My Dog Ate My Money

How to Start Your Own Dog Walking, Training, Sitting, or Grooming Business

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How to start your own dog walking businessIt takes more than a love of dogs to run a profitable dog related business. Whether you want to be a dog trainer, have dog walker jobs, or provide a dog sitting services, you’ll find that the canines are the easy part of the job. The challenges will often come from being a business owner and working with the dog owners. Many dog businesses can eventually earn a yearly salary of over $100,000 a year.  However, that takes work, a solid business plan, and experience to make such a living in the pet service industry. To establish a dog business that is sustainable and pays you a living wage, you’ll need to start with an education and experience to give you a solid foundation to start a dog business.

College

As with any career, you will need at least some college courses to help you in caring for or training dogs as well as running the business. What courses you take will depend on what type of dog business you plan to operate. For dog training, courses in animal behavior and psychology will prove invaluable for working with the dogs and their humans. Biology, veterinary technician courses, and zoology will also be helpful in understanding the medical needs of dogs and how that can affect their behavior. If you want to become a dog groomer then look to professional dog grooming schools for your dog care education. Ask other dog groomers where they went to school to help you choose which one to attend.

In addition to dog care and behavior related courses, you’ll want to also take college business courses. Classes that can teach you how to write a business plan, business accounting, and marketing will be helpful. Also, if you are considering opening a nonprofit, such as a dog rescue, then take classes specific to running a nonprofit organization.

dog related business bookRead Books

When it comes to learning all of what you need to open and operate a dog-related business, don’t stop at just college courses. Many books can give you insight into dogs and specific dog businesses. Some books to read include “Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training” by Karen Pryor for dog trainers and “Pet Sitting for Profit” by Patti J. Moran and Michelle Boles or “The Real Poop Scoop on Pet Sitting: Create Financial Freedom Playing with Pets!” by Bonnie Best for pet sitters. With real life stories, “Going to the Dogs: Confessions of a Mobile Pet Groomer” by Jan Nieman will give those exploring dog grooming as a career a glimpse at what’s in store for them. By reading books on your dog business of choice, you’ll learn from the successes and mistakes of others. This will help you learn what to expect when running such a business and maybe avoid some of those mistakes.

Gain Experience

You can’t have a successful dog business without hands-on experience no matter how much education you have. The academic background will give you the foundation for understanding dogs and how to do the job, but applying that knowledge takes practice and experience. Before starting any dog business, first get paid or volunteer experience working at a dog groomer’s, animal shelter, pet rescue, or with a local dog trainer.

Certification

Many dog business owners can get a certification in their field showing that they are a professional with experience. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Animal Behavior Society, and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants all offer various certifications for dog trainers. The National Dog Groomers Association of American has certification programs for dog groomers. For any of these certifications, you will need to have completed certain educational classes and have experience in the profession.

Getting Clients

Even in a down economy, people still spend money on their dogs. This makes providing services to dog owners a good market to get into. However, if you are not well prepared for the business side of things, your dream job may not give you the income you need. Approach starting up your own dog related business as you would any other business, with education, experience, and a plan, and you will greatly increase your chances of having a successful dog business that you enjoy.

Click here to learn more about starting up your own dog related business for profit.

*Top photo by Kristine Paulus, Flickr

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