If you’re looking for a job that will let you spend time with dogs all day while you earn some cash, you may consider becoming a dog walker. Being a dog walker can be highly fulfilling and feel like a lot of fun. Not to mention it will give you plenty of exercise (your step count will skyrocket!) and opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors!
If your friends and family do not have animals, consider volunteering for an animal rescue. You can also help them to get an emotional support animal letter kit for traveling without any restrictions for a pet.
Curious about becoming a dog walker? In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to build a successful, sustainable and safe dog walking business!
Understand What Is Required Of A Professional Dog Walker
Being a professional dog walker, whether as a side hustle or a full-time career, is entirely different from occasionally walking your friend’s dog. While it may sound like the perfect job if you love dogs, it’s not always fun and games, and there are some important considerations to think about before committing to a dog walking business:
- Are you willing to work in all weather conditions?- Dogs need their daily walks no matter the weather. Depending on your location, this could mean walking in the rain, snow, extreme heat or cold.
- Are you comfortable walking all dog breeds?- Some of the dogs you walk will be well-behaved angels. Others, not so much. When you’re a dog walker, you need to be able to handle dogs of all sizes, strengths, breeds and temperaments.
- Are you physically able to walk all day, for most days of the week?- You will be on your feet all day, and depending on your local area, you might also have to walk or bike between client residences. You need to feel confident about being active all day long!
If you answered “yes” to all the above questions, you are ready for the next step!
Start Small & Get Some Experience
Nearly every company, app, and client will ask you about your experience with dogs. If you haven’t had much professional experience yet, don’t expect to jump right into a full dog walking schedule. Start small by offering to walk friends’ or family members’ dogs to begin with and ask if they’d be a reference for you. Getting some real-world experience under your belt is key, and you have to start somewhere!
If your friends and family do not have animals, consider volunteering for an animal rescue. Try your luck with smaller rescues rather than large city shelters. It’s a great way to get a lot of hands-on experience very quickly with many different dogs. It’s also a great, charitable way to use your time!
Learning the basics of canine behaviour is a must before you take up dog walking professionally. Understanding how dogs communicate and act will give you the confidence to approach and work with dogs you don’t know. Staying up-to-date with pet first aid skills is important as well.
Determine Your Business Model
There are three main ways to become a professional dog walker: sign up for a dog walking platform, work with a local dog-walking agency or start your own business.
Join a dog walker app
App-based dog walking platforms, like Suburban Dog Inc. and Rover, connect dog walkers directly with dog owners in their local area. A great advantage of these platforms is that you don’t have to do the work to build a clientele. They also provide good flexibility in terms of work schedule, rates and the clients you accept. The application process is usually quite simple and entirely online. You’ll need to provide some information about yourself, your experience with dogs, and professional references. Some companies might also ask for a background check and an interview. Keep in mind that most of these platforms will not offer insurance to their dog walkers, so you’ll need to look into getting your own liability insurance.
Work with a local dog-walking agency
Another option is to work for a small dog-walking agency in your area. These agencies usually have a close relationship with their clients and know their local market well. You’ll likely have a more consistent working schedule with an agency than you would with an app, but the agency will also take a portion of your earnings from each walk.
Start your own dog walking business
Building your own business may take more time and effort, but it provides much greater freedom and flexibility. It may sound daunting, but looking for gigs can be as simple as self-promoting on apartment community bulletin boards, Facebook marketplace, or Craigslist! You might also consider building an online presence through a website or social media to leverage word of mouth and positive reviews to bring in new clients.
Now it’s time to prepare for your walk. Professional dog walkers have an arsenal of supplies to keep both the dogs and their owners happy. It’s a good idea to invest in waste bags, treats, a water dish, and a multi-dog leash if you’re planning on walking more than one dog at a time.
So, are you ready to go out there and turn your passion for dogs into your dream job? Follow these five steps, and you’ll be prepared to step out as a professional dog walker!