Dog hiking/running service
January 12, 2018 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of start a dog hiking/running service as a side business ... I know dogs. I know hiking. I know running. I do not how to start a little business. What can you tell me about starting this kind of business in particular and a business in general?

It could include dog-walking as well, though I would hope for enough hiking/running clientele.
posted by falsedmitri to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Look into insurance of some sort - running / hiking with dogs are magnets for jerks' off leash dogs and especially if running the dogs will be more worked up about this. Fortunately my dog hasn't been injured in this, but I've had pulled muscles (or more commonly further stressed muscles I was trying to baby because they were tight/aggravated).

Also, consider with dog running you might not be able to handle multiple dogs at once. There's been a few collies I've seen tied up on their front yards when my dog and I run by; one in particular is close enough to my start/ending points that I've been tempted to ask if they'd mind me running it some for the dogs' own good. But realistically, thinking of the weeks that it would take of training the two particular dogs to be able to run together had me instead alter my route so I don't see the lawn dog.

Consider in your contract what happens for running dogs if you get a small injury and need to take a few weeks off. Are you still walking them, even if that's not in the best interest of your injury? How far; it takes more walking to make up for running.
posted by nobeagle at 7:28 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

My local community college has a "small business development center" that probably would have great resources for someone like you to get started. I would look there and ask at the public library to get you started.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:26 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use a dog hiking company for a weekly service and I love it. Not really what you're asking, but I'll tell you my favorite things about this particular business. First, the customer service is fantastic. My dog had an hour long visit/interview with the owner before he was allowed to join so they could make sure he was a good fit. They pick him up in a really nice van that's been custom outfitted with dog crates with soft beds and blankets. The entire van is air conditioned in the summer/heated in the winter. There's a 50 gallon water tank on the van that they use to wipe down the dogs after their hike. When it's cold out they give the dogs warm chicken broth at the end of the hike to warm up. They're fully insured and can pick up my dog/drop him off without me having to be home. They have a license with the county where they hike the dogs giving them permission to use the trails. The hikers carry lots of water, bowls, treats, and a big canister that they use to carry out all the poop bags. The human/dog ratio is 1:4 and all hikers have dog first aid training. It's very clear from the hikers I meet that they love dogs and they show my dog a lot of love. They take tons of photos of the dogs and after each hike they text us about what the dogs did and they post photos on a flikr account. Look at this guy, he loves hiking!

Obviously, my dog loves his hike days and loses his mind when the van rolls up. But just as important- as the human here who pays for this service- I need to be pleased, too. I like to know he's safe and in good hands and I really like to get the text messages and photos.
posted by shornco at 8:33 AM on January 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

There's a company in Portland that offers this service. (I use them for pet/house sitting but not hiking). Link below.
posted by TomFoolery at 9:00 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use a guy for this, he has a small business that is insured and all but not fancy as described above. Mostly I like him because he knows dogs and they all behave for him so I trust him to take care of my dog. He also boards her sometimes and she usually hates to stay anywhere else but she'll run off with him without so much as a backwards glance at me. So I'd say be a good dog person first off, then have all the appropriate insurance and work for a dog business for a while so you know how to do the job (it is not as simple as just loving dogs). Also accept Paypal or simlar and be able to keep keys or door codes handy as I appreciate that I can text my guy if I'm stuck at work and he'll swing by and pick her up and I can just pay him over the phone. He has set walk times, 3 per day, so it's easy to schedule. Offering other services like boarding might be worth your time or not.

Definitely clean the dogs before returning them too, that's key.
posted by fshgrl at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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