Turning your passion for pets into a profitable business

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Do what you love

Most of us are fond of our furry, feathered and scaly friends. But, if you’re a next-level animal lover, there are many ways you can turn this passion and interest into a profitable business.

From pet sitting as a side-hustle to becoming a dog groomer full-time. There are exciting career possibilities for doggie devotees, feline fans and lovers of lizards. Some require little training and experience, while others require special education and certification. Here are just three of them.

  1. Become a pet sitter or exerciser
  2. Shave and a haircut: woof, woof!
  3. Sit, stay, earn as a trainer

With a little research and hard work, you can have the pet profession of your dreams before you know it.

1. Become a pet sitter or exerciser

Pet-sitting or dog-walking can be great side-hustles if you already have a full-time job. This is especially true if you’re animal-crazy but unable to have a pooch or kitty of your own. The best part is you don’t need much experience or capital to get this business off the ground. You simply need a love for animals and a strong sense of personal responsibility.

Benefits of this line of work are that you get to spend time with some lovable animals and earn cash. You can choose when and where you work. You could, for example, house and pet sit for someone over your next holidays, earning money plus saving on accommodation costs. Or you can walk a client’s dog at the end of the day, enjoying some canine company and getting your daily exercise at the same time.

To get started and build up a client reference list, you can initially provide your services to friends, neighbours and family. Or you can partner with one of the established pet-sitting agencies in major South African cities. They’ll help you get clients and do a lot of the paperwork for you, but you will continue to run your own little business. 

A profitable business means costs, fees and expenses

What can you make as a pet sitter or dog walker? Fees vary depending on your location and the type of service involved. You can earn in the region of R100 for taking Fido for a 45-minute walk and somewhere between R120 and R250 for a day of house and pet-sitting. If you partner with an agency, they might take a slice of your earnings.

2. Shave and a haircut: woof, woof!

Grooming, another popular pet-related career, involves more training and skill, as well as potentially significant startup costs. If you don’t know the difference between a Miami clip and Continental clip for poodles, or how to correctly groom a Yorkie for a show, you’ll probably need to invest a few thousand rand in a pet grooming course or do an apprenticeship with someone already in the business.

There are many local and international online courses to choose from. A formal certificate or proof of programme completion might not be necessary if you can show you have the skills and knowledge to be a groomer. You can get started by offering bathing and walking services, then add grooming to your repertoire as your skills grows. This can easily lead to a profitable business.

Basic requirements for groomers

You should know:

  • Safety, first aid, anatomy and biology
  • Breed and coat type recognition
  • Nail clipping, ear cleaning, grooming matted fur and fluff drying

Special training or programmes might be needed for skills such as creating patterns in the fur or grooming breeds like poodles for dog shows. You need to be patient and calm, and know how to deal with fearful, skittish and aggressive animals. Groomers must be good with people and pets – it helps to be a good listener.

One option is to become a franchisee with a chain like Groomworld or Dip and Snip Mobile Dog Grooming. They will provide you with marketing support, business advice, branding, training and other benefits. Else, you could go your own way. Startup and running costs are variable depending on whether you’ll offer your service from your home, from your own shop, or as a door-to-door mobile service.

3. Sit, stay, earn as a trainer

Dog trainer or animal behaviourist is another great career for pet lovers. Of the three jobs working with animals, animal training requires the most education. As with grooming, there are many classroom and online courses available from local and international providers. You may need to decide what area of training and what type of training theory (such as clicker training) you prefer and find the right course. The costs are variable, but a certificate from a well-known provider can give you an edge.

You can become a puppy trainer, who helps dog owners with simple obedience training and socialisation. Or you can specialise in agility training for sportier dogs, in training service and support dogs. Or in helping animals with serious behavioural issues. You can offer private lessons or group courses; the choice is yours. However, you will probably need to start with the basics before learning the specialised skills if you want to gain a profitable business.

Other jobs working with animals

Handy with a camera? There is a demand for pet photographers, and many companies specialise in this field. Involved with holistic/natural medicine? Pet spas and clinics that offer aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and other services are a business opportunity. Pick your path and go for it with all your heart.

Once you’re up and running, promote your services on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks to attract customers. And don’t forget your business website. Tools like GoDaddy’s Website Builder make it easy to build your own presence on the web to spread your news and promote your services.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Joanne Kaldy.

Image by: Dog photo created by freepik - www.freepik.com