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How to be a Dog Walker
In this article, I share how to be a dog walker with no experience and learn how I became a dog walker. Turning my love for dogs into a $10000 side hustle a year.
I started off looking for a dog walker for my puppy Labrador Link at the time I didn’t start off asking myself how to be a dog walker. I saw that there weren’t many dog walkers near me, so I decided I would create an account and see where it would take me.
Initially, the process was slow I created my account and waited for approval, and a few days later, they emailed me asking me to add more details to my profile. After fixing up my profile, I was approved a week later.
Great! I can start making money now, right? Well, not exactly. After two months, I had almost forgotten that I had signed up to be a dog walker. Then, one day, I received a message asking me to do three dog walks a week for a 10-year-old poodle!
How much money would I earn for this booking? $10 per walk, but wait, it gets better. Pawshake takes a cut of 19%, so I end up with $8 per walk. My strategy was to undercut other top-rated dog walkers so I could get some reviews. This worked for me, and I quickly climbed in the ratings. The strategy is important if you want to learn how to be a dog walker, I will explain this in further detail later on in the article.
Now, I need to organize a meet and greet with the owners, which Pawshake recommends. I highly recommend this as well. Getting to know the dog and owners before accepting a booking can save you from being dragged down the street by an untrained dog. Lucy, the standard poodle, turned out to be lovely, and the owners were very friendly. We exchanged numbers and agreed to communicate over text. I find texting much better as the Pawshake dog walking app often has issues or logs you out after a certain period.
My First Pawshake Dog Walk
The day of my first dog walk! I arrived at 7:00 am early because I still had my 9-5 IT job to do. The plan was to finish by 7:30 am and arrive at my full-time office job by 8:00 am.
I opened the app selected the booking and clicked start walk, the app then started a timer and a GPS tracker similar to running apps like Strava. Now that I have more experience I make sure to start the walk as soon as I arrive, as sometimes the owners can take a while to answer the door or get the dog ready, and a 30-minute walk can turn into 45 minutes.
I always made sure to take pictures so I could share them with the owners. This is one of the best things you can do. As a dog owner myself, seeing updates on my dogs while I’m away making me so happy!
When the booking ended, I posted the picture I took, giving the owners a GPS route of the walk. There are also options to update the owners on the pet’s potty breaks.
Below are two pictures of Lucy the Poodle from my first-ever dog walk and a long-running Pawshake dog-walking client of mine.
Dog Walking Earnings Breakdown
How much do dog walkers make? Well, after my first Pawshake booking finished, I earned $24. I am now successfully a professional dog walker! I will cover how much I earn currently later in the article.
Let’s break that down $10 x 3 walks = $30, now minus the Pawshake fees which are 19% ($30 * 0.19 = $5.7) $30 – $5.7 = $24.30
Now we can calculate my hourly rate each walk took 30 minutes, a 5-minute drive there, and 5 minutes back so the total time was 40 minutes. 40 * 3 = 120 minutes or 2 hours. Therefore 2 hours divided by $24.30 is ($24.3 / 2 = $12.15) equals $12.15
So, there you go Pawshake dog walking earned me $12.15 an hour well below the Australian national minimum wage of $21.38 per hour (as of July 2022)
How To Be a Dog Walker with Quality Reviews
I reached out to the owners for a review which they happily did. They were also very happy with my services and booked me for 3 months 3 days a week!
I gave a professional service to my customers and their pets for an unbeatable price I usually got reviews instantly after each booking otherwise I would reach out and request a review which almost everyone did. I also made sure that every booking I took was through the app allowing me to receive reviews for every walk. It is also against most app terms and conditions to take bookings outside of the app so be aware of that. You also won’t be covered by insurance if you do so.
How To Be a Dog Walker – 3 Strategies for Beginners
As a beginner to dog walking the hardest part is building up a client base. I started slow as I was not sure if dog walking was for me. Once I realized how much satisfaction I got from dog walking jobs, I used strategies to scale my dog walking business fast!
These 3 strategies will allow you to build up a large base of clients in the shortest amount of time. I learned these from personally making these mistakes and learning from them.
1. Undercut the Competition
Undercutting is usually frowned upon in business and not considered a great long-term strategy as it creates a race to the bottom where everyone is undercutting each other and driving the price down. However, as new dog walkers, we need to build our reviews up to establish credibility in the dog walking space. Pet owners put a large amount of trust in dog walkers to care for their animals and having positive reviews is extremely important to provide the proof needed to gain the trust of new clients.
I browsed the Pawshake app and compared what other dog walkers and pet sitters were charging for dog walks. Most charge between $20 to $30 even some vet nurses were charging upwards of $40 for a 30-minute walk!
So with the research on my local market done, I set my price to $10 beating all the competition in my local area. I would suggest making sure you do your research in your local area too. Make sure to consider the distance you will have to travel to the pet’s home with current costs of fuel prices!
This research article explains the importance of positive reviews and how they play in buyers’ purchase decisions. This is why undercutting the competition is so important to build up reviews. I am now one of the top-rated dog walkers in my city Canberra, Australia.
2. Provide the Best Service
How to be a good dog walker? Providing the best dog walking service will benefit you and your clients by helping to build a better relationship with the owners and pets goes a long way to be a good dog walker.
Being a good dog walker involves focusing on safety, and being sure to keep the dog on a leash at all times even if the dog owner is ok with for them to be off leash you can never control what another dog will do. Understanding dog behavior can help you provide a great experience for you and the dog. I grew up with dogs and have learned a lot over the years however even if you don’t have experience dog walking YouTube has plenty of resources to learn.
Make sure to be punctual replying to booking requests fast within at least 1 hour, arriving early to meet and greets, and dog walking bookings. Building relationships with the dogs will gain the owner’s trust and make sure to interact with the dog during the meet and greet!
Communicating with the customers helps them have peace of mind I send a dog walk report through the Pawshake App for every walk and do my best to take a nice picture. My tip for taking nice pictures of pets is to get low and takes lots of photos!
Being organized will help make you be a good dog walker having all the equipment and accessories you need with you will save you from unwanted stress and also impress the pet owners. I have written an article on the 5 best dog walking equipment for professional dog walkers. Take a look at that post to see the equipment and accessories I use to be a successful professional dog walker.
PRO TIP: Overdeliver where you can! Some things I do is bring in the owner’s bins if it is bin day, water plants I notice need watering, and mow the owner’s lawn if they are away for long periods. Going the extra mile will be a sure way to get a positive review and is excellent for word of mouth!
3. Tell Everyone What You Do!
How do I sell myself as a dog walker? Word of mouth is a huge factor! I am in Facebook groups, I tell my friends and family, actively post on my Instagram, sharing with other pet owners at the dog park.
This is the first part of this article I will be writing more soon. Please leave a comment if you would like me to cover a specific topic in more detail and I can update the article. If you would like to know more about Pawshake dog walking or other blogs I have posted check out the home page of my blog.