A dog walker is an animal care worker who visits clients’ homes and walks their dogs. They may provide exercise, socialization with other dogs and people, and other basic care such as feeding. The position is often a good fit for people who want independent workdays and enjoy animals.
Some dog walkers are freelancers who find a steady stream of business through word-of-mouth referrals, while others operate larger pet-care businesses that employ other dog walkers and handlers. No formal qualifications are needed to be a dog walker, but most do need to be reliable and trustworthy and have experience with pets, including different breeds and temperaments. They should also be familiar with dog safety guidelines and able to handle multiple dogs at once.
Most dogs need at least one walk a day, and some need a few, especially young puppies and high-energy breeds. In some cases, dogs who are left alone for long periods can develop destructive habits or become anxious. Dog walking can help to curb these issues and keep the dog happy while the owner is away.
While a dog walker’s primary job is to take the dogs out for exercise, they may have other duties depending on the client and type of dog. These include giving the dogs water and food while they are at home, playing with them indoors to keep them entertained, cleaning up after the dogs (including picking up poop), and ensuring the dogs have adequate supplies of food and water. Some dog walkers also administer medication to their clients’ dogs as part of their duties.
Typically, the dog walker is responsible for getting to know the dogs they are assigned, and their owners. They should communicate with the owners to determine a suitable schedule for walking their dog and any special needs that they may have. For example, some owners may prefer their dogs be walked on specific routes to avoid certain neighborhoods or garbage days.
The dog walker should also record details of the dogs’ outings, such as how many minutes they were out and whether any special instructions were given. They may also need to clean up after the dogs and transport them to and from the clients’ homes.
Some dog walkers also offer services such as puppy training or pet sitting and can make quite a bit of money from these services. For example, Ryan Stewart, a New York City dog walker, says he makes about $100,000 a year working six hours a day for his company, Parkside Pups.
Finding the right dog walker for your pets can be difficult, but recommendations from friends and neighbors are a great place to start. If you can’t find someone who meets your requirements, consider using a pet care agency or an online service. Many of these companies will interview and train candidates and may cover liability insurance for their employees. They may also offer support to their employees in the form of a phone number to call with any questions or concerns.