Table of Contents
- Dog Walker: How To Prepare to be the best
- 1. Know and Understand Your Target Market
- 2. Consider Your Availability for the Job
- 3. Consider the Initial Costs and ROI of Dog Walkers
- 4. How Are You Going to Advertise Your Dog Walking Business?
- 5. Make a List of Gear and Equipment You'll Need For Dog Walking
- 6. Your Safety and Liability as a Dog Walker
- 7. Communication and Proper Planning
- 8. Educate Yourself
- How Much Does a Dog Walker gets Paid?
- Dog Walking Average Rates
- How to get Dog Walking Clients
- Dog Walking Services: Common Customer Questions
- Is there a Demand for Dog Walkers?
- Dog Walker Final Thoughts and How To Improve
Maybe you are a student and need a part-time job as a dog walker. Maybe you want to go all out and try to make a living from dog walking because you simply love dogs.
No matter the reason, here are some tips that you can follow if you want to know how to become a dog walker, and a successful one at that.
As with any other dog business, preparing and having a good plan for this new venture. Jumping into any pet-related business, whether full- or part-time, is a major decision that needs to be taken seriously and considered carefully.
Doing a little bit of research on how to be a good dog walker, what these people do and how they start will help you understand exactly what you're getting into and whether or not it's a good option for your situation.
Some people assume that the dog walking business is a simple job that anyone can do.
As a dog walker, let me tell you – that's not true at all. If you're hoping that your love of dogs is the only qualification you need, think again.
Hopefully, after you go through these tips, you'll have a better idea about dog walking.
Dog Walker: How To Prepare to be the best
Do you live by a lot of apartment buildings? Are there a lot of working families around you?
You may love dogs and really want to walk them for cash, but if the market isn’t there, it won’t work.
I live in an area with a lot of retired folks. They are always out walking their dogs.
Unless they get sick or hurt, I probably won’t be able to find regular dog walking jobs around my area. If you are willing to travel, that would be a whole different story.
Your strength and constitution will also factor in. How many dogs can you effectively walk at one time? If you live in an area with only a few prospects, it would be fine if you can only walk one dog at a time.
ASK A DOG WALKER: What's the Dog Walker Salary & Dog Walking Rates?
2. Consider Your Availability for the Job
Most people need dog walkers because they themselves do not have the time to do it. Maybe you can only walk in the morning or in the evening, but a lot of people need a dog walker while they are at work – this means in the middle of the day.
To be a successful dog walker, you need to be available when people need you.
Being available at the right times could mean the middle of the night (for shift-workers), on rainy days, on snowy days, or just in the mid-morning. Decide when you are willing to work and make sure your clients are clear on your schedule before the work starts.
3. Consider the Initial Costs and ROI of Dog Walkers
In any business, you need to be competitive. Don’t charge $20 for an hour walk if everyone else charges $15 or less, especially if you're just starting out. That said, it's the same with becoming a dog walker cutting yourself short is also not a good idea. You will need to cover your own expenses as well as make a profit, thus once again, proper research and planning are key here.
My best tip for this is to call other area dog walkers and see what their going rate is. Online classified ads (like Craigslist) are a great place to check out your competition.
Further into this, make sure you ask potential dog walking clients if they will provide leashes, harnesses, etc. (normally, they do), or if you will be expected to provide these items yourself. See how other dog walkers work in terms of this.
4. How Are You Going to Advertise Your Dog Walking Business?
Primarily, this will depend on your budget and your location. If you just want to walk dogs in your neighborhood and do a small-time thing, you can put flyers on cars, flyers in mailboxes, or business cards at other local businesses that allow that.
Supermarkets and flea markets often have bulletin boards for community announcements. Remember to not pin to telephone poles or street signs without checking the laws in your area – that may be illegal. Some areas even have bans on placing flyers on cars.
If you are willing to travel around, you could put an ad in local papers, on Craigslist, or other classified websites. Another popular site for these services is Backpage. Just make sure you stay safe and always meet potential clients in a public place.
Even if your plan is to go big and start a bona fide dog walking business, it's best, to begin with walking dogs in your neighborhood to understand how it works and familiarize yourself with the process. Going big just means more dogs, more clients, and more phone calls, so you can always expand from there.
5. Make a List of Gear and Equipment You'll Need For Dog Walking
This is an often-overlooked section by aspiring dog walkers. If you are going to be walking around for possibly hours a day, you need the right stuff. Dogs can’t hold it and wait for good weather. Dog’s need walking in the rain, sleet, cold, heat, etc.
Once you have your own rain gear, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, hats, and anything else you may need for any situation, then you may even want shoes for the dogs. The costs for these items will need to be factored into your rates for walking, so do the research beforehand. Factor all pricing as your initial investment to see if it's doable.
Here are lists of gear you'll likely need – check prices and see what you can afford:
Other doggy gear that you may want to splurge on but is really optional includes:
- A doggy water bottle
- Collapsible dog bowls
- Dog GPS trackers (in case of emergency)
- Raincoats for dogs
- Sunglasses for dogs
The above gear is optional but may be necessary if you're planning to do long walks with dogs, and especially for extreme climates – tons of rain, or sun, or snow, etc.
