Becoming a Dog Walker

I was sitting at my desk reading the work general discussion board when I saw an employee inquiring as to what company to hire to walk their dogs. I then read people posting that they paid $15 and up per day on a mere 15-20 minute dog walk. I quickly devised out the math and realized I could easily make $45 an hour in just my community alone. That is when the dream began.

In January 2006, I left my job and started my own dog walking business. At first I accepted every assignment and drove all over northern Virginia. While the typical dog walker works from 11:30-2:00, I was lucky and had assignments start at 9:30 AM and go through 3:30 PM. However, this also made for really long days and lots of mileage to be put on my car. However, I loved getting outside in the sunshine and enjoyed the company of the dogs. Then the first day of walking two huge golden retrievers in pouring down rain came. I wondered if it was such a good idea as I got soaked because I was unable to hold an umbrella and walk the hard to contain dogs at the same time.

Being a dog walker does have its ups and downs. Consider everything before taking the leap, but know that it is a rewarding career. While the rain, snow, and hot temperatures aren’t ideal, it is wonderful to show up to a client’s home and find an excited dog waiting for you. After all, when was the last time your office cheered just because you showed up for work? A wagging tail with a happy face beats sitting in traffic, trying to stay awake in meetings, and counting the hours as they pass so you can leave for the day.

The money is also very good and the best part is that you get to be your own boss. Set the time of day that you can work as a dog walker or pet sitter and it’s a wonderful gig. If you are a stay at home Mom looking to fill in some time during the day while the children are at preschool, school, or summer camp, this is an ideal assignment for you. We also hire many people fresh out of college (or even attending college) so they can start earning money before seeking full-time employment and commuting in traffic. Lastly ex-military or ex-government workers also find the career of a dog walker or pet sitter rewarding. It’s a great way to still get out of the house, but isn’t a full-time assignment to take away from the retirement bliss.

Do your deligent research before signing on. Ensure you are responsible to be able to commit to a company. Nothing is worse than taking on new walks and realizing a week later that it isn’t the job for you. A switch in dog walkers can result in the company losing clients as well as can be confusing for the dog to have a different walker after so little time so commit yourself to at least six months. You also might consider starting out as a petsitter so you can see if you like the job before committing yourself to clients and the company for an everyday walk. Also bear in mind the majority of pet sitting companies hire independent contractors so be prepared to pay 15% in taxes since no taxes will be taken out of your wages. However, if you can see yourself walking dogs and caring for pets while their owners go away on vacation, what are you waiting for? With summer around the corner, it’s a great way to work-out while you work. Take the plunge and start contacting companies to get started as a dog walker!