There’s one truth we hold to be self-evident: where there are dogs, walks must follow. And if you’re breaking into the dog-walking world, you’ll need a few essential supplies to do the job well. Start with these seven must-haves for professional dog walkers.

What Are the Essential Dog Walking Supplies for Professionals?

As with any profession, dog walkers need to have the right tools in order to do their job. While these aren’t going to be the same things you’d need to work in an office, stocking up on these essentials is going to make things much easier, and help you prepare for any situation Fluffy or Fido throws at you. The same advice goes for pet groomers and pet sitters.

Here are seven professional dog walker supplies that can make all the difference:

1. Good Leashes: A leash is something you need for every dog walk. Even if your client’s pup is fine off the leash, you’ll still want to bring one along just in case. Usually clients will provide you with a leash to walk their dog. But not everyone has a high-quality leash. Especially when you’re walking someone else’s dog, you need to ensure the leash won’t slip out of your hand or have any kind of malfunction—like a loose clip. Bringing your own leash eliminates these variables.

2. Biodegradable Waste Bags: Disposable bags for picking up after dogs are another item you need to have as a dog walker. Again, some owners will provide you with these. But this isn’t always going to be the case. You need to bring your own on every walk to cover any surprises that occur. Some cities and towns will even fine people who are found not picking up after their dog, which would be a big blow to your earnings. Opting for biodegradable bags is also a much better choice for the environment.

3. Dog Walking Bag: As a dog walker, you’ll need to carry a lot of supplies along with you. Treats, poop bags, water, a water dish, a dog whistle, lights, a first aid kit, and potentially other items as well. You need to get a dedicated carrying device in order to keep all these things handy. Some people choose to use a backpack, but this isn’t always convenient. A large fanny pack, which is more easily accessible on the fly, can be extremely helpful to the professional dog walker. You can even attach leashes to your pack for safety if you’re walking many dogs at once.

4. Water and Dish: Just like us humans, dogs need water. This is especially true on hot summer days when dogs can overheat out in the sun. Certain breeds are more susceptible to this, which makes it even more important to carry water and a dish with you. You can get a collapsible container that folds up, making it easy to stow away in your bag.

5. Lights and Reflective Clothing: In an ideal world, all dog walks would be done on a beautiful, sunny day. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case. Part of being a dog walker means you need to work in all kinds of weather, and sometimes at night as well. Depending on your location, this can create hazardous situations for you and the dog. Getting lights and reflective clothing can help drivers, bikers, and runners see you while walking dogs in rain, snow, or in the dark.

6. Dog Whistle: You don’t run your dog walking business in a vacuum. While out in the world, you’re going to encounter other dogs and people who will do unpredictable things. For example, an aggressive dog might charge at you. Or, the dog you’re walking might get aggressive if scared by something happening around you. Having a dog whistle or another kind of noise-emitting device for dogs can distract them and give you a chance to act.

7. Dog Walker Insurance: You don’t want to think about things going wrong when you’re out walking a dog. But it’s imperative that you’re prepared for all situations. Having dog walker insurance is a no-brainer for anyone working in this industry. Being covered will give you peace of mind, while also protecting you against a range of insured accidents. You’ll want to keep a Certificate of Insurance—either physical or digital—in a convenient place. Many people won’t even let you walk their dog unless you can provide proof of insurance. Make sure you keep your insurance current; otherwise, you can be held liable for claims of bodily injury or property damage to third parties.

What’s Covered by Dog Walker Insurance?

As a dog walker, you’re going to be getting some form of General Liability insurance. This is a type of insurance designed to protect businesses and independent contractors from having to pay claims out of pocket in the event of an accident.

When you have General Liability insurance as a dog walker, you’re going to have two main coverage areas: incidental bodily injury and property damage. It’s essential for you to safeguard yourself against liability for these things. Here are two examples of situations where dog walker insurance can come into play:

— You’re walking a client’s dog when a stranger comes up to you and bends over to pet it. They startle the dog, which turns around and bites the individual. With dog walker insurance, you’ll be protected from being liable for bodily injury—including the steep costs of medical bills, lost income, and physical therapy.

— You arrive at a client’s house to begin a dog walk. The dog is extremely excited to get out of its crate. When you open it, the dog runs out and knocks over several fragile objects—breaking all of them. You won’t be on the hook for property damage if you have insurance.

How Do You Report a Dog Walker Insurance Claim?

It’s important you know how to report a claim. If you don’t do this in a timely manner, it’s possible you won’t be able to get reimbursed for damages arising from an accident.

You’ll need to get these things together when you contact the insurer:

• 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

Share this information with Thimble’s underwriting partner, Markel Insurance Company. You can email, call them at 800-362-7535, or fax 855-662-7535.

You’ll be compensated as soon as all your information is confirmed. This is another reason why it’s so important to provide complete, accurate documentation in a timely manner.

How Much Does Dog Walker Insurance Cost?

When you get dog walker insurance through Thimble, you’re going to have several affordable options available to you. You can get rates as low as $5/hour, $7/day, and $10/month — all with no deductible — for $1 million in coverage. No matter the duration, you can get a plan that fits the needs of your dog-walking operation.

If you’re going to be a dog walker, you should be professional about it. Getting these essential supplies will make your job safer and more secure.