Dog walking is one of those careers that seems like it’s perfect for dog lovers. After all, it seems like it would be a lot of fun to spend your day around dogs, walking around town, and taking in the sights. Sure, you might have to clean up every once in a while but it would still probably be much more fun than being stuck inside an office all day. The only thing it really needs to be perfect, it seems, would be the right paycheck.
The question of how much do dog walkers make is something that’s a little harder to answer than you might imagine. Our guide is intended to help you not just figure out what the raw numbers are when it comes to figuring out a dog walker salary, but also to figure out what goes into those numbers. If you’re actually interested in this job as a career, we’ll also give you a few tips that can help you to figure out how to maximize your income as a dog walker.
Roughly How Much Do Dog Walkers Make?
One of the biggest problems with figuring out how much dog walkers make is trying to find official income sources. There’s no official governmental designation for the dog walking career, for example, so you’ll have to do some digging to get the real numbers. One of the best ways to do this is to take a look at a category of workers who are considered ‘nonfarm caretakers’. While this actually encompasses a huge number of jobs, you can start to figure out the upper and lower bounds of what a dog walker could potentially make each year.
So, what do individuals in this career field make? Well, on average they make just under twenty-five thousand dollars per year. The very bottom of the pack will make around nineteen thousand per year, while the highest earners make closer to thirty-eight thousand dollars per year. Given that this salary range can actually include some very specialized workers like those who work in zoos, you can probably guess that most dog walkers are going to end up falling somewhere closer to the middle of the pack when it comes to their yearly earnings.
What Do Dog Walkers Make per Hour?
While there’s honestly not that much data out there to figure out what dog walkers might make as a salary, there’s a lot more data to help us figure out what a dog walker might make per hour. This is largely because most dog walkers work in hourly positions, with many holding jobs that have a lot more in common with gig positions.
So, how much does a dog walker make per hour? As you might expect, there’s a fairly large range of rates. At the very top of the range is just over twenty-seven dollars per hour, while the lowest-paid dog walkers are going to make just under ten dollars an hour. The average pay is just under fifteen dollars per hour.
One of the reasons that it is important to look at dog walking as an hourly job is that it is usually very much a part-time position. Instead of looking at the job as something that’s going to bring in a salary every year, you might want to spend some time thinking about it as a job that’s going to work as a side hustle. Those who tend to make the most money as dog walkers are individuals who offer multiple services, like dog training, boarding, and grooming.
It’s also important to remember that the hourly rates for any given dog walker are going to vary depending on how they find their work. Some workers get their work on their own, while others might split part of their fees with a service that helps find them work. As such, the hourly fee that a walker brings in isn’t necessarily the fee that their customers will end up paying.
Self-Employed Dog Walkers vs. Dog Walking Services
If we are going to break things down a little further, we can actually see that there is a big difference between a dog walker who does the job casually and one who is actually working to build up a dog walking business. If you take a look at how those doggie entrepreneurs are actually doing compared to their gig work competition, you’ll see another huge divide between individuals in that field. In fact, those dog walkers who actually work at the job full-time as their own bosses make nearly double what the competition makes, with an average rate of just under thirty dollars per hour.
While that’s a lot of difference when it comes to money, there’s also the fact that these walkers take home one hundred percent of their profits. They don’t share them with other employees and they don’t have to give an app a cut – something that’s definitely worth considering if you want to get into this business.
What Impacts How Much a Dog Walker Makes?
As we can see from looking at the averages, no two dog walking professionals seem to make exactly the same amount of money. There’s enough variation in the fees that there are obviously factors that separate those at the top of the pack from those closer at the bottom. Looking at these factors can give you a better idea of what you can actually expect to make as a dog walker.
It’s probably not all that surprising to note that where you work is going to have a big impact on how much you are going to make. An awful lot of this has to do with the average pay in the state where you reside, with states that have an overall higher cost of living generally paying their dog walkers a little bit better – if your clients already own a wireless dog fence or GPS dog fence to keep their dog within the boundaries of their yard, then a professional dog walker is likely just another luxury.
That’s not to say that the difference in pay is just one that varies between states. This is also something that can vary between towns and even zip codes by quite a bit. Sometimes you can even see a star difference in the pay rates between neighborhoods. It can actually be very difficult to figure out where and why the pay scales differ, but there are always a few factors at play.
If you’re looking to figure out why the pay scales differ in different locations, you’re going to spend a lot of time looking at demographics, the number of dog walkers in the region, how easy it is to walk dogs in the area, and any regulations on dog walkers. All of these factors are going to help to determine whether you’re going to end up getting paid more than the competition elsewhere or if you’re going to have to offer rock-bottom prices
The Way Your Work
Another huge factor is the way that you work. Every dog walker does his or her job a little differently, but those who make the most money tend to look for ways to minimize their costs while maximizing the number of ways that they make money.
Some dog walkers tend to make more money because they are better dialed into how to find clients. They might have personal connections or access to a great network that helps them find work. Other walkers get paid more because they offer more services – they don’t just walk dogs, but they also groom them, train them, and provide pet sitting services throughout the day.
There are even dog walkers who are able to charge more because they have better gear. They provide high-end dog harnesses, retractable dog leashes, and dog toys, a factor that can make them look more professional. Some walkers even make more because they can provide a better explanation for why they charge a specific amount compared to the competition.
In short, the way that you choose to do your job is going to change the way that you are perceived and the way that you are perceived is going to impact what others are willing to pay you. You’ll need to figure out how best to make yourself look like you’re worth paying more if you really want to make a living as a dog walker.
Maximizing Your Dog Walking Income
So, how do you make a living as a dog walker? If you take a look at the factors above, you’ll probably note that you can’t really do too much to become a dog walker. There’s not a city in the world that has such a thriving dog walking industry that it will support you dropping everything and moving there, so you’ll need to work on the other factors in order to make a living. Fortunately, you can take a look at three specific actions in order to start bringing in more money.
Getting More Clients
If you’re going to make money, you’re going to need clients. Getting clients isn’t always easy when you start out, but there are steps you can take to grow your client base in a way that makes sense. You’ll always start out with a few key clients, providing them with great service so that they can start to talk about you to their friends. Once you start getting those incredibly important word-of-mouth recommendations, you’ll start networking to build up your client base. From there, it’s really just a matter of learning what you need to offer your clients in order to convince them to pay you more and to recommend you to their friends.
Get More Organized
Next, you’re going to have to think about how you’re going to fit in more clients every day. There are only so many hours, after all, and you can only work so much before you have to stop. For most, this means learning how to get more organized, which will let you do more without sacrificing the quality of your work.
The big way that most dog walkers streamline their jobs is by walking more dogs at once. You’ll be able to figure out your maximum capacity fairly quickly, though you should also check to make sure that there aren’t laws governing how many dogs you can walk in your area at once. You’ll also need to invest in equipment that won’t break easily and learn how to market your business in a way that’s going to save you time without breaking the bank.
Treat Your Business Like a Business
Finally, make sure that you learn how to treat your business like a business. That means keeping records of your clients, keeping up with your taxes, and making sure that your business is properly ensured so that an accident or mistake won’t destroy your profit base. While dog walking can absolutely be casual and fun, it needs to be treated like the serious matter that it is if you want to make a living in the field.
Dog walkers can make a living if they’re willing to carefully market themselves, work long hours, and find the right places to do the job. It’s not always easy, but it is something that’s worth examining. If you want to walk dogs as a job, you’ll need to set yourself up for success before you even walk your first dog. With the right attitude and plans, though, walking dogs can be your new career.