The Costs to Start a Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business in 2024

Michael Grenier
Michael Grenier February 7, 2024

A Simple Breakdown Of How Much It Will Cost To Start Your Pet Sitting Or Dog Walking Company — Updated For 2024


Starting a new pet sitting or dog walking business can be an exhilarating 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, hanging out with amazing dogs and cats, growing your company, and having the financial freedom you've always wanted. While that's all possible, it is 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 you. While this can vary significantly from state to state and even city to city, we've put together a "ruff" guide to the average costs you can expect when starting your pet care business in 2024!

Use this guide to help you determine what it will take to start your business. Luckily, starting a pet care company can be relatively inexpensive compared to starting any other small business — especially when renting retail space, hiring a large team, or buying restaurant equipment is unnecessary!

What follows are a few basics that every pet care 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!

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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, hire a large team, or buy restaurant equipment!

What follows are a few basics that every pet care 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!

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Costs to start a pet care business:

Business Registration: LLC or DBA — $10 to $1000+

One of the first steps to starting a business is choosing its legal structure. Two of the most common structures are a DBA (operating as a sole proprietor or a partnership) or an LLC (short for limited liability company).

If you are looking to use a DBA structure, costs can run anywhere from $10 to $150, and they may be known by a variety of different names, such as an “Assumed Name,” “Assumed Business Name,” “Fictitious Name,” “Fictitious Business Name,” or “Trade Name.” Be sure to check your state’s rules and regulations surrounding registering your DBA business, as it can vary from state to state which departments you need to file your registration with. For example, some states require you to file it with the Secretary of State, while others require you to file it with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. They may even require you to file it with multiple departments, or the entire procedure may depend on the location of your business.

If you want to use an LLC structure for your business, costs can range from $150 to $4000+, depending on the number of different fees you need to handle, including business license fees, annual reports fees, filing fees, and more. While an LLC structure will cost you much more than a DBA structure, an LLC will offer you much more protection. As LegalZoom's team explains, an LLC is “a legal entity formed at a state level..that exists separately from its owners.” This means that the business owners will not be held responsible for any liabilities or business debts - instead, the LLC is ultimately responsible for those expenses.

LegalZoom is a great resource that can provide helpful information about both business types and help you set up your legal structure. We also have a great Academy article dedicated to picking the proper business structure for your pet care business that you can find here. We recommend doing some research to decide which business type is best for you and your company.

Bank Account — $0 to Varies

As you begin the process of starting your own business, it's a great idea to open up a bank account for your business that is separate from your personal accounts. NerdWallet is a great resource that can help you track down locations where you can open up a checking account that is truly free in your area. Having a different bank account for your business will make tracking expenses and taxes for your company much more manageable. For more information about opening a bank account for your business, we recommend taking a look at this article from the Small Business Administration.

Business License — $0 to $550+

The cost of obtaining a business license varies based on the state you live in, though on average, the price is somewhere between $25 to $550. In some states, however, you may not even be required to acquire a business license, while other states require multiple licenses or permits, depending on your business type. The Small Business Administration can help you understand what licenses are needed in your area. You will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to apply for a business license. It is free to register for an EIN – just go to the IRS Website and follow the instructions listed.

Professional Organizations — $0 to $500

While completely optional, joining an organization geared at pet care professionals like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) or Pet Sitters International (PSI) can provide many great resources geared to help new pet sitters support and grow their business. NAPPS offers a 10-day trial and costs $165 for a year-long membership. Some of the benefits of becoming a NAPPS member include access to certification programs, networking and referral opportunities, and a chance to purchase bonding and insurance at discounted rates. NAPPS also offers a variety of other memberships with differing pricing, depending on if you are an Employee/Independent Contractor or if you are a corporation, limited liability partnership, or limited partnership looking to join. PSI membership, meanwhile, is $150 per year (for US residents), with a $5 application fee for your first year only. As a member of PSI, you’ll have access to group-rate insurance and bonding coverage, access to free member toolkits and customizable forms, and you’ll receive a custom business page and link on the PSI Pet Sitter Locator that pet parents utilize.

Be sure to check out our Guide to Pet Sitting Certifications for more info!

Insurance — $139+

Pet Sitting Insurance is essential for a new pet care business. It not only protects you and your business, but it can also serve to protect your staff and clients, as well. In fact, many clients will ask if you have insurance during the onboarding process. Being able to say, "Yes, we are insured and bonded!" is a great selling point for any company, especially for a brand-new pet care business. Check out our Definitive Guide To Pet Sitting Insurance for a full breakdown of 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:

  • Business Insurers of the Carolinas — Providing coverage since 1992. Must be a member of NAPPS or PSI.
  • Pet Sitters Associates — Providing coverage since 1998. Pet Sitters Associates provides lots of options for pet care professionals, including a Business Listing service. Their basic membership price begins at $199 per year.
  • Kennel Pro — They offer three different packages - Silver, Gold, and Platinum - depending on your and your company's needs.
  • Pet Care Insurance — Offers products for many different pet care professionals.


