Balance July 2018 - 21

HELPING HOUND

the manua l

So you want to be a...

Dog walker
Your pathway to becoming a highly-desired hound handler

A

career toolkit
TRAINING

An Association of Pet Dog
Trainers (APDT) accreditation
will give you an edge over your
rivals. Courses start from
£1,375

COST

Depends entirely on scale. For
local walks you'll need leads,
poo bags and wipe down towels
as well as insurance. For a
bigger set-up, a van and cage
facility is vital

career change is often linked to job satisfaction
or (in all honesty), money. So isn't it wonderful
to find a possible career path that offers both,
with added doses of mindfulness and wellbeing? Dog walking
isn't for everyone (those who don't like dogs, for example), but
something once only associated with unskilled labour provides
a good opportunity to make decent dough, especially in the
capital with doggie day care's prestige price tag.
If money is the key motivation, some good news: a Direct
Line survey revealed dog walkers earned on average 17% more
than the national average wage. Possibly even better news is
up-weighting for London is stronger still, allowing a capital
canine carer as much as 100% more (depending on area). Start
up costs can be negligible; for example, buy your own leads to
avoid loss or damage to an owner's favourite. You'll need a lot
of treats, all-weather gear, business cards, secure key holders
and insurance (which covers dogs and keys for properties you
access). Some parks also require permits for four dogs or more.
Day care and sleepovers carry high returns and some people
prefer their dogs to be looked after in their own homes, which
offers a premium. For larger ventures, renting or leasing a field
allows for extra clients, but requires larger outlay with vans,
fencing and additional staffing, as well as somewhere to shelter
should the Beast from the East choose to return.
The downsides? Sub-zero and pouring ? You need to be there.
You'll also be constantly picking up poo and be comfortable
with potential bites, fights and scratches being commonplace.
After all, your hellhound is someone else's puppy love.

TIMELINE

POINT OF VIEW

Three months can see a good
set-up from initial marketing
to making money. Do your
research on areas too, as what
you can charge will vary

RESOURCES

ILLUSTRATION: RAMI NIEMI

A website is essential, but it's a
business that still relies heavily
on word of mouth and (in an
'80s throwback), business
cards. Remember them?

CONSIDER THIS

In many ways, it's an old
fashioned job. Word of mouth
and actually being in the parks
is proven to lure in clients

Ellie Paton
Puppy Training
Assistant,
Bespoke Hounds
'If you fancy a career in
dog care, it's worth
looking into a course on
dog behaviour. There
are misconceptions
about reading dogs and
if you're going to be in
charge of a pack it's
useful to be able to
decode not just their
interaction with you,
but with each other too.'

Petrina Cutchey
APDT instructor
'You can't just say one
day "I want to be a dog
trainer". Like many jobs,
you have to pay your
dues. Volunteering to
assist qualified and
respected dog trainers
is an excellent way to
gain industry
experience, as
they have a wealth
of knowledge they'll
be happy to pass
on to you.'

July 2018 BA LA N CE

Nigel Reed
Author, The Dog
Guardian
'Training is one of the
most rewarding careers
I can think of. We have
a four-stage
programme that
enables you to
communicate efficiently
with your dog. It's good
to think although you
can't talk to each other,
you can communicate
in hundreds of
other ways.'

SUCCESS COACH

FAQ

PAUL WYCHERLEY
Paul runs 360° dog
care business Frank &
Friends, catering for
walks, day care and
holiday stays. Here is the
key info you need to know

Q.
A.

Can I do this as a sideline before committing?
It's most likely you'll have
to jump in with both feet
early on. You will need to
offer flexibility to clients, as
pick up and drop off timings
and dates can be variable.

Q.
A.

How rapidly will I be
able to expand?
Once you have your first
(happy) client, capitalise on
it. Ask for a reference and
market your services.
Remember you're accessing
people's homes to care for
a member of their family.
Trust is key to growth.

Q.
A.

My working capital is
low. Does that matter?
Not to begin with, but
be aware if you have dogs in
your home they can
damage things as quickly as
you can earn. We have a
10-acre plot, which allows
for a variety of dogs, so you
need to cater for the breed
as well as the owner's
needs. It's worth looking at
this as part of your USP.
Visit londondogs.co.uk for
dog day care in London

21



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance July 2018

Balance July 2018 - 1
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