Dog walking is a great way to make money on the side and get fit at the same time.
In cities, particularly, there is a lot of call for dog walking services, and it’s well-paid.
Some people even have given up their day job to set up a full-time dog-walking business by joining sites such as Tailster.
Here’s how you can make easy money as a dog walker.
Dog walking is becoming a very popular way to make money on the side in the UK and it’s not surprising.
In London and the South particularly people are willing to pay £10-15 per dog, per hour or part of an hour. So if you walk four at a time you could make £60 an hour! Of course, there are other aspects to this work, so you need to know what the potential costs and downsides are before you dive in.
Being a dog walker is as simple as it sounds. You arrange to pick up the animals, take them for a walk and then return them home. You might need to do it twice a day for each dog and a good walk means a minimum of half an hour – ideally an hour.
Dog walkers charge per dog, per hour. Rates range from about £10-15 per dog, per hour (or half hour in some cases). If you’re able to take several dogs at once that means you can earn significant amounts per day.
However, to start off with you need to be careful not to take on too many dogs for one walking slot. If you have not done this type of work before it might be best to start off with just one dog but you should be able to cope with about three or four dogs depending on their size, speed and levels of obedience early on.
Then, as you get to know their characters, you can organise them into groups that will get on well together. There are no current legal limits on how many dogs you can take out at once but local councils say the worst problems they have are with dog walkers who take out more animals than they can cope with at any one time.
National guidelines suggest that six is the maximum number of dogs that walkers should be able to cope with at one time. However, some local councils have introduced their own rules and in North Lincolnshire, for example, the maximum is four dogs at once. Make sure you are aware of, and abide by, the rules in your area or you could face a fine. Your local council can answer any queries you may have so give them a call before you get started.
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Firstly, you will have to decide whether you want to work for an agency or go at it alone. Both methods have their advantages. You’re more likely to get initial work if you’re registered with an agency but they may charge for taking you on their books and take a cut of your earnings.
Try typing ‘dog walking jobs’ and the name of your local area (say, ‘dog walking London’) into a search engine to see what is on offer or you could register with the national agency Animal Aunts.
A good reputation is often key to getting work so if you want to be professionally vetted then sign up with the National Association of Registered Petsitters. Be warned, however, that membership doesn’t come cheap so if you’re just looking for the odd job, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you choose to be self-employed, you’ll need to think about how you can promote your business.
Putting an advert in a pet shop, vet surgery or on Gumtree.com is a great first step, or why not do some trial dog-walking sessions for friends and ask them to spread the word.
If you’re feeling confident, speak to people walking their dogs in the park. Again, if you walk your own dog already they will trust you more.
Another good starting point is to get business cards printed, be sure to log on to Vistaprint where they offer a set of 100 for £4.99!
Having a good reputation is key for this type of job. You could consider registering with a national association or organisation for dog walkers.
For example, Tailster.com is an online website that can help you get set up as a dog walker or dog boarder for free.
Thousands of dog owners a month come to tailster looking for help when it comes to their dogs – this could be for daily walks, one off dog boarding or regular sitting.
Once you are live, you are able to provide quotes to hundreds of dog owners a week with your own prices – the site offers full insurance for all bookings on the platform and is a great way for any dog lover to earn some extra cash per month, or indeed grow their walking business.
A typical daily walk can allow you to earn £200 per month per dog, and is a great way to keep fit whilst earning money looking after someone’s furry friend so sign-up here.
Consider Pet Business Insurance as they offer a total package; public liability – if the dog runs out into the road and causes a pile up, or bites someone. Care, custody and control cover – looks after the pet itself, if it gets injured while under your care and Key replacement cover – if you lose your employers keys they’ll pay to change the locks. All three together will cost around £128.40 for one person starting out in their first year or £110.40 if you have been operating for over a year.
In tough economic times like these, you might have to sweeten the deal for clients to fight off the competition. Offering both dog walking and pet minding services together will make you very useful, increasing your level of custom.
It’s also a good way of making extra money on top of your dog walking activities. Additional services you might offer are pet feeding, washing pet clothes and bedding, and watering indoor and garden plants if your clients are away for a long weekend in the summer. Equally, vets are happy to see a patient who arrives with their pet sitter as long as payment is pre arranged with the owner.
Routine vet visits for annual vaccinations, flea and worming treatments means a pet can be seen by a vet during the week, which tend to be less busy and therefore less stressful for the pet concerned.
You could also offer a pet B&B to take a dog or small pet, such as a hamster, home with you for a few days, offering full-time company to a pining pooch, or moving in for short periods of time, especially with cats. Best only to do this if you’re experienced at full time pet care. See how to set up a pet sitting operation in our article here.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 or the Animals Act 1971 a dog mustn’t worry livestock on agricultural land.
The person in charge of the dog at the time will be charged with the offence, not the owner. So be aware when walking on downs or farmland, especially in Spring around lambing time. If a dog fouls you have to clean it up by law and dispose of it properly.
Your local council may well give biodegradable poo bags away free, ask for the environmental health department. Check the rules of your local park, these are usually posted at the entrance. It is also useful to have the details of your nearest Dog Warden – contact your local council for details.
You may also want the vet details for each of your charges in case of illness or accidents. You don’t need any training for this work but you could consider a canine first-aid course. Look up local ones in the search engine.
FindExtraWork recommends signing an agreement with any new customers in order to protect yourself from liabilities.
The best idea is a dog walking consent form in which you can include clauses such as who is responsible for the cost of emergency treatment when the dog is in your care, and also an agreement by the owner that the dog will have an annual vaccination and regular worming in to stop the possible spread of disease to other dogs in your care.
You should speak to a solicitor for advice about drawing up a consent form and the conditions you should include.
If you’re looking for work as a dog-walker, or you want someone to walk your lovely pooch, tell everyone about it by commenting below!