It is no secret that walking dogs can be a great side hustle for people who love animals. But even when it can look simple, it can be a bit hard to work around these beautiful pets and how you find the job option as well.
Also, you may not know this, but there are specific ways to walk dogs if you don’t want them to get injured and ensure they are having a good time in the process. No, it isn’t only about going out and walking for a couple of minutes.
Many people would hire your services because they either don’t have time or are trying to have their dogs with someone knowledgeable that can walk them properly. Thus, this side hustle can involve a bit more than just what you would expect.
Now, the question is if this idea is profitable and can help you earn the extra cash you need.
This article will help you clear this doubt and ensure you’re able to work around this side hustle if you decide to take the challenge.
What Is a Dog Walker? – The Basics
It sure feels meaningless to go over the concept, but as we mentioned before, dog walking involves more than, you know, walking dogs like it was nothing. Thus, some concepts can help within knowing what you will be and your responsibilities.
First, walking your dog every day is part of a healthy exercise routine that keeps your dog happy and healthy. Dog owners sometimes find it difficult to walk their dogs because of work, time, or physical restrictions. This is when a dog walker can help.
You can choose to be a dog-walker yourself or as part of a larger business. Dog owners can get out of their house to run errands or work overtime.
When someone decides to hire a dog walker’s services, dog owners should be able to rest assured that their dogs will be taken care of properly.
Dog walkers usually pick up the dogs at their owners’ homes, take them for a walk, and return them to their homes. While some dog walkers will take multiple dogs on a walk, others prefer only to take one.
Mobile pet grooming service may be an option for some, particularly those who run their own business.
As a professional, you must have total control if you might be walking multiple dogs at once. You need full authority to ensure that no dog is left behind. Sometimes, the walker will have to manage runaways or break-up fights. Sometimes, physical stamina may be required.
So, basically, treat the dogs as if they were yours since you also have to collect their waste and ensure they are not harming or causing problems to other dogs and owners.
It can be exhausting if you take several dogs unless you are used to how hard the work is. Thus, we would recommend beginners to get one or two the first weeks.
What Do You Need to Be a Dog Walker?
Let’s set the record straight: You don’t need talent, but some qualities and skills will be useful and necessary if you want this side hustle to work.
So, if we have to help you by setting some of the requirements to work around this side hustle, we recommend focusing on these and determining whether you meet them or need to work on them:
- You must be comfortable with pets.
- You need to know how to coordinate multiple schedules at once.
- Understanding animal restraints and how to use transportation kennels.
- Being able to manage dogs of different sizes.
- If necessary, obtain and update licenses and permits.
Dog walkers must also clean up after their dogs and remove any droppings, as mentioned earlier. Although this may seem like the most difficult aspect of their job, dog walkers are pet lovers who know it is part of caring for the animal.
Finding clients who trust you to care for their dog is one of the most important aspects of becoming a dog walker.
Dog walkers are often given access to the home while the owner is away. So, in addition to the previous requirements, you need to be trustworthy and respectful in order to win new clients and maintain them.
Flexibility is another aspect of the job. You can work with the owner to arrange a time that works for everyone.
Dos & Don’ts in Dog Walking
In addition to setting your mind in determining whether you have the previous qualities or not, we would take the time to learn a thing or two about dog walking.
There are many mistakes made by dog owners and people in the field you are about to start, like not allowing the dogs to explore or just going for a walk without allowing them to enjoy the area.
Thus, although this doesn’t enter the things to learn and required for the job, they are a great addition to ensure you are doing things right.
To lend you a hand, we decided to include some things you shouldn’t do but also must allow the pets to do.
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Bathroom Breaks: Always in a Rush.
It is a big decision where dogs decide to do their necessities. This is not about how the dog relieves itself but also about how they communicate with others.
Dogs communicate their presence to their fellow friends by using their urine. They can smell the urine of other dogs to learn more about them, their health, gender, and age.
They love to look at the toilets of other dogs while on walks. This is the equivalent of human graffiti.
Concentration and time are required for all of the sniffing and scratching. The dog will get the most from its walks if it has the chance to smell the pee-mail and just enjoy it until it’s done.
- Not Letting Dogs Sniff and Explore.
A larger portion of their brain is dedicated to their senses of smell. They also have a Jacobson organ that detects odors normally not detected, such as pheromones.
This all adds up to a sense of smell which is at least 10,000x greater than the humans. It is almost impossible to imagine how complex the information they collect with their noses.
While we may tell a friend to slow down and take in the scenery when she feels stressed, this is a much more accurate expression when it comes to dogs’ walks.
Dogs see the world through the eyes of their noses. Just as humans might like to take in the sights, so do dogs.
Dragging your dog away from interesting smells or asking him to heel around the block will prevent him from fully taking in the world around him. This can also reduce the mental stimulation that a walk can bring.
- Pulling on the Leash.
Dogs see humans as walking too slowly, which is why they will follow scent trails to get where they want and drag their owners behind them as fast they can.
When a dog pulls on its leash, one of our most frequent responses is to pull back. This rarely achieves the desired result of a loose leash. Instead, we find ourselves in a tug-of-war with our dog, and the odds are that the human will win.
Dogs have an opposing reflex which means that they will pull back if you pull on the leash. They will stop walking if you drag them in the opposite direction. This is not because they are controlling or stubborn. It’s just how their bodies naturally respond.
All that pressure on their throats, especially small dogs and those who are prone to collapsing the trachea, is very irritating. This is also frustrating for any dog, preventing them from exploring the world and giving them no direction.
