Who is it suited to?
Dog walking is a very flexible business to go into. Although a background working with animals is preferable, it’s not essential, and as long as you are confident around dogs, it shouldn’t be a problem.
But William Taylor, from the National Association of Registered Petsitters (NARP), says it’s important to have had some kind of experience with dogs, even if it’s just as an owner.
“If you’ve had a background looking after animals then that’s great, but having owned and cared for animals for as long as possible is very important.”
He says although there is good money to be made in the industry, looking after other people’s pets carries a high level of responsibility.
“The responsibility is somewhat larger than a lot of people think. I suppose some people see it as earning a bit of extra cash but it is a professional job. You have to look after people’s houses as much as you do their pets. You hold their keys and there are obvious responsibilities that come with that.”
The Kennel Club’s guidelines for people working with dogs advise ‘strong interpersonal and communication skills’, as well as ‘a high level of fitness’ and, naturally, ‘an affinity with, and understanding of dogs’.
You will also need all the usual entrepreneurial skills – from a being able to balance your books and fill in your self-assessment tax return to a basic knowledge of marketing and an ability to network and negotiate with people in your local animal industry.