industry, such as veterinary medicine or grooming, there are no mandated educational or certification requirements for dog walkers.

However, it's important to note that having knowledge and experience in handling and caring for dogs is highly beneficial and can help you provide a quality service. While not mandatory, obtaining relevant education and certifications can enhance your credibility, increase client trust, and differentiate you from the competition.

Dog Handling Courses are Available

There are various educational programs, courses, and certifications available that can provide you with valuable knowledge and skills related to dog behavior, safety, and care. 

Some organizations offer courses specifically tailored for dog walkers, which cover topics such as dog handling techniques, basic training, pet first aid, and CPR. These programs can equip you with the necessary tools to handle different dog breeds, understand their body language, and respond to potential emergencies.

Additionally, joining professional organizations or associations related to pet care, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) or Pet Sitters International (PSI), can provide access to resources, networking opportunities, and educational materials that can help you improve your dog walking skills and stay updated on industry best practices.

While not a formal educational qualification, demonstrating a commitment to learning and staying informed about the latest trends and techniques in dog care can positively impact your dog walking business and enhance your professional reputation.

Income from Dog Walking Business

If you’re wondering how much money you could earn daily or weekly or monthly, here’re some figures about dog walking business.

The average fee or rate for dog walking services in the USA can vary depending on various factors such as location, duration of the walk, number of dogs, additional services provided, and the level of competition in the area. It's important to research the local market in your specific area to determine the prevailing rates.

In March 2023, the average rate for a 30-minute dog walk in the USA typically ranged from $15 to $25. However, in major cities or areas with a high cost of living, rates may be higher, ranging from $20 to $30 or more for a 30-minute walk. Rates for longer walks, such as 60 minutes or more, tend to be proportionally higher.

Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and actual rates can vary depending on various factors. Some dog walkers may offer discounted rates for recurring clients or provide package deals for multiple walks per week. Additionally, rates for additional services such as pet sitting or transportation may be separate and can vary based on the specific service provided.

It's essential to research the local competition, understand the level of demand, and factor in your costs, such as insurance, transportation, and equipment, when setting your rates. It's also a good idea to remain competitive while ensuring that your pricing allows for a sustainable and profitable business.

Demand for Dog Walking Businesses in the US

There is a significant demand for dog walking businesses in the USA. This is all the more reason why you should consider opening a dog walking business.

Many dog owners lead busy lives, work long hours, or have physical limitations that prevent them from giving their dogs the exercise they need. As a result, they often rely on professional dog walkers to ensure their pets get regular exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation.

Furthermore, dog owners recognize the importance of maintaining their dogs' health and well-being, and regular exercise is a crucial aspect of that. Dogs need daily physical activity to stay happy, healthy, and mentally balanced. When owners are unable to fulfil their dogs' exercise needs, they seek the services of dog walkers to bridge the gap.

The demand for dog walking services is particularly high in urban areas where many people live in apartments or condos with limited outdoor space. In these settings, dogs often need dedicated walking time to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and engage in physical activity.

Additionally, the increasing number of dual-income households and the rise in pet ownership have contributed to the growing demand for dog walking services. Many pet owners consider their dogs as family members and want to ensure they receive proper care and attention even when they are away.

However, it's essential to research your local market to understand the level of competition and the specific demand in your area. This will help you tailor your services and marketing strategies to effectively attract clients and meet their needs.

Dog Walking Business v/s Apps

Since the US is a huge market for dog walking and pet care, there’re several apps that allow owners to find dog walkers and pet sitters in their area. Two such popular apps are Rover and Woof.

However, these apps have certain limitations when compared over a dog walking business. Therefore, your dog walking business could cash on these limitations of apps and try to get more clients that wish to walk their dogs or care for them.

A dog walking business in the USA can offer several benefits compared to using apps like Woof and Rover. Here’s a list of such benefits:

1. Personalized Service: When hiring a local dog walking business, you can establish a personal relationship with the dog walker. You have the opportunity to meet and communicate directly with the person responsible for walking your dog, discussing specific instructions, preferences, and any special needs your dog may have. This personalized service allows for better understanding and care tailored to your dog's individual requirements.

2. Consistency and Familiarity: A dog walking business typically assigns a specific dog walker or a small team of walkers to handle your dog's walks regularly. This ensures consistency and familiar faces for your dog, which can provide a sense of security and comfort. It allows the walker to get to know your dog's personality, behaviour, and preferences, leading to a better overall experience.

3. Customized Services: A dog walking business can often provide additional services beyond just walking, such as pet sitting, feeding, administering medication, and basic grooming. They can tailor their services to accommodate your specific needs and provide comprehensive care for your dog.

