dog walking pet sitting business model

Why Every Pet Sitter Should Be Walking More Dogs

Would you like it if your pet sitting business had more consistent weekly and monthly revenue?  How about if you could make more money and do less work at the same time?  

​What if you could eliminate most of the time you spend scheduling visits with your clients?  And substantially reduce the time and effort that goes into coordinating your staff's visit schedule? 

And what if your holidays were less crazy but you still made good money?​

Well, you can do all this.  And it's pretty easy.  Here's how.


It's called Dog Walking.  ​

Obviously you know what dog walking is and you may already ​be providing it to some of your clients.

But, let me ask dog walking the majority of where your revenue comes from?  ​If not, consider the following reasons as to why it maybe should be and how it can make running your business easier.

First, let me be clear that I am NOT telling you how to run your business.  Everyone has their own reasons, goals, and interests for what they do and how they do it.

I'm simply offering some real-world examples of how we've structured our business to both make us happy AND create the biggest return on our time and money investment.  And, how you can do the same.

So, with that said...

Dog Walking is the best business model ever.  Period.  

​Ok, technically speaking, "dog walking" isn't a business model in itself, but rather the revenue source contained within the structure of your entire business model plan.

But, technicalities aside, my point here is that if you structure your business around dog walking (or at least make this service a large chunk of your revenue), it's the best thing you can do for your pet business.  Your company will be easier to grow and manage plus it will be way less stressful.  That's what makes a dog walking focus so great!​

All the cool kids are doing it.​

Ever heard of Netflix?  Or Spotify?  Or BarkBox?  Or HBO GO?  Or Verizon?

​The common thread in the companies mentioned above is that they're all "subscription services."   This means that you pay every month for the service and it repeats until you cancel.  

Every month, you know what you're getting.  Just like your Netflix subscription gets you 2 DVD's per month, and your Verizon subscription gets you unlimited calls and 5GB of data per month, and your BarkBox subscription gets you a new box of dog toys every month.  

You loyally pay every month and you get access to the product/service you love.

This subscription mentality is the new wave of business and is being explained in books like The Membership Economy and The Automatic Customer.  

You've even seen this in the services you use in your pet sitting business.  Isn't your CRM system billed on a monthly basis instead of a one-time lump sum?  And isn't your accounting software billed the same way?  I'll bet it is.

To be candid, this monthly subscription model is so powerful, it's the reason I use it for my pet business coaching program, the Pet Business Masters! Academy.  I don't charge people for hourly rates or individual coaching sessions/webinars.  Instead, it's one low monthly investment for EVERYTHING that a pet business owner needs and you can stay in the program for as little or as long as you need.  

So, whether it's Netflix, BarkBox, or my coaching Academy, the result is all the same...customers love the value they get every month and the business owner grows a business in the best way possible.  

How dog walking is a monthly subscription

Here's where we get to the good stuff.

Your dog walking service is just like Netflix in a way.  That's because it's a repeating "subscription service" that you can count on.

Think about it.  Aren't most (if not, all) of your dog walking clients using you for the same day/time/duration every week?  I know in our business, the clear majority of clients set a schedule (like every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30pm) that repeats every single week all year long.

This is where consistency of visits really helps reduce the stress in your life.  

For example, in my business, 72.8% of our revenue comes from dog walking or running.  In other words, from month to month, it's nearly certain that 72.8% of our revenue is going to appear next month just as it did this month.  

We don't worry about how much we're going to make next month because we know that 72.8% of our revenue isn't going anywhere. 

That's because we know our dog walking clients will continue to use us week after week after week.  They don't normally change their schedule drastically so we can avoid the huge revenue peaks and valleys that many pet business owners face.  

It's the same (or more money) for less work

​Dog walking is essentially a "set it and forget it" type of service.  You set up the service once and then it repeats without any additional work, other than actually making the visit.

