You’ve probably seen them at your local dog park—walking five, six, or even more dogs at once, enjoying the afternoon sunshine and the company of their four-legged friends while others are stuck inside on the office grind. It can be a highly lucrative business opportunity, and allows a lot more freedom than other jobs. Not only can you choose your own hours, you get to enjoy the great outdoors, set the wage that works for you, and hang out with dogs all day.
How can you get started as a dog walker, and what are the advantages of tapping into this market?
Clientele. You’ll quickly find, after a few months of dog walking, that there is no typical client. Some might be overwhelmed first-time dog owners trying to calm a rambunctious, destructive puppy who gets bored during the day while they’re at work. Others might be young, career-focused couples who can’t make it home from their 9-5 jobs to take their dog out. Some people might hire a dog walker to administer medication or shots.
Just about anyone who is good with dogs can make a career out of dog walking and dog sitting, but it is a competitive business, particularly in large cities, and it is best if you can offer your customers a little something extra—even if all that means is that you’re willing to throw a ball around their backyard for an extra twenty minutes to let their pup burn off some energy.
If you are qualified to do so, you can expand your clientele by offering niche services, such as grooming. If a client works an exhausting job or has physical disabilities that prevent them from properly exercising their dog, your services can be very helpful.
“If you are qualified to do so, you can expand your clientele by offering niche services, such as grooming.”
Care and Compassion. If there’s one thing you absolutely need in order to run a successful dog walking business, it is patience. Just like their owners, dogs will require different things, and it’s up to you to figure out which approach will be beneficial for each individual pup. You might find that a certain dog is uneasy, shy, or timid around you. On the other hand, some dogs might be incredibly excitable and restless, practically bowling you over when they greet you at the door.
Speak with each dog’s owner beforehand and try to determine, to the best of your ability, what their personality is like, and if they have any phobias that might crop up during your time together. I once walked a puppy past a house with a Halloween scarecrow on the lawn. He became frightened, and I had to figure out an alternative route home. Until the holiday was over, we avoided that particular street altogether.
You will have to use your creativity to come up with an action plan for each individual dog that you walk. Over time, you will learn their personalities and be able to anticipate certain issues that are likely to arise.
Have you been considering starting a dog walking or dog sitting business? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
If you enjoyed this post, you should read “4 tips for leash training stubborn dogs.”