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Top 11 Helpful Tips to Become a Great Dog Walker

Written by: Brooke Bundy

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Professional dog walker or pet sitter walking

Top 11 Helpful Tips to Become a Great Dog Walker

Whether you’re planning a side hustle or your new day job, dog walking is a rewarding business for animal lovers. Who wouldn’t want to get paid for petting dogs and getting exercise while you’re at it? While the trade definitely has its perks, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you begin. Additionally, you’ll need to take the time to seriously assess personal factors such as your time and health before you commit, to make sure dog walking is the right job for you.


The 11 Tips for Becoming a Great Dog Walker

1. Consider Your Strengths and Limitations

While you might have heard that you can do anything you set your heart to, your prior commitments and health may not wisely allow it. Certain health conditions that limit how much you can exercise in a day or don’t allow for strenuous activity during extreme weather add considerations that will need to be addressed before you begin. While they don’t necessarily disqualify you from the job, you’ll need to ensure you can work safely by firmly establishing your hours of availability to exclude times where the weather will be the hottest or coldest or making any other modifications necessary. Alternatively, if you have a job where your shift hours fluctuate depending on the week, you might not be able to be dependable at a certain time. Consistency is a job requirement for a dog walker. And of course, if you start something, you want to do it wholeheartedly.

2. Establish Your Schedule and Stick to It

dachshund dog waiting to be walked beside an alarm clock
Image By: Masarik, Shutterstock

Take a close look at how you spend your time now. Honestly ask yourself if you can add anything else to your schedule. If the answer is yes, then proceed to the next step. If not, you might want to see what you can change or bookmark the idea for a more appropriate season.

3. Research Local Rates

If you have friends who are in the business, you might ask what they charge clients to get an idea of a fair price. If you’re not comfortable with doing that, check websites like ThumbTack to see the going rates in your area. Dog walkers generally make between $10-$35 per 30-minute walk. If you work a minimum-wage job, that sounds like great pay! However, you have to remember that you’ll be paying for your own gas if you travel, as well as any other business-related expenses that can chip into your profits.

4. Consider How Far You’re Willing to Travel

pug dog in a car on the back seat
Image By: absolutimages, Shutterstock

Ideally, you’ll find clients in your own neighborhood so that you can keep your business expenses at a minimum. However, that’s not always possible if you live in an extremely rural area or a place where there’s not a demand for dog walkers. In that case, you’ll need to calculate how far you’re willing to travel so that you can still make a profit.

5. Decide If You Want to Use a Third-Party App or If You’ll Be Walking Solo

Third-party dog walking apps like Rover can help you get your foot in the door by providing you with clients and letting you communicate and send money safely. However, they also take a significant chunk of your earnings, which means you’ll either need to mark up your services or accept a partial loss of income.

6. Find Your Clientele

group of women sitting on benches outdoors with a dog
Image By: Chris Murray, Unsplash

Your neighborhood within walking or biking distance is the best place to start. You might consider going door to door passing out business cards or talking to any neighbors you see on the street, asking them to spread the word. If you’re looking out of your walking range, go to places in your community that encourage small businesses, or attract pet parents. Think of the local coffee shop that has a community bulletin where you can advertise your services, or the pet store where you might ask if you can leave a stack of business cards at the counter. Remember to always be polite and friendly and ask permission before you leave anything at a place of business.

7. Always Arrange a Meet and Greet with Clients and Their Dogs Before You Take the Job

Congratulations! Receiving your first job offer is an exhilarating experience. Before you hurriedly accept, however, you should always meet the dog and their owner together before you go on a walk. As a dog walker, you’ll likely be going into other people’s houses with or without them there. You’ll need to make sure they seem trustworthy before you commit. Additionally, some dogs may become territorial, anxious, or even aggressive if a stranger sets foot on their turf without their human present. You need to establish yourself as trustworthy with the dog while their human is around to praise them.

8. Ask for Relevant Medical Information

While you don’t necessarily need a copy of the dog’s medical records, you should definitely ask for relevant information. For example, if you’re walking an older dog, you might need to know what their expectations are for exercise. Occasionally, you might be in charge of an animal with a health condition that requires extra care, such as administering medication. The dog is your responsibility while they’re in your care, which isn’t a job to be treated trivially.

dog walking in the park
Image By: Piqsels

9. Arrive on Time and With Everything You Need

When you show up for the job, make sure you arrive on time and pack essentials like poop bags. Ask the pet parent ahead of time if the dog needs a certain harness or leash, or if you’ll need to supply your own.

10. Communicate Efficiently

Whether you use a third-party app or call or text your clients on your own, communication is the key to success in this business. Pet parents want to know that their fur babies are safe, and the job is getting done effectively. Plus, they enjoy seeing cute pictures of their adventures.

woman taking a picture with a dog
Image By: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

11. Start a Social Media Account for Your Business

Since you’re probably already taking pictures of the dogs you’re walking, you should consider starting a social media page for your business where you can display photos of you and the dogs having a great time. Of course, always ask the owner’s permission before posting pictures of their dogs.



Dog walking requires a consistent schedule, adequate physical capacity, and of course, a love of all things canine. If that sounds like the ideal job description for you, implement these tips to help you succeed in the business and keep up the good work.

See also: My Dog Keeps Sitting While Walking: 6 Possible Reasons

Featured Image Credit: SB Arts Media, Shutterstock

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