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dog walking business ideas marketing

Dog walking or Pet Sitting Business Ideas – So, I was at the dog park the other day, when an entrepreneurial young lady (maybe home from college for the summer?) casually introduced herself and mentioned that she had a dog-walking / pet sitting business with her mom.

Very cool, but the important part was that she asked if I’d like a postcard with her business details and a coupon. Very friendly, and not pushy. If I had gotten it in the mail, I might have overlooked it, so the minute she spent talking to me made a big difference.

Awesome, because three days each week my wife and I can’t get home to walk our dog, so she has a long stretch at home alone.

Anyway, when we got home I checked out her website, (on Facebook) prominently displayed on the front of the postcard, saw photos of her with happy-looking dogs, read a couple of customer reviews, and decided to be her customer. After all, I’m a big fan of coupons, and her postcard offered 20% off the first 5 visits for dog walking.

dog walking business

Dog Walking – A Sweet Little Business Idea

So, we’re in the suburbs, but I know in cities dog-walking can be a huge business, especially for couples who both work. (There’s a dense population of potential customers, and we’ve all seen a lady walk by in the city with about 5 dogs at once)

So, currently I’m paying this girl $15 three times a week to walk our dog, and each visit is for about 20 minutes. Works great for us, and for her.

Multiply that by 8-10 customers, and that’s some good cash for a college student, or a great incentive to grow bigger. In this case, if she gets bigger, she can hire friends to handle some of the dogs, and take a % off the top. Well, if you’re an entrepreneur, you know how the rest goes!

dog walking postcardsPet-sitting postcard template from Vistaprint

Ideas for Marketing Your Dog Walking / Pet Sitting Business

I’m not a marketing pro, but I do have a laptop, and motivation. In this case, there are really just a few things you’d need to start a dog walking business of your own:

  • Geography + Math – Dog walking and pet sitting makes the most sense when you can make the most of your time. That’s why you should find clusters of dogs in the same area, and ideally walk multiple dogs at once. Hey, if you’re walking around the block, you may as well double or triple your profit
  • Networking & Trust – Dogs are like children to most people, and you don’t just find people to watch them in the yellow pages or online. Also, a dog walker or pet sitter probably needs access to your house; maybe even their own key. The best networking in the dog walking / pet sitting business occurs by word of mouth and referral.
  • Marketing- Think Small & focused – Due to the importance of trust, you should look at starting a dog walking / pet sitting business differently. All the advertising money and SEO in the world can’t buy trust, so don’t rely on it for new customers. Remember, this is a business where you’ll get new customers face to face, or through referral. Also, don’t spend too much of your profits on gasoline or road tolls!
  • Marketing Offline – Design a postcard or catchy cheap business cards that prominently displays your website and a phone number. In this case the postcard or business card will give people something tangible to remember you by, and the website will give them supporting info and hopefully close the deal. Check out a cheap online printing service like Vistaprint (click here for coupons) where you can get a lot for $20 or less!
  • Marketing online – Remember the importance of referrals! Casting too wide of a net, like distributing a press release isn’t of use to you; that’s why you have to have a presence on social media. Be sure to keep your Facebook page fresh; let people know how much you enjoy your job, and maybe even take pics of the dogs on your walks in town or the city.
  • Postitive Reviews – Encourage customers to “like” you on Facebook, (which can serve as your main website) which can be just as good as getting a referral when their friends see that they liked you. Also, encourage customers to write a review for you on sites like Yelp if you are listed. Be sure to look for any bad reviews and address them, as that could kill your fledgling business!

dog walking_postcardsDog walking postcard template from Vistaprint

Dog Walking & Pet Sitting; A Great First Business

People always think of a lemonade stand as people’s first experience with pure capitalism, but a dog walking or pet sitting business can really blossom into a true full-time or side business.

The great thing about the time we live in is that you can come up with an entire online and offline marketing plan for about the price of a tank of gas!


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shutterfly custom dog tags

hello my name is sticker

actually very helpful!

