The primary duties of a dog walker encompass the following:
- Picking up dogs from their homes.
- Ensuring dogs are properly collared and their tags are in place.
- Taking the dogs on a walking path, trail, or other planned route.
- Providing food and water breaks for their comfort.
- Using treats to maintain their focus and reward good behaviour.
- Cleaning up after them while abiding by local animal care laws and ordinances.
- Keeping track of licenses and vaccinations for safety.
- Handling paperwork and appointments smoothly.
- Ensuring dogs get exercise, interaction, and fun!
What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Dog Walker?
Every job or business venture has pros and cons, and dog walking is not immune. We’ve broken them down for you as follows.
- If you love dogs, being a dog walker allows you to spend quality time with them.
- Dog walking gets you out in the fresh air and encourages physical activity, which can contribute to better overall health.
- Flexible hours and the ability to make this a side hustle or full-time job allow for better work-life balance and the potential to take on other commitments.
- If you value independent work, dog walking lets you work on your terms.
- You can make a difference in the lives of pets and their owners.
- Dog walking can be physically demanding, especially when dealing with larger, more energetic dogs or multiple dogs at once.
- Working outdoors in all weather conditions, even rain, snow, or heat, can test any Canadian’s love of the outdoors.
- Safety concerns when working with some dogs that can be aggressive or difficult to handle. Income as a dog walker can be inconsistent.
- The dog walking industry is unregulated, and virtually anyone can start offering services without proper qualifications, making it difficult for pet owners to sort the good from the bad, leaving you subject to scrutiny.
- While flexible in terms of schedule, it often means working during evenings, weekends, and holidays when others are off.
- Clients. Sometimes, dealing with different clients’ expectations and their dogs’ behaviours can be challenging.
- Most dog walkers are self-employed or work as contractors and might not have access to benefits like health insurance or retirement plans.
- There are liability risks.
Whether or not being a dog walker is the right job depends on your preferences and circumstances. In evaluating whether dog walking is the right choice, consider these pros and cons in the context of your personal preferences, lifestyle, and goals.
What Licenses, Qualifications, and Experience Do Dog Walkers Need?
Becoming a professional dog walker doesn’t involve fetching degrees, official certificates, or diplomas.
While dog walking is a lightly or non-regulated industry, it’s essential to be equipped with the necessary licenses and insurance to ensure smooth sailing. Specific licensing requirements might be in place depending on the province and the organization you’re associated with.
Here’s a rundown of the licenses you might need to fetch:
- Business licence: If you own an organization, you may require a business licence, which allows you to conduct business legally.
- Driver’s licence: A valid driver’s licence is crucial if your journey involves transporting dogs via vehicle.
- Liability insurance: If you’re a business owner, securing liability insurance is necessary to cover potential accidents involving dog walkers, the dogs themselves, or the dogs’ owners.
- Regional licenses or permits: Certain cities may require additional regional licenses or permits before you can bring dogs to municipal parks, other properties, or public spaces. For example, Toronto requires individuals to obtain a license to walk more than three dogs. The maximum number of dogs that can be walked at a time is six.
These skills are needed to be a dog walker: a love of animals, physical fitness, responsibility, communication skills, problem-solving skills, first aid training, and knowledge of dog behaviour. Experience in dog walking is also helpful and can be gained through volunteering or walking dogs for friends and family.
What Items Do I Need to Be a Dog Walker?
What you have can reveal your preparedness to manage a group of dogs adeptly, benefiting you and shaping the customer’s impressions.
For walks, here’s a checklist of must-haves to ensure it’s a paw-some experience:
- Leashes, collars, and other gear: Different dogs have different needs. Having leashes, collars, and dog toys can prove helpful.
- Waste bags: Keep it clean and considerate by having bags for dog waste ready.
- Water and bowls: Pack collapsible bowls and a water bottle to keep the dogs hydrated.
- Treats: Reward good behaviour and maintain focus with tasty treats. Ensure you know the dietary needs of each dog in your care, custody, and control.
- First aid kit: Be prepared for minor scrapes or incidents with a compact pet first aid kit containing essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers.
- Hand sanitizer: Keep yourself germ-free after handling pups. It’s an extra touch that your clients will appreciate.
- Emergency contact info: Carry a list of emergency contacts, including the dogs’ owners and local veterinarians.
- Weather essentials: Whether it’s a raincoat, sunscreen, or extra towels, weather-appropriate items ensure a comfortable outing, no matter the forecast.
- Pet ID and information: Some dogs may not be familiar with you initially, so having their identification and relevant information on hand can provide peace of mind.
- A dependable smartphone and charger: Enabling daily updates, media sharing, and quick schedule adjustments. Regular updates and photos connect clients with their pets, providing reassurance and joy. Stay connected in case of any unexpected situations.
- Maps or GPS: Familiarize yourself with the walking route or have a GPS handy to avoid getting lost.
- Comfortable shoes: Your comfort matters, too! Opt for sturdy, comfortable footwear to keep you going through each adventure.
Tailoring your gear to your clients’ needs and the environment you’ll be walking in is key. With the right equipment, every step you take as a dog walker can be memorable and enjoyable.
How Much Money Do Dog Walkers Make?
Indeed.ca reports that the average salary for a dog walker in Canada is $46,967 per year. The highest-paying cities for this profession include Toronto ($53,000 annually), the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver.
How Much Should I Charge for Dog Walking Services?
The average rate for dog walking in Canada is approximately $20. You can expect to charge between $10 to $40 per walk.
However, the price for dog walking can vary depending on multiple factors such as location, competition, dog size, and additional services like longer walks, pet sitting, special requests, or multiple dogs.
Researching the market and considering costs to set a fair price reflecting the quality of care and expertise is essential. For example, you can expect to pay about the average (up to $35 per hour) in Toronto. Someone in Calgary may be more used to paying below that average, while Montrealers are accustomed to paying above that average.
You can search online or ask around for an idea of what other dog walkers in your area are charging. Don’t forget to factor in your costs, such as transportation, insurance, and any certifications you need. Your pricing strategy should reflect the quality of care and expertise you provide. Over time, you’ll fetch the right balance for your business.