In the rat race of everyday life, you may not get as much time with your canine pal as you’d like, but as your schedule changes, his doesn’t. He still needs to be walked and exercised as part of his healthy routine. When it comes time to snap the leash to the collar, if you’re not available, a professional dog walker, for a fee, can step in to provide your best friend with a luxurious stroll.
How much do dog walkers get paid per hour?
When it comes time for your dog to hit the streets under the watchful eye of a professional dog walker, you’ll need to be prepared to open your wallet. While there is no set price for a professional dog walker, you should be prepared to pay anywhere from $10 to $30 per 30-minute walk, or more. Your particular dog walker may charge a “per walk,” fee or may charge by the hour. Pricing scales can vary if you have multiple dogs looking to stretch their legs.
Your location will play a role in the cost of this service. If you live in a rural area, your dog walker may charge a travel or mileage fee, and if she’ll be transporting your dog to walk in the safety of a park, you should expect to pay a higher price for this transport service.
Additional charges may be incurred for such add-ons as:
- Doggy daycare
Be particular when choose a dog walker. After all, you’re placing your best friend in their care. Ask for references, read reviews if your dog walker has a website, and always enter into a written contract, so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for.
Average Salary For Dog Walkers
A love of dogs and a willingness to brave all kinds of weather makes for the ideal dog walker. No matter how much you love dogs, though, it’s wise to make sure you can make a reasonable income as a dog walker before you pursue it as a business. The salaries of other dog walkers can give you an indication of how much money you can make.
The average dog walker in the United States makes $43,000 a year, according to the Simply Hired job board. This estimate is based on the salaries listed for all job listings that mention a dog walker. It doesn’t account for the various details of all dog walking job listings, but it’s a reasonable estimate for how much you can expect to make in a year with a dog-walking service.
One factor unaccounted for in the national average is the market for dog walking services in various parts of the country. A dog walker in Boston, for example, makes almost $10,000 more per year than one in Charlotte, NC, according to Salary Expert. This may be because dog owners in Boston are willing to pay more for the service or because fewer people need it in Charlotte. Dog walkers in northern states average salaries of $21,365, while those in western states average $19,490 and those in southern states average $17,594.
By Years Experience
As with any profession, customers are willing to pay you more if you prove you have the experience to provide exceptional service. With one to four years of experience, you can expect to make between $21,000 and $40,000 a year, according to PayScale. That’s an average salary of $30,500. The data doesn’t list the salaries of more experienced dog walkers, but as the national average is $43,000 you may be able to make as much.
Dog walkers don’t always just walk dogs. You can make more money by providing additional services to your customers, such as pet sitting and grooming. The average pet sitter makes $32,000 a year, and the average dog groomer makes $20,000, according to Simply Hired. Adding even a fraction of these incomes to your regular salary as a dog walker can substantially boost your income.
The tax for being self-employed is roughly 15.3 percent as of 2011, but it may vary depending on how much money your business earns. Since the dog walker salaries from Simply Hired, PayScale and Salary Expert are presumably before taxes, dog walkers likely take home 84.7 percent of the salaries given. This means, for example, that the national average salary for a dog walker isn’t $43,000 but $36,421.
How To Run A Successful Dog Walking Business: 5 Key Elements
All dogs require regular walks to help them expend energy and get exercise and to provide them with time to use the bathroom. Dog owners aren’t always available to take their dogs on walks, due to demanding work schedules, family obligations/emergencies or being away on vacation. They may rely on a professional dog walker to assist them by walking their dogs throughout the neighborhood once or several times a day. Dog walking business owners have to focus on five key ingredients, which profoundly impact whether or not their businesses run successfully.
Running a successful dog walking business
- Ensure that you’re regarded as a highly qualified dog walker by obtaining experience with dogs, your dog CPR certification and insurance for your dog walking business. Dog owners want to hire professionals who are dedicated to protecting both dog owners and their dogs. Training in dog obedience, experience with pet sitting and working in a veterinarian office or with a groomer can also help demonstrate your qualifications.
