The child in many of us longs for a career away from our desks so that we can instead spend the day outside playing with dogs. This dream is a reality for many, but is life as a dog walker as glamorous as we imagine?
Team Localwise sat down with Bonnie Barron, the owner of Walkin’ the Dog SF to learn more about working as a dog walker.
Bonnie’s business is unique in that she takes care of one dog at a time and adjusts her hour-long walks to the needs of each client’s pet.
Dog Walker Responsibilities
1. Recruit Clients
The vast majority of dog walkers are either owner/operators of a sole proprietorship or work as a staff member of a very small dog walking businesses. Given how small most dog walking enterprises are, your role as a dog walker may be to recruit new clients for the business. Provide great service and your existing clients will continue to go to you for dog walks and those clients will recommend your services to their friends!
An experienced dog walker will sometimes walk as many as 5 or 6 dogs at once. Part of the job description is that the walker needs to go house to house to pick the dogs up! One Localwise pro tip is to organize each of your dog walking excursions by neighborhood so that you only have to pick up dogs from one area each time you do business.
3. Walk Dogs
As a dog walker, the more dogs you walk, the more money you make. You will often walk multiple dogs at once and you must be aware of different dogs’ personality types. Learn to prevent fights before they happen and limit your liability!
Jonny Walker and Tails & Trails Dog Services, respectively | Source: Zimbio
4. Train Dogs
Leash manners are essential to a dog's safety. A dog walker must be adept at training the dogs she or he watches so that accidents do not occur. Bonnie says the secret to training a dog is to use "patience and persistence with dogs during the learning process with generous rewards".
5. Clean Dogs
As a dog walker, you do not have the option to only walk dogs during good weather conditions— it can get ruff (har har) out there! Although not all dog walking businesses require it, some expect you to return clients' pets in the same condition in which they were picked up.
Dog Walker Pay
Pay varies drastically between dog walkers. If you are an uncertified, unlicensed walker, you will probably only be able to walk one dog at once and will make little over minimum wage. If you go through the steps to get the necessary training, you can make much more money. In San Francisco, certified dog walkers typically make between $20 and $40 per walk per dog. If you recruit a lot of clients and walk a lot of dogs at once, you can make a lot of money.
Dog Walker Hours
For many, the best part of this job is the hours. If you manage your own clients, you essentially choose your own hours. If you work for a larger dog walking agency expect to work shifts during the times when most of your company's clients are at work (between 9 AM and 6 PM).