Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Dog Walking Business in the United Kingdom
Despite a possible recession in the UK on the corner, it’s clear that Brits are big spenders for pet products. According to recent studies, the Brits spent over 12 billion pounds on pet-related products in 2018. Starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom is a viable business, especially if you’re passionate about dogs. Again, the industry is in high demand and has a moderately low barrier to entry. If you’re seeking to start a company, we will look at company registration in the United Kingdom process.
Here’s a guide on starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom.
1. Industry Practice
According to studies in the UK, the demand for dog walkers is on its high. Many people who have to spend more time at work always leave their pets behind. Therefore, they require dog walking services to keep their dogs active and healthy when they’re not around. In the UK, an average dog walker charges 17 pounds per hour. This rate is higher than the average salary for most people in the UK. Besides that, the initial costs are lower and the potential of generating increased profits in a short time.
With a projected 8.5 million dogs in the UK, dog walking seems like the quickest and simplest businesses to start. If you’re that person that loves the outdoors, modest exercise and the company of dogs, then this is your niche. Therefore, when starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom, you must employ those that love being around dogs. The business involves picking up dogs in the morning and heading to parks or other unrestricted places. The dogs may run around for an hour, participating in various activities under your watch. You can always decide on how many dogs you can handle in one walk or session. In the afternoon you can choose to take them to a different location or park.
While doing this, you’ve to remember that every dog is different, and your prime job is to keep them safe. It would be best to have some physical stamina and understand dog behavior, and dog first aid know-how.
2. Business Registration Process
Starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom is relatively easy if you’re passionate about dogs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a profitable dog-walking corporate service provider in the UK.
Carry Out Market Research
Before you start, you must first understand the market. For you to do so, you must conduct market research to identify your target audiences and competitors. You can get such information from the internet or your customers. The moment you have the correct information, you can put it down in a specific niche that you feel comfortable with.
Secure Business Insurance
The liability for the client’s dog is wholly the responsibility of the dog walker. To cushion your business from such liability claims, you must take up a dog walking insurance policy. The policy will cover not only the public liability, but it will attract more opportunities.
Compute Startup Costs
Some of the costs you might incur in a dog walking business are insurance, registration, and marketing expenses. Marketing expenses may probably take a more significant chunk of the startup costs. However, you can find some inexpensive ways of marketing your business that would still attract clients. Some of the direct costs would include the following:
you can consider paying approximately 80 to 150 pounds per year on insurance. This will cover against claims from members of the public or injury.
Criminal background check
This is one of the costs that may not be compulsory but cannot be avoided if you’re planning to grow your customer base. Most people may not do business with you if you don’t have a police check certificate. You may incur a cost of around 30 pounds to obtain this certificate.
Business Cards and Fliers
you can target your customers through fliers and business cards. Depending on the community you’re living in, you may print a couple of thousand flyers at a minimal cost.
Register Your Dog Walking Business
you can decide to register your business as a sole trader, company, or partnership when starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom. The Companies House is the department responsible for the registration of company incorporation services in the United Kingdom. You must always ensure that you have all the required documents. Your business must have a name that people can always contact through. If you find that you do not have time, you can always contact 3E Accounting for assistance.
Design a Business Logo
once you have your business name registered, you can design a professional business logo to boost your business opportunities.
Invest in Professional Dog Walking Gear
To look more professional, you need to invest in neat dog walking apparel. These may include embroidered gilets, windbreakers, waterproof winter parka, and collars.
Develop a Business Website
to showcase your offer’s services. You can easily do so through a website. Nowadays, people search for information over the internet, and having an online presence will give you an upper hand. You can go further and promote your business through paid ads, content creation, posting on social media platforms, among others.
Find Your Niche Market
To distinguish yourself from the crowd, you can find a niche within the market. By carrying out market research, you can see the various niches that you can explore. For instance, you can consider providing a pet sitting alongside dog walking. Again, you can also include grooming or training services as part of diversifying your business.
3. Licenses, Permits, and Regulations
There are few regulations targeting dog walkers in this dog business, but you must have public liability insurance. As a beginner, you must deal with dogs injuring other dogs or the public while in charge. Having the proper insurance to cover any legal claims is vital in this business. If you decide to use your premises to offer the services, you might also consider broader pet business insurance.
One thing that would be beneficial is joining the trade association and the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers (NARPS). What you’ll gain from such associations is support and advice on dog walkers’ insurance and training and a clients’ confidence boost from your membership.
The NARPS would require you to conform to the fundamental regulations such as:
- Convene a meeting with owners before the first booking
- Limit the number of dogs walked to not more than four at a time.
- Maintain records of all work undertaken
- Guard client’s personal information
As an entrepreneur planning on starting a dog walking business in the United Kingdom, it’s essential to have an inclusive framework. The framework should cater to the dogs’ welfare, maintain a healthy environment, and offer an enjoyable working experience for the dog walkers. With that in mind, let’s look at the laws that you should be aware of as a business owner.
- The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005: You’re guilty of a fine of up to 1000 pounds if you fail to clean up its feces or fail to keep a dog on a lead on allowing a dog to enter a restricted area.
- The Control of Dogs Order 1992: all dogs must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address when in a public place.
- The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991: the Act is against the law for a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ in a public place. According to the Kennel Club, a situation of a dog chasing or barking, jumping up at a person or child that could lead to complaints should be put under control.
- The Road Traffic Act 1988: at all times, dogs should be on the lead on the roads. If a dog is accidentally injured in a car accident, the driver involved should stop and give their details to the dog walker.
- Dogs Act 1871: the law counts it as an offense if a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control. It means that the dog is not on a lead or not muzzled. The law becomes active wherever an incident happens.
Would You Be Required to Have a License to Dog Walk in the UK?
Now, in the United Kingdom, it’s presently not necessary to have a dog walking license, qualification, or certification. Nevertheless, obtaining a license or not will depend on the nature of your dog walking business. For a dog walking business, you’re not obliged to have a permit. However, if you incorporate the boarding of dogs, you will have to get a license from your local council.