June 8, 2023
So many people around the UK own (and love!) their dogs, but struggle to find the time to give them exercise. This is especially the case in recent years, where many families bought dogs during lockdown, but now can’t give them the same time and attention as they’ve returned to regular work.
As a result, there’s never been a better time to start a dog walking business. It can be a lucrative endeavour if you get it right, and can help you pursue work that you really enjoy. However, there is much to consider in terms of the money you bring in, and the money that will have to go out before you can accurately assess your earnings.
In this guide, we’ll explore how much dog walkers charge, how much you can earn as a dog walker, and some of the expenses to watch out for.
Generally speaking, you should be able to charge between £10 and £15 per hour for walking a dog. But the amount a dog walker charges can vary, depending on where you are in the country. As is the case in many lines of work, operating in or near London generally means higher rates, in order to mitigate the higher cost of living in the south-east of England.
As the National Living Wage is £10.42 per hour for the 2023/24 financial year, this may not sound like a particularly attractive level of earnings. However, you can multiply these figures by walking several dogs at the same time. It’s important to assess how many dogs you can comfortably and safely walk in one go, as well as the size and temperament of the dogs involved.
As with any business, there are many different factors that mean that you won’t be able to keep hold of all the income you generate. When you’re considering how much to charge as a dog walker, you should also take into account costs in these areas:
You’ll incur many expenses in the course of your business activities, from dog treats and toys to food and drink for yourself, as well as the cost of transporting dogs to and from different places. These expenses are generally tax-deductible, helping you recover some of the cost, but you’ll still need to spend out on them first.
A certain proportion of your turnover will have to be paid to the government in the form of income tax and national insurance. How this will work depends on whether you’re operating as a sole trader (in which case you’ll need to submit a tax return) or as a limited company. In the case of the latter, this guide to limited company tax can help you understand all your tax implications.
Connected to the previous point, you may want to consider hiring the services of an accountant to take care of all your tax and finance paperwork and obligations. Not only can this free up some of your time and make your job less stressful, but can actually end up saving you money if they can find ways to make your affairs more tax-efficient.
While you don’t need any formal qualifications to set up a dog walking business, they can be useful for improving your skills when out on a walk, and showing off some credentials to impress potential customers. But whatever qualifications you pursue, there will naturally be a cost for any courses you undertake – although these may well help you earn much more in the long run.
Every dog walking business needs to get their name out there, and this requires investment into marketing over an ongoing period of time. This includes minor spending like website hosting, and major commitments like leafleting or advertising. As with the business expenses mentioned above, any spending here is also considered tax-deductible.
Your business may grow to the point where you can employ other dog walkers to work for you. That’s great news as it means you’ve made your business a real success, but it also comes with several extra costs to take into account: employee wages, Employers’ National Insurance contributions, employers’ liability insurance and more.
There are specialist dog walking insurance policies that can protect you and your business in the event of a claim being made against you. These policies can often be taken out on monthly payment plans but can give you peace of mind, as well as financial back-up if something untoward happens.
Dog walking insurance isn’t a legal requirement, and because of that, it can be tempting to leave it out in order to cut costs, especially if finances are tight. However, this can end up doing much more harm if unforeseen circumstances arise. These could include dogs jumping out in front of pedestrians, cars or cyclists; a dog attacking another animal; or someone tripping on a lead and hurting themselves.
These are just three of the possible mishaps that can easily happen – and all of them could lead to a substantial claim for compensation. Without insurance, you can find yourself with a sizable bill to pay if the claim is successful, and in the worst-case scenario, your home could be at risk if you’re struggling to cover the cost.
That’s why dog walker insurance is vitally important, and why Protectivity covers dog walking businesses like yours with comprehensive policies. For as little as a few pounds a month, we can make sure you don’t end up out of pocket if you face a claim, vet bills, or if you’re unable to work yourself due to injury. Our policies also include public liability insurance, and ‘Care, Custody and Control’ cover, so that both you and your business can grow with confidence and reassurance.
Take a closer look at our dog walking insurance today and find a wide-ranging policy at a price that suits you.