You’ve likely been managing your own personal finances for years, so it might be tempting to just apply the same principles you use for your personal finances to your business. But there are important differences to consider.
Working as a dog walker can be an exciting and rewarding way to make a living. People who love animals can find a lot of fulfillment in this field. But being a dog walker is a lot different than walking your pal’s puppy.
How do you become a professional dog walker? You handle business and safety logistics first.
Consider if Dog Walking Is Right for You
For many people, dog walking sounds like the perfect job. You get to spend your whole day interacting with dogs, after all! But while there’s certainly an element of play built into dog walking, it’s not all fun and games.
These are a few considerations to mull over before jumping into this career path:
Are You Okay with Working in Bad Weather Conditions? Dogs need to go on walks no matter what’s going on outside. Depending on where you live, this can mean working in rain, snow, extreme heat or cold, or other less-than-ideal conditions.
Do You Feel Comfortable Walking a Wide Range of Dogs? Some of the dogs you walk will be precious angels that want nothing more than your love and approval. But others will be more difficult. When you’re a dog walker, you’ll need to handle pets that come in a variety of sizes and temperaments.
Are You Able to Walk All Day, Every Day? Part of being a dog walker is having the capacity to be on your feet the entire day. Depending on where you’re working, this might also include walking or biking between client residences. It’s important to feel confident in your ability to be active all day long in order to do this job.
Determine How You Want to Do Business
Now that you know some of the basic questions to ask yourself before becoming a dog walker, you need to consider how you’ll build your clientele.
There are three main paths you can choose here: work for a large company, work for a local agency, or work for yourself. Each has its own set of pros and cons.
Working for a Large Company: There are a few organizations that provide dog walking services across the country. These typically provide workers with a lot of flexibility and will pay to bond and insure you. With that said, it can also be harder to get consistent work or personalized attention from a large company. Plus, they’re going to take a portion of the money made from each walk.
Working for a Local Agency: Small, local dog-walking agencies typically have much closer relationships with clients and know their markets quite well. They’re also going to provide more consistent schedules for their dog walkers. However, you’re still going to be giving up a significant portion of the money from each walk to the company, plus there’s not much room for professional growth on your end.
Building Your Own Dog Walking Business: You can also create your own dog walking business. This will require more work on your end, but provides much greater opportunity as well. You’ll need to take care of back-end things like structuring your business (such as forming a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company). You’ll also need to get a Tax Identification Number and General Liability insurance. The benefit of working for yourself is that you get to keep all your profits. And as you acquire new clients, you can even scale up in the future by adding employees.
What Supplies Do You Need to Walk Dogs?
Professional dog walkers need the right supplies to do the job at a high level. Some of these things are obvious necessities, but others might fly under the radar if you’re not a seasoned walker. These are some supplies you’ll need:
Leashes: Often, clients will provide you with a leash. But it’s always a good idea to have your own on hand.
Waste Bags: This is an essential if you’re walking dogs in a public place. You need to clean up anything left behind by the pups.
Treats: These can be a lifesaver if you’re in a situation where a dog isn’t being cooperative. Make sure you ask dog owners if there’s anything their pet can’t eat.
Water Dish: Some dogs are extremely susceptible to overheating. Bring a collapsible water dish with you so you can give dogs some water on hot days.
Reflective Clothing: Safety is a top concern when you’re walking dogs, especially at night. Wearing reflective clothing can make you more visible to cars.
Dog Walker Insurance: Accidents happen even to the most careful dog walkers. It’s essential you get insurance to protect yourself against costly liability.
What Insurance Do You Need to Be a Dog Walker?
When looking for dog walker insurance, you’re going to be getting what’s known as General Liability insurance. This type of insurance covers a wide variety of injuries and damages to property.
Think about all the things that could potentially go wrong when walking a dog: you’re entering someone’s home, which exposes you to accidentally breaking personal belongings. Then you’re taking their beloved pet out into the world, where you can’t control all variables. Animals sometimes injure other animals or people. You simply need to get insured if you’re going to be walking dogs.
What Does Dog Walker Insurance Cover?
The most important things General Liability insurance will cover are bodily injury and property damage. Without protection against these kinds of accidents, you may find yourself out of a lot of hard-earned money.
Here are a couple of examples of incidents where General Liability insurance for dog walkers will come in handy:
You’re walking a dog for someone and it bites a stranger that gets a bit too close. Dog walker insurance will cover medical costs.
A dog is really excited after coming back from a walk. You let it off the leash and it goes zooming around the client’s home—knocking over a tabletop full of expensive glassware. Your dog walker insurance will cover you if you need to repay the client.
How Do You Report a General Insurance Claim as a Dog Walker?
It’s important for you to do as much documentation of the scene as possible. This can involve taking pictures of broken items, getting names of individuals, and providing your Certificate of Insurance. You should also contact law enforcement if any form of crime has been committed in association with the incident.
Then, contact your insurer as soon as possible. There are some states that have a statute of limitations on how long you can wait to report a claim. To report a claim on your Thimble policy, you’ll want to contact our underwriting partner Markel Insurance Company. You can email email@example.com, call them at 800-362-7535, or fax 855-662-7535. These are some things you’ll need to provide when reporting a claim:
- Name, email, and phone number
- Name of policy holder
- Policy number
- Name of claimant (third-party)
- Date and location of incident
- Description of incident
- If applicable, the location of insured items
- Any other relevant documentation
How Long Does It Take to Get Reimbursement for a Dog Walker Insurance Claim?
Once your information and all supporting documentation have been verified, you’ll immediately receive your reimbursement. Just remember to submit all this information as soon as possible.
Being a dog walker can be a highly rewarding way to make a living. It’s just important you know what you’re getting into and prepare accordingly. Learn more about flexible dog walker insurance from Thimble today!
Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.