Professional dog walking is an increasingly popular business. In order to be a professional dog walker, you need to have dog walker insurance.
Dog walking is a great way to earn some extra money and have some fun with animals, but it is also a risky occupation because you are often in close contact with dogs who may have fleas, diseases, and other health issues, or they may attack you, other dogs, or passers-by.
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You should ask your doctor for a list of suggested vaccinations if you want to be a professional dog walker.
The first step is to take out dog walker professional insurance, and then find out if you need to get the certification in the state, county or town where you will be working as a dog walker. You can find online courses that will teach you how to become a professional dog walker.
What are some common concerns when considering becoming a professional dog walker?
Some common concerns when considering becoming a professional dog walker are
- What will the weekly schedule be like?
- How much does it cost to start a business?
- What are the main legal requirements for a professional dog walker in your location?
- Health insurance
- Workers compensation if you employ other people to walk your customers’ dogs
- Will you lose eligibility for any federal or state benefits?
- Will you have any job security as a dog walker in my area?
When you consider becoming a professional dog walker, one of the first questions that should come to mind is what your weekly schedule will be like.
If you are looking to make enough money for more than just your phone bill or groceries, then you’ll need to work a lot of hours each week – which can be tough if you are a full-time student.
As a general rule, a professional dog walker should work at least five hours per day, with an average of three walks per day.
If you love dogs and want to make money as a professional dog walker or pet sitter, you should know a few things.
A professional dog walker should work at least fifteen hours each week. Suppose you’re looking to make money as a professional pet sitter. In that case, you’ll need to be available to visit the pets during both daytime and nighttime.
How much do Part-time Professional Dog Walkers earn on average per year by state?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wages for professional dog walkers are $14.50 per hour or $29,000 annually. The state with the highest average hourly wage for a part-time professional dog walker is Alaska at $19 per hour. At the same time, Mississippi has the lowest average hourly wage at just $11 per hour.
Should I be insured if I work as a part-time dog walker?
If you work as a part-time dog walker and you are not a professional pet care provider, then you should carry insurance. This is because the responsibility for the animal’s well-being falls on you and if anything happens to them, such as getting injured or stolen, it can result in heavy financial losses.
The definition of what constitutes a part-time dog walker may be different in your locality. You should check with the relevant authorities. In most towns, it is someone who walks for a minimum of 2 hours per day, or ten hours per week and is walking more than two dogs at one time.
If this is your situation, then it is recommended that you carry insurance to cover any potential risks associated with your job and also pay attention to the other requirements we listed above regarding general business registrations for tax, license and workers’ compensation..
You may think that the risks of not being a licensed and insured dog walker are not worth the cost of the insurance premiums. However, this is not true. The risks of not being licensed and insured are high. For example, if a dog bites you or causes an injury to someone, you will be liable for any damages.
What are the benefits of being an insured and certified professional Dog Walker?
There are many benefits of becoming an insured and certified professional dog walker. For example, your clients will feel more comfortable with you knowing that they have some form of protection in case something happens while the pets are with you. Your clients also tend to have more trust in you, which is a great benefit. This should lead to:
- Better communication with clients
- More secure and stable business
- Lower liability risk
- Improved customer service
How Can You Become A Professional Dog Walker?
There are two main ways to get going as a professional dog walker. Suppose you are prepared to commit some money and time. In that case, you can set up a small business and do the necessary steps of registering yourself with the employment and tax offices in your state, get an advertising campaign going, and maybe have to wait for the work to start to flow.
This is the way to go if you are serious about becoming a professional dog walker.
There is an alternative, which you could use as a way to overcome some of the expenses and time delays before the income starts flowing, and that is to work for a dog walking company that is already operating in your town.
If you love dogs, need some extra income, but can’t commit to working full-time, then working for a commercial dog walking company can be a great opportunity for you to make some money without going into any establishment costs, which involves investment in advertising, buying equipment and all the other up-front expenses of starting a new business.
You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment and gear. Instead, you can become a dog walker without spending a fortune on equipment or training. Some of the steps include:
- Ask if there are any dog walking companies in your area
- Ask friends and family if they know of any dog walking companies
- Apply for the position with a company
- Sign a contract with the company
Whatever you choose to do, the right way for any professional dog walker to operate is to take these steps:
- Sign up for professional dog walker insurance
- Make sure you are working in a way that complies with federal, state and local regulations (such as requirement for business license, income tax registration, dog walker’s license or certification, etc.)
