Dog walking can be a fun and profitable business. It nets you fresh air, exercise and, best of all, playtime with dogs.
As a pet sitter, I offer dog walking as one of my services. But when I started my business, one thing I didn’t realize was that there are actual certification courses.
Some of the courses are online, so you can do them right from your home. Besides, with all those dogs to walk, who has time to go to a class?
What You Learn
The webpage for International Association of Professions (IAP) Career College’s dog walking certification states: “You will learn what a dog walker does, how to develop your skills to succeed in a dog walking career, how to start your own dog walking business and how to market your dog walking services.”
Universal Class also offers a pet sitting and dog walking course. By the end of the class, you should be able to:
- Identify whether a pet care business is right for you
- Describe preparation and training
- Know business plans and methods for protecting yourself
- Know the forms every pet sitter and dog walker should have
- Describe your equipment and vehicle
- Describe marketing your pet sitting/dog walking service
- Know how to find new clients and keep existing ones
- Describe handling difficult clients
- Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher
Considering the difficulties in starting up any kind of new business, this is handy information to have.
Why Get Certified?
Competition is fierce out there. According to the Small Business Administration, roughly 50% of small businesses fail within 5 years, and only 1/3 make it to 10 years. So everything you do to market yourself and nurture your dog walking business matters.
Certification also allows you to market yourself as being recognized by a legitimate institution as a knowledgeable practitioner in your field. This can boost your business by:
- Giving you an edge over competitors
- Assuring clients that you take your job seriously as a dog walker
- Allowing you to possibly charge more than competitors for your services
There are a few cons to consider when deciding whether to attend a dog walking certification course. The biggest, of course, is cost.
Running a small business entails a lot of time wondering how you’re going to pay the bills and if this is actually going to work (trust me, I know). Costs for this kind of certification can range well into the hundreds of dollars. Only you can decide if this is something your business can afford to pay and if the projected benefits will outweigh the costs.
This man found his calling as a dog walker in New York:
It would be nice to know if the course you’re shelling out hard-earned money for is worthwhile. You want a course that will teach you valuable skills, not one that simply offers a piece of paper at the end.
A good dog walker certification course will not only teach you skills that you can apply to dog walking, but also help you manage the business end of things. For example, IAP Career College says it will teach you how to start out on a budget and handle difficult clients.
Research your chosen course and provider carefully, and always read reviews.
If dog walker certification isn’t within your means at the moment, it’s a good idea to table it for now and make it a future goal. There are other things you can do to beef up your résumé in the meantime, including:
- Learning pet CPR; check with local veterinary offices and animal nonprofits to see if they offer a course
- Running a background check on yourself and offering to let clients see it
- Collecting references from happy clients whenever possible
Dog walking certification classes are a good way to learn valuable skills to help you start your business and may even help draw in new clients. Just make sure to explore all your options and do your research before choosing a course.