If you’re an animal lover who would like to earn some extra money by walking dogs in your spare time but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading.
This article has everything you need to know about becoming a dog walker and getting paid to hang out with sweet puppies in your spare time.
This article will walk you through what dog walking entails, the pros and cons of being a dog walker, how to find dog walking jobs, what you can expect to earn as a dog walker, and other related services you can provide to your dog walking clients.
By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to take on your first dog walking client.
What Dog Walking Entails
Dog walker jobs tend to be most popular as part-time employment around another career for extra money or with students who need a way to earn money around their class schedule.
In big cities like NYC, actors, models, and writers often use dog walking to supplement their income, fitting it around their auditions and other work commitments.
There are some people who are full-time dog walkers, although they usually have their own dog walking service rather than working with a dog walking company.
To be a professional dog walker, you need to be able to pick up the dog from the owner’s home, take the dog for a walk, and return them safely home.
You’ll be responsible for the dog’s well-being and cleaning up their messes while the dog is in your care.
Some local governments require dog walkers to have a general business permit but most cities don’t require dog walkers to have any sort of permit or special license.
The Benefits of Being a Dog Walker
Getting paid to spend your time walking and playing with dogs is pretty awesome, but there are other less obvious benefits you may not have considered.
Most dog walkers are able to set their own schedules, especially if they’re working on a freelance basis.
While committing to a walk schedule with your dog owners or with a dog walking service does mean your work schedule is fixed, you get to choose and set that schedule.
Most dog walking services will also help their dog walkers get someone else to cover their walks if they’re sick or on vacation.
You won’t earn anything from those walks but you also won’t lose the gig.
Dog owners are usually similarly understanding and flexible.
In addition to the flexibility dog walking offers, there is the physical exercise you’ll get.
If you’re trying to get or stay in shape, several hours of playtime and walking with your canine clients on a daily or weekly basis will keep you moving.
Instead of sitting in an office or in your car or standing all day in a retail store, you’ll be earning money from exploring your city on foot.
The Challenges of Being a Dog Walker
Being a dog walker is a pretty sweet job but like any other job, it has its downsides.
Sadly, it’s not all puppy cuddles and cash, and there are some parts of being a dog walker that can be less than ideal.
For example, picking up dog poop.
It’s an important part of the job, but it’s not fun.
The biggest downside of being a professional dog walker is taking the dogs out on cold winter days or when it’s pouring rain.
You just have to suck it up, get there, and make sure your canine client gets their exercise.
And yes, he’ll probably still want to cuddle with you, even though he smells like wet dog and will ensure you do too.
All in all, there are more upsides than downsides to being a dog walker but it’s good to go into any job aware of both the pros and the cons.
How to Find Dog Walking Jobs
There are lots of ways for you to find dog walking jobs.
If you’re freelancing as a dog walker, you can advertise to your family and friends by word of mouth or through social media and email.
You can go old-school and hang up fliers at the grocery store, gym, and community center.
You could advertise on Craigslist or put up a dog walking service page on Facebook and share it.
New jobs are posted regularly on Care.com so whether you’re looking for full-time work or to be a part-time dog walker, setting up a free profile on Care.com is probably a good idea.
Dog walking falls under the “pet care” category on Care.com.
Some of the cities with the highest demand for dog walkers in the United States are Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City (in Manhattan and Brooklyn), Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco.
If you live in one of these cities, finding a dog walking position will be easy but don’t despair if you live somewhere else.
Dog owners all across the United States and beyond need help caring for their four-legged family members.
What You Can Earn as a Dog Walker
What you can earn as a dog walker will vary depending on what the going rate for dog walkers is in your area and how many dogs you’re walking.
Some owners like to have dogs socializing with one another or may have more than one dog that needs to be walked.
Some pet owners may want you to spend extra time playing with their dog, and all those details are what determine your earnings as a dog walker.
The typical range is $10 to $30 per dog per 30-minute walk.
Other Services Your Dog Walking Clients Might Want
Dog owners often need help with more than just dog walking.
If you’re able to provide care when the dog owner is out of town on vacation or for work, you could earn extra money through pet sitting.
Pet sitters often earn a day rate and either live with the dog in the owner’s home or take the dog into their home for the duration of the sit.
Being a combination dog walker and pet sitter is a great way to maximize your income from a small pool of dog walking clients.
You could also offer to groom the dog or to take the dog to the groomer for the owner.
Doing the grooming yourself is obviously more lucrative than just taking the dog to the groomers, but either one is an additional service dog owners appreciate.
Some dog owners like to have organized play dates for their dogs, which you could coordinate and provide as a doggie daycare.
Your city may have licensing requirements for dog daycares so if you’re considering providing daycare, check your local laws before you do so and be sure to get any necessary licenses and insurance.
Let’s Get Walking!
Being a dog walker is a great way for a dog lover to earn some extra money and get in some quality time with new four-legged friends.
If you’d love to have a dog but can’t due to schedule, financial, or housing constraints, being a dog walker is a great way to be a doggie caregiver without the full-time responsibility of dog ownership.
And you’ll get to set your own schedule and earn money for the pleasure of spending time with dogs.
While there are two small downsides to being a dog walker, the upsides more than compensate for them, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a dog walker, now is a great time to start.