We’re all dog fans here at Swapaw, so becoming a dog walker is a dream come true. Imagine it – days spent strolling the parks with a pack of happy dogs in tow. Now, that’s what we call the perfect occupation!
However, let’s get down to the brass tacks. How much can you make as a dog walker? Is it a viable occupation?
As is the case with many jobs, the money depends on your location. In somewhere such as London, there’s a huge demand for dog walkers. People with busy jobs will need someone to walk their dogs regularly. And the sheer size of the population means London is somewhere with plenty of doggies needing exercise.
In smaller, rural places the demand won’t be as high, so you must research competition very well before setting up your business.
A 2015 survey found that dog walkers can make up to £64,000 a year – but we reckon this is top of the range stuff, and it will depend on how many dogs you can handle at once and what the demand is for your area. To handle walking packs, you need experience and training. Many people assume it’s a “walk in the park” to walk dogs. However, if you want to make a living out of it, you have to be prepared to handle all sorts of breeds, temperaments and characters, which could be challenging if you have more dogs at once. It’s physically hard to do, too. Some dogs pull a lot, others don’t want to walk. Also, you need to clean up after dogs. Poop-scooping after one dog is relatively easy. Five or more present a real challenge.
Roughly, dog walkers can easily earn about £10-12 per dog per one hour of walking. Obviously, the more dogs you take, the more money you can make. If you have 5 walks a day, 25 days of the month, you can make around £1400 a month. You can easily combine the 5 dogs in 2 small packs and if the dogs are conveniently located from each other, this won’t take you more than 3-3.5 hours a day.
In an area where there are fewer service providers, you’ll be able to charge more.
As a general rule, the limits on the pack number is about four for someone who knows how to handle multiple dogs. This will depend, however, on the obedience level of the dog and how socialised it is. Your clients may include owners of dogs who haven’t been well trained or who don’t like other dogs. Many councils don’t allow more than 4 dogs per one dog walker on public places. Also – it gets way too risky for you and the dogs if you have more than 4 dogs at once, as you won’t be able to handle the situation if an accident occurs.
Typically, you’ll charge less for an additional dog from the same household, or additional walks.
You must factor in your expenses if you want to make a profit. This will include the costs of a fully-equipped van, fuel costs for bringing pets to parks and the insurance you’ll need. You might also need a permit or licence to walk dogs in parks, depending where you live. In London, for example, this can be upwards of £300 a year.
The best way to make dog walking your full-time occupation is to dedicate at least a couple of months to build your clientele base. This is very hard to do if you have another job with changing shifts, as for many dog owners the reliability of the dog walker is a key factor. If someone wants you to walk their dog every day Monday – Friday, it’d be very disappointing if you keep changing your availability every week. Dog walking can easily be combined with an evening or weekend job with fixed shifts.
Dog walking might be something you consider as a side hustle – a way of making money doing something you love outside of your ‘real’ job, which is fine if you do it as a hobby. If you want to be a professional dog walker though, it requires a higher level of dedication.
The key to making dog walking a well paid occupation is to sort out the logistics. Things to consider when starting up:
- Is the dog friendly and can it be walked in a pack?
- Is it worth taking a client who requires individual walks around midday, even if they pay more?
- How far is the dog from the rest of your clients?
- Two or more dogs from the same household should always take a priority, as they’re usually easy to handle and the compensation is good.
- Get a bike, as this could make travelling between clients much quicker, plus – you’ll tired of walking.
- 30 mins walks are usually worth it, only if they’re really close to your location or some of the other clients.
At Swapaw, we work with dog walkers all across London. We offer fixed compensation for 1h walks and all our walkers are covered by our full dog walking insurance, so you don’t need to worry about this. We also offer compensation for last-minute cancellations and cover for when you need to be away, so you’ll never lose clients if you need to skip walks. More details and to apply, please visit our special page for dog walkers.
No doubt about it, dog walking is a fantastic job to do. No office politics, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and work ‘colleagues’ who are delighted to see you every day.