- Agree on a schedule with customers, specifying hours to be worked and dates and times
- Each dog walking session will involve taking these steps:
- Travel to the location of your job
- Call the dog owner a few days before your first day. The owner might have specific instructions for you like feeding times and walking times
- Get to work when you are scheduled to start so you can get acquainted with the dogs and their routines
- Try different strategies with different dogs until you find a successful one
- Communicate with the dog walkers who have worked with these dogs before, and with the owners
- Give feedback to let owners know which of your strategies and methods are working best
- Make sure you have everything, including food, water, and treats for the animals when leaving on a walk
How much insurance should a professional dog walker take?
You need to buy insurance for your dog walking business.
The amounts you are requiring will vary depending on many factors, including:
- Location of walking (example: country walks are more risky than walks in established urban parks)
- Type of dogs you are walking (small dogs are less risky, but highly pedigreed animals mean more significant risk regardless of size)
- Maximum number of dogs you will be handing on each walk (more dogs at one time means more risk)
- Frequency of walking jobs
- Whether you will do any nighttime walks
- Are you going to transport dogs from homes to walking places in your auto or van
The most likely kinds and levels of insurance that a part-time dog walking business will need are:
- Commercial vehicle cover: Minimum is third-party damage, but you should also cover the replacement cost of the vehicle
- General liability insurance: $1,000,000
- Professional liability insurance: $50,000
- Pet care insurance: $25,000
- Business continuity insurance: $10,000
These general guides indicate what types of cover you should look for and the minimum levels. It would be best if you talked to a professional insurance broker or agent to find out what recommendations they are making, and get a few quotes from different companies.
It’s important to not always automatically take the cheapest quote. Make sure to read the terms and conditions and see if any clauses would prevent a claim you make from being valid.
A few short notes explaining these insurance types:
Vehicle insurance if you use your auto or van in any commercial operation like transporting pets or their owners. By taking out commercial vehicle insurance, you will be able to get much higher levels of cover than for private vehicles, going as high as $1 million in most states. Third party vehicle insurance is mandatory in most states with minimums of coverage for bodily injury and property damage.
General liability insurance is necessary to protect you in cases of injury or damage to third parties. It’s usually known as “trips and falls” insurance, because those are the most frequent kinds of claim. Suppose you are running a group of dogs on their leashes, and a bike rider coming down the path doesn’t see one of the leashes stretching across his way.
If he falls and suffers some injury or damage from the fall, he can sue for damage, pain, suffering, and other such losses.
General liability claims can be big, involving thousands of dollars even for a minor injury, and could go up into many millions for any claims involving serious personal injury.
Importantly, in case of the matter going to court, the costs for defense are borne by the insurance company, so you don’t have to find the money for lawyers to defend yourself.
Professional liability insurance is also called E&O (Errors & Omissions) insurance. It covers you in case a claim comes from a customer that you made some mistakes or omissions when you were delivering your services as a dog walker.
If a dog in your care gets injured, bites another dog or person and as a result has to be destroyed, or even gets lost, you can be sued by the dog owner for actual loss, like in the case of a valuable pedigreed dog, or emotional damage for the loss of a beloved pet.
Professional dog walkers have a ‘duty of care’ so that the services that they provide are properly performed. Suppose the customer claims that you acted without the necessary care and due diligence. In that case, it can end up in court, where the cost of defense can be extremely high. Without insurance you will have to pay for the complete defense yourself, even if you win.
Business interruption insurance covers you if something happens that may temporarily force you to close down your operations. This may stop the flow of income from your planned activity and leave you without any way to meet all of your expenses.
Pet care insurance is a type of policy that covers owners of animals in case of loss, sickness or injury.
Pet care insurance provides coverage for the owner of a pet, as well as for professionals who care for pets. If you are wondering whether or not as a part-time pet walker you should carry this insurance. The answer to this question is complicated because there are pros and cons to carrying it.
For professional dog walkers, some of the established insurance companies offer the same benefits, but it is generally much more expensive than for private owners.
This is again a case of not simply choosing the cheapest policy you find on the internet. Make sure that you have told the insurance company that you are working as a professional dog walker.
Some extra benefits are often included in such policies, like for lost keys in cases where you have had to pick up dogs from their homes when owners aren’t around and you have been entrusted with the keys.
Part-time insurance cover for professional dog walkers
Most insurance companies sell their cover on an annual basis and calculate the premium to cover the full 12 months of risk.