Don’t do this without any dog you are walking, and if it is hard to walk with a loose leash, you can always train them a bit in every session since you are most likely to see them daily.
What You Should Do
For this part, we have some straightforward tips, and we are sure they will be quite the list you need every day:
- You must walk in front of the dog.
- Reward the dog during the walk.
- Reward it after the walk.
- Make it feel comfortable if it is the first time by taking it easy and seeing how it reacts.
- Do the opposite to the “shouldn’t do” part as suggested.
How to Start as a Dog Walker: 5 Apps to Get Started
Finally, moving to the interesting part, how can you work in this side hustle?
It is quite simple considering that qualifications or skills aren’t really required and you can work in what we mentioned before over the days. Just set your mind on it.
The difficult part is to find the customers since local advertising your services might not be the best option anymore.
Instead, you will have to go over apps and online platforms where you can list your services or apply for someone looking for a dog walker.
Which platforms do we recommend? Here is a list with the top 5:
This option is one of the most popular job sites. To use the platform, dog walkers and sitters must be at least 18 years of age, and you must know Rover is operated by an independent contractor, not as an employee of the company.
Certain states may require additional certifications for pet walking. Rover usually responds to applicants within five days of completing their profile and conducting a background check.
Get testimonials from family members, friends, and dog owners who have used you before to make your profile stand out.
According to their website, Rover will keep 20% of your earnings, and you can expect to make up to $1,000 per month.
However, earnings vary depending on some factors we will mention later. You must remember completing your profile, setting rates, and waiting for verification to set your pet services to the public.
Nextdoor allows you to earn living walking dogs. You can care for animals, but there are other ways to make money, which means the platform isn’t entirely for dog walking as the previous option.
Nextdoor is a great app to help you find side jobs. Before you can start looking for dog walking jobs or any other income opportunities, you must create a Nextdoor Account.
After creating an account, you can search for job opportunities by location and pay. You can also get recommendations from people in your locality who have used your services.
Dog walker rates average around $11.50 an hour. However, it is possible to earn more or less depending on where you live.
Nextdoor is completely free and easy to sign up for. They are able to help users make trusted connections in the United States of America, France, Germany, France, Germany, and many more countries.
Fetch! Pet Care
This one is similar in concept to Rover, but it focuses more on clients than connecting walkers with gigs.
Fetch! allows you to offer dog walking services. You can also make money by offering other services such as:
- Overnight stays.
- Pet sitting.
These services can be offered to both dogs and cats. However, since we are focusing on dogs, you should offer at least 30 minutes of exercise each day during your services.
Enter your zip code to browse pet care options on Fetch! and check the website to find out if options are available in your area. You can set your own hours and begin earning, just like other opportunities.
The Dogwalker website is another place where dog owners can try to start a business. Dogwalker was established in 2009 to assist people in finding local dog walkers.
This service allows you to list your services along with the rates. You can offer additional services, but you and the pet owner must agree upon the pricing.
Wag! is available in 43 states as well as 110 cities. This popular app allows you to make quite the money in this side hustle. But the price depends on where you live and the length of the walk.
Wag! can help you earn between $13 to $17 an hour, depending on where you live.
Potential Earnings & Expenses: How Much Does a Dog Walker Make?
Talking about earnings, hourly rates, and all, can you actually make the money previously mentioned? Everything depends.
Since most dog walkers work per hourly rate, it is common to set an average salary based on how many hours you work per week.
So, it is a matter of how much you ask for the services, but keep in mind that you can’t go too overboard with pricing if you are starting.
With this in mind, we can share some statistics about the average earnings.
Around the United States, the average hourly pay is $15, but beginners usually charge between $8 to $10 until they are able to find more clients or want to work based on volume and not just hours.
Following the info of the previous apps we have collected, you can see that most of the average rates hit the $14-17 mark, but don’t really go over it unless the dog walker offers additional services.
Like actually training the dog or grooming it.
If you have this as a side hustle, which is the idea of the article, you could work about 20 hours a week, with one dog per hour and asking for $15. This is $300 in a week, but you need to pay the usual fee if you use the previous apps.
Thus, the final earning would be around $250-270.
Of course, this can vary depending on how many dogs you take per hour, the additional services, and how you decide to work.
But the simple average and all the work with one dog per hour can easily earn you $1k+ per month.
Finally, if you are worried about starting costs, don’t be.
The beauty about dog apps is that they are free, and you only pay fees based on the jobs you get.
Also, you don’t really need special equipment for dog walking since owners should be able to provide them as the ones truly taking care of the pets.
Some treats like cookies or special snacks to share with the dogs can be bought, but some owners like to have a strict diet with their pets or eat specific foods.
Always ask before you decide to invest in those products, and if you decide to offer additional services like grooming, equipment is another story. Also, for any of the apps you decide to use, you must be 18+ years old.
Should You Give It a Try?
If you love animals or dogs in specific, you will love this job.
We know it isn’t that simple to deal with their waste and how you must take care of them as they are literally other people’s children (figuratively).
However, it can be quite profitable since it doesn’t take too much time and you can have some freedom in choosing whom you work with.
We worked as dog walkers for over two years, and even when we had tough times, it was quite enjoyable and achieved the main goal: Earning extra cash. Hence, we highly recommend the side hustle since it doesn’t need any initial investment either.
Just take the time to learn more about walking them properly, make people feel comfortable with you since they are the owners, and just enjoy the time with them.
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