6. Your Safety and Liability as a Dog Walker
Be prepared to stand up for yourself and say no. If it is a blizzard and your health and well-being and the dog’s health and well-being are at risk, you will need to be able to refuse walking dogs now and again. Sometimes people can be pushy communicating their needs, so you need to have enough self-confidence to argue your point.
Make sure you are licensed and insured if your state requires it. You should always have insurance, even if your state does not require it. Be ready to pass a background check and a drug test if your employer wants these.
If you'll be working for yourself, make up a contract stating what you will and will not do. Put down what you will and will not be liable for as well. Have every client sign it, and you'll need to sign it. If possible, even get a witness or notary to sign it.
7. Communication and Proper Planning
The most important thing in starting your dog walking business is the most important thing when launching any business venture. Sit down and really think. Try to think of everything that could occur – broken leashes, lost dogs, biting incidents – everything.
Do not jump into dog walking on a whim.
Get a friend or family member to help you brainstorm ideas. Then make a plan for everything you thought of. Plan how you will handle it, what you will do, what is the owner’s responsibility and so forth.
Now, put those things in your contract. Successful working relationships are built on clear communication and this will help you start your path as a dog walker.
8. Educate Yourself
Furthermore, it's always good to still educate yourself even you're knowledgeable about dogs. You should never stop learning.
It's important to research different dog behaviors. Each dog has a different personality, you should know what to do in different kinds of situations.
Moreover, one of the most important things is learning pet first aid skills. This will be a great look for you as a safer option than other dog walkers.
Meanwhile, you can also learn more about the new dog collars and other dog accessories. Dog collars will depend on the specific dog and in some instances, the owner's dog collar is not suited for their dogs.
Educate yourself and improve and become the best dog walker out there.
How Much Does a Dog Walker gets Paid?
A 30-minute dog walk price ranges from $10 to $35. But the average charge would be $20.
However, the salary of dog walkers depends on the area. Moreover, dog walkers' income can be inconsistent. Unfortunately, dogs may die, or the owner may not be able to afford a dog walker anymore.
There are still a lot of factors to consider to know the price range of a dog walker. These factors include the number of dogs, length of the dog walk, and the number of walks per day.
Dog Walking Average RatesA guide for the average price for dog walking.
|30-Minute Walk||$15 - 30|
|Hourly||$30 - $60|
|Per Walk||$15 - $40|
|Monthly||$280 - $360|
How to get Dog Walking Clients
In this day in age, we have switched to the digital world. This can be a great help to find clients for your dog walking business.
Websites and Social Media
Firstly, a great way to start is creating your dog walking website or even a Facebook page. Target your social media posts to your locals if you're just starting out.
Moreover, you can start a blog about your dog walking experiences.
Secondly, another way to get clients is to get recommended by vets. Having a good relationship with the local vet can help you boost your clients.
Utilize Dog parks
Going to dog parks and getting to know not just the owners, but also their dogs is also a great help for boosting your business.
But don't stop there, you can also get endorsed by local pet shops, dog trainers, and even dog shelters.
Discounts and Promos
Furthermore, if you're just starting out your business. Having discounts or promos can help attract dog owners to try and get possible future clients.
Moreover, if you want to go old school, you can always post posters or flyers all over your town about your business.
Dog Walking Services: Common Customer Questions
Firstly, you'll be needing a backup plan. In some cases, clients will have to cancel their appointments with you and a cancellation policy can help.
A thorough procedure and additional cancelation fees can be a great way to start.
A Dog Walker's insurance can help you protect your business in case of untimely damages. Insurance is about managing risks for your dog walking services.
Having a dog walking insurance policy can also boost your credibility to the public as they see your services as a serious and responsible business.
Background and Experience
Furthermore, your background and experience with walking dogs are a big factor for your clients.
Clients will be asking for your training experiences, how will you handle dogs with temperament issues and other first-aid knowledge about dogs.
Moreover, future clients for your dog walking services may also ask for past clients' referrals.
Is there a Demand for Dog Walkers?
When the pandemic first hit, a lot of people started to adopt dogs for companions because they are forced to stay at home. Unfortunately, dog walkers and dog sitters took a hit from this health crisis.
However, now that these restrictions are being lifted and now owners are going back to their respective works, there's now a demand for dog walkers and dog sitters.
Dog Walker Final Thoughts and How To Improve
If you love dogs, have extra time on your hands, and looking to get extra cash, a great gig is to start a business as a dog walker.
However, starting a pet business like dog walking is not an easy task. It's not just about walking dogs because there's a lot of things to consider when learning how to become a good dog walker.
Firstly, you have to consider your area and target market. Your area can be a strength, but can also be a weakness.
You also have to consider your time and the costs of equipment. When you're just starting out, you won't be able to get a lot of profit. That's why you'll need to plan out a financial strategy before.
Another thing you'll need to plan out is how you'll advertise your gig. Understand that you're still starting and you don't have clients yet. A great way to start is by creating a website or a social media page about your business.
Due to the spread of Covid-19, there's a high demand for dog walkers these days as people are now returning to their jobs.
Furthermore, planning and researching will always be the key. You can never stop learning things. There are always new trends and techniques that you can learn with dogs.
These are the tips that you need if you're asking how to become a dog walker. Now go out there and be the best one in your area.
READ NEXT: How to Write A Dog Walking Business Plan
WANT TO SHARE THIS?