Online Class: Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Business 101

This is a guide to the ins and outs of starting and maintaining a successful pet sitting and pet walking service.

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  • 14
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  • 2,330
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  • 8
    average time
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Course Description

This is a guide to the ins and outs of starting and maintaining a successful pet sitting and pet walking service.  Pet sitting and pet walking businesses were almost unheard of a generation ago, but today they are in every major city and most towns.  Today's pet owners treat their pets like members of the family and want them to be comfortable, happy and well-exercised.  Unfortunately, our busy lifestyles make it difficult for many of us to be able to give our pets everything they need, particularly with demanding work schedules keeping us from being available during the day like we would like.
Pet walkers and pet sitters give pet owners the ideal solution by providing professional care and companionship for their pets during the hours they can't be there.  If you're an animal lover, you may have considered this rewarding career path, but it isn't for everyone.  You'll also have to have a good head for business, organization skills, dedication and the ability to handle crisis situations with calm and professionalism.  There is a great deal to know about running your own business as well – it's not just about your interaction with the animals.  It's about working with your human clients, managing a budget and understanding marketing and a business plan. 
This course will give you the bones of what to expect and point you in the direction of the resources you'll need to set up your fledgling pet sitting and/or pet walking business.  If you read this and know that it's the right job for you, you'll soon be on the way to a career you love! 
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Course Motivation

Is a Pet Care Business Right for You?

Many people begin a pet sitting or dog walking service because they love animals. Others go into the business because they see there is a need for the service and they think that they can make a lot of money providing a needed service. Neither of these is a good enough reason in itself and could end in disaster if you are not properly prepared before you start taking on clients. Evaluating your motivation and talents thoroughly before moving forward on a pet sitting or dog walking business can save you lots of headaches and great deal of time and money invested in what might not be the right business for you.

Do You Love Animals?

It sounds like a simple question. Most people love puppies and think that playing with dogs and cats would the ideal job situation, but it takes far more than simple enjoyment of the warm and fuzzy aspects of an animal to make you successful in a pet oriented business. Most people love animals to some extent, but many people do not "live and breathe" their love of animals. You have to be the kind of person who does not mind muddy paws on your clothing and can be just as loving and affectionate with a cat who is old, arthritic, and cranky as you are with an adorable kitten.

Patience and compassion need to be available in equal proportions. Part of pet sitting will deal with unpleasant surprises. For instance, accidents in the house, vomit, cleaning up messes, or confronting damage done by an animal while you were gone. No matter what a pet has done, you must never lose your temper and take it out on someone's beloved pet. Do you have the tolerance to face this kind of frustration?

It is not All a Walk in the Park

You must also be able to adjust to change and quickly adapt to the unexpected. Animals are unpredictable. You have to be able to "go with the flow" when the circumstances demand it. If you have a regular schedule that you need to stick to, that is fine, but you may need to adjust it occasionally to compensate for pet personality differences, health concerns, or simply stubbornness on the part of a particular animal. 

There is also the chance that you will be faced with a pet emergency, and you will have to be able to think fast, act quickly, and be the voice of calm that saves the life of a beloved pet. Can you handle this kind of situation rationally and take control of the situation? Will you be able to overcome your emotions and not let fear take over? When clients trust their pets' lives to you, you must be able to handle stressful, dangerous situations with authority and intelligence.

Dependability is what will make or break your reputation as a pet sitter or dog walker.  Clients will rely on you to show up on time and take care of their pets' needs as scheduled; you cannot call it off when you feel like it. The holidays, evenings, and weekends will often be your busiest times and you will need to be reliable. Can you force yourself to show up no matter how bad the weather is and on late night visits, to make sure the animals you are responsible for get the care they need?

Good Health 

You do not have to be a marathon runner or weight lifter to be a pet sitter or dog walker, but you certainly have to be in relatively good health. After all, you do not know from week to week if you will be walking three Great Danes or pet sitting a parrot and a large snake. You should take care of yourself so that you are able to handle any animal you might be called upon. In addition, take care of them in the event they become ill or injured, and you might have to transport them to a veterinarian or animal hospital. You also need to be able to control more than one animal at a time if you are walking dogs in a group. Remember, you have to be able to assert your authority at all times.

Being in good health also goes back to reliability, if you are frequently sick, overworked, or too tired to function properly, you are not giving your clients or their pets the best possible care and it will show. The animals you care for regularly will look forward to seeing you and can sense when you are not fully participating in their walk, play time, or socialization.

Business Skills

A good businessperson has to have a variety of skills in order to keep a business running smoothly, make money, and keep clients satisfied. Organizational and marketing skills are essential as well as some understanding of the basics of bookkeeping, scheduling, and general business practices. If you are not yet familiar with some of the technical aspects of running a business, that is fine, you do not have to have the knowledge already in place. The key is to have the ability to learn it. 

