What are the Risks of Running a Dog Walking Business?

Running your own dog walking business can be incredibly rewarding! Officially, you’re helping owners care for their pets when they’re unable to do so themselves. This can be a vital service for full-time workers, families on holiday, the elderly, or those with physical limitations.

But there’s a lot in it for you too. You’re earning a living while playing with pooches, getting fresh air, and exercising while you work. Sounds like a great deal!

However, running a dog walking business isn’t always a walk in the park. There are risks that come with dog walking, and you may want to prepare for them. Here are four common hazards you might face as a dog walker:


1. Bad weather

As a dog walker, you’re often at the mercy of the elements. Depending on the time of year, you may be dealing with bitterly cold mornings, heavy rain, or scorching heat. While these conditions can be good for business (few people like walking a dog in these extremes!), they can make your job a tad more hazardous.

Bad weather tips for dog walkers:

  • Dress appropriately for the cold – Ask owners if they have a doggy jumper for frosty mornings and evenings. Consider buying a few in various sizes so you can dress your canine clients in a pinch. And don’t forget to rug up yourself!
  • Carry water in summer – Dogs can overheat and dehydrate in hot weather, same as humans. Remember to bring a bottle of water and a bowl on your walks so you can both stop for regular drinks.
  • Stay in the shade – Scorching hot days can also cause sunburn and burnt paws—ouch! Consider staying off the sidewalk and visiting a shady park instead on the hottest days.
  • Carry a towel – Rainy days mean dripping wet dogs and muddy paws. Keep a towel or two in your car or backpack to help avoid messes when you bring a dog home. Dry them off and wipe their paws before letting them in the house. You can also use the towel on your own shoes if you’re entering a client’s home.


2. Accidental injuries

Animals are often unpredictable. Even the most placid pooch could suddenly chase a bird into the road or trip you up with their own leash. You may already be taking steps to keep yourself and your dog clients safe.

But what about other people you might meet on a walk? Working in public spaces increases the chances of your actions causing injury to a random passer-by. A simple trip and fall injury could result in an expensive claim or lawsuit. Dog walking insurance, a.k.a. Public Liability coverage, helps protect against third-party injures not covered by the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC).

3. Property damage

Do you enter clients’ homes or gardens to pick up their pets? There’s always a chance that you could break their belongings. Even if it’s an accident, you could still be expected to pay to replace or repair the item you broke.

Dog walking liability insurance could help you in these cases too. A Public Liability policy also covers third-party property damage, protecting your bank accounts should a client or other members of the public require compensation. Your policy could come in handy if, for example, you accidentally damage a client’s gate while entering their back garden or break an expensive vase dropping their dog off inside the house.

4. Unhappy clients

You’re obviously a dog person, but running a business also means you need to be a people person! Managing unhappy clients is part of the deal. Otherwise, a bad situation could become worse if they start leaving negative online reviews or telling family and friends not to hire you.

Even if you take extra care with a client’s pet, home and property, accidents and mistakes happen. Doing all you can (within reason) to fix the situation could help you turn things around and keep your client. However, for some clients, this won’t be enough. You might need to professionally end your relationship with them and move on.

Good luck!

Your dog walking business may face many risks. With a bit of preparation, you might be able to avoid many of them. Whether you’ve stashed gear in your car for any weather situation or are buying dog walking insurance, there are many ways to turn business hazards into minor annoyances!

Looking for dog walking liability insurance? BizCover can help you protect your dog walking business today. Start comparing quotes now!


This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. 

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