Suppose you are not going to be working as a full-time professional dog walker. In that case, short-term business insurance by the week or month may be a good option because you probably don’t have enough continuous work to justify full premiums for a whole year.
Temporary insurance coverage provides insurance for a designated period of time, a single week, up through one month or several months. Suppose you are a college student in need of some activity and some income during a long summer vacation and start dog-walking to keep yourself occupied and pull in a few dollars each week.
Because you are then engaged in business, you are personally liable for any claims of damage or loss. It is essential for your peace of mind and financial security to have basic liability insurance.
Temporary insurance is more expensive on a day-to-day basis compared to full-year cover. The reason for this is that insurance companies load their policies with administration costs coming from the work it has to do in creating the policy, like registering and processing it.
It’s the same as when you hail a cab, and the flag-fall starts at a couple of dollars no matter how far you are traveling. You will then pay for the mileage or time. An insurance policy comes with its own flag-fall cost that is the same whatever the length of the period of coverage.
So for example, a one-week policy starts off with a premium of about 10-15% of a full year’s cover even though you are only getting cover for about 2% of the year.
It is especially important when the period is very short, like a week or one month, so that the difference between the cost and the period of cover becomes a factor.
Temporary insurance for dog walkers is around but beware of special exclusions or conditions and check what the company does cover.
The length of the period when you need cover is the main factor determining the cost. For a policy for one month where the same policy would cost around $1000 for the full year, you can expect to pay $160 – $180.
The key feature of temporary insurance is that you pay for cover in a specific and defined period – a range of dates on the calendar, like a week or a few months starting on a specific date – like for two months beginning on the first of July at the beginning of the summer break.
The level of cover is the same as if you were running your dog walking business full-time, but the costs are lower in total if you take out a short-term policy.
Are there any regulations for professional dog walkers?
The National Association of Professional Dog Walkers (NAPDW) was founded in 1979 to promote the professional and ethical practice of dog walking.
NAPDW is a nonprofit organization that provides insurance for its members, as well as education and training for all professional dog walkers.
The NAPDW Code of Ethics spells out the professional and ethical standards that all members are expected to follow. The Code is a set of guidelines for professional dog walkers. It provides standards that member organizations agree to follow, which in turn requires those members to meet certain standards set by their local regulatory agency.
The National Association of Professional Dog Walkers is a voluntary organization.
What are the requirements for dog walkers in some states?
In Pennsylvania, in order to become a licensed professional dog walker, you will need to complete an accredited course in animal behavior and have at least two years of experience working with dogs.
You will also need to pass the National Association of Professional Dog Walkers’ (NAPW) exam and register as a certified member of NAPW.
In Florida, a person is not required to be licensed as a professional dog walker unless they intend to work for hire and charge customers for their services.
The state of Florida does not require any licensing or certification for professional dog walkers. However, the state does require that all animal owners carry liability insurance. This insurance covers injuries inflicted by their animals, including bites and scratches.
In Georgia, a person is not required to be licensed as a professional dog walker. However, the state does require that all animal owners carry liability insurance.
The state requires professional animal handlers to wear a badge on their clothing to identify them as such.
In Massachusetts, anyone who wants to be a professional dog walker needs to have a license issued by the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources. They also need to follow all state and local laws and regulations related to pet ownership in order to be eligible for that license.
So, in the City of Boston, anyone who is walking more than two dogs at a time must have a license. The license is free and you can apply for it online. There are no requirements for insurance coverage if you are walking less than two dogs at the same time.
The state of California requires that a professional dog walker must obtain a license from the county or city in which they live and work. This license is called a “Peddler’s Permit.” Contact information is available on the local government office’s website.
A Peddler’s Permit is required to walk dogs in California, but the requirements vary by city and county.
For example, some counties require a business license and others do not. Some cities require that you register with the Health Department, while others do not. Peddlers must also complete a course in animal behavior and animal training.
Getting a dog walking license in the San Francisco area is not too difficult. The cost is $75 for an annual license and $150 for a two-year license.
The next step is to go to the city’s website and search for “dog walking” or “pet care” licensing information to locate the website that will handle your application.
Your application requires proof of insurance and an application fee.
In order to get licensed as a professional dog walker in New York City, you need to have a license from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
You must also be at least 18 years old with no criminal record. The application process for the license is not difficult, but it does require that you provide your Social Security Number and submit fingerprints for a background check.