Should dog walkers have signwriting on their vehicles?

Should dog walkers have signwriting on their vehicles?

Many dog walkers and pet sitters debate whether to use their van’s surface as additional advertising space with signwriting. It tells everyone who you are but also highlights WHERE you are. But do the benefits outweigh the risks? Should dog walkers have signwriting on their vehicles? Yes, we think so.

Let’s take a look at some of the arguments against signwriting, and other marketing options, to see whether they’re justified.

Parking on the drive indicates the house is empty

This is less of a concern with more and more people working from home. But even before the pandemic, we would have had clients who were home including the elderly and/or disabled.

Even if our van did indicate that the house was empty now with no dog in it, how would a burglar know? They would need to be walking past at the exact same time we collected Fido, following our van as we did collections or staking out the house. All fairly unlikely scenarios.


Signwriting advertises a van full of dogs to steal

It certainly advertises that there might be dogs in the van and some of the more high-profile thefts have been a van full of dogs. This would certainly be a concern, so how can we combat this?

Not signwriting your van is certainly an option. A would-be dog thief is not going to be looking in a white van on the off chance. But they might if it barked…

Ensuring all the van windows in the rear are adequately covered so that no one can peer inside would help. After all, it’s just an ‘empty’ dog walkers van until someone sees a dog inside to confirm, right?

If your bulkhead has been removed (the metal partition between the cab and the rear) then replace it with a curtain to restrict passers-by from looking in.

Turn the engine off and lock all the doors. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? How many times have you parked right outside or on the driveway of a dog’s house who is always by the front door ready to greet you and so you left the van running… 

Vary your pickup times, your route and the location you walk in. Many of you will be doing this already because you may have a different mix of dogs on different days. 

Make your van harder to steal by installing a hidden kill switch. Many motorhome owners have this addition as they too are targeted. A mechanic will, fairly cheaply, be able to install a hidden switch that needs to be activated before the van starts with the key.

Despite all the media attention to dog thefts throughout the pandemic, the statistics show an increase of 7% Although one dog theft is clearly one dog theft too many, it does make sense to keep some perspective. The figures as of July 2021 were just over 2000 thefts per year in the UK with almost 9.6 million dogs sharing their lives with us.

old fashioned sign written van

Signwriting encourages abuse on social media and ‘trial by Facebook’

Your van’s advertising might help you get noticed when it comes to marketing, but it also makes you easily identifiable should you be seen doing something you shouldn’t. Even minor driving offences can land you in a ‘trial by Facebook’ situation.

It’s highly likely that you’ll be identified anyway. A new dog walker starting up in an area is rarely missed by other walkers. If anything, having a plain white van is going to increase the chances of you being misidentified as the person in question. 

Uniforms encourage abuse on walks

Some people just don’t like dog walkers. These people have usually had a bad experience when encountering a bad dog walker who had very little control over too many dogs. But then we all get tarred by the same brush.

Wearing something with your logo on immediately identifies you as a professional dog walker. Great for chatting with friendly people and handing out business cards when they ask, but not so handy when someone takes a dislike. 

That said, not many people own four dogs, and even fewer own six, so uniform or not, you’re not being as stealthy as you think you are!

old fashioned sign written van

Photos on social media risks dog theft

If you’re adding photos to a business page with your name on, with easily identifiable backdrops and timestamped, or worse, Geotagged all whilst driving a sign written van, some could, in theory, be able to track you down if you have a regular routine. But…it’s unlikely.

In order to downgrade it from unlikely to ‘really unlikely,’ there are some measures you can take.

  • Don’t post photos whilst you’re there, wait until you’ve finished for the day.
  • Turn off GPS/geotagging on your phone
  • Turn off timestamps on your pics
  • Take photos without identifiable backgrounds
  • Zoom in on every dog’s collar before posting photos to make sure the owner’s tag details cannot be seen.

Benefits to signwriting

Cheaper insurance. Your van, because it’s easily identifiable, is less likely to be stolen. Also, because it clearly states who you work for, it’s assumed that your driving standards are usually better.

It’s awesome, huge, in-your-face advertising which travels to all the right places. It’s parked up in dog walking spots, where all the owners walk their dogs. It’s parked on streets collecting dogs from owners who are in the right income brackets to afford to employ dog walkers, it’s sat in supermarket car parks advertising you to hundreds of people whilst you shop.


Any new start-up business needs all the help it can get in the first year so I would definitely sign write my vehicle. Whether it’s printouts in the back windows of the car, magnetic signs stick to the doors or full 7-year vinyl wrap to the van, every piece of marketing will help your business succeed.

If I were an established business, looking to maintain my current client base rather than looking for growth, I might not sign write, but purely because the expense will not reap any rewards for a business in those circumstances.


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