So you love dogs. Your dream is to be a dog walker in New York and make loads of money looking fit and trim as you run through central park with a half-dozen celebrity dogs at the end of your leash. Isn’t that everyone’s dream? Dog walking is definitely one of the hottest up-and-coming careers these days. But many people view it as just a pipe dream. After all, how much could a dog walker salary actually be?
Contrary to popular belief, dog walking is a viable career. In fact, thousands of dog walkers around the world are making money doing dog walking. It can be either a fun part-time money-maker, or a rewarding career. So let’s take a look at the real nitty-gritties: what can you do on a dog walker salary?
How Much Do Dog Walkers Make in Your Area?
To figure out exactly what type of dog walker salary you can expect, you’ll need to do a little research. Your first step is to find out the going rate for dog walkers in your area.
Start by pretending for a moment that you are looking for a dog walker. Then take your question to Google. For example, if you live in Houston you could type in something like “houston dog walker,” “dog walkers in houston,” or even “dog walkers near me.” If you live in a less populated area you might want to search the whole county (or even your whole state or province) instead of a city. On the other hand, if you live in a big city it might make sense to look in your individual neighborhood and neighbourhoods nearby.
Searches like this should get you a list of dog walkers in your area, along with their contact details and–crucially for you–their websites. Make a list of these websites. Once you have five to ten noted down, it is time to take a closer look. Visit each of the websites and look for a “services” or “prices” tab. Write down how much each dog walker is charging for each different service. Typical services might include group walks and individual walks. Some dog walkers might also include things like walk + hour at the dog park, small dog group walks, large dog group walks, etc.
How Much Will You Charge?
Now think about which types of services you will offer. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like. For purposes of this exercise we will keep it simple and say you offer just one kind of walk–the group walk. Now put a price tag on your group walk. Base this price on the research you just did about what other dog walkers in your area are charging. It isn’t necessarily a good idea to go with the most expensive price. But you don’t have to be the cheapest either. Choose a price somewhere in the middle for each of the types of walk you think you might offer.
Do the Math (It’s Easy Math, Don’t Worry)
Often you will find prices that range somewhere between $10 to $30 per walk, per dog. We’ll take the middle, and say that a 30-minute walk for one dog is worth $20. If you walk four dogs at once, and do that three times per day (say at 10:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 1:30 p.m., to allow for travel time in between and picking up and dropping off dogs), you’ll make $240 per day. If you do this every week day, you’ll make $1200 per week. Give yourself two weeks off per year, and that’s a yearly income of $60,000. Not bad!
Play Around With the Numbers
You can use these same calculations, plugging in different numbers, to figure out how much your dog walker salary would be if you charged $10 per walk instead of $20 ($30,000), walked only three dogs at once ($45,000), or did four walks per day instead of three ($80,000). You’ll need to factor in transportation and any other costs you’ll have, like dog treats or specialized equipment. But you can also expect tips and Christmas bonuses from your happy clients.
The Average Dog Walker Salary Depends on Where You Live
You should keep in mind that not all dog walker salaries are created equal. For example, according to the job site Indeed, an average dog walker salary in NYC is $45,000. The average dog walker salary in Los Angeles, on the other hand, is $35,000. Dog walkers in large cities tend to make more than those in the suburbs, although competition for business in the city also tends to be much fiercer.
Dog Walker Salaries in the City
In general, the salary you can make as a dog walker depends on several factors: how much you can charge per walk, how many customers you can engage, and how many dog walks you can fit into one day. In a large city, you can usually charge more per walk, and you have a larger base of potential clients to choose from. And because your clientele is likely to live close together, you will probably be able to fit a larger number of walks in each day, because you’ll have less travel time between dogs.
Dog Walker Salaries in the Suburbs
A well-chosen suburban location, though, can also provide you with a very lucrative dog walker salary. If you are the only dog walker in the neighborhood, you won’t have to compete with other dog walkers for customers. And people who live in the suburbs are more likely to have long commutes to work. So they may be unable to pop in to walk the dog at lunch, or even make it home in time for an evening walk.
Dog Walker Salaries in the Countryside
If you live out in the countryside, you should probably choose a different dog-related career, since the sheer distance between houses makes dog walking impractical, and country dogs are likely to have enough space to get exercise without a walk. Good possibilities might include dog training, behavioral counseling, or pet sitting for dogs and other animals.
Marketing is Everything
One thing to keep in mind is that the variance between one dog walker salary and another in any given location can be extreme. Even in New York, some dog walkers are making $18,000 per year, while others make $118,00 or more. What makes the difference? It’s largely a matter of marketing. For your dog business to be successful, you need to get out and make sure people can find you when you need a dog walker.
You’ll certainly need a beautiful, professional website, well-optimized for local search. Snazzy business cards will help your happy customers tell their friends about you. Postcards, fliers, posters, and rack cards at local businesses will help you get the word out about your services. With a well-thought-out marketing plan in place, you’ll be ready to start making the big bucks as a dog walker.
Need help with marketing your dog walking business? Take a look at the Canine Club Academy’s business toolkit. It comes free with the Certification Course in Dog Training. The Business Toolkit includes a free professionally designed logo, as well as helping you set up your own website, a complete set of personalized, professionally designed marketing materials. The course also includes business mentoring to help you get your business off the ground. Check it out today!