The Costs to Start a Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business
A simple breakdown of how much it will cost to start your pet sitting or dog walking company — updated for 2020
Starting a new pet sitting or dog walking business is an incredibly exciting time! You've decided to turn your love of pet care into a career, but it can be easy to get lost in the dream of being your own boss, growing your company, and having the financial freedom you've always wanted. While that's all possible — it's important to take it one step at a time. And one of the very first steps you should consider when starting your pet sitting or dog walking business is figuring out how much it will cost. While this can vary significantly from state to state and even from city to city—we've put together a "ruff" guide of the average costs.
Use this guide to help you determine what it will take to get your business started. Luckily, starting a pet care company can be relatively inexpensive compared to starting any other small business—no need to rent retail space or buy restaurant equipment!
What follows are a few basics that every pet car provider will need. After that, the rest is up to you. It's entirely possible to start a dog walking or pet sitting business with nothing more than a cell phone, computer, printer, and some poop bags!
Costs to start a pet care business:
LLC or DBA— $10 to $500+
One of the first steps to becoming a business is choosing your legal structure. Two of the most common structures are a DBA (operating as a sole proprietor or a partnership) or an LLC. The costs can vary based on the structure you choose and the state you live in. Legalzoom provides lots of helpful information about both types and can also help you set up your legal structure too. Do some research to decide which is best for you. An LLC will cost more, but it offers more protection.
Bank Account —$0 to varies
It's a great idea to have a separate bank account for your business. NerdWallet can help you find some truly free checking accounts. Having a different bank account for your business will make tracking expenses and taxes much more manageable. Here is some information about opening a business bank account from the Small Business Administration.
Business License — $0 to $400+
This varies based on the state you live in, and you may not be required to obtain a business license at all. The Small Business Administration can help you understand what licenses are needed in your area. To apply for a business license, you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It is free to register for an EIN, just go to this IRS Website and follow the instructions.
Professional Organizations — $0 to $304
While totally optional, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International (PSI) can be great resources for a new pet sitter. NAPPS offers a 10-day sneak peek and costs $149 for a year membership. PSI membership is $145 a year, with a $10 application fee for your first year only.
Insurance — $129+
Pet Sitting Insurance is essential for a new business. It not only protects you but also can protect your clients. A lot of clients will ask if you have insurance as well. Check out our Definitive Guide To Pet Sitting Insurance for a full breakdown on what Pet Sitting Insurance includes and a link to some providers.
Several providers offer Pet Sitting Insurance in the United States, but the four major providers are:
- Pet Sitters Associates — Providing coverage since 1998. Pet Sitters Associates provides lots of options including a Business Listing service
- Business Insurers of the Carolinas — Providing coverage since 1992. Must be a member of NAPPS or PSI.
- Kennel Pro — Offering three different packages.
- Pet Care Insurance — Offers products for many different pet care professionals.
Website— $15 to $50
Building a website is essential for your pet sitting or dog walking business. Clients look for pet sitting services online, and they expect to be able to review your website before deciding on your services. If you are more tech-savvy—you can acquire your domain name (about $10) and create a free pet sitting website using Wordpress and only pay for your hosting (around $5/month). If you need a little more help—there are lots of great tools like Wix and Squarespace that will cost you anywhere from $5 to $50/month. They cost a little more, but they very user-friendly, providing drag and drop website builders.
Marketing Materials — $10+
One of the easiest ways to market your new business is with business cards. You can hand them out to friends and family and give a few to new clients to share with their neighbors. Vistaprint is very well known and has lots of templates to use too. They also have other marketing materials like magnets, flyers, pens, and more.
Pet First Aid Class — $50 to $200
Attending a Pet First Aid Class is an excellent idea for a new pet care business owner. Not only will you learn lots of valuable lessons, but your new clients will really appreciate the fact that you are Pet First Aid and CPR Certified. Pet Tech is a great resource, and you can also find a class near you too. If you'd like to take an online course — check out PetProHero too! For more info on pet first aid, take a look at our blog post, Pet First Aid for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters.
Supplies — $5+
Next up is supplies. It's always a smart idea to have poop bags, a spare leash, a collapsible water bowl, and maybe a couple of dog treats. You can pick up all of these supplies from your local pet store. You don't need to go crazy with supplies when you are just starting out. Once you spend some time in the field, you will quickly find out what additional supplies you need!
Pet Sitting Software — 14 Day Free Trial
While you may not need pet sitting software just as you are starting your business— getting up and running with a great system early can most certainly help. Not only does it impress your clients, but it makes managing your growing business much easier. Plus, it's always better to start with software than to try and switch after your business is already big! Check out Time To Pet on a 14-day free trial to see how it can help your business.
Learn Some Tips Of The Trade — Free
The Time To Pet Academy is a great place to access free lessons on how you can start, grow, and ultimately manage your business. We have great lessons on how to track and manage your expenses, how to create a win-win referral program, how to track revenue and cash flow, and many more. You can also find a lot of great info on the Time To Pet Blog.
Starting a pet sitting or dog walking company most certainly can give you the lifestyle and financial freedom you are dreaming of. Most new business owners can start their company with less than $500. No wonder so many people are starting pet care companies! Good luck!