Walking dogs can be an excellent source for extra money, as a part time or even full time job. It's also relatively easy to get started. There are no education requirements, licenses or certifications needed to be a dog walker although if you are working for a business that provides dog walking services you may have to meet certain requirements to qualify for that position. This article will focus more on building your own dog walking business and the basics of how to get started.
Having a successful business will require more than just a good leash and a simple walk of the dog around the block. First you should have a love for dogs and, at the very least, a general understanding of how to control a dog while on your leash. While you are not training the dogs per say, knowing how to use positive reinforcement and behavior correction will make your job easier. This will be even more crucial if you are handling more than one dog at a time. Take the time to educate yourself on basic animal sciences, dog behavior and read books on dog training.
Being timely and organized will be an important aspect of this business. Your clients will expect you to arrive and return on time and ensuring their animal companions are receiving the exercise they need. As your business grows you will need to make sure you are not overlapping your clients in a way that prevents you from making your next appointment. Be sure to account for travel time from one client to another. Being late to pick up a dog or missing appointments can hurt your business significantly.
Avoid being overwhelmed and start small by reaching out to family, friends, co-workers or other networks you may have and let them know of your dog walking services. Get a feel for handling the dogs you are working with. Pay attention to the time you spend for pickup and returns. As you develop a system you can begin to expand your business and walk more dogs. You can advertise by putting a job post on Craigslist. If you can, pin up flyers at your local grocery store or coffee shop. Mention your services to local veterinary clinics, pet stores and canine daycare providers.
Set a standard fee for your services. Consider moderate discounts for multi-dog residents or multiple neighbor walks or even multiple walks of the same dog in a day. Offer multiple walk durations such as 15 minute walks and 30 minute walks. Typically dog walkers are currently charging anywhere from $10 - $20 per 15 to 20 minute walk and $20 - $30 for a 20 to 30 minute walk. Having a thought out and consistent pricing structure will make the bookkeeping side of the business much easier.
Now let's do some math to make this more fun. Let's say you charge $10 per walk and are able to walk 16 dogs every weekday, 261 of them, for a year. We have $10 x 16 dogs per day which equals $160. Then take $160 x 261 weekdays and that equals $41,760 per year. That's not too bad of a salary for only walking 16 dogs a day during the week. Finding 16 dogs to walk is also very reasonable to find in high dense populace areas. Beyond the financial portion, this is a very rewarding business. You are offering a service to the wellbeing of the dogs you walk and the owners of those animals. This helps prevent stress and bad behavior in some dogs. You too will be getting ample amounts of exercise during the walks. This career, if a right fit for you, can be a win-win situation.
I think it's important to mention the responsibilities that come with this job. You are handling other people's pets and, in some cases, their companions. Treating and handling these dogs with care and respect is important. You can refuse to walk an aggressive or unruly dog. It's better to find a new client rather than risk injury to the dog, you or another individual. When the dog is on your leash they are your responsibility.