Dog Walkers Share Info, Please
November 30, 2009 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Any experienced dog walkers out there in MeFi land?

I'm curious how you charge? How much? What is the typical day like in the life of a dog walker? How do you usually find work? Do the dog owners have you take their dog(s) out more than once a day? If you could share with me any information about being a dog walker, I would certainly appreciate it.
posted by VC Drake to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Paging Ufez Jones!
posted by vito90 at 4:12 PM on November 30, 2009

I've been in business since 2005.

In answer to your questions:
1. For one dog, a thirty-minute walk is $15. (ergo, $30 for a one-hour visit.)
For two dogs from the same household, $24 per 30-minute increment.

2. There is no typical day. You must be maximum-flexible with your schedule, because clients' schedules change, and you need to roll with it (within reason.)

3. I advertise via Google AdWords, in addition to many free pet-related listings around the web. How did I find these free avenues of advertising? By internet-searching the competish. I also leave my brochures in neighborhood coffee shops, vet's offices, dog parks, etc.

4. Yes, often (take a particular dog out more than once a day.) It takes a deal of persuasion on my part, though; some dog owners seem to think Blinky has gargantuan bladder capacity.

5. proceeded roughly in this order:
thought up my business name
designed a logo (do not use clip art, I beg of you.)

Want more?
posted by BostonTerrier at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2009

Another full time dog walker here. Upper East Side Manhattan.

1. Rates vary greatly by geography, rather than taking rates from people here you're better off researching your neighborhood to see what it can bear. If I tried charging UES prices in Queens I would be laughed at.

2. Generally you'll have your regular schedule set out for your regular clients and then changes will happen from time to time or you'll arrive to find a puppy has explosive diarrhea and your 10 minute comfort break just became a 30 minute exercise in poop purgatory.

3. Pet stores and word of mouth go a long way. By far the most business I've got is from recommendation by satisfied clients. It's a great way to get business. People love to brag about having a great dog walker.

4. Number of times a day depends on the length of time the owner is away and the dog. There is no correct answer here.

Best advice? Do it because you love it. Be reliable and weatherproof.
posted by merocet at 4:38 PM on November 30, 2009

The key piece of advice I would give is to be completely professional and treat this is a real job. If you can be professional, you'll already be better than over fifty percent of the competition out there who kind of think "it might be fun to take care of dogs". People are trusting you with both their pets and access to their homes when they are away. What would it take for you to trust somebody with that priviledge? Get insurance/bonding, always answer phone/email, show up on time, have a professional contract, etc.

If you are serious about getting involved with the pet care service industry (even as a part-time endeavor), I would highly recommend that you get in touch with other dog walkers or pet sitters in your area to discuss the business. As with most other areas of business, networking is key. You might be surprised how many of them are open to assisting new businesses get started. In my experience, many new clients that you receive may actually come as referrals from other dog walkers that either have a full schedule or don't service the area of the new customer.

full disclosure: I run the site, another resource that you might consider.
posted by jimmereeno at 5:37 PM on November 30, 2009

I've hung up the leash (professionally, at least) but I did this for about four years. Here's my answer to a similar question from about a year and a half ago.

BostonTerrier and merocet have both provided great answers. I'd definitely echo the sentiments that no two days are alike, *ever* and word of mouth is by far the best way to get the word out, either from satisfied clients or neighbors of clients you may meet while out walking a client's dog(s). Chatting up neighbors and letting them know who you are serves to both ease suspicions a they may have about you entering a home and gives you a chance to answer any questions they may have about your service. Carrying a couple of business cards with your URL/e-mail on them will go a long way.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:39 PM on November 30, 2009

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