Dog Walking Jobs
If you like to exercise and like dogs, a professional dog walker / runner career might be in your future.
Basic requirements for dog walking jobs include being relatively physically fit (and injury free), enjoying walking (rain or shine), loving dogs, and being good with both dogs and their owners. It also helps if you possess some basic business skills, such as marketing, accounting and communications.
One of the best ways to decide if this is the right job for you is to volunteer to walk dogs at your local animal shelter.
A big part of a successful dog walking business is based upon how you relate to your human clients, many of whom will most likely offer a detailed list of do’s and don’ts for their dog. It takes patience, both with the dogs and owners, to have a dog walking career.
Dog walkers / runners get the benefits of on-the-job exercise as they go about their day, but don’t expect to get a solid run or workout in, as dog walkers/runners are also responsible for what comes out of Fido or Fifi as they walk, which can make for frequent stops.
Much like pet sitters, dog walkers / runners should be experienced in animal CPR and basic first aid, have insurance coverage in case of accident/injury, and be licensed and bonded (often, you will be walking your clients while their owners are at work or on vacation, so you will have access to their homes while they are away). To be recognized as a professional dog walker, it’s best to obtain a business license in the city where you will be working.
Some dog walkers/runners also offer other services, such as pet sitting, basic washing and/or grooming, training (if you are qualified to do so), play time, feeding or administering medications (when necessary).
Safety is a big concern for dog walkers / runners-not just the safety of the canine you’re in charge of, but your own as well.
It’s best not to bite off more than you can chew, so while it may seem feasible to walk five dogs simultaneously, it only takes one dog fight (amongst those you are walking, and or another neighborhood dog) to prove that sometimes less is more.
The great thing about dog walking jobs is that you can work as much or as little as you’d like. If you want to work full time, you can eventually grow your business in that direction, but it’s also common for dog walkers to have a handful of clients they service in the morning/evening and on weekends after work hours. Dog runners will more likely either work less hours, because they will be covering more distance in less time, or staying very active by running several clients per day.
As with any other business you run yourself, as a dog walker you will be able to set your own prices, most likely by the hour. If you’d like to earn $30 an hour, figure out travel time to and from each appointment, as well as what other tasks you may have to perform, and change per walk based on that. Most dog walkers keep to half hour walks per client a few days per week.