If you think becoming a dog walker might be the right choice for you, read on to find out more
Want to work outside and spend time with animals? Well, dog walking might be the career for you. What once might have been the domain of neighborhood kids, dog walking has become a more serious occupation that requires training and, in some cases, licensing. If you think becoming a dog walker might be the right choice for you, read on to find out more.
Benefits of Being a Dog Walker
While there are lots of reasons why one might become a dog walker, one of the biggest perks is the time spent outdoors. While winter can be tricky, depending on where you live, spending sunny days outside and in parks instead of stuck in a stuffy office is a major draw.
Many dog walkers are also able to set flexible hours. According to Pet Life, dogs should be walked three to four times a day, but times can be worked out with the pet’s owner. You can work a few hours a day, which is beneficial for those looking for part-time work or launch your own dog walking business and collect a full-time salary. There is freedom in your career choice that is rarely afforded in more traditional jobs!
Most importantly, being a dog walker means you will spend your time caring for and playing with dogs. Money and freedom are fun perks, but the majority of people who become dog walkers do so because of their love of animals.
Training and Education
If you want to become a professional dog walker, the amount of training and education you need will vary based on where and how you plan to launch your career. Some companies may require a high school diploma or equivalent, while others may require you to have pet training or first aid certificates. If you’re dedicated to your budding career in pet care, you may even want to look into courses on animal behavior, nutrition, grooming, or obedience.
If you plan on going into business for yourself, it is in your best interest to have pet first aid and similar qualifications. This will not only help you stand out amongst the competition but give you the ability to handle emergencies. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no one to call when things go wrong!
Do You Need a License?
Depending on where you live, you may need a license or permit to operate as a commercial dog walker. You should be sure to check your local by-laws to see how your municipality treats dog walkers. For example, in some areas, you may need a permit in order to walk multiple dogs at a time. These permits can cost anywhere between $100 and $350, depending on your city, but operating without them can result in a hefty fine.
If you are launching your own pet business, you will also need to apply for the applicable business licenses. A driver’s license is also helpful for transporting pets to and from appointments.
Necessary Skills for Dog Walkers
If you plan on becoming a dog walker, you should quite obviously be comfortable working with dogs! You may need to control multiple animals of different sizes and strengths and walk for an extended period of time. It can be physically demanding, especially if you’re not used to it. You may want to start by working with one or two dogs at a time before trying to walk multiple dogs at the same time.
Walking isn’t the only thing you may have to do with dogs. You might have to get dogs into or out of cages, transport them to vet appointments, and pet-sit if necessary. The more you know about the overall care of dogs, the better!
Salary Expectations and Job Security
There is no shortage of dog owners out there, and many of them may want a little extra help taking care of their pets. That being said, it’s not the easiest job to break into. Many pet owners are protective of their pets and won’t want to entrust them to a stranger, particularly one with little or no professional experience.
If you’re starting your own enterprise or listing your services on a dog-walking site like Rover, you may have difficulty landing your first few clients. You should try to use your own network to bridge that gap. You can work as a dog walker for friends and family and ask them to review or recommend you, or meet up with other dog walkers and ask for referrals. A more established dog walker might be at capacity and can’t take on any new clients, but can connect you to the owners in need.
The amount of money you will make as a dog walker will depend greatly on your hours. According to study.com, the average hourly salary of a dog walker in the United States is $14.68. Some walkers listed on sites like Rover and Wag can bring in $1000 to $3000 a month, depending on the frequency of their schedule. You could end up making anywhere between $15,000 and $80,000 a year as a dog walker. It can supplement your full-time income, become a new career path, or pay the bills while you attend school for a related career like a veterinarian.
Applying For Companies or Apps
If you choose to list your services on a dog walking app or working for a larger company, make sure to do your due diligence and choose once that is reputable. You will want to make sure it has good reviews for both pet owners and employees! When applying, you may be subject to a background check at your own expense. If you choose to forgo the background check, you may be rejected from the company or greatly impact the number of clients interested in hiring you.
In some companies, you will shadow a more experienced dog walker at the company before starting. This is a good way for you to learn the ins and outs of how the company operates and what will be expected of you. It’s important to treat this seriously and leave a good impression, as the walker will almost certainly be providing feedback on you. Spending your shadow session on your phone will not bode well for you!
No matter how you want to start your dog walking career, whether going solo or through a company, you need to have the drive, determination, and a love of dogs. It can be a dream career if you make the most of it!