Fun “Hello My Name Is” Dog Tags: (available from Shutterfly) It was just a few nights ago that I was filling out my “Hello My Name Is” sticker at my son’s “back to school” night. At first it seems silly to be filling out one of these and sticking it to my shirt, but they are so useful!

How else am I going to remember the names of parents that I see twice a year? Not to mention, these were probably a god-send to the poor teacher who had to mingle with 50 parents that night!

Origin of the “Hello My Name Is” Stickers

The thought occurred to me that these handy little stickers have been around for a long time, so I took to Googling them. Turns out they’ve been around since first being introduced by the “C-Line” company in 1959, and are now apparently popular with graffiti artists who use them as tags. (who knew?)

Hello My Name Is for Dogs (and cats)

shutterfly dog tag hello name

dog_tag_funny_customWhile investigating the “Hello My Name Is” stickers, I also came across dog tags with the same iconic design; pretty cool! Not only are these tags highly functional (also has your phone # on the back) but also a great ice-breaker at a dog park. (Especially if you’re single!)

Tip: If you get one at shutterfly.com, definitely choose one of the marker fonts like “Andy, Felt Tip Roman, or Kidprint Bold,”  for the best hand-written effect.

If you use a coupon for Shutterfly, these are only about $6 each, and are easy to add to any photo order if you don’t want to pay for shipping.

Anyway, I’m terrible with both human and dog names, so anything fun that helps me out is always welcome!

Speaking of dog parks, if you are single, you can get a free 7-day trial for match.com from the same site!


jennifer lawrence dachshunds

jennifer lawrence

jennifer lawrence

Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) recently revealed to David Letterman about her Dachshunds role in the bullying that her brothers, Ben & Blaine, subjected her to.

She told Dave, “When I was doing the gymnastics phase, they used to pin my feet back behind my head – I can’t do this anymore – and then they would get our dachshunds and put peanut butter all over my face,” she said. “We had three dachshunds and then the dogs would go crazy licking… And then they’d shut the door, lock me in the basement with dachshunds.”

Letterman later added, “I’m going to make two calls, Jennifer. The first one will be to Amnesty International, and the second one will be to Dick Cheney. I think we have something here. It might replace water boarding, that little dachshund deal.” (Watch the interview here)

Well, it looks like she turned out OK. Speaking of The Hunger Games, I’m thinking the characters might inspire a whole new group of dog names. (Remember how Twilight made “Bella” a popular pet name?) Here are some good potential dog or cat names inspired by The Hunger Games: Katniss, Effie, Cinna, Gale, Glimmer, Primrose, Peeta, Clove, Thresh, Octavia, Flavius, Rue, Venia, & Cato. Also, I think “Caesar Flickerman,” or “President Snow,” might just work for a cat!


paris hilton chihuahua

paris hilton w/ chihuahua

Native UK Dog Breeds at Risk – Well, maybe it’s not as dramatic as Noah choosing which species would survive the great flood, but it’s a trend that would certainly make Darwin lift an eyebrow.

According to recent Kennel Club statistics, Britain’s native dog breeds at now at risk in part because demand has shifted to more fashionable breeds showcased by celebrities.

25 dog breeds including the formerly popular English Setter (England’s oldest dog breed) are now considered vulnerable (extinction risk) because of low registration numbers.  Registrations for English Setters have dropped by a third since last year, (only 234 registrations in 2011) while registrations for breeds like the Chihuahua have increased by a quarter.

cardigan welsh corgi puppy

cardigan welsh corgi puppy

This demand for celebrity dogs can also give breeds whose numbers are dwindling a boost. Consider the fact that registrations for the Cardigan Welsh Corgi (a favorite of the Royal Family) soared by over 130% after the Royal Wedding in 2011, enabling the breed to be taken off the vulnerable list. (let’s hope they are still cared for in a few years)

In a related twist, I couldn’t help but notice another headline in today’s news: Sumatran Elephants close to extinction. Maybe we could get Paris Hilton to walk an elephant down Rodeo drive, causing THEIR numbers to rebound!

More: View BBC video: UK Native Dog Breeds at Risk (2:34)

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