What is the best dog walking van?
So just what is the best dog walking van? The quick answer is no one vehicle will suit every dog walkers needs. The best dog walking van for you need depends on your unique business model and the services you offer. For example, if all of your customers live within 15 minutes walk of your home I would suggest you don't need a vehicle at all as you can arguably manage on foot. However, if you must travel more than a reasonable walking distance to collect your canine customers then you may want to look at purchasing a suitable dog walking van but where to begin?
If like me, all of your business is very local to you then the choice between petrol or diesel shouldn't be a one you should ponder over for long but if your service area is spread over a large area then you should consider a diesel vehicle as there are cost savings to be made when compared to a petrol dog walking van. Diesel vehicles are still road legal until 2040 (production of new diesels vehicles stops in theUK in 2030) so they are still a genuine option for the next few years. So once you've decided on petrol or diesel you then have to ask yourself whether you should use a van or a regular car.
Van or car for dog walking?
Our dog walking business relied on our own car, a Mini Countryman, for a few years but as the business grew a van looked like a better option for us. This was for 2 main reasons:
I don't regret using our car in the early years, it meant we could keep the costs down until our business was established. That to me was a safer option than committing cash to a van before our dog walking business was even in profit
You may find that kitting out your own car with suitable cages and restraints is fine, especially if you have a large SUV or similar. Just remember to inform your insurance company and they'll make a note of the change of use for the vehicle, we found our insurance didn't go up at all.
So as we have proved you can run a successful dog walking business with a car but the time came, after 6 years for us to finally buy a van, but which vehicles would make the best dog walking van?
The right van for the job
When you start looking around for a van for your dog walking business there are lots of choices available. All the major vehicle makers make a van. The variety of vans is overwhelming but we broke in down by size which is a good starting point.
We definitely didn't need something as big as a Ford Transit van as our business model meant that transport for a maximum of 3 to 4 dogs was all we needed. However, we didn't want to be cramped and we definitely didn't want to be tight on space for the dogs so we also ruled out things like the Citroen Nemo or a Peugeot Bipper. This left us looking at vans such as the Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo.
These would have been OK but aesthetically they just weren't doing it for us, they were just all a bit boring.
The best dog walking van for ended up being what used to be referred to a micro-van - so-called because they were among the first of the mini-vans we regularly see on our roads today. When they first came out they were aimed at local handymen, florists and town or city-based small businesses. Their fuel economy, manoeuvrability and nippiness around town made them an instant hit.
We decided on a Suzuki Carry Van
One final thing to consider is leasing a van. We quickly looked at leasing but it wasn't for us, we didn't want a brand new van and we didn't want the commitment of a lease vehicle. Ultimately we could have carried on with our car but for these reasons, we decided to take finally the plunge and get a dog walking van:
Anyway, I have been waffling on a bit so here's a picture of the van:
We've had the van for about 3 months and so far so good, we really love it - it's super cute and more fuel efficient than the Mini - the fuel costs look to be approximately £500 per year as opposed to £1,000 (although the Mini was used for personal journeys too of course). The road tax for the van is higher at £260 per year and the insurance is similar and around £230 per year.
I mentioned above that we weren't looking for a new van and in the end we took a chance on an older van with low mileage based mostly on the Indiana Jones quote 'it ain't the years honey, it's the mileage'. We settled on a Japanese minivan, a 2005 Suzuki Carry with only 60,000 miles on the clock. For us, it's the best dog walking van, and I will update this blog with images of the interior at some point but the cab seats 2 people and there's lots of space in the back for 3 large crates. I could have easily fitted in more crates but we only ever walk packs of 3 or 4 dogs so 3 crates are sufficient. The van has a nearside and offside sliding door as well as rear access. As you can see we have had signage professionally fitted to the van which is something we never opted for in the Mini. It's a dream to drive and we love the high seating position but most of all now we've had the Mini cleaned we like having our own car back too.
Got any questions or want any advice about dog walking generally or this blog post? Feel free to leave a reply and I will get back to you!
Coastal Dog Walkers
Welcome to the occasional ramblings of a North Shields dog walker.