Dogs need their exercise, but not everyone has the time or the capabilities to walk their dogs every day. Having someone who can walk your dog when you can’t means your dog still gets the exercise they need. That’s why professional dog walkers exist: People pay them to take their dogs for the long walks they need to stay healthy and happy.
How to Become a Dog Walker
There’s more to walking dogs than simply holding the lead. You’re asking dog owners to trust you with their beloved family pets. This means you must be prepared to look after your dogs’ wider wellbeing. You don’t have to be a fully-qualified vet. But you do have to be able to make dogs happy, to protect them from danger, and to ensure that all the dogs in your care get along.
So in short, to be a dog walker, you have to really love dogs!
There’s no one way to become a dog walker. But here’s a great guide to the sort of steps you might need to take if you want to become a professional dog walker. There are lots of tips for getting your foot in the door and building up your reputation, plus lots of information on what you might expect from the dog walking life.
A good initial step to take would be to join the Professional Dog Walkers Association (PDWA). This costs money, but it will prove to potential customers that you’re safe, reliable, and trustworthy. The PDWA can also help you to establish your dog walking business, as they’ll list you in their online directory. Head here for more information.
Also take a look at the Dogs Trust Professional Dog Walker Guidelines, for an idea of the sort of precautions you’ll have to take, and the sort of regulations you’ll have to follow. Find them here.
Some dog walkers work locally, walking dogs from homes within walking distance. But if you want to really make a living as a dog walker, you’ll need a large client base spread across a larger area. For this, you’ll need some transport. And when it comes to transport, a van will serve you better than a car. And don’t forget that if you are transporting dogs to and from different locations, you will need to add business use to your vehicle insurance policy.
One other thing that is essential is your business insurance. You may want to look into buying Public Liability insurance which is very important cover for dog walkers in case someone is injured or their property harmed because of your business. This is not covered under a van insurance policy.
Why Dog Walkers Need Vans
There are many reasons why professional dog walkers should choose vans, instead of cars:
- Safer, and More Practical – It can be dangerous to travel with dogs in cars. But if you set up a few dedicated enclosures in the back of your van, you’ll be able to safely transport multiple dogs at a time. They’ll be secure and comfortable, and as you’ll be able to work with numerous dogs at any one time, you’ll be able to make more money.
- Brand and Reputation – You’ll look more professional and trustworthy if you drive around in a secure branded van than you will if you just drive around in your own car. Plus, there’s more room to write your contact details on the side of a van which is great advertising for your business. In short, simply driving a van might be enough to help you win more clients.
- Growth Opportunities – An effective way to grow any business is to branch out and start offering additional services. It means you can stand out from your competitors, and it means you can start charging your clients more, and delivering more too. With a few modifications to your van, you could quite easily transform your dog walking service into a more elaborate dog grooming service.
What Sort of Van is Best for a Dog Walker?
Your van must be big enough for you to transport several dogs at a time in comfort and safety, but not so large that it’s going to cost you a lot to drive. Its interior must be suitable for all the modifications you’ll need to make – cages, vents, heaters and, if you want to start offering grooming services, showers and dryers.
Here’s a few models you could check out:
- Vauxhall Combo – There’s lots of room in the back, so you’ll have all the space you need to make those essential modifications. The Vauxhall Combo also prides itself on its suspension, promising a smoother ride than you might expect from a van. This, of course, will make things extra comfortable for your dog passengers.
- Ford Transit Connect – It’s big, but not too big. So you’ll be able to comfortably transport around eight dogs at a time, but you won’t struggle to park and manoeuvre in crowded urban environments. This could make the Ford Transit Connect the ideal choice for the city-based dog walker.
- Citroen Berlingo – This one’s available with a sliding side door, which will come in very handy if you ever want to convert your dog walking business into a dog grooming business. You can keep all your dog crates and cages in the back, but keep a dedicated grooming area in the front.
Van Insurance for Dog Walkers
We offer comprehensive van insurance at a great price. You can also choose optional tool cover, which will give you an extra level of protection should you ever want to start offering grooming services.