4 considerations before you start

Can You Make Money Being a Dog Walker?

by Debra Karplus

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If you love animals, seem to have a special gift for communicating with them, are in good health, manage time well, and have a bit of a head for business, there is money to be made walking other people's dogs for a fee by becoming a professional dog walker.

Getting started may be easier than you think!

It's no secret to friends and neighbors that you love dogs. Unexpectedly, one of your friends contacts you and mentions that she has an especially demanding weekend ahead. Since you and her dog seem to get along well, she wonders if she could pay you $20 a day to take her dog for a few walks during the course of the weekend. You agree, and much to your surprise, it was a fun, easy way to earn $40. It also provided an opportunity to get some well-needed exercise. Word gets around, and other people ask for your help with their dogs. Some even offer more money.

If people are paying you to perform a service, then you are a business.

Before you fill your time doing too much dog walking, you want to make sure you are tending to the details properly. Start by contacting your city and county office to inquire if any sort of zoning issues or registration or license is required for what you are doing and if there are any special rules and ordinances specific to your dog walking endeavor. Probably your service is no different from what the teenager down the street is doing as a babysitter, but it never hurts to be safe and ask.

Once you learn that everything you are doing is legitimate and legal, you want to make sure you are charging a reasonable rate for what you are doing. There are companies such as Rover.com that offer dog walking services. You might want to see what services they offer and for what price. Possibly they offer grooming, for example. Depending on the going rate in your area, the type of neighborhood, and the length of walk in miles and minutes, you could charge anywhere from $10 to $150.

Can You Make Money Being a Dog Walker?

Treat your business as a business if you want it to provide you a reasonable hourly wage.

Most start-up businesses begin with a business plan. Once you determine how much you will charge per dog per hour, you need to decide how many dogs you can comfortably walk at the same time. You will need to know the individual dog to make some of these decisions; dog lovers know that some dogs are just easier to take out on a leash than others. You also need to calculate how much time you actually have to offer your dog walking services. If you have a full-time job, you may be limited to weekends and possibly evenings, depending on how demanding your job is and how firm the end time is of your work day.

You also want to decide what specific goals you have for yourself and for your dog walking business. Do you want to walk dogs temporarily to supplement your income? Or do you hope to develop and grow your business to make it your sole source of income? Work the numbers to determine how much money you would need to earn and how many dogs and hours you would have to work to meet this financial goal.

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To be extraordinarily cautious, you may want to contact your insurance agent and see if you need any special coverage. What if Fido gets into a dog fight or eats something on your walk that makes him sick?

A good reputation will get you far in the dog walking business.

Most businesses promote themselves by marketing with a classy website or passing out flyers or business cards. However, if you do a good job walking people's dogs, word will quickly get around. You might ultimately need to turn away business if there is too much or maybe hire a helper, such as a mature teen or pre-teen who can handle the job responsibly.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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