- Select geographical locations that are heavily populated with dogs, as well as affluent owners. Dog owners with large amounts of disposable income and those individuals located in large metropolitan areas are more likely to use dog walker services. You can find pertinent demographics about neighborhoods in your area on your state’s website or through your local chamber of commerce.
- Establish an online presence so that potential customers can find your business and services when they need you to walk their pets. An online presence can include a website that lists information about your business, credentials, services, and pricing; a blog that offers tips on caring for dogs; or social media profiles that detail your services and provide dog tips. Your website, blog, and social media profiles should include your phone number and email address, as well as a brief description of the locations you cover.
- Keep track of your appointments using an online, desk, or wall calendar that lets you list each appointment date, time, location, and the dog owners and their dogs’ names. Efficiently tracking appointments will ensure that you don’t arrive late or miss appointments altogether, which can damage your reputation as a dog walker.
- Develop an ongoing marketing strategy, filled with tactics to keep a steady clientele for your dog walking business. Your plan may include blogging on your website, guest blogging on pet blogs and websites, advertising on websites that target the communities you serve, sending out direct mail promotions, or sponsoring local dog-related events. You can also attract new clients by developing a referral system that gives your existing customers discounts if their friends, family, or colleagues sign up for your services.
What Insurance Do I Need For A Dog Walking Business
A dog walking business is one of several pet-related career options for the animal lover. It requires almost no overhead costs, but there are some start-up expenses to consider. Insurance is essential in this type of profession. Dog walkers are at an increased risk for personal injury as well as lawsuits. Different types of insurance cover these situations, and having the appropriate coverage gives a dog walking business a competitive advantage. Pet owners are more likely to seek the services of a dog walker who is bonded and insured than one who is not.
Become a member of a professional pet care organization. These organizations provide several member benefits. Some offer insurance discounts, mentoring, and business promotion. Compare the benefits of nationally recognized organizations, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and the Pet Care Services Association, to see which is best for your business.
Select a liability insurance provider. Some companies offer a small business package that includes liability insurance, or you can find a company that provides it separately. Liability insurance helps protect you in the event of a lawsuit. The pet owner may sue you if his dog is injured or dies while in your care, and in many states, you are liable if the dog bites or attacks someone while under your supervision. If you are successfully sued, the insurance company will pay out the amount of coverage you purchased. For example, if you are buying $1 million worth of coverage and are sued for $2 million, the insurance covers half.
Verify that you are covered for job-related personal injury. Your health insurance may not cover dog bites sustained on the job so additional coverage may be necessary. If your health insurance provider does not cover personal injury, consult a home-based business insurance provider for information about worker’s compensation. If your dog walking business employs other people, you may want to consider criminal insurance. If your business is web-based, Internet business insurance can protect against online issues, such as copyright infringement.
Purchase a surety bond. This assures your clients that you will fulfill your end of the agreement to walk their dog and protects clients in the event that you or another dog walker in your employ steals from them or causes property damage. Bonding companies sell surety bonds, usually for an annual premium.
How To Advertise A Dog Walking Business
A dog-walking and pet-sitting business has no potential for success without clients. Therefore advertising is a must. There are a variety of advertising methods that are effective and will not break your bank. With some time, effort, ingenuity, and creativity, you can successfully advertise your dog-walking and pet-sitting business and gain the clients you need.
Dog walking advertising ideas
- Keep business cards with you at all times. You can create and print your own business cards for the cost of ink and card stock paper. Alternatively, you can purchase business cards from an online retailer for a few dollars. Provide a business card to everyone you meet that you believe could benefit from your services. This could include people that you meet at the dog park and the pet store.
- Create fliers advertising your dog-walking and pet-sitting business. These can be printed at home or done professionally. Ensure that you include the name of your company, the key services that you provide, your prices, and your contact information on the flier. Post these fliers in visible places where people with pets are likely to see them, such as community bulletin boards.
- Network with other professionals that work in the pet industry, such as groomers, veterinarians and trainers. Ask if it would be possible for you to leave your business cards or fliers in their establishments in return for agreeing to mention their businesses to your clients.
- Create a website. A website can be created online inexpensively. Ensure that the name of your business, the services that you offer, your prices and your contact information are clearly stated on your website.
- Advertise on free online venues, such as Craigslist.