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Website — $15 to $50

Building a website is essential for your pet sitting or dog walking business. Nowadays, the most common way prospective clients seek pet care services is by searching for them online. Without a website, clients won’t be able to review the details of your services or pricing before inquiring about your services and will be much less likely to reach out.

If you are more tech-savvy or have experience building a website, you can acquire your domain name (which will typically cost you $10 - $20 per year) and create a free pet sitting website using WordPress. This is the most cost-effective method, as hosting a website on WordPress usually comes around $5 - $15, depending on the type of website you are building.

If you need more help with building your website, there are lots of great tools like Wix and Squarespace for you to use that will cost anywhere from around $5 to $50 per month. Depending on the scale of your business and the website you are looking to build, this could cost upwards of $100 or more. While these types of sites are more expensive than making the website on your own through WordPress, they are very user-friendly, provide drag-and-drop website builders, and generally offer many resources for tips and tutorials to use while building your site. The Time To Pet Academy also has some great information on some "must-have" pages you should include on your website, including the About Us page, the Services page, and the Contact Us page.

Marketing Materials — $10+

Marketing is a critical aspect of any business, especially when you’re first beginning. There are many different ways to promote yourself, using both analog and digital avenues. Depending on the options you want to explore, the cost of attaining the necessary materials or creating ad campaigns on various social media platforms can vary.

Business cards are one of the easiest ways to market your new business. You can hand them out to friends and family and even give a few to new clients to share with their neighbors. Vistaprint is a very well-known resource for designing and printing out business cards, and it has a lot of templates to use, too. You can print out a hundred business cards starting at $17.99. They also have other marketing materials like magnets, flyers, pens, and more that you can create for your company. Canva is another excellent source that allows you to design various promotional materials for free, with many templates and tools to choose from.

You should also create your free business profile on Local Pet Care, a resource created by Time To Pet to connect pet parents with their local pet care professionals!

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 some valuable lessons and bits of information you can pass along to your staff (if you have any), but your new clients will really appreciate the fact that you are Pet First Aid and CPR Certified, as well. Pet Tech is a fantastic resource if you’re interested in learning about CPR and First Aid Care for pets, and you can also use it to find a class near you. If you'd like to take an online course instead, we recommend checking out PetProHero. For more information on pet first aid, take a look at our blog post, Pet First Aid for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters.

Supplies — $5+

You can’t run a dog walking or pet sitting without some crucial supplies! For newer businesses just starting out, whether you’re a solo venture or you have some staff, it’s always a smart idea to grab some of the essentials – poop bags, some spare leashes or leads, collapsible water bowls, and some dog treats. You can pick up all of these supplies from your local pet store. Depending on what supplies you want to pick and how many you think you will need, the budget you should allow yourself for supplies could vary wildly. You don't need to go overboard with supplies when you are just starting out, so just focus on getting the basics to keep you and your team afloat. Once you have spent some time in the field, you will quickly find out what additional supplies you are going to need! You'll also discover which ones you can leave at home.

Pet Sitting Software — 14 Day Free Trial

While you may not need pet sitting software just as you start your business — getting up and running with an efficient system early on can do wonders! Not only does it impress your clients, but it makes managing the many aspects of your growing business much more straightforward. Whether it be scheduling services, invoicing, managing staff, or communicating with clients, a good pet sitting software can help you streamline your processes. Plus, it's always better to start with software than to try and transition to it after your business has already taken off! Check out Time To Pet on a 14-day free trial to see how it can help you and your business today!

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Learn Some Tips Of The Trade — Free

The Time To Pet Academy is a great place to access free lessons on starting, growing, and managing your business. We have great lessons on how to track and manage your expenses, how to create a win-win referral program, tracking revenue and cash flow, and many more. You can also find a lot of equally wonderful information on the Time To Pet Blog. We’re always adding new content, so be sure to check back to both regularly!

Wrap-up

Starting a pet sitting or dog walking company can most certainly give you the lifestyle and financial freedom you are dreaming of! Most new business owners can start their company with less than $500. You just need to do your research and come prepared! We wish you the best of luck with starting your business!

Make sure to check out our Time To Pet Academy and Blog for more great resources.

Time To Pet is modern pet sitting software trusted by over 3,000 of the world’s most successful pet sitting and dog walking companies. We help pet care professionals start, grow and manage their businesses.

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