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How to Start a Dog Walking, Pet Sitting, or Other Canine Business

Everyone loves their furry friends, with almost 70 percent of U.S. families (or 85 million households) owning a pet. Dogs are the most popular choice: over 60 million households are home to a canine companion.

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Business Startup Guides

    What Type of Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Should You Start?

    There are several different types of dog-related business you can start.


    Dog Walking Business

    This is probably the easiest type of canine-related business to get started with. You will need the skills listed above, some equipment, a car to get where you’re going and not too much else. A love of the great outdoors and awareness of what’s happening around you will be essential, as will dog relationship expertise.


    Pet Sitting Business

    Whether you take care of a dog while the family is away on vacation or you’re just needed on short notice, the life of a dog sitter can be a good one. You can combine this with dog walking, and the type of service you offer could vary from being a stay-at-home dog carer to just visiting pups a couple of times a day for food and toileting.


    Doggy Daycare, Boarding and Kennels

    If you want a step up from dog sitting, opening a specialized dog care facility could be a great option. Whether you look after canine companions for a few hours a day or offer complete room and board, dog parents need a kennel they can trust to look after their furbabies.


    Dog Grooming Business

    There are plenty of dogs with hair that need regular cutting, grooming and washing to stay healthy and beautiful. Dog groomers are places that a doggy parent can get their dog’s coat washed, nails trimmed, hair cut and other cosmetic changes. You could open a pet grooming location or travel to your customers’ houses.

    Validating Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Idea

    These are all great starting points, but you will need to build on them to make the business your own. You have unique skills and insight that you can use to create a dog walking or pet sitting business that will really stand out.

    You should already know the type of dog business that you’re best suited to. A combination of your canine and business skills, experience and expertise will steer you in the right direction.

    Whatever dog-related business you choose, it’s likely that you will have several competitors in your area.

    To stand out, you will need to build up a good track record and deliver superior canine services.

    Not every idea you have will make it through to becoming a dog walking or pet sitting business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific approaches, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a dog-related business you’d be great at.


    Identify your dog walking or pet sitting business’ unique selling points (USPs)

    Think about what you’re offering and how you make it unique. Perhaps you specialize in certain types of dogs, dogs that are behaviorally-challenged or dogs that really need to lose weight. Whatever area you decide on, work out how this sets you apart with doggy parents.


    Look at who your competitors are in the space band

    Dog-related businesses are extremely local, so it’s important to know who is offering similar services in the same geographic area. Once you know who your competitors are, see how you can further specialize your services and make them unique.


    Understand your market

    Clearly identify who your dog-parent customers are likely to be and exactly what they need. You will need to understand the best channels to reach them and the dog-related services that will appeal the most.


    Talk to clients

    Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your dog business, and validate this by asking if they would commit to spending real money on them.

    Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business Needs a Plan

    You might think that your dog-related business doesn’t need a plan, but you’ll find that a solid business model will help you become a success. A business plan will help you define how you’re going to run your dog walking or pet sitting business, market yourself, get sales, make a profit and grow.

    You need to establish your canine business plan and model now, which is how you will generate sales, provide services, and make money. It’s best to get your plans in place now so you can start acquiring customers and generating revenue from day one.

    Think about and predict financial projections for your dog walking or pet sitting business.

    What are your expected sales and revenues? What is your profitability? How much money will you keep in the business to grow it? How much will you pay yourself and others?

    Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:


    An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan


    Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your dog-related business


    A description of your dog walking, pet sitting or other business, including background information and context


    A market analysis and likely demand


    An overview of how your business is structured


    Your business model


    How you will market and sell your offerings


    Financial projections, revenue and profitability



    We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

    Right Business Structure

    Setting up Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business and Business Operations

    Once you've legally created your dog walking or pet sitting business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

    Location of your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting business

    Your business location depends entirely on the type of canine business you’re running. If you’re walking dogs, you only need a place to administer your business, like a small home office. If you’re running a doggy daycare or a groomer, you may well need a specialized facility. It’s best to start small so you can prove out your dog business before committing to longer-term, expensive leases, rents or fees.

    Marketing Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    Marketing will be a huge part of your dog walking, pet sitting or other business. Naturally, you will need an awesome website, but you'll also need to get branding, digital ads, social media accounts, and other channels in place. Most of your advertising will be local, and you may want to get involved with local animal shelters, dog events, and similar to get the word out.

    Software and Process

    The right software and processes will make running your dog walking or pet sitting business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide.


    To start with, you will probably be running your business by yourself. Don’t think about hiring anyone else until you have a good customer base and can afford to expand.

    Equipment for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting business

    Like the location, your equipment needs will vary depending on the type of business you run. A dog walking business might only need leashes, collars, and treats, whereas a groomer will need all sorts of specialized tools and products.

    Finances and Taxes

    If you’re set up as an LLC or corporation, you will need a separate business bank account for your canine concern. Additionally, you will also need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Bizee we can even help you file your taxes.

    The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

    A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

    Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    It’s possible that your dog-related business will need licenses, permits and regulations. You should explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs.


    Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

    As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

    Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    Most dog-related businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

    Workers Compensation Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    Workers compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining. If you don’t have any employees, you may not need this insurance.

    General Liability Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    This insurance protects your dog walking or pet sitting business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance could be essential to your dog-related business as you are dealing with unpredictable animals and in some cases may have members of the public coming to your place of work.

    Home and Auto Insurance for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    If you are working from home on the administration of your dog walking or pet sitting business or driving a vehicle for work, check whether your existing home and auto policies cover you for work use of your home or car. If not, you should either expand your policy so you’re covered or get dedicated business insurance.

    Maintaining Your Dog Walking, Pet Sitting or Similar Business

    There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your dog walking or pet sitting business in good standing.

    File an Annual Report

    Depending on the state you’re located in, you will probably have to file a report every year. This report tells the state about any major changes to your business, and we can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

    Pay estimated taxes

    You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September, and January (of the following year).

    Renew Business Permits and Licenses

    Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

    Prepare Your Taxes

    You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

    File Your Taxes

    You will need to file your taxes once a year.

    Pay Payroll and Sales Taxes

    If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

    Groups and Forums for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    Here are some useful places where you can connect with other dog walking or pet sitting entrepreneurs:

    Useful Online Tools for Your Dog Walking or Pet Sitting Business

    Here are some really great online tools for managing your dog walking or pet sitting business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

    Project Management


    Marketing Automation

    Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    Customer Support

    Human Resources

    Website Development

    Please note: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.


    If you can find a unique approach and open your canine business in the right area, there’s every chance of success. Explore different ideas for a pet sitting, dog walking, grooming, kennel or other business, and you’ll find the right one for you. Good luck!