4. Local Knowledge and Flexibility: Dog walking businesses that operate within a specific area or neighborhood often have a deep understanding of local parks, walking routes, and dog-friendly establishments. They can utilize their knowledge to provide varied and stimulating walks for your dog. Additionally, local businesses may be more flexible in accommodating last-minute requests or schedule changes, ensuring that your dog's needs are met.

5. Enhanced Trust and Accountability: Engaging a local dog walking business often offers an additional layer of trust and accountability. Many reputable businesses have insurance coverage, certifications, and established protocols for safety and emergencies. They may also have reviews and testimonials from other local clients, allowing you to assess their reliability and professionalism.

While apps like Woof and Rover can be convenient for finding dog walkers, they may not always offer the same level of personalized service, consistency, and local expertise that a dedicated dog walking business can provide. Ultimately, the choice between using an app and hiring a dog walking business depends on your preferences, the specific needs of your dog, and the level of service and attention you desire.

How To Start A Dog Walking Business in the USA

A dog walking business in the US is a service-based business that provides professional dog walking and pet care services to dog owners. The primary focus of such a business is to exercise and care for dogs while their owners are at work, away from home, or unable to walk their dogs themselves.

Dog walking businesses typically offer various services, including individual or group dog walks, pet sitting, feeding, administering medication (if required), and basic grooming. The business may also provide additional services, such as pet transportation to veterinary appointments or grooming salons.

To start a business in dog walking in the USA, one typically needs to follow certain steps:

1. Research and Planning

Understand the local market, competition, and potential demand for dog walking services in your area. Develop a business plan, including the target market, pricing, services offered, and marketing strategies.

2. Legal Considerations

Check local regulations and licensing requirements for operating a pet care business in your state or city. Obtain any necessary permits, licenses, and insurance coverage to protect yourself and the pets in your care.

3. Training and certification

Consider getting certified in pet first aid and CPR, as well as completing any relevant dog training or handling courses. This can help build credibility and reassure clients of your expertise.

4. Set Up Your Business

Register your business name and obtain a tax identification number. Establish a different bank account for your business finances. Create a professional website or social media presence to showcase your services and attract clients.

5. Marketing and Advertising

Utilize various marketing channels to promote your dog's walking business, such as online advertising, local directories, flyers, and word-of-mouth referrals. Offer incentives for client referrals to encourage growth.

6. Build Client Relationships

Provide excellent customer service and ensure the safety and well-being of the dogs in your care. Maintain open communication with clients, addressing their concerns and keeping them updated on their pets' activities.

By establishing a reliable and reputable dog walking business, you can provide a valuable service to dog owners while pursuing a career in the pet care industry.

Legal Requirements for Dog Walking Business

The specific legal requirements for opening a dog walking business in the USA can vary depending on the state and local regulations. However, here are some general steps and considerations you should keep in mind:

1. Business License: In most areas, you'll need to obtain a general business license to legally operate a dog walking business. Contact your local city or county government to inquire about the necessary licenses and permits required in your specific area.

2. Insurance: It is highly recommended to obtain liability insurance for your dog walking business. This type of insurance can protect you in case of accidents or injuries that may occur while walking dogs.

3. Business Structure: Decide on the legal structure for your business, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). Each structure has different legal and tax implications, so it's advisable to consult with an attorney or accountant to determine the best option for you.

4. Zoning and Permits: Check local zoning regulations to ensure that operating a dog walking business is permitted in your chosen location. Some areas may have specific requirements or restrictions for businesses that care for animals. Additionally, you may need to obtain permits related to animal care or operate from a commercial space instead of a residential area.

5. Training and Certification: While not always a legal requirement, obtaining professional training and certification in dog handling or pet first aid can enhance your credibility and provide reassurance to potential clients.

6. Compliance with Animal Laws: Familiarize yourself with local animal laws and regulations, such as leash laws, vaccination requirements, and restrictions on the number of dogs that can be walked at once. Compliance with these laws is essential for the well-being and safety of the dogs in your care.

7. Contract and Policies: Create a contract or service agreement that outlines your terms and conditions, including liability waivers, cancellation policies, and any additional services you provide. Consult with an attorney to ensure your contract is legally sound.

It's important to note that this is just a general overview, and the specific requirements can vary from state to state and even within different cities or counties. It is recommended to research and consult with local authorities or a legal professional to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations before starting your dog walking business.


If you love pets, especially dogs and have enough knowledge about handling all sorts of canines, I suggest that you open a dog walking business at the earliest. It’s a business that you can open with almost zero capital or at a very low cost. Advertise in your area about the dog walking business to drive more customers to your enterprise. You could also do some word-of-mouth publicity for your own business Iin your area to attract more customers.

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