As an example, let's say you're a sole operator.  You get a new dog walking client and you set the schedule for your visits for the first week.  Now, for the second week, you don't need to talk with the client again because both you and your customer already know what's going to happen.  You just make the visits.

Similarly with staff, you set your staff member's schedule for the first week and, for subsequent weeks, they continue to make the visits when they need to.  You don't need to talk with the client every week or reset your staff's schedule every week.  They already know what's going to happen.

Of course, there's still work involved.  You need to make sure staff is aware of their scheduled visits and have completed them.  But, at least you're not coordinating a new schedule of visits every time a client contacts you for work. ​

Contrast this to pet sitting.  When you're doing pet sitting, every time there's a new set of pet sitting visits, you're talking and coordinating both with your client and your staff trying to make everything work.  Each time, it's a new set of circumstances and schedule shuffling.  Each time, it's a pretty significant investment of time and effort to make it all work.​

Compared to pet sitting, a dog walking focus helps you make money with less effort.  ​

Holidays are easier to manage

In a pet sitting business, the holidays can be crazy, insane, and, potentially, not very fun.  That's because you're working your tail off.

In a business that focuses on dog walking, one of the side "benefits" is that the holidays are less chaotic.

This is because you'll have a lot of your dog walking clients cancel their visits because they'll already been home and won't need you.

Of course, if you have fewer visits, you'll make less money.  But, the upside is that you'll have more time for yourself and your family during these periods.  That can be worth more than money in many ways.  

In our business, there's still a good amount of business that comes from pet sitting.  Our dog walking clients occasionally need us for sitting and, of course, we have the clients that use us just for pet sitting without walking.  So, holiday times still stay busy and are a good source of revenue.

The cherry on top

As I said before, I'm not telling you how to run your business.  If it's working for you, then don't fix what's not broken. My way is not necessarily better.   

And I'm not saying all this because I care strictly about the dollars and what's the easiest way to make a buck.  No, not at all.

I'm a pet lover just like you and the quality of service in our business is always the #1 priority.  ​

It's just that I see SO MANY pet sitters out there working way too hard for way too little in return.  These are awesome people who care about their clients and do the absolute best job they can.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just not loving things like you once did in your pet sitting business, consider a focus on dog walking.

I look at our business like an ice cream sundae.  For us, dog walking is the ice cream.  It's the most substantive part of the sundae.  And pet sitting is the cherry on top.  It's the extra bonus at certain times of the year to bring in more revenue.

I see so many people that work in the reverse way of how we're successfully doing things.  

So, if you feel you need a change and pet sitting is your ice cream with dog walking being that extra bonus of a cherry, then maybe think about reversing​ that situation and putting more focus on the walking.

How about you?​

I'm curious...what do you think about this article?  Does it make sense?  Where does your revenue come from?  Mostly pet sitting, mostly dog walking, or something else?  Let us know in the comments below.  Thanks!​

About the Author John Reh

John loves animals and business. He put the two together and built a multi-million dollar dog walking/running and pet sitting business with hard work, systems, and great people. He now teaches everything he's learned in the Pet Business Masters! community.

Leave a Comment:

Michelle says January 25, 2017

I totally agree with everything you are saying John! I’ve been in business for 8 years and the majority of my revenue has always come from dog walking. About 80%/20% dog walking/pet sitting. I really don’t like pet sitting. It is a lot of running around back & forth and sometimes doesn’t feel worth it. I usually give most of the pet sitting jobs to one of my IC’s, or we share the duties. Also, my prices are exactly what you recommend for dog walking. $15, $20, $25 & $30. However for overnight pet sitting I have been charging $85 for breakfast, mid-day, dinner & overnight….I think I read that you recommend $100 just for overnights (not including mid-day)…is that correct?

    John Reh says January 25, 2017

    Well, it sounds like we have a lot in common 🙂

    Every market is a bit different so prices will vary and my recommendations are more of “starting guidelines” for what I see works in most areas. We happen to charge $100 for overnights but, again, some businesses may charge more or less depending on their location, demographics, and competition.

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