If you have a knack for grasping business concepts and the ability to follow the rules of business and stick to them, you may be able to run your own business successfully. However, if you hate doing paperwork and are always unorganized, you may find yourself six months down the line with unpaid bills, debts, and unhappy clients and you may wonder how you got to that point. You can always learn specific skills such as bookkeeping and marketing, but organizational skills and solid business acumen are traits that you will soon know whether you have or not. In addition, take an honest review yourself and determine where you rank with these skill sets:

  • Love and Compassion for Animals.
  • Dependability.
  • Adaptability.
  • Authority.
  • Level-headedness.
  • Good Health.
  • Business Skills.
These are all keys to success in any type of pet oriented business. Evaluate yourself honestly and talk to others. Ask them for their insights into your strengths and weaknesses. If you are still excited about the prospect of working with animals and are confident that you have what it takes to be successful, then this course is for you!

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(2,075 votes)

Lesson 1. Is a Pet Care Business Right for You?

Evaluating your motivation and talents thoroughly before moving forward on a pet sitting or dog walking business can save you lots of headaches. Headaches in addition to a great deal of time and money invested in what might not be the right business for y 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Hurdles to Overcome; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2. Preparation and Training

You need to be fully prepared and have the proper training before you even think about putting together a business such as a pet sitter or dog walker. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3. Business Plans and Protecting Yourself

A business plan is a roadmap leading from where you are now to where you want to be with your business. It is essential to have a business plan if you will need to borrow money from a lender for your business; and even if you do not borrow money. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4. Professional Organization

Set up a formalized fee schedule and organize your schedule so that there are no mix-ups. You also do not run late, leaving clients in a bind, these are all part of being professional and reliable. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5. Forms Every Pet Sitter and Dog Walker Should Have

There are numerous forms that you should design on your computer or have made at a print shop so that they look professional and are easy to read and use. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6. Equipping Yourself and Your Vehicle

This lesson will review how to properly outfit yourself and your car and have the proper gear for any pet care assignment. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7. Marketing Your Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Service

Marketing your business effectively is crucial to your success. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8. Meeting Your Clients

As a dog walker or pet sitter, you will have two very different types of clients to impress; the individuals who are hiring you and also their cherished pets. The initial meeting between you and your potential client is crucial. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Skills, Skills and More Skills
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9. Success Tips for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters

This lesson provides you with some tried and true rules to keep in mind to simplify things for you. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10. Keeping it Personal

You can develop personal relationships with all your clients while still being a professional. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Dealing with Stress
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11. Handling Difficult Clients

You will inevitably run into a difficult client. Whether it is over a billing dispute or something serious such as how you handled an emergency situation, you must know how to deal with an irate or dissatisfied customer appropriately 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 Exam

Lesson 12. When You are Ready to Grow!

Expansion requires a great deal of commitment and planning. It is crucial to plan carefully and handle the process properly for successful growth. 579 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Your Opinion Matters: Course Rating; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 Exam
  • Assessment: The Final Exam: How to Start a Pet Sitting/Walking Business
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Identify whether a pet care business is right for you.
  • Describe preparation and training.
  • Summarize business plans and methods for protecting yourself.
  • Summarize the forms every pet sitter and dog walker should have.
  • Describe equipping yourself and your vehicle.
  • Describe marketing your pet sitting/dog walking service.
  • Summarize how to find new clients and keep existing ones by keeping it personal.
  • Describe handling difficult clients.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Business 101
Course Number: 7550131
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (2,075 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: December 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.8 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Cathleen Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Enjoyed the course! It was nice being able to learn on my own schedule." -- Lavonne D.
  • "This course is amazing and also the instructor with the detailed email responses." -- Deneshia H.
  • "It was straight to the point. The key information was there. It was perfect for my needs. Course was brilliant, so perfect it was scary!" -- Brandy N.
  • "All of the lessons explained things in detail." -- Sharon E.
  • "I found the CONCEPT of each lesson most helpful. In each case I was surprised to find there were so many things I had not known about - or perhaps would not have thought of in starting out as a pet sitter. People would say to me, "How much is there to know?" and I would answer, "Have you thought of THIS or THAT?" - and in each case the person would have to answer, "Yes, I had not thought of this or that." I found the form samples most helpful and I certainly learned a lot in the marketing section. Thanks for a great fun course." -- Marion S.
  • "I enjoyed taking the course and found it very informative." -- Pamela P.
  • "I found this whole course helpful in many ways and really enjoyed doing this." -- Emily K.
  • "It was all very helpful for me to obtain the knowledge I need to start a dog walking business." -- Arthur B.
  • "I found the billing and how to handle different types of animals and about their needs most helpful." -- Mary B.