If you love animals and have a few extra hours a week on your hands, you might like to think about setting up as a dog walker. Whether you take a neighbour’s pet out once a week for pocket money or to earn extra cash as a side hustle, or want to start a small part-time or full-time business, dog walking is flexible and straightforward. Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to think about if you’re considering making money from walking dogs.
If you’re taking more than one dog out at a time, the main thing you’re going to need is a secure form of transport. If you’re just earning some extra pocket money, then you can put a client’s dog in your own private vehicle as long as there’s a cage or secure dog guard in place.
If you’re taking more than one dog, though, you’ll have to have a secure way of keeping them separate when travelling. This means either fitting a divided cage in your car, or considering a dedicated vehicle with cages fitted. Otherwise, all you need equipment-wise is a few spare leads, some treats, lots of poop bags and some decent wet-weather gear!
Insurance and qualifications
Insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but it’s still a very good idea. You may only be walking one or two dogs and perhaps not even putting them in the car, but if one of them suddenly spots the neighbour’s cat and charges into the road causing an accident, you’ll be liable as the person in charge. At the very least, you should think about taking out public liability insurance, which will cover you if someone trips over an extended dog lead or gets nipped by one or your charges.
You also need to inform your vehicle insurance company that you’re using your car or van for work purposes. This may all seem like a lot of fuss, but public liability claims can run into the millions. Insurance needn’t be expensive, and will give you peace of mind. It’ll also mean new clients are more willing to trust you with their precious pets! Your insurance will normally limit the number of dogs you can walk at any one time, usually no more than four.
You don’t need any qualifications to set up as a dog walker, but it’s a good idea to get a Criminal Records Check done (this can be done online at a cost of a few pounds) if you’re asking owners to give you a house key so you can collect pets directly.
You could also consider joining the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers, who will provide help with insurance and also give you access to template contracts and lots of other information.
One of the beauties of working for yourself is that you can pick your hours, to fit in with school runs or other part-time jobs. Remember, though, that most people need dog walkers because they work full time office hours, so they’re most likely to need you at lunchtimes.
Rates of pay
Depending on where you live and the amount of local competition, you can expect to earn around £10 to £15 for an hour’s walk per dog. If you take more than one dog at once, this will obviously add up!
Remember that an hour’s walk will take you considerably more than an hour in total, though, as you have to factor in picking all the dogs up, driving to your destination and dropping each dog off afterwards. There may also be times when you have to walk some of your regular dogs separately, for example when bitches are on heat and can’t be mixed with male dogs.
Overall, dog walking is a fantastic way to make some extra cash, and you’ll end up fitter into the bargain! If it wasn’t for the British weather, it might possibly be the perfect job…..